Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Freedom Tower

Wednesday Night’s All Right for Procrastinating

with 5 comments

* How to Be an Academic Failure: An Introduction for Beginners.

* Rape culture: In 31 states, rapists have paternal rights, and can even sue for custody.

* Laurie Penny: Rapists are evil people. They’re not nice blokes who everybody respects who simply happen to think it’s ok to stick your dick in a teenager who’s sleeping in the same bed as you, without a condom. This guy seemed, if anything, confused as to why I was scrabbling for my things and bolting out the door. He even sent me an email a few days later, chiding me for being rude.

* A new scientific theory suggests that Big Bang was actually a phase shift: a Big Freeze.

* Terrors of a True Believer: MOOCs and the Precarity Problem.

Despite our gut-level hunch about the direction of the language; despite the fact that 70-cent, three-minute, off-peak, coast-to-coast long-distance calls that cost four inflation-adjusted dollars in 1970 are now free; despite cheap travel, YouTube, and the globalization of film and television, American dialects are actually diverging.

There are multiple examples of such divergence. But none is as dramatic, as baffling to linguists, and as mysteriously under the collective radar as what’s happening in the cities that ring the Great Lakes. From Syracuse, N.Y., in the east to Milwaukee in the west, 34 million Americans are revolutionizing the sound of English.

Now, as the “Freedom Tower” reaches its full height, the inside story of boondoggles, self-dealing, common corruption, and why it’s all taken so long.

“I know that we have members of the media here right now, so I’m not going to go through that in great detail.” Not to make a whole thing out of it, but it’s amazing he’s able to get away with this.

* And David Cross teases even more Arrested Development than you’d dared to hope.

‘Terror and Mismemory’: On 9/11

with 3 comments

Like the Normandy Invasion, like World War II, as time passes 9/11 is increasingly figured as a lost, Utopian past, a perverse sort of Golden Age which in the same singular instant is both forever lost and always just around the corner.

Several years ago I wrote an article about 9/11 for a book that, due to the whirling speed of academic publishing, is only just now coming out: Portraying 9/11: Essays on Representations in Comics, Literature, Film and Theatre. My piece for the book is titled “Terror and Mismemory: Resignifying September 11 in World Trade Center and United 93” and is about the way the trauma of 9/11 has been reimagined by film and journalistic retrospectives as “a permanent state of emergency from which there is no possible relief or escape.” Instead of allowing time to progress forward, we simply replay the tape over and over again, stuck in the single moment when the Towers were still on fire but before they collapsed.

After discussing briefly my own memories of 9/11, including the myriad reports of phantom attacks from that morning that are now no longer discussed and the long list of “possible” attacks in news reports since then that have similarly never happened, the piece concludes like this:

This feeling of permanent, unmitigated existential threat has begun at last to dissipate, but it has never really left us — a temporal loop caused by that day’s repeated reconsumption as spectacle. Though the attacks lasted only a few hours on one very devastating morning, on the level of spectacle they remain ongoing and unending. This is perhaps one reason why Freedom Tower, the new office complex and memorial long scheduled to be built on the ruins of Ground Zero, has for so long remained unbuilt and perhaps in some real sense unbuildable. We have been frozen in time, unable to move on.

I have never felt this more than I did after opening Twitter and my RSS reader this morning to discover a ubiquitous wall of chatter about 9/11. @ibogost sums it up in a single evocative phrase: “The sad exhaustion of an event named to repeat itself forever.”

Adam Kotsko makes much the same point from a different direction in a blog post he put up last night, “An Isolated Incident: Or, The Day Nothing Changed.” While I disagree in an important sense with Adam’s major conclusion — I do believe 9/11 makes a turning point in the breakdown of the rule of law in the U.S., as well as the attitude of the U.S. towards imperial exercise of its military superpower — I agree with him in nearly all the particulars. 9/11 was a trauma, not a new reality. Constantly reliving that trauma, constantly re-experiencing it over and over to the point where it becomes a strange sort of macabre celebration, is not helping anybody. We need to move on.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 11, 2011 at 10:32 am

Why Is There Still A Hole at Ground Zero?

leave a comment »

At TPM, Paul Rieckhoff asks: “Seven Years Later: Why Is There Still A Hole at Ground Zero?” I actually wrote a little bit about this myself at the end of a paper on 9/11 for a class last year. Here were my thoughts.

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Although I grew up forty miles from New York City, I was in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 11, 2001, finishing my senior year of college. From the time my father called to wake me and let me know about the first attack, I watched the news coverage nearly continuously. I remember, vividly, the chaos, the violence, and the uncertainty, but I also remember events which are no longer referenced, the phantom attacks: false reports of car bombs on New York Bridges and outside the State Department, threats and evacuations across the country reported once and then never mentioned again. In Cleveland, at least, it was initially reported that United 93 had crashed into Camp David; the anchor also told us that there were as many as 20 planes out of contact with the FAA still in the air and that any number of them—possibly all—could have been hijacked. One of the planes forced to land at Cleveland Hopkins airport was raided (on live TV), believed to have terrorists aboard; this was later revealed to have been entirely a false alarm.

In the face of so many reports, only four attacks becomes something like a relief—the violence of that day might have been so much worse. It might have never ended. And yet the deluge of phantom attacks, attacks which seemed to have happened but which never actually did, which like the collapse of the Towers themselves have been put under erasure, have left us for a long time with the foreboding sense that another attack is always just around the corner, that at any moment the world will again be shattered by terrible violence. We are waiting for the other shoe to drop. The Department of Homeland Security’s threat level is, after all, always “Elevated,” if not “High”; nightly news reports regale us with wild possibilities of where the terrorists might strike next, anything from blowing up the Hoover Dam to poisoning local gumball machines.*

This feeling of permanent, unmitigated existential threat may have diminished somewhat since September 11, but it has never really left us, and it feeds into the sensation of temporal loop caused by the day’s reconsumption as a spectacle. Though the attacks lasted only a few hours on one very devastating morning, on the level of the symbolic—on the level of spectacle—they remain ongoing and unending. This is why, I think, Freedom Tower, long scheduled to be built on the ruins of Ground Zero, remains unbuilt and perhaps in some real sense unbuildable. We remain deeply embedded in the singularity; although time passes, it cannot progress. More than anything else, this loss of temporal perspective, the foreshortening of memory itself, is the psychic cost of the refusal to come to terms with September 11, the cost of rebranding the shocking anti-spectacle of September 11 as the spectacle of “9/11” and consuming it anew, over and over again. On the level of the spectacle, the towers are always smoking; though we all saw it happen, we can never allow them to collapse.


* I’m partial to this story because it concerns the town next door to the town in which I grew up, and because it involves the most ludicrous potential terror attack I’ve heard of. Stories like this one have aired across the country since September 11—perhaps, somewhere or another, every single night.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 11, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , , ,