The “Ruins of the Future”: Counter-Narratives to. Terrorism in the 9/11 Literature of Don DeLillo,. Jonathan Safran Foer, and Ian McEwan. Matthew Francis. Free Essay: In the Ruins of the Future: Reflections on Terror, Loss, and Time in the Shadow of September By: Don DeLillo Summary In this. (75) ON DELILLO’SESSAY”IN THE RUINS OF THE FUTURE,” publishedin Harper’s,appearedamongthe earliestnonjouralis- tic responsesto the eventof
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I n the past decade the surge of capital markets has dominated discourse and shaped global consciousness. Multinational corporations have come to seem more vital and influential than governments.
The dramatic climb of duins Dow and the speed of the internet summoned us all to live permanently in the future, in the utopian glow of cyber-capital, because there is no memory there and this is where markets are uncontrolled and investment potential has no limit.
All this changed on September Today, again, the world narrative belongs to terrorists. But the primary target of the men who attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre was not the global economy.
It was America that drew their fury. It was the high gloss of our modernity. It was the thrust of our technology.
In the ruins of the future | Harper’s Magazine
It was our perceived godlessness. It was the blunt force of our foreign policy. Thr was the power of American culture to penetrate every wall, home, life and mind.
Terror’s response is a narrative that has been developing over years, only now becoming inescapable. It is our lives and minds that are occupied now. This catastrophic event changes the way we think and act, moment to moment, week to week, for unknown weeks and months to come, and steely years. Our world, parts of our world, have crumbled into theirs, which means we are living in a place of danger and rage.
The protesters in Genoa, Prague, Seattle and other cities want to decelerate the global momentum that seemed to be driving unmindfully toward a landscape of consumer-robots and social instability, with the chance of self-determination probably diminishing for most people in most countries. Whatever acts of violence marked the protests, most of the men and women involved tend to be a moderating influence, trying to slow things down, even things out, hold off the white-hot future.
OUR tradition of free expression and our justice system’s provisions for the rights of the accused can only seem an offence to men bent on suicidal terror. We are rich, privileged and strong, but they are willing to die. This is the edge they have, the fire of aggrieved belief. We live in a wide world, routinely filled with exchange of every sort, an open circuit of work, talk, family and expressible feeling. The terrorist, planted in a Florida town, pushing his supermarket trolley, nodding to his neighbour, lives in a far narrower format.
This is his edge, his strength. Plots reduce the world. He builds a plot around his anger and our indifference. He lives a certain kind of apartness, hard and tight. This is not the self-watcher, the soft white dangling boy who shoots someone to keep from disappearing into himself.
The terrorist shares a secret and a self. At a certain point he and his brothers may begin to feel less motivated by politics and personal hatred than by brotherhood itself. They share the codes and protocols of their mission here and something deeper, a vision of judgment and devastation.
Don DeLillo: the terror of Sept 11 | Books | The Guardian
Does the sight of a woman pushing a stroller soften the man to her humanity and vulnerability, and her child’s as well, and all the people he is here to kill? This futufe his edge, that he does not see her. Years here, waiting, taking flying lessons, making the routine gestures of community and home, the credit card, the bank account, the post-office box.
All tactical, linked, layered. He knows who we are and what ghe mean in the world – an idea, a righteous fever in the brain. But there is no defenceless human at if end of his gaze. The sense of disarticulation we hear in the term “Us and Them” has never been so striking, at either end. We can tell ourselves that whatever we’ve done to inspire bitterness, distrust and rancour, it furure not so damnable as to bring this day ruis on our heads.
But there is no logic in apocalypse. They have gone beyond the bounds of passionate payback. This is heaven and hell, a sense of armed martyrdom as the surpassing drama of human experience. The Bush administration was feeling a nostalgia for the cold war. This is over now. Many things are over. The narrative ends in the rubble and it is left to us to create the counternarrative. There arestories crisscrossing New York, Washington, and the world.
