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November 21, 2015


utilitarian traffic swirls around the utilitarian roundabout within which the symbolic permanent call to higher things sits

as if it had always been there, and city and street grid were sketched and draped around it. like a redwood, like Eiffel’s folly, an eternal symbol that waited patiently for interpretation, a definition

at a respectful distance, down the eponymous boulevard, a new monument. it speaks of history, as befits a king, but it’s a dull prose to Independence’s fierce poetry. a textbook, not a manifesto. the past, and not the future

but Independence’s future is subdued by familiarity and the sighing acknowledgement of unrealised vision. we all love the stories of could have been, even if it never was. Independence is Pan Ron’s boisterous romanticism to Sihanouk’s odd mix of vision and oppression

the two monuments are strictly controlled – as in politics everywhere, freedom is all, but the public is strongly discouraged from using such ideas as inspiration, or as a weapon. barricades at street level keep the proletariat from intimate visits. they are to be viewed at arm’s length

even so, their messages can be read:

the legacy of suffocating traditions, the ghostly adrenalin of lost dreams
a tree and an outhouse
genius and bureaucracy
a joyful temple and a municipal tomb
the rocketship – the original Cambodian space project – and the control room
always a happy child, always the guardian and repressor

for eternity, now, the leader’s back is turned to the visionary

an irreverent bird stands on the Stately head, two guards sit chatting on the steps
and so the wheels turn, through the days and nights
and the monuments become invisible

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