Karen was saying goodbye to her father in Oregon. But living language is not diminished. Then the first tower fell. If it were merely a matterof toler- as an invitation for readersto think of Islam as ance, of open-mindedness,difference would be an intensification of the present ratherthan an secondaryto the logic of representationor iden- archaicholdover. Hugh Tomlinson and Cambridge: But there is no defenceless human at the end of his gaze. Two women on two planes, best of friends, who die together and apart, tower 1 and tower 2.
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Share via Email In the past decade the surge of capital markets has dominated discourse and shaped global consciousness.
Multinational corporations have come to seem more vital and influential than governments. The dramatic climb of the Dow and the speed of the internet summoned us all to live permanently in the future, in the utopian glow of cyber-capital, because there is no memory there and this is where markets are uncontrolled and investment potential has no limit.
All this changed on September Today, again, the world narrative belongs to terrorists. But the primary target of the men who attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre was not the global economy. It was America that drew their fury. It was the high gloss of our modernity. It was the thrust of our technology. It was our perceived godlessness. It was the blunt force of our foreign policy.
It was the power of American culture to penetrate every wall, home, life and mind. It is our lives and minds that are occupied now.
This catastrophic event changes the way we think and act, moment to moment, week to week, for unknown weeks and months to come, and steely years. Our world, parts of our world, have crumbled into theirs, which means we are living in a place of danger and rage. The protesters in Genoa, Prague, Seattle and other cities want to decelerate the global momentum that seemed to be driving unmindfully toward a landscape of consumer-robots and social instability, with the chance of self-determination probably diminishing for most people in most countries.
Whatever acts of violence marked the protests, most of the men and women involved tend to be a moderating influence, trying to slow things down, even things out, hold off the white-hot future. The terrorists of September 11 want to bring back the past. We are rich, privileged and strong, but they are willing to die. This is the edge they have, the fire of aggrieved belief.
We live in a wide world, routinely filled with exchange of every sort, an open circuit of work, talk, family and expressible feeling. The terrorist, planted in a Florida town, pushing his supermarket trolley, nodding to his neighbour, lives in a far narrower format.
This is his edge, his strength. Plots reduce the world. He builds a plot around his anger and our indifference. He lives a certain kind of apartness, hard and tight. This is not the self-watcher, the soft white dangling boy who shoots someone to keep from disappearing into himself.
The terrorist shares a secret and a self. At a certain point he and his brothers may begin to feel less motivated by politics and personal hatred than by brotherhood itself. They share the codes and protocols of their mission here and something deeper, a vision of judgment and devastation.
This is his edge, that he does not see her. Years here, waiting, taking flying lessons, making the routine gestures of community and home, the credit card, the bank account, the post-office box. All tactical, linked, layered. He knows who we are and what we mean in the world - an idea, a righteous fever in the brain. But there is no defenceless human at the end of his gaze.
The sense of disarticulation we hear in the term "Us and Them" has never been so striking, at either end. But there is no logic in apocalypse. They have gone beyond the bounds of passionate payback.
This is heaven and hell, a sense of armed martyrdom as the surpassing drama of human experience. He pledges his submission to God and meditates on the blood to come. The Bush administration was feeling a nostalgia for the cold war.
This is over now. Many things are over. The narrative ends in the rubble and it is left to us to create the counternarrative. There are , stories crisscrossing New York, Washington, and the world. Stories generating others and people running north out of the rumbling smoke and ash. People running for their lives are part of the story that is left to us. There are stories of heroism and encounters with dread.
There are stories that carry around their edges the luminous ring of coincidence, fate, or premonition. They take us beyond the hard numbers of dead and missing and give us a glimpse of elevated being. For who are arbitrarily dead, we need to find one person saved by a flash of forewarning.
There are configurations that chill and awe us both. Two women on two planes, best of friends, who die together and apart, tower 1 and tower 2.
What desolate epic tragedy might bear the weight of such juxtaposition? The brother of one of the women worked in one of the towers. He managed to escape. In Union Square Park, about two miles north of the attack site, the improvised memorials are another part of our response.
