Re-Viewing 9/11’s Suppressed Images

IMAGE 1 Lauren Walsh in Nomadikon:

On this occasion of the ten-year anniversary of September 11th, we are, instead of remembering the events of that fateful day, concealing them under a mountain of American mythology.

The New York Philharmonic announced in June that it will hold a memorial concert to mark the anniversary. A result of this, said Zarin Mehta, the orchestra’s president, is that the free summer concerts, held in city parks across the five boroughs for the past 45 years, must be canceled. This unfortunate undoing of a tradition of collective cultural appreciation will make way for a commemorative performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, the “Resurrection.”

The New York Times noted that this is “[o]ne of the first major 9/11 cultural remembrances announced so far.” Not only will many others follow, but they will be exceedingly similar in tone. They will acknowledge loss, but primarily they will celebrate resurrections. They will foreground the heroes. They will mark our resiliency, as a city and a nation. They will continue to construct a triumphal narrative of 9/11 that began shortly after 8:46 a.m. nearly ten years ago.

If the recent past is any predictor, these cultural remembrances will also carry on the practice of ignoring some of the gruesome details of that date, especially the manner in which an entire category of victims perished. These victims constitute approximately 7% of those who died in New York City—they are the men and women who fell and jumped to their deaths from the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center.

The Forgotten 7%

In the United States the photos of victims falling and jumping from the World Trade Center towers generally ran in the newspapers for one single day—September 12, 2001—and then never again. Those photos were deemed too painful, too much a violation of the dying moments of the victims depicted.