A Decade of Negative Thinking: OFF THE GRID

The title of this book is called, "A Decade of Negative Thinking" with the subtitle "Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life" and here is the chapter that featured an experience that would leave its horrifying mark on that which we call daily life. This chapter was about 9/11, and it occurred to me as I read, that while this event would never leave my memory, I had never read anything about that horrific day in New York City.  This is probably a sin to admit considering that as I type I am in Manhattan. This realization prompted a lengthy discussion between Fisk and I that ended in our mutual understanding that however we fret over our daily existence, the world will never fail to remind us that there are real and scary events that are never explained and can never be rationalized. Here are some quotes that I found most provoking. 

"I heard two sounds, some kind of muffled roar and then a thudding crash.  This neighborhood is incredibly noisy, so it could have been a truck crashing into something on Canal, but the noise was notable enough that it crossed my mind that it might be a building collapse in the area.  After the interval of time it took for that image to cross my mind, within less than a minute of the sound, an announcer on WNYC yelled that there had been an explosion at the World Trade Center.  I rushed into my clothes, grabbed my keys and my camera, ran out the door, and got to the corner of Lispenard and Church by about 8:57am.  This is the corner from which the video of the first plane crashing into one the buildings, which I would call the "money shot," was filmed.  In this brief clip you may notice firemen and wonder what they are doing there." 

"The site is said to be indescribably enormous and terrible, the TV miniaturizes it.  The relief work is incredible-the people who run New York turn out to know what they are doing.  People in the neighborhood also speak of girders covered with blood and workers vomiting on the site.  One artist went to his roof after the first plane crashed and found it covered in blood, fragmented flesh, debris, and paper.  I repeat these things not to exploit their horror, but because this repetition is part of what it means to be a New Yorker now.  We always have to be experts, so now we are experts of the details of horror.  What seems ghoulish relish is really one of the myriad ways in which we are trying to get a grip on understanding what happened."

"I did not see my students for more than a week.  I wondered what I would say to them about the repercussions of this event on artmaking, because that is what we do and will go on doing.  Perhaps irony will not look like such an easy option now.  What we saw "with out own eyes" looked like a movie; we couldn't believe what we saw, and we don't believe anything we didn't see with our own eyes, so what is the nature of the image?"

" A LAST THOUGHT ... FOR THE MOMENT: Yesterday, walking in  the Village, just as I was wondering if many people had already forgotten, three young people passed by, a guy in a flashy robin's-egg-blue suit carrying a boom box, a guy with a film camera, and a girl following along.  Suddenly the guy in the blue suit put the box down and broke out into a perfect Mick Jagger imitation, complete with jerky dance movements, on the lawn in front of the Picasso sculpture at the NYU house on LaGuardia Place!  The annual phenomenon of NYU film students fanning out in the Village to work on their spring projects!  The divine silliness of the moment served to reinforce my suspicion that for many people the Titanic-like disaster was just a blip on the screen of their youth, and that only those already immersed in loss in their own lives and histories would keep this terrible memory in their hearts.  And perhaps that inexorably forgetful energy of youth is the truly necessary movement forward to joy."

The suddenness of the crash and collapse, the graphic reality of death, the ramifications on art practice, and the forgetful joy of youth. Each of these paragraphs served a heaping dose of thought that required much attention in order to facilitate a proper digestion. I can't summarize how 9/11 affected my life and I can't explain how this chapter affected my life either, but I can say that I am happy to have read this chapter, feeling that it has brought some sort of appropriate thoughts/feelings about an event that deserves a thorough investigation, one that inspires a true understanding of it's consequences. Mira Schor, Mira Schor, Mira Schor. 

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