Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
August 23, 2006

Your Turn: Pregnant Pause

Vf-Wtc

(click for full size)

Besides responsibility for the senseless death of thousands of American service people in Iraq, and the squandering of America’s reputation around the world, the greatest sin committed by George Bush was the hijacking of 9/11.

As an American, a parent, and a psychologist seeing a full caseload of patients that September, the intensity of the shock and anxiety generated by the terror attacks was unimaginable, particularly as a collective social experience.  By immediately politicizing and appropriating the incident for his own purposes, Bush deprived individual Americans and the cultural as a whole of the opportunity to own, make sense and create meaning out of the event in a more open, deliberate and intentional way.

Like any trauma, these experiences eventually make their way to the surface on their own.  We are seeing many instances now in the arts and media.  For example, Vanity Fair has a photo gallery this month of images from the new book Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11 by editor David Friend.  I found the images very powerful, especially those, like the one above, that capture elements of “normal” life in direct juxtaposition with visual display of the breaking tragedy.

In this image, according to VF: “architect and amateur pilot Isabel Daser, eight months pregnant, asked a co-worker to take her portrait as a record of the day” but Daser was not aware of what was taking place in the distance.

I am interested in your impressions of this image, both as a stimulus for your own recollection and for your associations to this startling scene.

(image: Isabel Daser Bessler via Vanity Fair.  Photo Essay Feature.  8/21/06)

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