9 December 2001
[photoshop] Something Awful photoshops Bin Laden’s Mountain Fortress‘Wow, Osama is like a villain in a James Bond movie… except that he doesn’t speak English and doesn’t have any sexy female underlings because he thinks the sight of a woman’s bared ankle will scorch his retinas.’
7 December 2001
[reaction] Heartbreaking Work — interview with Dave Eggers on his reaction to 911 … ‘They made 6,000 people, all with families and loves and dreams, into one amorphous symbol. The challenge now is for us to refrain from the same thing. Those lost do not, I don’t think, symbolize anything, nor does the attack. No act of murder can be symbolic–it’s always barbaric and should never be dignified in any such way at all. Six thousand individuals were murdered, and the best way to dignify the victims is to resist making sense of a mass murder.’ [via Bitstream]
30 November 2001
[war] Bin Laden could be Time’s Person of the Year‘Matthew Felling of the Center for Media and Public Affairs said: “Previous choices have taught us not to attach moral value to the term ‘man.’ There is a reason Time does not use the term ‘Gentleman of the Year.’ Man of the Year is not an honor so much as it is a title; it doesn’t require an honorable person be named. Some years the biggest noise is applause ? some years it’s weeping. This choice would reflect that.” The historically significant men have been a motley crew since Time started naming them in 1927. Hitler was named Man of the Year in 1938. Joseph Stalin made the cover in 1939 and 1942, and Ayatollah Khomeini was on the front in 1979.’
27 November 2001
[911] New York may be a modern-day Babylon – but it doesn’t deserve the wrath of God — commentary based on Robert Crumb apparently thinking that the other buildings around Ground Zero should collapse into it and a farm should be built on the remains. ‘Crumb, who chose to retreat from his American Babylon to the French countryside, is not, so far as I know, a religious fundamentalist. His philosophy is a peculiar and wholly subjective patchwork of frustrated sexual fantasies, zany misanthropy, and 1960s hippy-dippy iconoclasm. But his anti-urban bias is shared by fundamentalists of various kinds. And so, possibly, are some of his frustrations. The ancient idea of the city as a harlot, as Sodom and Gomorrah, suggests a deep attraction as well as revulsion. It is perhaps not so very odd that some of the hijackers of September 11 caroused in Las Vegas before seeking their martyrdom.’
25 November 2001
[conspiracy] 911: What Now? … Nicely wrapped together collection of 911 conspiracy theories. ‘Ask yourself: “Who benefits? Who gains?” Well,” says David Icke, “The Illuminati want a world government and army, a world currency and centralized global financial dictatorship and control. They want micro-chipped people and a society based on constant surveillance of all kinds at all times. And they want a frightened, docile, subservient, people who give their power away to the authorities who can save them from what they have been manipulated to fear.” That pretty well nails it down.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
15 November 2001
[comics] Not a Hoax! Not a Dream! Not an Imaginary Story! Dr Doom’s reaction to 911…


[via I Love Everything]
[profile] Sir Paul McCartney: Give War A Chance — McCartney on his reaction to 911: ‘It’s like we used to live with this thing every Christmas in London, where the IRA would say, “We’re doing a bombing campaign.” And we’d go, “How irksome, I hope it doesn’t hit me when I’m shopping.” After the New York attack, my attitude was like, screw you man, just screw you. I’ve got kids living in London. Are you gonna do a bombing campaign? How dare you? If you want to take my kids out — well, screw you. Come and talk about it, right in my face baby.’
14 November 2001
[reaction] Oliver Stone’s Chaos Theory — Stone discusses 911 and a film on terrorism…. ‘You show the Arab side and the American side in a chase film with a ‘French Connection’ urgency, where you track people by satellite, like in ‘Enemy of the State.’ My movie would have the C.I.A. guys and the F.B.I. guys, but they blow it. They’re a bunch of drunks from World War II who haven’t recovered from the disasters of the sixties?the Kennedy assassination and Vietnam. My movie would show the new heroes of security, the people who really get the job done, who know where the secrets are.” And who would that be? His eyes roamed, searching and sad. “I don’t know yet.”‘
11 November 2001
[war] Things that jumped out at me while reading the Observer today …

Two months on, the new battles at Ground Zero‘…Ground Zero is all crooked, cruel ruins bayoneted on to steel mesh. Under the harsh glare of floodlights, the arm of a heavy crane lifts another limb of incinerated steel from the dunes of rubble. There is a flare, a burst of flame – for the buried fire still burns white-hot – and a pall of ghastly black smoke rises into the night, blocking the view of the illuminated Empire State Building. The stench of the plume is sickly-sweet; everyone knows what it is but no one says so. Only: “this is how Auschwitz must have stunk only diluted,” as one police forensic scientist remarked. “Fifteen hundred degrees down there,” says a fireman, “and still burning”.’

