On the 18th Anniversary of 9/11: A Problem & Question of Remembrance

September 11

September 11, 2001. I remember. Where I was. What I did. What I said.

I am not alone.

9/11 is a generational mega-event, indelibly branded on the psychic flesh of human consciousness. Today, throughout the world, many are the official observances and countless the more personal remembrances.

All laudable.

And predictable.

For the purpose of remembrance, particularly public commemoration, is to draw us together in solidarity. In this, I think, is a problem of remembrance. For in the renewal of (especially, national) unity, we can be tempted to forego the necessary historical and ethical work of asking what have we learned?

Moreover, I think that remembrance is inherently problematic for it nurtures an illusion about our capacity to remember. Truth is, if one has to have experienced it (to have been there) in order to remember, then as generations come and go, as our historical retellings, thus, our impartation to our children and our children’s children, grow fuzzy with age, there can be no eternal, universally-held memories. Of anything.

If that’s true, then it deepens the question. After nearly a score of years, what have we, in our day, learned for our day from this generational mega-event?

What is it that we can and do remember today?

I shall ponder my question for myself. Perhaps later today I may (or may not) have something of an answer.

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