Wednesday, March 4, 2009

9/11 Literature

This lecture was very interesting and created a great discussion. There is so much to discuss that I don’t even know where to begin. First off, the Esquire article about the falling man was fascinating; I couldn’t turn away from reading it. The part of the article that I couldn’t stop thinking about was the family that instantly rejected the idea of the falling man being related to them, that he couldn’t be their father, brother or husband. That really bothered me that a family would denounce this person that has chosen to die this particular way, compared to possibly being suffocated by smoke. This brings up the point about why suicide is looked down upon in society. I really don’t think anyone has a right to judge these people and their decisions unless they were in their shoes, and we all know that the people judging have no idea what it feels like to be one of the victims in the towers on that day. The “mass suicide” wasn’t a random decision that people decided to make, it was because the extenuating circumstances left them to make a choice: how would you rather die? While I was reading the article I thought to myself, why can’t the choice to jump or fall be seen as heroic? I know traditionally suicide is looked down upon, but how can people be so inhumane. In the Esquire the girl says something along the lines of, “That piece of shit is not my father.” I was appalled that she would talk about an innocent victim in such a horrible manner. I think making the decision to jump is very heroic and brave. How could anyone judge that wasn’t in the towers on 9/11?

I do think that the painting of the twins representing the towers and also the picture of the falling man are aesthetically beautiful; these being denounced by critics for being “too beautiful.” We don’t want to believe that something beautiful can be created out of the tragic event that took place. Literature and art may not be able to accurately depict the trauma of what went on; testimony may be better at this. We have discussed that in times of intense pain words can even fail us. But I do think that literature and art are important pieces to help us reflect on what occurred. As we picked apart pieces of the painting we all saw different things whether it was naivety, blind justice, sacrifice or something else. I think this is important because it helps us cope with what occurred and possibly give some closure.

I really like the ending of the Esquire article, “That we have known who the Falling Man is all along.” This raises a lot of ideas about “the bigger picture.” Has humanity fallen? As we discuss the falling man we isolate it from ourselves, but in reality we are all the falling man. We experienced 9/11 as a national tragedy, whether that brings us together or apart. It’s a fact that we were attacked on our own soil when we believed that we were untouchable. When people criticize the falling man and others for their brave decisions, they are insulting all of humanity because we are all falling and maybe just don’t realize it.

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