Bin Laden taunts the West: ‘I’m ready to die’ ‘The full transcript of their discussions has yet to be released but it is clear they were wide-ranging. Bin Laden was, according to Mir yesterday, in “high spirits”. “He’s very healthy and he laughs a lot. Previously he was very softly spoken. Now he speaks like an experienced orator, he is very hard-hitting… There’s a big change in that man.”‘

Britain placed under state of emergency‘…will pave the way for indefinite imprisonment of foreign nationals who the Government suspects are terrorists, and comes less than 24 hours after warnings from America that Britain is a top target for Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network. The move reveals the seriousness the Government places on the threat to Britain. Such orders can be used only in times of war or when there has been an event that puts the security of the nation at risk. Whitehall sources said the order would not be reviewed ‘for at least a year’.’
6 November 2001
[postmortem] Hijackers’ Meticulous Strategy of Brains, Muscle and Practice — good overview of the planning behind 9-11… ‘With all the suspects dead and no conclusive evidence, as yet, of any accomplices, investigators have been left to recreate the architecture and orchestration of the plot largely from the recorded minutiae of the hijackers’ brief American lives: their cellphone calls, credit card charges, Internet communications and automated teller machine withdrawals. What has emerged, nearly two months into the investigation, is a picture in which the roles of the 19 hijackers are so well defined as to be almost corporate in their organization and coordination.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
5 November 2001
[war] The Sims Take on Al Qaeda — a look at computer simulations of war and terrorism …

‘He is looking for ways that seemingly small actions have big consequences. “I think about terrorism in terms of popcorn,” he said. “You assume you’ll always have some kernels that are going to pop. How much lower does the temperature have to get before you have a dramatic decrease in the ability of terrorists to operate?” His research has found that when the underlying relationships between color blocks are constantly shifting, the blocks look to the government as an anchor and their colors mesh into a pattern of support. But if the blocks share a common concern about risks from the outside world, they are more likely to become disaffected and blend with dissident groups. Lustick’s flashing grid is conflict in its most abstract form. That turns out to be its greatest strength–as well as its most glaring weakness. Researchers are painfully aware that their models omit the messy edges of real life, and some of them might turn out to be critical.’
27 October 2001
[no logo] Between McWorld and Jihad — Naomi Klein on 9-11 and the anti-corporate movement…

‘Of course, there is little evidence that America’s most wanted Saudi-born millionaire has a grudge against capitalism (if Osama bin Laden’s rather impressive global export network stretching from cash-crop agriculture to oil pipelines is any indication, it seems unlikely). And yet for the movement some people call “anti-globalisation” others call “anti-capitalism” (and I tend to just sloppily call “the movement”), it’s difficult to avoid discussions about symbolism: about all the anti-corporate signs and signifiers – the culture-jammed logos, the guerrilla-warfare stylings, the choices of brand name and political targets – that make up the movement’s dominant metaphors. Many political opponents of anti-corporate activism are using the symbolism of the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks to argue that young activists, playing at guerrilla war, have now been caught out by a real war.’

26 October 2001
[search requests] People keep visiting via Google searching for this — so here you go…

The Sopranos... Just tell us where bin-Laden is and fuhgedaboudit...

21 October 2001
[history] Hinges of Opportunity — was 9-11 a “hinge moment” in history… where everything changes and we feel that nothing is the same as before? [via Ghost in the Machine]

‘What changes after a hinge is our stories of ourselves. Who we are, how we got that way, where we’re headed, and what makes us tick. The lesson is that any cultural revolution represents a grand new alignment of great forces — technological, economic, environmental and spiritual. These shape the tales we tell to make sense of our new world.’

