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Gulf Oil Spill: Behold Our Bleak, Magnificent Horror

06/07/2010 01:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

There is, you have to admit, a sort of savage grace, a tragic and terrible beauty, to the BP oil spill.

Like any good apocalyptic vision of self-wrought hell, the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history has its inherent poetry. You see that creeping ooze of black, that ungodly wall of unstoppable darkness as it slowly, inexorably invades the relatively healthy, pristine waters adjacent, and you can't help but appreciate the brutal majesty, the fantastic, reeking horror of this new manifestation of black death we have brought upon ourselves, as it spreads like a fast cancer into the liquid womb of Mother Nature herself.

Really, it's not just the incredible photographs of the spill that are, in turns, heartbreaking, stunning, otherworldly and downright satanic in their abject revulsion. It's not just the statistics that tell us how many millions of gallons might ultimately be spilled, or the stunned scientists who can only hypothesize how this unprecedented catastrophe might affect the fragile food chain and distress the ocean's ecosystems at the very root level.

It's not even the endless, heartrending tales of livelihoods lost, industries destroyed, coastlines ravaged or wildlife killed. The fact is, any one of these aspects alone is enough to poison your soul for as long as you wish to wallow in that murky state of fatalism and doom. It is nothing but bleak.

I think the most disturbingly satisfying thrill of this entire event -- and it is, in a way, a perverse thrill -- comes from understanding, at a very core level, our shared responsibility, our co-creation of the foul demon currently unleashed.

What a thing we have created. What an extraordinary horror our rapacious need for cheap, endless energy hath unleashed; it's a monster of a scale and proportion we can barely even fathom.

Because if you're honest, no matter where you stand, no matter your politics, religion, income or mode of transport, you see this beast of creeping death and you understand: That is us. The spill may be many things, but more than anything else it is a giant, horrifying mirror...

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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the SF Chronicle and SFGate. Get it at daringspectacle.com or Amazon;. He recently wrote about the KFC Double Down, the Texas Board of Education, and what it's like being part of the evil liberal conspiracy. His website is markmorford.com. Join him on Facebook;, or email him. Not to mention...