There are many photographs of missing persons, some accompanied by hopeful lists of identifying features. Man with panther tattoo, upper right arm. There is the saxophonist, playing softly. There is the sculptured flag of rippling copper and aluminium, six feet long, with two young people still attending to the finer details of the piece.
Then there are the visitors to the park. The artifacts on display represent the confluence of a number of cultural tides, patriotic and multidevotional and retro hippy. The visitors move quietly in the floating aromas of candlewax, roses and bus fumes.
There are many people this mild evening and in their voices, manner, clothing and in the colour of their skin they recapitulate the mix we see in the photocopied faces of the lost. For the next 50 years, people who were not in the area when the attacks occurred will claim to have been there.
In time, some of them will believe it. Others will claim to have lost friends or relatives, although they did not. This is also the counternarrative, a shadow history of false memories and imagined loss. The internet is a counternarrative, shaped in part by rumour, fantasy and mystical reverberation.
The cellphones, the lost shoes, the handkerchiefs mashed in the faces of running men and women. The box cutters and credit cards. Sheets of paper driven into concrete, according to witnesses. Paper slicing into truck tyres, fixed there.
These are among the smaller objects and more marginal stories in the sifted ruins of the day. We need them, even the common tools of the terrorists, to set against the massive spectacle that continues to seem unmanageable, too powerful a thing to set into our frame of practised response. Ash was spattering the windows. Karen was half dressed, grabbing the kids and trying to put on some clothes and talking with her husband and scooping things to take out to the corridor, and they looked at her, her twin girls, as if she had 14 heads.
They stayed in the corridor for a while, thinking there might be secondary explosions. They waited, and began to feel safer, and went back to the apartment. At the next impact, Marc knew in the sheerest second before the shock wave broadsided their building that it was a second plane, impossible, striking the second tower.
They went back to the hallway, where others began to gather, 15 or 20 people. Karen ran back for a cellphone, a cordless phone, a charger, water, sweaters, snacks for the kids and then made a quick dash to the bedroom for her wedding ring. From the window she saw people running in the street, others locked shoulder to shoulder, immobilised, with debris coming down on them. People were trampled, struck by falling objects, and there was ash and paper everywhere, paper whipping through the air, no sign of light or sky.
Cellphones were down. They talked on the cordless, receiving information measured out in eyedrops. They were convinced that the situation outside was far more grave than it was here. Smoke began to enter the corridor. Then the first tower fell. She thought it was a bomb. When she talked to someone on the phone and found out what had happened, she felt a surreal relief.
Bombs and missiles were not falling everywhere in the city. It was not all-out war, at least not yet. When he heard the first low drumming rumble, he stood in a strange dead calm and said, "Something is happening. The windows were surfaced with ash now, blacked out completely, and he wondered what was out there.
What remained to be seen and did he want to see it? They all moved into the stairwell, behind a fire door, but smoke kept coming in. It was gritty ash and they were eating it.
Tag: In the Ruins of the Future
Share via Email In the past decade the surge of capital markets has dominated discourse and shaped global consciousness. Multinational corporations have come to seem more vital and influential than governments. The dramatic climb of the Dow and the speed of the internet summoned us all to live permanently in the future, in the utopian glow of cyber-capital, because there is no memory there and this is where markets are uncontrolled and investment potential has no limit. All this changed on September Today, again, the world narrative belongs to terrorists. But the primary target of the men who attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre was not the global economy. It was America that drew their fury.
In the ruins of the future
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. Resistingthe demandto speakwith moralclarityand declarewhat the event means, his essay instead shows thatresponseis always a ques- tion of response-ability,or the ethical how. He is workingon a book-length be voiced-represented-by the perceiving subject. Rather,to defer is to sus- be condemned. Suspendingthe event to deferjudg- the Frenchcineast Andre Bazin once conceptu- ment is not avoiding taking a stance;rather,it is alized in termsof an ontophenomenologicalthe- takinga stancethat,paradoxically,is no stanceat ory of cinema.