Monday, September 12, 2011

Quotes of the Day: Two Thoughts on Action

Action is transitory - a step, a blow,
The motion of a muscle - this way or that -
'Tis done; and in the after-vacancy
We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed:
Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark,
And has the nature of infinity.

-- William Wordsworth, The Borderers
(also online here and here)

I saw this in Chris Hedges's remembrance of 9/11 (via) which -- like this essay which I linked to yesterday -- notes the disappearance of the jumpers from the media narrative, speculating that
The "jumpers" did not fit into the myth the nation demanded. The fate of the "jumpers" said something so profound, so disturbing, about our own fate, smallness in the universe and fragility that it had to be banned. The "jumpers" illustrated that there are thresholds of suffering that elicit a willing embrace of death. The "jumpers" reminded us that there will come, to all of us, final moments when the only choice will be, at best, how we will choose to die, not how we are going to live. And we can die before we physically expire. The shock of 9/11, however, demanded images and stories of resilience, redemption, heroism, courage, self-sacrifice and generosity, not collective suicide in the face of overwhelming hopelessness and despair.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On the last quote I'd add that after 911 the US did a lot of 'keep friends' with the Islamic world. As they ran through the streets shouting 'death to America!'the US was holding talks with Islamic countries as much as possible. And with the war on Iraq and Afghanistan, it's possible these images are surpressed to diffuse public opinion against Muslims odd as that may sound. They are the most ripping and painful visible event of the day, more even than the planes flying into the towers or the towers collapsing. In both situations you know people are inside but you don't see them. These people were seen. They had faces and hair. They were you. They were me. They were just in the wrong place. And even as the US is still involved in conflict in the Middle East so too the US are sending the largest trade delegation in history to Egypt to build economic ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. These images bring fervor for conflict and hinder economic growth. I don't think it's simply triumphal desire or mythology of survival which keeps them from public view.