Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Then and Now

Don DeLillo's novel Underworld from 1997: cover art with twin towers,
bird (plane ?) and church
"While tensions over the site erupted in public forums and private boardrooms, the demolished World Trade Center became the focal point of a sort of revisionist vision of a more innocent city, as Steven Jay Schneider suggests in his essay Architectural Nostalgia and the New York City Skyline on Film in the anthology Film and Television After 9/11:

[T]he formerly intact towers were retrospectively viewed as the architectural signifiers of a city and a country that until September 11 had little to fear from outside its borders and believed personal safety, though never guaranteed, was at least assessable and a reasonable bet.

Somehow, the twin towers began to represent a literally prelapsarian urban Eden. As in the case of the Biblical fall, however, their innocence was evident only in retrospect, after its transformation into experience and knowledge. According to Schneider, the towers didn’t seem significant to the nation until they ceased to exist, when they became 'communal, if only virtual, objects of nostalgic sentiment, signaling America’s former confidence and self-assurance while at the same time metonymically connoting the scores of innocent people whose lives were lost on September 11.' ” — Beth Doyle Machlan, Los Angeles Review of Books

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