20 October 2001
[aftermath] The Last Post — the inside story on the 90,000 mails per-day sent to addresses at World Trade Centre which don’t exist anymore and one of the people who used to deliver it…

‘Together the carriers have recreated, in miniature, a semblance of their old routes. The World Trade Centre buildings were allotted sorting areas ringed with dozens and dozens of beige and grey metal pigeonholes to accept the buildings’ mail.Thornton’s cubicle is marked with a large sign that reads “1 World Trade Centre” in bold black letters. Each of the companies on her old route has its own pigeonhole. She sits in this cramped, dim space for eight hours a day sorting mail. When a pigeonhole fills up, workers come and dump the overflow into large, marked crates. Thornton says she doesn’t want to feel ungrateful. After all, she is alive and getting a pay cheque. But most days she feels lost and disorientated. She misses the din of the building, the rush of the lifts, the friendly chats in the lobbies. “I have no place to go,” she says. “It is like I am homeless.”‘

19 October 2001
[comment] The View From Smalltown, USA — Chuck Palahniuk on 9-11 … [via Barbelith Underground]

‘On television, the towers fall in slow motion. The same crowds of people stand around on the West Side Highway, observing. There’s the same jiggling, chaotic shot taken by some cameraman fleeing the cloud of dust. Watching this, David says: “This is worse than The Blair Witch Project.” Then he asks: “They ever find that intern, Chandra Levy??”‘

18 October 2001
[wtf?] Bin Laden as Lex Luthor — Salon compares them… ‘Like bin Laden, Luthor is an ultramillionaire whose aim, we are told, is nothing short of the defeat of the civilized world and/or the enslavement of mankind (or, in the diabolical Saudi’s case, women). His loathing for Superman is personal: According to DC comics lore, Luthor went bad as a teenager when Superboy, rescuing him from a scientific experiment gone awry, inadvertently caused him to go bald. Similarly, the U.S. rescued bin Laden and the other mujahedin during the Afghanistan War, but then emasculated him by persuading the Saudis to take in our troops instead of his during the Gulf War.’
17 October 2001
[comment] What Now? … Bruce Sterling on what might happen next. [thanks to Paul]

‘Many More Wild Cards. This is neither an “age of terror” nor an “age of freedom”. This is an age of random calamities. It’s a genuine end of history, in which the passage of time in human affairs no longer has any rules as we previously understood them. There is no great historical narrative at hand, nor is there any grand scheme by which a rational analyst can make useful sense of events. NYC 9.11 is quickly eclipsed by other, biggest factors even more untoward and shocking: perhaps dumber acts of terror by even smaller groups, plus some Greenhouse calamities, an asteroid strike, some brand-new plagues, or even free beer and five cent nano-genetic intelligent cigars. Humankind has lost all control of our destiny and nothing can restore it. Probability: 3%’

16 October 2001
[comment] When War Drums Roll — more from Hunter S. Thompson …

‘Generals and military scholars will tell you that eight or 10 years is actually not such a long time in the span of human history — which is no doubt true — but history also tells us that 10 years of martial law and a war-time economy are going to feel like a Lifetime to people who are in their twenties today. The poor bastards of what will forever be known as Generation Z are doomed to be the first generation of Americans who will grow up with a lower standard of living than their parents enjoyed. That is extremely heavy news, and it will take a while for it to sink in. The 22 babies born in New York City while the World Trade Center burned will never know what they missed. The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what’s coming now. The party’s over, folks’

15 October 2001
[comment] The Making of a Master Criminal — John le Carré on the War on Terrorism … [via Follow Me Here]

‘The stylised television footage and photographs of Bin Laden suggest a man of homoerotic narcissism, and maybe we can draw a grain of hope from that. Posing with a Kalashnikov, attending a wedding or consulting a sacred text, he radiates with every self-adoring gesture an actor’s awareness of the lens. He has height, beauty, grace, intelligence and magnetism, all great attributes unless you’re the world’s hottest fugitive and on the run, in which case they’re liabilities hard to disguise. But greater than all of them, to my jaded eye, is his barely containable male vanity, his appetite for self-drama and his closet passion for the limelight. And just possibly this trait will be his downfall, seducing him into a final dramatic act of self-destruction, produced, directed, scripted and acted to death by Osama Bin Laden himself.’

