DECONSTRUCTING AND RECONSTRUCTING THE TOWERS: ALLEGORICAL FIGURES OF 9/11
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Americans grasped for ways to understand and represent the incomprehensible trauma, in part because, as many philosophers and cultural critics acknowledged, it was not just physical destruction or a political challenge, but also a semiotic rupture that challenged the efficacy of language itself. Consequently, common modes of working through the trauma, such as narrativization and temporal contextualization, have failed to provide closure. At the confluence of photographic theory, trauma theory, and deconstruction, the images of 9/11- particularly Richard Drew's "Falling Man" and images of Philippe Petit's 1974 WTC tightrope walk - have become allegories for the failures of these old methods and the need for new modes of working through the trauma. A close look at the Falling Man of Don DeLillo's eponymously titled novel reveals the myth of shared (collective) trauma in the event of 9/11 and the inherent re-experiencing caused by its mediation. Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close places the blame for these on the failure of language. In response, the resurgence of popularity in the figure of Philippe Petit is in direct relation to his symbolic role. In Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, his performance provides healing for characters who suffer from different traumas by championing the healing effects of shared witness (rather than shared experience) and artistic representation (rather than chronological narrativization). In the film Man on Wire, James Marsh uses the heist genre to, likewise, show the power of artistic representation - this time, in its ability to re-establish working binaries and provide meaning to the absence of the towers.
World Trade Center (New York, N.Y.)
Psychic trauma in literature
September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
Victims or terrorism