You may have noticed that I’ve been obsessed with 9/11 recently. So much disturbs me still about it, especially as the anniversary comes and goes each year: how it forced such a negative sea change in international politics (or was manipulated to that end) as well as a return to a McCarthy era-like culture of fear and self-censorship. Also disturbing is how so much of the evidence from the attacks was literally carted away and destroyed before any serious and thorough investigation could be conducted. The spectre of Virtuality haunts the entire spectacle, regardless of the particular narrative ascribed to the events to make them more real and, as would be expected, more terrifying with each detail. This goes for every theory of events I’ve read or listened to. The fact that we will never know everything, regardless of how often the standard narrative is reinforced or how many times you watch Loose Change, is perhaps the most disturbing thing.
Anyways, I’ve been reading a watching just about everything of any value that I can find about 9/11 and the response to it. I was looking through the Articles section at Poetry Foundation today and found this excellent reflective essay on the issue:
Beyond Grief and Grievance: The poetry of 9/11 and its aftermath by Philip Metres
It very thoughtfully examines a number of poems which responded to 9/11, providing a thorough summary of the 9/11 poetry phenomenon. I especially appreciated it’s treatment of Baraka’s “Somebody Blew Up America,” which I agree was a very important poem that few were willing to listen to. For me, it’s most important point was to emphasize the fact that there has never been a unified America, that the 9/11 attacks did not bring us all together, and to say so is to whitewash the violent and divisive history of America, both in its past and its present. Metres essay gives it a fair reading and treats it’s message with the respect it deserves.