I never really could add anything more than myself to any given topic. I hope that I can be useful. I would like to ask: can anyone in their right mind believe this next statement?
"For twentysomethings, last Tuesday also meant that we could die. Personally, I don’t think I was entirely convinced that Americans under 30 were destructible until last week."
--Camille Dodero, "The end of unbridled irony", Boston Phoenix
I am part of the "September 11th Generation". I'm supposed to feel angry and scared, or patriotic and proud, or something - something directly related to this tragic event's place in my tender teenaged years. Supposed by whom? I don't know. The media may distort, but it rarely ever conjures from nothing, and thus there must be some basis in authority for the articles I've read delineating what I feel and how I will act as a result. I am, if I were to approach what seems to be the current media consensus, a worried patriotic Christian with a large amount of public service to my name. About a year before September 11th, I was a video-game obsessed super-predator, a bomb waiting to go off. I guess before that I was a junior Internet jockey destined for Silicon Valley stardom.
I realize that I'm the wrong letter. I'll say it anyway. Whatever.
I am only able to conceive of things socially. It is beyond an interest with me; it is a mild pathology that I have to keep in check day by day. When I see a person my age, I see practically nothing until I talk to them for quite some time, begin to be able to predict their modes of thought, hear something of their personal history. If I cannot secure a person within my prior prejudices, I do one of two things: I run, or I become infatuated.
It would be very difficult to fall in love with our generation; I know this. I have a Britney Spears poster on my wall, pinned by lust, laminated in cheap irony, and I sure can't remember buying it, although I undoubtedly did so with my parents' money. So the pathological social-heads, my peers who have been granted tenure or even executive positions because of their sickness, play a dangerous game: to "understand" is to control, and the less complex the understanding, the more direct the power exercised by every one-page article in Newsweek or editorial in the Washington Post. September 11th Child, Super-Predator, Internet Kid.
You see, we really don't care. But they already beat that one dead, and no one wants to read the same old story again. So America needs a generation that pops, something dynamic! Exclamation points! Tragedy! Adversity! Quick! Of course! So many people dying at the hands of the Enemy, the Other, must have had some nigh-universal impact. We want war! Or no war! We want more aggressive foreign policy! Or less American involvement overseas! We want candy! And to save the endangered Alaskan salmon.
Am I putting the actual events of a year ago on the sideline? Yes. I have to do so. So does CNN, and the President; so do the critics of American foreign policy, and your concerned citizen on the street. 24 hours of record-breaking ratings! A corporate bail-out to end all others! An unprecedented view on the effects of imperialism! I feel so different! Is this wrong? No. It is necessary, whether for good or ill intention. Even those whose loved ones died in the attack may put The Events aside today - because one or two or more people that they know died a year ago today. That's not "the terrorist attacks on September 11th". That's death, that death, these deaths, not "the terrorist attacks." The totality of that experience simply is, and god knows none of us are going to simply sit and stare at that same videotape over and over until it loses meaning. We don't want to, perhaps we shouldn't, and it's not like CNN is going to let us anyhow, because the FDNY interview is on in five minutes.
I am farther left than much of my generation. Maybe. I'd like to think not, but there it is. Before September 11th, I was pretty sure that the revolution wasn't going to happen among my peers. Afterwards, I was completely sure. And then, when leftist and revolutionary organizations registered actual jumps in membership, I went back to being pretty sure. I dealt with the attacks through a leftist lens, critical of the United States, because I felt obligated - just like the guy down the street who covered everything in flag stickers, and the Fox News anchors who wore American flag lapel pins, and the people in the back room who made the neat graphic under which reporters could frown thoughtfully. Nothing new, to be certain. The entire country borrowed The Events from those who died - the terrorists and the victims alike - and put them to use for their own ends. It all changed the way we wanted it to change. It still does.
I have asked my peers today, male and female, Democrat and Republican, Green and Communist, white and black, gay and straight: did September 11th change your life in any significant way?
Shrugs win by a landslide.
A writeup was penned by NOTfnordian a little while ago, and nuked shortly thereafter. Apatrix retained the entire text, and shared it with me. I have asked the author to post the writeup again at this node. I will ask the rest of you, not for "my generation", but for me: Don’t nuke it. Read it. And read it again. And again. Don’t even bother reflecting. It just is.
What will I do? I’m wearing a white shirt in solidarity for peace and nonviolence or some other pinko hippie crap. I think I will get very drunk tonight, so drunk as to approach genuineness, and then I will toast to the memory of those who died, because it will be very romantic for me to do. For me. Does it surprise you that we have had one “Me Generation” after another? We will have many more, because we are a “me” country, like Britain, like Rome. Our self-reflection is a luxury related to our power. That is what empire means.
I will wait a year, and try again - maybe as a thing, and not just an idea.