Friday, September 2, 2011
What is Remembered, Lives
You would not believe how many people wondered, during the earthquake last week, if we were being bombed. These people have never experienced an earthquake so they had nothing to compare the sensation to. Here in the midatlantic, except for once every one hundred years, the ground holds still, so it was disconcerting to many, to say the least. I knew immediately what was happening, but I lived in California for 15 years. I know many who had no way of understanding what was going down. It makes me sad to think their minds went first to terrorism.
The ten year anniverary of September 11 is right around the corner. I expect a whole lot of press about it. The pictures of the burning towers will be posted and reposted, and the vids of the towers falling will pop up, I expect. People will tell their stories, where they were, how it unfolded for them. I know someone who worked close to the WTC, was there, up close and personal, BOTH times it was bombed. On 9/11, she walked home to Brooklyn after the towers fell. Though she is as tough as any New Yorker could ever be, she admits she can't remember one second of that walk home. Wow.
There's a way in which I welcome the chance to revisit memories of that day. It feels like another lifetime in many ways, so very long ago. It's not easy to think about, not fun bringing the memories into consciousness, but it's important to remember, to honor the hugeness of that event, the impact and the way this city changed afterwards.
This morning I'm thinking about how the internet has made possible the rebirth of oral history. No longer do we leave historical storytelling up to the professionals - people who write books. Nope. It's democratic (small d) here at the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. Anyone who can get their hands on a computer or cell phone has a platform for telling his or her unique stories. I love all the versions of "truth" floating around here. It's a rich, complex, textured "oral" history - as it should be - we've created in cyberspace. People tell their stories on youtube, post pics on Flikr or notes on Facebook. We blog. All the stories are the same, all are different. Looked at all together, this "oral" history is more bewildering than any book by James Joyce, for instance. Perhaps not quite as artful, but at least as complex. Through the internet we are co-creating a layer of history that will rest on the landscape after we're gone. Don't censor yourself, for god's sake, but think before posting anywhere, hey? This is our legacy, what we put out for public consumption. It's interesting to think about.
I will definitely post my story here next Sunday. Looking forward to reading about how others remember that day ten years on, I really, really do. Salaam, Shalom, peace.
The leaves are reflecting the stoplight. They haven't started changing colors yet.