Thursday, January 24, 2008


I've just been watching an hour or so of The Falling Man - the story of one photograph taken on 9/11, chosen by one newspaper to represent the horror of the attack on the World Trade Center and then, strangely, disappearing. This image of one man who had jumped from a window high in the tower to avoid the unspeakable horrors of fire and smoke was remarkable in that in this one of many frames taken of his descent he appeared composed and - to quote the film - "almost zen-like". It was replaced in the media by more obviously heroic images of firefighters and rescuers toiling in the wreckage, and America seemed to turn away from the knowledge that people had chosen to jump from the buildings.

I find this very strange. I think there are big bits of the American psyche I don't get, to do with the flag and invincibility and emotional reactions and self-image as a nation. But admitting vulnerability might make a difference in all sorts of ways.


  1. Well, Chris, as an American, I guess I cannot offer any great insights...

    I do know that we Americans feel that many things are held from us by the media, kind of leaving us in the dark. We suspect a bit of censorship going on, but would be hard-pressed to prove it.

    I remember turning on the television that morning, after hearing on the radio what was happening. I couldn't believe my appeared that "someone" was attacking...who? why?

    Perhaps the media (and government) wished to portray the incident as a travesty, feeling that the "Falling Man" would represent cowardice. Instead, we were given many images of heros and heroines. People from all over the country came to NYC to offer help in recovering bodies. Perhaps we were given a slanted bias to make us good and angry....

    I do remember reading on one of my email lists....a woman who worked in Manhattan said she watched from the window of her building. She said a man flew past the window...looking so strangely calm. She described his suit, his tie flapping about his face. This was within minutes of the attack. She said this would haunt her over and over.

    Of course, there will be those who claim that people did not jump, but were "sucked" out of the building.

    I wish I could offer a good explanation, but American "pride" means so many different things to Americans. Vulnerable? Oh Lord, I am SO vulnerable.I cry when anyone insults me, or hurts me. I have never seen myself as one who is "proud"....but I must admit, I always admired those who were/are....Not a pride that is destructive, but one that gives a person a stance to stand no matter what the world hurls their way. I would only hope to be as the Apostle Paul, "boasting" in my Lord!

    I guess one of the biggest things that makes this country seem so strong is the fact that it covers such a huge block of real estate. And, as such, there are so many diverse people and feelings.....

  2. Katya, of course I make these generalisations and realise even as I do it that that's what they are. But I think you're right about the size of the USA being a factor in shaping attitudes: when we were there for a month at this time last year, we found out just how little the UK featured in the general consciousness. We felt we maybe had a slight advantage in that, being Scots, we came from Brigadoon ...