There are layers of unreality. An interesting one is to do with the media coverage which would suggest that Christchurch has been flattened. Not so. There is the very obvious 'devastation' in certain (particularly the eastern) suburbs and of some heritage buildings in the central city. But superficially at least, much of the city appears untouched. It can be difficult to reconcile the hyped up reportage with the apparent 'reality'. I think of Haiti, where the term 'devastation' might truly apply, and feel ashamed that we can be so indulgent and self-absorbed. Yet there is a perverse pleasure in devouring the media coverage of our plight, in seeing ourselves spotlighted in the national and international news. There is a certain pride in attracting apocalyptic labels.
Having said that, I have learnt that the nature of quake damage can be deceptive. There is the very obvious and dramatic - and then there are the creeping fissures, the hidden cracks and gaps whose impact may not be felt for some time to come. I have a snaking, post-quake crack in the bank above my house which, given rain and time, may threaten my safety. And I'm reminded of the Leonard Cohen line:
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in".