14 October 2001
Lee Harvey Oswald and Tourist Guy[hoax] Tourist of Death vs. Tourist Guy [Related: Original Photo]

From Snopes Urban Legend Reference: ‘…the photo provokes sensations of horror in those who view it. It apparently captures the last fraction of a second of this man’s life . . . and also of the final moment of normalcy before the universe changed for all of us. In the blink of an eye, a beautiful yet ordinary fall day was transformed into flames and falling bodies, buildings collapsing inwards on themselves, and wave upon wave of terror washing over a populace wholly unprepared for a war beginning in its midst. The photo ripped away the healing distance brought by the nearly two weeks between the attacks and the appearance of this digital manipulation, leaving the sheer horror of the moment once again raw and bared to the wind. Though the picture wasn’t real, the emotions it stirred up were.’ [via Metafilter]
[comment] The New Evil … interesting view post 9-11 from Ha’aretz — a newspaper from Israel. [via Scripting News]

‘ …when a handful of fanatics carrying knives succeeded in gaining control over the advanced flight technology of the Boeing company and hurtling it into the advanced engineering technology that built and maintained the Twin Towers, they created a vast metaphor of appalling consequence. They made it clear to everyone who still didn’t get it that the story of the 21st century is going to be that of the enemies of the West using the technology of the West in order to strike at the West. What this fact signifies is that not only individual fanatics but fanatic states and fanatic sub-cultures are liable to shatter, within only a few years, the Euro-American monopoly on power. If they are not stopped immediately, they will try to undermine the foundations of the West by using levers of force that originate in the West itself.’

13 October 2001
[books] This is how it feels to me — Zadie Smith on what it’s like to be a writer at the moment…

‘We cannot be all the writers all the time. We can only be who we are. Which leads me to my second point: writers do not write what they want, they write what they can. When I was 21 I wanted to write like Kafka. But, unfortunately for me, I wrote like a script editor for The Simpsons who’d briefly joined a religious cult and then discovered Foucault. Such is life. And now, when I finish a long day of CNN-related fear and loathing mixed with eyeballing my own resolutely white screen, I do not crawl into bed with 500-page comic novels about (God help me, but it’s OK; I’m going to call on the safety of quote marks) “multicultural” London. I read Carver. Julio Cortázar. Amis’s essays. Baldwin. Lorrie Moore. Capote. Saramago. Larkin. Wodehouse. Anything, anything at all, that doesn’t sound like me.’

[comics] Newsarama covers DC’s plans for The Authority with reaction from Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch and Warren Ellis.

‘The Authority will not appear in any form we recognize for some time to come. Because for it to work, it must be callous. It must be horrible, and violent, and must be gleeful about what it’s doing. If it’s not cranked up to ridiculous volume, viciously insulting to the genre that spawned it and blatantly absurd in its scale and its disregard for human life… it’s just another superhero team book. You can find those anywhere. Unfortunately, the clash between the Authority style and the real-life events and attitudes surrounding it means that, at least for a little while, it’ll have to be just another superhero team book. If it’s going to be published at all. Personally, I think the audience is ready for it. It’s escapism, and it’s revenge fantasy on the biggest possible scale. But the people who make the decisions clearly believe otherwise.’ — Warren Ellis.

11 October 2001
[9-11] Has the world changed? [Part 1 | Part 2] … the Guardian asks a bunch of “23 eminent figures” their opinion…

Anthony Giddens: ‘You have to see this in terms of a certain continuity. There have been a range of terror attacks over the last 10 to 15 years, including suicide attacks, and while this event is so massive that it has made a tremendous impact on the public, it is connected to a very long history deeply intertwined with the Cold War. It is very important to avoid altogether the discourse of the “clash of civilisations” – not because it’s wholly untrue, but because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, a dangerous idea that becomes part of what it is supposed to describe. The clash, instead, is between a range of different fundamentalisms and the more cosmopolitan world society most of us would like to build. So the response to this should be more globalisation, more co-operation, more recognition of global interdependence. Because among the fundamentalists you have a global network, too, part and parcel of the very things to which they claim to be opposed.’

