Thursday, September 12, 2013

9/11: Reflecting reflections

As the events of 9/11 remorselessly drift back into the realms of anecdote (here’s mine if you missed it before) and soundbite cliché, we come to realise that Baudrillard was right to an extent; for the majority of us who aren’t directly affected, big events don’t actually exist. All we truly experience are the reflections and distortions that the media offers – which is why I’m posting this today, because it’s really about what got said and written and posted yesterday, rather than about what happened a dozen years back. And sometimes these reflections barely even pretend to be about the destruction and misery perpetrated on that bright blue morning. Look at The New Yorker’s slideshow of its own 9/11 covers and ask what’s really being commemorated. And I’m not even going to talk about this:

But, hey, there are still a few happy surprises to be had in the most unlikely places. Amidst this year’s bout of navel-gazing was David Wong’s witty but thought-provoking analysis of the years since, including this reminder to us old farts, especially if we find ourselves working in an office full of 20-somethings:
After all, if you're under 30, you were still a kid when 9/11 happened, living at home. What the rest of us are calling “a Post-9/11 World” you know only as “the world.”
And this rather wonderful picture by Toby Amies, who was there or thereabouts:

Because, let’s face it, most of us weren’t victims or heroes on that day. Most of us were bystanders, viewers, consumers. And still are and will always be.


Indigo Roth said...

Hey Tim,

This is bold stuff matey, but on the button. From the UK, it was a disaster, a tragedy, a spectacle, but really it just another thing that happened overseas. That said, it had a profound effect on a friend who had been up the towers and chatted to security staff the week before it all came down.

When I was a kid, British soldiers died every week in Northern Ireland, but even that was someplace else. Visiting there later in life, it became realer.

I'm struggling to make a point here; I think that "I agree" pretty much covers it.


Pearl said...

From Minnesota, and for me, it was nonstop television coverage; red, white, and blue magnetic "ribbons" on cars -- and stunned faces. It was silent skies for weeks. It was looking countrymen full in the face and getting the same in return. It was ridiculous posturing by some, flag-wrapped Bible-thumping, drunkeness and late-night conversations.

Minnesota is quite far from New York. We didn't feel it the way they did. And to be honest, I hope we never do.


p.s. On the other hand, it was my son's 17th birthday on that day. He wanted to blow the world up. I agreed with him, and we followed that to its logical conclusion...

Tim F said...

That's right, Indigo. We could sympathise, empathise, get righteously indignant, but how many of us truly *felt* it?

That's another issue, Pearl - to what extent is NYC part of the US? Less so than Minnesota, in some ways. London has the same role and I wonder what the response to 7/7 was from people who don't habitually travel on the Tube.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the photo at the bottom before. It's excellent. Looks staged too. Not saying it is. Looks it - like one of those artistic recreation of some historic event.

The comments so far remind me of interviewing Chuck Palahniuk and his (to me) surprising lack of sympathy for those attacked on the day. A kind of Pacific north west grim satisfaction that the interferers on the east coast were getting what they had coming to them. Both harsh and one would have thought commercially unwise.