After dinner while K watched a taped Patriots game, I made a slideshow. It’s in the middle of the post. A few stills follow.
But first the original collages of the running girl. In them, her urgent need to escape emerged from the iterations. The double/triple exposures that form the basis of the slideshow, seemingly of their own accord, continue that feeling. The way she comes in and out of view heightens the sense of imminent harm and also, perhaps, points to the way trauma damages one’s ability to stay in the body.
I couldn’t sleep last night. Eventually got up and read. I came across an article about Emmett Till which you can read here.
Short version: a journalist hired to write about Till’s murder for Life Magazine (this was after the two men were acquitted), couldn’t get releases from two OTHER murderers, so he just WROTE THEM OUT OF THE STORY.
The journalist could be tried (could have been? Sorry, it was 3:00 in the morning) for accessory to murder after the fact.
The current article makes plain that not only was it journalistic malpractice and very possibly illegal, the omission generated more terror in the Black community than had they known there’d been four perpetrators.
If two men were capable of THAT, what’s next?
Maybe the sense of haunting had something to do with the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. K and I watched a Frontline episode — America After 9/11. Oh my god the lying politicians. The lazy press. It underscored a pithy tweet I read which said that we would have been better off as a country if we had literally done nothing.
The personal impact of the tragedy is rendered beautifully in this memoir piece: Hero by Liz Ackert.
Four of the hijackers spent their last night on earth in a discount hotel less than a mile down the road.
The place has long since been torn down.
P. S. Just went back and found a post about dreams the week before 9/11. And a Tarot card pulled (The Tower). Interesting to look back. A little haunting.
I was meeting with a fellow landscape-volunteer for the elementary school when her husband called. “Turn on the TV. Turn on the TV.” The friend said, “it’s Osama bin Laden”. Believe it or not, that was the first time I’d heard that name (an unthinkable state of ignorance now, with FB, twitter, etc.). We watched the towers go down in real time.K was sent home from work, the office closed. There was the fear of more planes, more death.
Because the boys were young (7 and 5), we didn’t watch the endless replays. We had a camping trip planned for the weekend and were glad to have a reason to interrupt routines, but actually drove down into North Adams at one point to buy a newspaper. A couple of times while the kids bombed around on their bicycles, K and I turned on the van engine and listened to the radio in a state of shock. I remember feeling a sense of kinship with our grandparent’s generation, listening for news about the war, huddled around a radio.
I remember how startlingly blue the sky was on 9/11. A perfect fall day. I remember reading an email from the school saying, “we have not told them.” I remember calling a friend over before I walked over to pick up the boys, embracing her and crying, “what kind of world are they growing up in?”
On Facebook yesterday (it’s 9/12 now), I watched a video clip of tolling church bells on the campus of UMass/Amherst. Not only was it a haunting sound, but the comments rolling underneath gave me chills, especially the ones saying things like, “my son was in kindergarten that day and now he’s a junior at UMass”. And then there were comments simply saying what they were doing that day. Where they were or who they lost. We will all remember.
It took days to find out if my brother was okay. He had been scheduled to fly from somewhere in Europe into D.C. to give a lecture. All the other doctors (sensibly) cancelled, but he was adamant about showing up. He first flew to somewhere in the Caribbean and next to Canada where he rented a car.
My brother, like my son, went to McGill and had crossed that border many, many times without incident. But this was post 9/11. Because he was coming from Europe, he had multiple currencies on his person — suspect. It was a one-way car rental — suspect. And then there was the Irish surname — also suspect given the long and troubled history with bombs (my sister maintains we’re related to Timothy McVeigh, but never mind that).
The police at the U.S./Canadian border thoroughly took apart the car. I don’t mean pulled him over to inspect the trunk and open a few suitcases — I mean, unbolting door panels, ripping up floor mats, lifting seat cushions.
I may have gotten some of those details wrong, but you get the gist.
What I don’t remember — is what we said to our sons, our young and impressionable and fairly innocent sons. What did I say?
P.S. That’s a SoulCollage card referring directly to the attacks of 9/11 and also referring indirectly to my maternal grandfather (using magazine images), who came to NYC in 1923, spent decades working in the bowels of ships while raising a family in Park Slope, Brooklyn, before moving up to Newburgh, NY.