[wtf? wtf? wtf?] Osama Has a New Friend — Wired on Evil Bert and Bin Laden‘Reuters photographs of a rally this week organized by Jaamiat-e-Talabaye Arabia, a radical Islamic organization, show that protesters created a pro-bin Laden sign out of a collage of photos they apparently lifted from Internet sites. But — is it fate or coincidence? — the sign featured a Bert muppet sitting on the left side of the man believed to be responsible for the bloodiest terrorist attack in U.S. history.’ [Related: Bert is Evil, Metafilter and Fark Comments.]
10 October 2001
[9-11] Missing: but not lost — stunning image inspired by 9-11… more here. [via Black Belt Jones]
[interview] You Ask The Questions: P. J. O’Rourke‘A title of one of your early books was Give War a Chance. In the light of recent events, do you still hold to this credo? “Credo” is as it may be. But “Give Communications Intercepts, Intelligence Agent Penetration of Terrorist Cells, Limited Special Forces Covert Actions and Suppression of Worldwide Money-Laundering Activities a Chance” will never be a book title.’
9 October 2001
[ubl] Two views on bin Laden’s aims…

Bin Laden’s Vision Thing ‘…we are dealing with people with long historical memory. Ayman Zawahri, leader of the Egyptian Jihad, stated Sunday that his group “will not tolerate a recurrence of the Andalusia tragedy in Palestine.” (The Andalusia tragedy is the end of Moorish rule in Spain in 1492.) So the World Trade Towers had to come down because some psychopath can’t come to grips with the end of World War I? Basically, yes. In bin Laden’s universe, that was when everything started to go wrong.’

Astute Bin Laden raises the stakes ‘Bin Laden is successfully polarising opinion. He proved tactically astute on Sunday in releasing his video soon after the attack. His videotaped interview was designed to address the three main Arab grievances: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Iraqi sanctions; and the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. He also referred to America’s atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as an example of US “world crime”.’
[comics] Comic Book World Is Not Immune From Terror Attacks — another look at Marvel and DC’s reaction to 9-11 with comments from John Romita Jr. and J. Michael Straczynski‘Although Mr. Romita tries to limit the violence he draws, he regularly blows up empty warehouses, knocks off portions of buildings and shows Spider-Man battling evil in the streets of the city. “I have done this before — why is this so hard?” Mr. Romita said in a telephone interview, as he sat in his office in San Diego, drawing pictures of superheroes quietly aiding firefighters searching the debris. “The answer is obvious,” he said of his creative struggle. “There are thousands and thousands of people beneath that rubble.”‘ [via WEF]
8 October 2001
[comment] Rhetoric to arouse the Islamic world — interesting insight into Bin Laden’s aims … ‘Bin Laden believes himself to be a latterday embodiment of Saladin: a militarily gifted defender of the faith, willing to jettison Islam’s tradition of peaceful reflection and do what is necessary to drive the infidels out of the holy shrines. To this son of a Saudi construction magnate, it is a historic settling of scores.’
7 October 2001
[ubl] An Ernst Stavro Blofeld for our Times … article comparing Osama bin Laden with the Bond Villian. ‘Of course what the public craves in all this is a real-life James Bond to tackle him. Unfortunately, the secret service has changed since the days of 007. Out have gone the cocktails, the girls and the relentless innuendo, to be replaced by a new politically correct streak. The CIA, for example, has spent 20,000 man-hours in a year on “sensitivity training” and the sewing of quilts to celebrate cultural diversity.’

Kill bin Laden or risk catastrophe, says FBI‘Officials in the Justice Department and intelligence services believe that the bin Laden network, still operative in cells across the globe, would implode if he were beheaded. Investigators laid out two scenarios: “There’s a notion that if you behead the snake, another two crawl out of the swamp,” said one official. “This situation is the opposite: cut off the snake’s head and the body shrivels up. The important thing is to get the man”.’
5 October 2001
[comment] Robert Anton Wilson on The War Against Some Terrorists‘Just as the War Against Drugs would make some kind of sense if they honestly called it a War Against Some Drugs, I regard Dubya’s current Kampf as a War Against Some Terrorists. I may remain wed to that horrid heresy until he bombs CIA headquarters in Langtry.’ [via Fark]
3 October 2001
[politics] Full Text of Tony Blair’s Conference Speech [Part 1 | Part 2]

