Dé Domhnaigh 11 Meán Fómhair 2011

Approaching 9/11

On 9/11/11, I find that I don't know what to say. But I feel that I can't let this day go by without offering some of my words. For all the coverage and comment on the attacks and the following trauma, there's a sense of something that has been left unsaid since that terrible day ten years ago. I don't think this feeling has been intentionally left unexpressed; I actually think that the darker side to human nature that was displayed on that day (and during the war that ensued) has struck a deep emotive part of our humanity dumb. 'Modernity' in literary terms is punctuated by the stark realities of war, as the First and Second world wars brought the horrors of the battle-field closer to home. The battle-field can be anywhere now, and attack can come from all directions. It seems that civilians are just as likely to be targeted as the soldier of war. We live in a continual state of fear, whether we're aware of it on a conscious level or not. Modern literature has the trait of being quite explicit, but words are not enough. Modern (and/or post-modern) writers continue to struggle with their craft in dealing with and addressing the issues of humanity in our new context. We haven't developed a healthy coping mechanism to deal with the trauma that humanity had suffered in a relatively short space of time in our history. Images of human destruction have begun to permeate our unconscious minds at such a fast rate and at a collective human level, and the effect is devastating. But it is unspoken. The 'anxiety' of modern life is often spoken of, but it's time that we addressed the causes of our anxiety. It's not enough to cover traumatising events in the media, and to film all sorts of documentaries about the people involved. It certainly helps, as it is a communal experience that transcends continents. But unfortunately it also has a bit of a superficial feel to it. It is remote. 

I admitted earlier that I didn't know what to say. I also don't know what exactly needs to be done to tackle our unconscious/subconscious. Everyone has their own way of dealing with trauma. Coming from an artistic approach, I would like to see people use creative methods of channeling their emotions, whether they understand them or not. I believe everyone has the capacity to be creative, and should not be afraid to reach inside themselves and pull whatever it is out of them and transfigure their feelings into some external form. [Sounds artsy fartsy, but I'm only expressing a simple proposition in an artsy fartsy way! :P] I'm not familiar with 9/11 art or writing, for example, but I'm sure it exists and I would like to seek it out and highlight it. I suppose our anxiety is linked to the notion of the individual. We feel alone in our individuality. We took it too far. We're still a community. We're an even bigger community these days! The Arts and Humanities as a discipline are under attack in the academic world. The general consensus is that it is 'not practical'. This highlights how we have begun to react against our own humanity and our own expression. This attitude needs to change now. For centuries, the human experience was commented on in a safe way through story and song. The communal artistic event affected the individual privately. They experienced their own emotions individually, but with the comfort of being surrounded by their fellow men and women. This sort of experience has diminished greatly; I think it's time for a revival. Instead of looking up to leaders (political, religious, or whatever), we should look both inwards and at each other to help us get over the trauma of the dark hours in our history. Art in its many forms is one safe approach for us to take in dealing with dark and hidden aspects of ourselves both individually and as a community.

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