Archive for the ‘911’ Category

Reflecting Absence

“This memorial proposes a space that resonates with the feelings of loss and absence that were generated by the destruction of the World Trade Center and the taking of thousands of lives on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. It is located in a field of trees that is interrupted by two large voids containing recessed pools. The pools and the ramps that surround them encompass the footprints of the twin towers. A cascade of water that describes the perimeter of each square feeds the pools with a continuous stream. They are large voids, open and visible reminders of the absence.

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6 years – 1 day = (2 towers / 2 planes) – 3000

That was the day I was sitting in a classroom full of preservice teachers who kept getting text messages from their boyfriends about how they needed to get to a television immediately, the world has changed, the lecture we are receiving about children’s literature becomes more irrelevant by the second.

That was the day I drove around with my girlfriend the photojournalist, she steering frantically through seemingly empty streets, it was like the city shut down for a couple of hours, we could hear the panic in the radio announcers’ voices, the car was full of panic, as if we kept driving around long enough we could do something, help someone, get somehow closer to the image that was already charred into our brainstems after seeing it on the television, file it next to the Challenger, how is it that these two plumes of smoke filtered by television waves can be so memorable when I have seen so many other things burning right in front of me? Some photographs are nice to keep around, they remind you of things, but this, these images which made it around the world in 80 milliseconds, flashing over and over again just to make sure you saw it from every possible angle, no one ever needs to see these images again, because they are carved, etched, chiselled into our memories.

Historians 2000 years from now will be able to watch full-color video of the event happening in real-time, somehow these records will be preserved, but if they want to see the pictures  the photojournalist took that day, so far away from New York City, they had better have a functional prototype of a time-machine, they’re gone, the file formats changed, they were lost in the flood, the discs got scratched, they got buried in the landfill, the heirs didn’t care, it seemed irrelevant at the time, what we really want to know is the names of all the people who died, and what were the names of the murderers, can we write biographies of these men sortof like the ones about Hitler, get into their heads, try to figure out why they did what they did? That’s what the historians will want to know, the ones who don’t have the image fresh in their heads, the images burned onto the backs of our brains like the shadows of people thrown onto the sides of buildings by Fat Man or Little Boy. They’ll look at it academically, and wonder why. Do we know why? Did we stop to ask, or was the question made irrelevant by our precision bombing raids? Will they come to the conclusion, 2000 years from now, that religion was the problem, and the solution?

AFP/Getty Images