‘Just two weeks ago, in New York, after the church service I met some of the families of the British victims. It was in many ways a very British occasion. Tea and biscuits. It was raining outside. Around the edge of the room, strangers making small talk, trying to be normal people in an abnormal situation. And as you crossed the room, you felt the longing and sadness; hands clutching photos of sons and daughters, wives and husbands; imploring you to believe them when they said there was still an outside chance of their loved ones being found alive, when you knew in truth that all hope was gone. And then a middle-aged mother looks you in the eyes and tells you her only son has died, and asks you: why? I tell you: you do not feel like the most powerful person in the country at times like that. Because there is no answer. There is no justification for their pain. Their son did nothing wrong. The woman, seven months pregnant, whose child will never know its father, did nothing wrong. They don’t want revenge. They want something better in memory of their loved ones.’

[comics] Will Superheroes Meet Their Doom? … Time on what happens to the mainstream comic book industry after 9-11. ‘…publishers Marvel and DC may feel the impact most of all. They are both located in New York, but that’s not the reason why. They both specialize in a kind of entertainment, superhero books, that suddenly seems off-key. Who can now abide the fantasy of an evil madman’s nefarious plot to kill thousands of people being foiled by a muscle-bound troglodyte?’ [via Comic Geek]
27 September 2001
[comics] Tragedy Hits America — Jack Chick on 9-11. ‘…here is a word of caution….politicians are trying to hold this whole mess together by creating some kind of all encompassing, universal “god”, composed of all kinds of “gods”, that doesn’t offend anybody including the Muslim god “Allah”. The Bible says there is only one true God, who did have a Son and that Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the answer for the needs of every human being. Our God is a jealous God and will share His glory with none other’ [via Fark]
[9-11] Ground Zero’s vital crumbs of comfort — Stephen Jay Gould in NYC … ‘Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the “ordinary” efforts of a vast majority.’
[comment] America’s day of terror [transcript | Audio] … Alastair Cooke on 9-11. ‘I turned on a 24-hour news station and saw a kind of movie I detest of the towering inferno type. The roaring image of a monolith collapsing like a concertina in a vast plume of smoke. And just as I pressed my thumb to switch to the “real world” I caught the familiar voice of a news man and was in the appalling real world of Tuesday 11 September 2001 – a date which to Americans will live in infamy along with the memories of Pearl Harbour – December 7, 1941 – and the grievous day of President Kennedy’s assignation. Before nightfall a famous old United States senator was to call it “the most tragic day in American history” and by that time, numb from the apocalyptic images, no historian was going to question the senator’s definition by bringing up, say, the Civil War and a million dead. But in our time – in my time certainly – the most startling, awful morning I can remember.’
26 September 2001
[blogs] Blogorama — excellent links and comments on 9-11. ‘I am beginning to think that the west’s greatest armaments – gyms, lapdancing and general decadence – may be of limited use in the coming conflict.’
[background] Why We Need Conspiracy Theories — from BBC News … ‘According to Psychology Professor Cary Cooper we are trying to stave off fear of random violence and unpredictable death. “They do that because they can’t come to terms with the fact that it could be just a few people,” said Professor Cooper, who lectures at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. “If you think it’s a rogue person or an unsophisticated group you start worrying about your daily life. If this can happen, what sense of security can you have?” We create alternate realities because we reject the world where a single madman can bring down a president, a reckless driver can snuff out a princess… and a few men with knives can terrorise a country.’
Holy Fucking Shit. Attack on America.[9-11] American Life Turns Into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie — the Onion’s take on 9-11. ‘When the president finally appeared on TV, it was George W. Bush addressing the nation, not Bill Pullman or Harrison Ford. At the conclusion of his address, Bush did not grab a leggy blonde reporter out of the crowd and kiss her. When Americans finally staggered into the streets, desperate to talk to anyone to try to make sense of what they had just seen, there were no Attack On America collector cups waiting for them at Taco Bell. The dead and injured did not, like Jon Voight, stand up in their wheelchairs as the music swelled. And Ben Affleck was nowhere to be seen.’
