On this day we should remember all who died on this date and all—thousands upon thousands—who have died since. The dogs of war were unleashed in the aftermath of 9/11 and the people of the US have been urged—not to think or feel, contemplate or reflect on all that has gone down—but to keep spending, to buy, to acquire and consume until there is nothing left.
My response on that day was to take my too young son to an overlook in my town in New Jersey and watch the burning towers on the not too distant horizon line of New York City. Later in the day I’d see ash covered commuters exciting the train, making calls from phone booths. This began to bring home the magnitude of what had happened. From my remote perspective all was barely distinguishable from an action movie. That very morning the cable guy had just set us up. I was upstairs in my studio working on an illustration assignment when the radio went fuzzy. The cable guy called up to say he was done. He turned on the TV and the first thing we saw was a plane flying into the World Trade Center, and we both stood there, our mouths open.
A few months later EXIT ART did a show called REACTIONS that was open to all. The comedians couldn’t laugh any more and the artists were struggling to find visual equivalence. These were my contributions. Small drawings and graphics. Attempts to grapple with so many conflicting thoughts and feelings. Anger. Retribution. Absurdity of Life. Sanctity of Life. Anger at all Religion carte blanche. Fury at Governments and politicians and armies sending simple children to fight their wars without question. My own sense of futility and impotence. The fragility of everything. The wonder of people wanting to help, reach out, touch and hold.
Pete Hamill , today, talking with Brian Lehrer on WNYC, articulates well many in that mixed bag of feelings from that time that continue to jostle from within.