12.01.2003



This weekend I bit the civic duty bullet and added myself to the World Trade Center Health Registry. Basically, it’s a database that will track, over the next twenty years, the physical and mental health of those who were directly affected by the attacks. It’s supposed to be confidential, but I gave them Fitz’s address, just in case. I haven’t come this far to get tripped up by something like this.

As a child of pop culture, my decision to call the hotline was precipitated by watching the movie 28 Days Later. I sat there, scared shitless one second and crying like a baby the next. Screw all those memorial proposals—each one of them so white and clean. I don’t think there could be a better analogy for the full degree of fucked-up-ness that was that day than this flick. A terrible event, after all, is like an evil zombie—it wields its power over us despite the fact that it is an unconscious entity unable to think or feel. The logical structure that we impose upon it—the whos and the whats and the wheres that we take such pains to figure out—give us the impression of there being a sensible cause, in much the same way that the staggering zombie gives the impression of being an actual, living, breathing, thinking human when seen from far away.

But as it careens closer to us, and then closer still, unstoppable, unKILLable, even, as it is already dead, we are given no choice but to look into the monster’s eyes and face the glassy nothingness that is behind them.

It’s that nothingness that is the place of the gap—the strife between the sensible world and that of chaos and insanity. Fuck the tearing off of limbs and the spurting blood. The true moment of horror is that in which there is no longer an explanation that works, the one in which all our choices have been taken away from us. Violence is nothing compared with absolute stasis—total annihilation in which everything is stopped like those clocks in Hiroshima.

A place of no time, no thought, no action, no future.

They told me the words would come in time, but I’ve never been able to talk about that day and I don’t think I ever will.

I was an atheist before, but it was only afterwards that I realized that for all my self-conscious posturing, I was still living my life as though there was something or someone out there that was interested in keeping me safe. I secretly thought that I was special. Blessed, even—although I would have never admitted it. On that day even the illusion of god’s gaze was snuffed out, rupturing the city’s psyche and immediately creating three classes of people.

Those who were there.

Those who saw those who were there.

And those who watched it on TV from the safety of their homes…


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