25 September 2001
[character] Portrait Of The Terrorist As A Young Man … The Guardian on Osama Bin Laden’s early years. ‘Yet of the young Osama there is almost nothing. Repeatedly, Saudi sources are cited describing him as “normal”, “unexceptional”, “quiet”, “intense”. Three years ago, the staff of one American magazine clearly struggled to dream up a subhead for the section of a Bin Laden profile dealing with his youth, but ended up inadvertently crystallising the state of our knowledge in six words. They were: “Ordinary young man – then joined jihad.”‘ [Related: Bin Laden Family Portrait, Steve Bell on Bin Laden]
18 September 2001
[comment] Fear and Loathing — Martin Amis on 9-11 … ‘It was the advent of the second plane, sharking in low over the Statue of Liberty: that was the defining moment. Until then, America thought she was witnessing nothing more serious than the worst aviation disaster in history; now she had a sense of the fantastic vehemence ranged against her. I have never seen a generically familiar object so transformed by effect. That second plane looked eagerly alive, and galvanised with malice, and wholly alien. For those thousands in the south tower, the second plane meant the end of everything. For us, its glint was the worldflash of a coming future.’
16 September 2001
[comment] Fall of Empire: Bombs and Magic … Grant Morrison on 9-11. ‘Their destruction in this week’s monstrous assault on thousands of unsuspecting people, signals an end to America’s illusions about itself, its purpose and its boundaries. The isolationist image of a proud cowboy nation using super technology to defend us all against Cold War evil empire nuclear missile attacks is shattering along all its fault lines. Superman has just been exposed to Kryptonite. The American Century is very clearly over now as the shift in global power moves away from hi-fi monolithic, ‘individualistic’ structures towards lo-fi, viral cell culture models.’
[comment] ‘We just have to stop being Americans for a little while’ — P. J. O’Rourke was in Washington… ‘The four of us walked to the Dubliner bar on North Capitol. “The Congressional leadership,” said the second staffer, “has been whisked off to ‘an undisclosed location’. As far as I’m concerned they can keep most of them there,” which touches on another theory of terrorism, that the organisation of society can be attacked by striking organisations; that we can’t organise things ourselves. “Four Guinnesses,” said the first senate staffer to the bartender. “Time to take sides,” said the second staffer. “Time to turn sand into glass,” said the first.’
[comment] Religion’s misguided missiles — Richard Dawkins view… ‘I am trying to call attention to the elephant in the room that everybody is too polite – or too devout – to notice: religion, and specifically the devaluing effect that religion has on human life. I don’t mean devaluing the life of others (though it can do that too), but devaluing one’s own life. Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.’
15 September 2001
[nyc] Brightness fallsJay McInerney writes about the last few days in NYC … ‘Jeffrey lived in Jersey, and had no way to get home; he was going to look for a hotel room since all transit, all bridges and tunnels were closed. I told him to call me if he couldn’t find shelter, and Jeanine gave him my name and number. He looked at my name and asked me if I was the author of Bright Lights, Big City. “I just realised something,” he said. “Wasn’t the World Trade Centre on the cover of your book?” “My God,” I said, “I hadn’t thought of that.”‘
[news] The Images That Won’t Let Us Go … The Washington Post on news addiction. ‘…then it is back to the TV, back inside the bubble. Maybe this is our way of seeking meaning. Maybe it’s an act of mourning, or a form of therapy. Information is supposed to be power. But taking it all in, you only feel restless. And profoundly weak.’ [via Slashdot]
14 September 2001
[comics] Comic Book Monsters — from the Letters Page of the Guardian. ‘The omnipotence of American culture and childhood innocence ended in our house on September 11. I sat with my young son watching the images from the World Trade Centre. Suddenly we saw people hanging from the windows at the top of the stricken tower. “Mum,” he said, “where’s Spiderman? He could save them.” Later, as I tucked him up in bed, he asked sleepily, “Is Spiderman not real, mum?”‘ [via Comic Geek]
[comment] Blake Morrison on the attack: ‘…there is the history and symbolism. America has just been violated as never before. We’ve seen the heart of the world’s greatest empire – its military brain and financial nerve centre – going up in smoke. None of us was there to see the siege of Troy, the fall of Constantinople, the burning of Rome, the Great Fire of London, but we’ve often wondered what they were like. This time there were cameras present.’