The 9/11 museum

This is utterly preliminary. Dierdre McCabe Nolan has posted the Times’ review of the 9/11 museum and she asks us all how we feel about the place, whether we believe we’ll ever go.  I wrote the following in response, and would love to hear more from many others:

I actually knew (still know but we’ve changed bar scenes, my bar scene being no bar at all anymore) one of the main restorers who worked on some of this material for YEARS in a hangar at JFK. Fascinating work: a column covered in messages taped on: remember those? Missing, my father… etc. He would photograph every inch, then carefully remove each sheet, replace the glue on the original piece of tape– keeping the backing, mind — cleaning off the cheap original glue and applying a permanent glue; he’d treat the paper to keep it from aging, etc. and then meticulously put the whole thing back together as it had been. The hyper-authenticity of the curator taken to extreme degrees. Of course in that context and so treated, nothing is actually authentic: leaving it out in the elements to rot and be pissed on would be more authentic but…. that all is by way of saying that I have a distinct curiosity about the technical approach of the museum and seeing some of my friend’s work. That said, and not having as yet read the review above or any other, I do fear the patriotic shit and whatever influence has been weilded by the fucking families, who, having tasted the ambrosia of moral justification, of sainthood by proxy, have been relentlessly blowhard on all matters 9/11. What such a museum should capture, I fear this one won’t: as Dante wrote “Caddi come corpo morto cade….” (I fell as a dead body falls.) The bodies falling down through blue and silver light, some holding hands, some bicycling madly in mid-air, the terrible sound of their landings, and yet, in those numbers and in those circumstances and despite the terror, the absolute terror of it, the fleeting freedom in clear air; plus the blackness of the holes in the sides of the buildings, the smoke that hung over downtown for months after, the magnesium-white kleig lights set up down there at night for the metal workers to keep cutting away at the debris to find the dead (And the olive tree blown white in the wind ….What whiteness would you add to this whiteness? What candor?) all the altered subway routes and that day the extraordinary silence  no traffic no trains and walking up Broadway all the blank and silent faces, the hundred unforgettable forms of eeriness introduced into our lives; and too the beauty it brought us, the kindness, the sense of love for one another: it was huge, it was magnificent.  And then how this was systematically destroyed by the politics of armed response and patriotic bullshit and torture and aggression and lies. the fucking flags everywhere — get us Todd Gitlin’s flag and I will tell him this: in my lifetime, the resort to the American flag has always stood for “More Killing.”  Capture that, and yes, I’ll want to see it.

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