Thursday, April 02, 2015
Literally become ocean
"... a haunting orchestral work that suggests a relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels" is how John Luther Adams' Become Ocean is described in its Pulitzer Prize citation. The relentless impact of climate change is graphically illustrated in my two photos of the town of Sidi Ifni on the Atlantic coast in the south of Morocco. The first photo was taken by me in March 2014, the second twelve months later. In November 2014 exceptionally heavy rain caused flash floods that killed thirty-two people across southern Morocco. The dry river bed (oued in Moroccan Arabic) seen in the upper photo was turned into a raging torrent that destroyed bridges and cut off road access to Sidi Ifni for a week. Four months after the floods, the dramatic change in the coastline caused by the torrent scouring the seabed can be seen in my lower photo - the town's beach on which its tourist economy depends has literally become ocean.
In the foreground of both photos is the shrine of the Sufi saint Sidi Ifni, from who the town takes its name and which has featured here before. Sufi adept and, some think, candidate for sainthood Isabelle Eberhardt died in a flash flood in an oued on the border of Morocco and Algeria in 1904. My oceanic playlist while in Morocco also included Arnold Bax's Tintagel, which the composer described as conjuring "...thoughts of many passionate and tragic incidents in the tales of King Arthur and King Mark... the piece ends as it began, with a picture of the castle still proudly fronting the sea and wind of centuries". In the same way, as everything around it changes, the Sufi shrine of Sidi Ifni still stands proudly fronting the sea and wind of centuries. Which is appropriate, as there are many links between the mythology of Arthur and Sufism. Parsifal and King Mark - to who Isolde was betrothed - are both mythical figures associated with Arthurian legend. Which prompts, again, the question Was Wagner a Sufi?
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