Where we were, who we know, what we’ve seen or heard. There fhe the doctors’ appointments that ruibs lives, the cellphones that were delil,o to report the hijackings. Stories generating others and people running north out of the rumbling smoke and ash. Men running in suits and ties, women who’d lost their shoes, cops running from the skydive of all that towering steel.
There are stories of heroism and encounters with dread. There are stories that carry around their edges the luminous ring of coincidence, fate, or premonition. They take us beyond the hard numbers of dead and missing and give us a glimpse of elevated being. For who are arbitrarily dead, we need to find one person saved by a flash of forewarning.
There are configurations that chill and awe us both. Two women on two planes, best of friends, who die together and apart, tower 1 and tower 2. What desolate epic tragedy might bear the weight of such juxtaposition?
But we can also ask what symmetry, bleak and touching both, takes one friend, spares the other’s grief? In Union Square Park, about two miles north of the attack site, the improvised memorials are another part of our response. The flags, flowerbeds and votive candles, the lamppost hung with paper airplanes, the passages from the Koran and the Ruijs, the letters and poems, the cardboard John Wayne, the children’s drawings of the twin towers, the hand-painted signs for Free Hugs, Free Back Rubs, the graffiti of love and peace on the tall equestrian statue.
There are many photographs of missing persons, some accompanied by hopeful lists of identifying features. Man with panther tattoo, upper right arm. There is the saxophonist, playing softly. There is the sculptured flag of rippling copper and aluminium, six feet long, with two young people still attending to the finer details of the piece. Then there oof the visitors to the park.
The artifacts on display represent the ths of a number of cultural tides, patriotic and multidevotional and retro hippy. The visitors move quietly in the floating aromas of candlewax, roses and bus fumes. There are many inn this mild evening and in their voices, manner, clothing and in the colour of their skin they recapitulate the mix we see in the photocopied faces thw the lost.
For the next 50 years, people who were not in the area when the attacks occurred will claim to have been there. In time, some of them will believe it. Others will claim to have lost friends or relatives, although they did not. The internet is a counternarrative, shaped in part by rumour, fantasy and mystical reverberation. The cellphones, the lost shoes, the handkerchiefs mashed in the thw of running men and women.
The box cutters and credit cards. Sheets of paper driven into concrete, according to witnesses. Paper slicing into truck tyres, fixed there.
In the ruins of the future
These are among the smaller objects and more marginal stories in the sifted ruins of the day. We need them, even the common tools of eelillo terrorists, to set against the massive spectacle that continues to seem unmanageable, too powerful a thing to set into our frame of practised response. Ash was tuture the windows. Karen was half dressed, grabbing the kids and trying to put on some clothes and talking with her husband and scooping things to take out to the corridor, and they looked at her, her twin girls, as if she had 14 heads.
They stayed in the corridor for a while, thinking there might be secondary explosions. They waited, and began to feel safer, and went back to the apartment. At the next impact, Marc knew in the sheerest second before the shock wave broadsided their building that it was a second plane, impossible, striking the second tower.
Their building was two blocks away and he’d thought the first crash was an accident. Karen ran back for a cellphone, a cordless phone, a charger, water, sweaters, snacks for the kids and then made a quick dash to the bedroom for her wedding ring.
From the window she saw people running in the street, others locked shoulder to shoulder, immobilised, with debris coming down on them. People were trampled, struck by falling objects, and there was ash and paper everywhere, paper whipping through the air, no sign of light or sky.
They talked on the cordless, receiving information measured out in eyedrops. They were convinced that the situation outside was far more grave than it was here. Then the first tower fell. She thought it was a bomb. When she talked to someone on the phone and found out what had happened, she felt a surreal relief. Bombs and missiles were not falling everywhere in the tye.
It was not all-out war, at least not yet. Marc was in the apartment getting chairs for the older people, for the woman who’d had hip surgery. When he heard the first low drumming rumble, he stood in a strange dead calm and said, “Something is happening.
The windows were surfaced th ash now, blacked out completely, and he wondered what was out there. What remained to be seen and did he want to see it?