September 5, 2006

9/11 As A Long Term Loss


(full pixels here)

I greatly appreciate this latest cover of TIME.  It presumes a look back at 9/11 from a distance of 30 years.  The prominent “We” makes me think of the layout in terms of an American identify crisis.  (Time projection aside, however, isn’t the underlying point that the U.S. lost or got lost — and it didn’t take so long?)

What I find most fascinating is that the shot was captured from (and identifies America with) The Chrysler Building, whereas the most logical symbolic successor to the WTC — surely from a power standpoint, as well as from the most direct angle — would be the Empire State Building.

As elegant as it is, looking back from the Chrysler Building makes it seem like America’s place in the world, 30 years out, has become merely quaint.  (The advancing dusk also implies an “eclipsed empire,” as defined by the western sun.)

And what of the eagle — more forlorn than riveting?  I see ironic associations to (lady) liberty and to gargoyles on historical religious structures.  And then, there’s also the identification with power-obsessed totalitarian regimes.

Looking back to today, how much is the empire in eclipse because third string leadership at a key turning point turned America into a steel ornament ?

And how much is the assumption of loss an arbitrary result when, under different circumstances, the country (plus 30, or plus 5) could, as easily, have emerged stronger and facing forward?

(image: Louie Psihoyos.  TIME.  September 11, 2006.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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