I have just left another comment about NOLA as "Third World" and my distaste for the classification on Travelling Mermaid's blog (she has an excellent post on Dr Blakely's comments contrasted with some volunteers who came down here). I have been thinking about this term since I posted on the subject a month ago and got some thought provoking comments.
I was talking on this subject to one of my very good friends who is also Scottish and lives in the US. I have come to the conclusion that another classification is needed. One that communicates the richness, the magic that is almost tangible here. N'awlins often makes me feel like I'm in a novel in the style of Magic Realism. I feel like the upside down craziness of Jeanette Winterson in Sexing the Cherry, or I'm following Alice down that rabbit hole.
The rules here distort somewhat. Expectations are different. People are different. Its on the edge between things. Its like everywhere else and like nowhere else. I said to my friend that it feels a bit like the most magical place from my childhood: "the way between the worlds" in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I think this is a better classification of this place than "Third World".
I know that this still leaves other aspects of this place (crime, FEMA failure, federal flood, hurricane relief and recovery, school system) not front and center but I think that's OK (as long as we make sure that no one ever forgets what happened and what is still needed here). The problem with the "Third World" description, for me lets the politicians and people in power off the hook (or at least not working as hard on NOLA's behalf as they could). It says we know we're doomed because this is how we classify ourselves and our position as a city. We need to advertise in our own classification of this city why this city needs to be saved, what is so special, why it matters to the world.
I think it would be good to say farewell to the Third World mantra and take on a more magical definition. Something that tells of the magical mystical NOLA that gets in your blood.
I know I am a newbie but I believe NOLA can be feisty and satirical without being self-defeating in the classification. The third world has no NOLA.
NOLA is the way between the worlds.