Monday, April 6, 2009

Representations of 9/11

Aimee Pozorski's lecture on representations of 9/11 brought up a lot of thought provoking ideas about the way people view and react to literature and art depicting that day. The two main images talked about were the "falling man" and a painting I cannot remember the name of. The painting was seen as too beautiful or too polished to portray the event. That was a common idea that 9/11 art couldn't deal with aesthetics because it can't make us feel better. The idea is that it has to be raw, gritty, and emotional. Making the painting beautiful somehow lessens the meaning or in some way dishonors the actuality of that day. There is also the idea that by making a representation of 9/11 that is beautiful and is open to interpretation it takes away from what happened where simple testimony and actual pictures are the only true view of what happened. It seems the truth is more important than art.

I think the reason that people are so obsessed with the truth when it comes to 9/11 is because it is an event that is highly obscured in mystery. Even today, so many years after, we still don't know for certain exactly what happened that day. There are so many discrepancies and differing claims about that day that there is no way to be 100% sure what exactly happens. In general it seems Americans tend to be against art about tragedies that happen on our soil or that involve our citizens. I don't think many people would disagree that the "American" attitude has an overt sense of pride that may be the reason for this. In the painting the two men portraying the twin towers are blindfolded. I think that is another part that people dislike. The idea that we as a country could have been blind or naive.

I liked the painting it was interesting and had a lot of possible interpretations dealing with naivety or innocence and possibly being blind and pride. The falling man brought up similar interpretations of what is essentially a picture of a man jumping to his death. As a society we have a severe aversion to the topic of suicide. We see suicide as horrible and something that should never be done. Other cultures see it as acceptable and even righteous in certain situations. This brought up the idea of why it is said he looks like he is flying and falling not jumping. It seems we try to say anything except that he jumped out of a burning building. I think there is nothing wrong with that personally. If I had to chose between burning to death or jumping to my death I would chose the latter. I would imagine burning would be a horrible way to go and I find no shame in that choice. Suicide in other cultures is thought highly of if done for an honorable purpose.

The other interesting correlation was that of the myth of Icarus. The story of Icarus flying too close to the sun and melting his wings causing him to fall. This story can correlate to both the falling man image and the painting. In my opinion it seems to fit perfectly as the idea that America naively flew too close to the sun got too proud and were unprepared for and unaware of the threats to our country until that day when they were shattered.

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