P.P.S. The creepiest local connection was that the Boston hijackers spent their final night on this earth in a hotel less than a mile down the road. The place has since been razed and an apartment building sits there now.
P.P.S. A good friend of mine move to Battery Park sometime later and when we visited her, we went to Ground Zero. It was awful. One of the worst things? Looking at the dust on nearby building knowing that it had DNA in it.
An effort from last year above the mantle. A horizon trying to emerge. Or perhaps, sleeves? The whole thing wanting to turn into a kimono.
Dreams are on my mind this week. Well, they’re always on my mind. But, I mean, particular dreams. For instance. Not long ago, I dream that my boss asks me what I want to learn this year, leans forward, eager, to hear me. I say clearly and resolutely (and unaware of the dissonance): “I want to learn more about garment construction!” [I work at a law firm].
I’ve been reading books about psi phenomena — how it has been studied, how it has been rejected by science. One of the books looks at data collected online in psi tests to see what precognition of 9/11 was evident, if any. (“Entangled Minds”, Dean Radin) It got me thinking, so I pulled out a journal from 2001. This entry of mine was written on 8/28/2001:
K. dreams that water’s flowing on him and freezing him to the ground. He moans in his sleep. D. wakes up crying and crying and crying because of leg cramps. I dream that I’m being held hostage by a terrorist.
A few things about this stand out. One, it is hard to remember, now, how less frequent our references to terrorists used to be. And, while my dreams have run toward the violent, normally it is personal violence & not political. Two, K.’s icy elements notwithstanding, in twenty-three plus years of sharing a bed, I have heard him vocalize during a dream maybe a dozen times. Three, D. was a restless sleeper, it is true (and at that age, OFTEN in bed with us, as he was that night) — nevertheless, the collective sleep activity in our bed that night can only be considered remarkable.
Waking dreams fill my pages as well. I often use a Tarot card image, ‘randomly’ selected, as a jumping off point. On 9/3/2001, I pulled THE TOWER and here is some of what I wrote (we are now eight days from the attacks):
I am the force of change. Pure, simple, swift, upsetting change. Change can be good like a blast of fresh, much-needed air, or it can feel disastrous, tragic. I don’t indicate, in and of myself, what type of change [is] coming. Jung’s observation – the unworked inner will come and get you from the outer. Bodies fall – bodies representing forms of all kinds… Burning down the house. Some houses need burned down – the ash & Phoenix thing, but even before you get there, the laying waste to false, limiting structures, in & of itself, a worthy activity. This is what happens, oddly, when one embraces the dark side – the brittle masks, the tin houses, collapse, crumble, melt, fall in on themselves….
Clearly, I was looking for a psychological interpretation.
This next dream remnant is less clearly connected to the events of 9/11, but I add it because it seems a part of the mix. Note – there was only one Egyptian among the hijackers (sometimes cast as the ringleader) and he spent his last night on earth in a non-descript hotel on Route 9, a short walk from my home.
9/9/2001 — Neighbor’s married a 16 year old boy. He’s handsome and muscular and so young. Nancy’s trimmed her ancient wisteria to let more light in. I’ve printed out directions to a place in Egypt that I’m going (it’s out on the Fan Pier?). At the courthouse, M.F.
You’ll note that the Fan Pier, occupied by the federal courthouse, is directly across the harbor from Logan Airport. The Egyptian who was to sleep a quarter of a mile away from my house the next night, was surely thinking a great deal about this very vicinity.
“M.F.” is a high school friend of mine who lives near the San Diego airport (in late 2001, there were no direct flights from Boston to San Diego. The flights that were hijacked out of Boston were bound for San Francisco and L.A.) One could say that my unconscious could have picked a better dream figure, especially since my brother lives in L.A. — and yet — it is a Californian airport connection. Isn’t it significant that my mind didn’t pick a local friend, or a friend who’s moved to Texas or Oregon, or a friend who lives near a grocery store or a river?
I’d be interested in hearing if other people who have writings that date back to August – September 2001 can see anything that in hindsight looks like premonition.