Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lit and Art of 9/11

Originally I was looking forward to the lecure on 9/11. Then, I went to do the readings for preparation and was confronted with the image of the Falling Man. I did not remember seeing that photograph in 2001 when it was published, but looking at it today I was very affected by the photo. After seeing the image I immediately thought "Oh no, I'm going to cry during class again." The photo brings up emotions of hopelessness, tragedy, and loss. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the way the material was presented and handled: from an academic and critical point of view. I liked that the main question presented was how, if at all, the experience of 9/11 should be presented in literature and art. Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was, until tonight, my only encounter with literature or art stemming from the events on 9/11. One of my favorite novels, the book seemed to me to adequately capture many emotions and experiences caused by that day. To discover that critics have condemned and criticized that book as well as all other art and lit that deals with the subject was, to me, stunning. Perhaps it is because I had some degree of separation from the attack itself that I could value and even enjoy the examples shown today. I think that it is important to document such an important and defining event. Culture depends on works of art to demonstrate to posterity the realities and values of each generation. Dismissing those that deal with September 11th as tasteless or vulgar is denying history and preventing Americans in the future from learning about their past and cutting a huge part of modern America out of culture. To ignore 9/11 is the same as denying that it happened. We can only live in denial for so long before it is necessary to come out, embrace what has happened and incorporate it into not only art of the present but also of the future. Each person must interpret the events in their own personal way because it did affect the nation on such a large scale. To denounce or devalue personal interpretations in literature and art is demeaning, not only to those who would create art, but also to those whose deaths would be forgotten without it.

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