9/11 Remembered? – No, Thanks

Aquarian Weekly 9/7/11 REALITY CHECK


“If rape is imminent…relax and enjoy it.”

Napoleon said that. The former Emperor of France was a brute and a tyrant, but a cockeyed optimist at heart. It was by far the smartest thing he ever uttered in his highly significant 52 years on this planet, far more prescient than “If you don’t like it, then send me to Saint Helena” or “Let’s try Russia”.

I have found this disturbing axiom on the indifference of suffering useful in many stages of my life, through personal torment and professional upheaval. In many ways, in a decidedly lesser damaging quotient, there is generally a lot of “grin and bear it” to the march of time and the events that define it.

What may be far more insidious is the marking of life’s horrors as if it is of the utmost importance to recall over and over; perhaps to avoid repeating or to honor those felled by it or to merely see it as momentous in a morbid way.

It is the way I have always seen the concept of funerals, and no amount of stockpiled guilt or psychological babble will convince me otherwise. They are barbaric and needlessly painful and often in the case of dignitaries, heads’ of state or celebrities maudlin beyond stomaching.

This is in fact how this space chooses to “remember” or as it is put in certain quarters “commemorate” the ten-year anniversary of 9/11/01 — as those with the pen wax poetic and those with the pulpit speechify and those who were there recall with reverence the retelling of what is a prime example of the worst humanity has wrought.

This is a sickness only people who suspend reason for emotion would find comforting. I find it appalling and degrading.

Count me out. I lived through it and wrote endlessly about it in this space lo these ten years and will not pay its anniversary mind, save ironically for these words of protest.

I only thought about broaching the subject the other day when I saw a photographer displaying his celebrated “falling man” photo. One of the quotes went something like “It is peaceful and almost hypnotic, as if there was no violence or tragedy attached to moment”. Whatever the exact words, the sentiment was in the ballpark of “beauty from disaster”. Yes, a man plummeting to his death, a death he chose because it was either that or be charred alive inside a burning building which only moments before was his bustling downtown office was a Keatsesque experience.

Truth is only beauty when you haven’t had to witness that miserable shit.

Truth is only beauty when you haven’t had to witness that miserable shit.

This is the sort of middling crap I am going to find hard to endure and harder I fear to ignore this week. You know, the slow motion shots of carnage, ensuing rescue, eyewitness accounts of heroism and a town and nation’s rebirth, the viscous fallout of terrorism meets monetary international concerns all wrapped up nicely in a triumphant “they couldn’t stamp us out” flag-folding, marching band tribute to Mother Country.

Fuck that.

Remember the Alamo, Pearl Harbor Day, The Great Chicago Fire, whatever. It is the height of grieving bullshit that strives to numb the pain and wipe away the abhorrence. Not me, chum. I embrace those things like a beloved child’s toy. I say hang onto it. Keep it close. Nurture it as your own. Remember, “Love your enemy”?

That reminds me of how I feel about Easter. What the hell are these people celebrating? Your savior being mutilated by the state and due to some existential falderal lifted to religious significance by a supposed preordained act inflicted upon the “son” of an omnipotent ruler of the universe? I choose to be pissed about the murder of a revolutionary spirit. I ask the Jehovah Witness contingent every time it descends upon the Clemens Estate. “Aren’t you pissed they killed Jesus?” They have no serviceable answer. Of course not, they are stuck in perpetual grieving commemoration.

Don’t even bring up the abject horrors of Passover.

Perhaps after extrapolating these putrid nuggets from yearly spring rituals, once every ten years reliving mass murder as some kind of patriotic duty seems a trifle, but I’m not buying in.

Hey, half of the county in which I currently reside is under water. The devastation around here is epic. Never has anyone I spoke to from my or any generation breathing seen this kind of disaster in New Jersey. None of us are in the mood to recall any part of a decade-old crushing blow.

So have your commemoration without me. Consider this my spat of defiance, America. Keep your 9/11/01 breast-clutching slobber-fest. I don’t want to heal. I like to rub the scar and all the scars that followed that terrible morning and think about how we’ve learned nothing.


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