september 2001

click here for permalink September 28, 2001

It's been a month since my last update... Should I preface that confession with a "Bless me, father, for I have sinned?" In the first week of September, I simply had no words... and then, suddenly, too many...

And on that very day... you know which one... my computer staged an unexpected tribute of its own, turning the last three weeks of my life into a prolonged Moment of Silence. I would like to extend my apologies to those friends and relatives of mine who prefer to read all of my self-absorbed whining rather than experience it in person and, to the one who likened her repeated, fruitless visits to a junkie's desperate search for a fresh vein, I extend my most heartfelt sympathies. I am, of course, thrilled that I inspire in my friends such lurid imagery.

Well. Here we are. FUCK. I'm staring at two pages (both sides) full of notes that were scrawled out in a frantic, asterisked and footnoted stream of consciousness rush just two hours ago. Over the last three weeks, a number of pages just like them have been exorcised in the same fashion, only to be discarded as rapidly as they wrote themselves when my critical faculties returned. No copy-paste? Crumple. These two pages are, in a practical sense, three weeks worth of mental and emotional Kundalini yoga on the subject of our fucked-up world and what's going on in it.

But now that I'm typing, and my fingers stand a chance of keeping up with my brain, I'm not sure what I can add to the already deafening roar of words spinning out into our collective consciousness. I'm not sure what I want to add or whether I want to make a point at all. There are so many strong emotions in the air and this Thing that must be dealt with — for most of us, indirectly, but the sense of alteration... all of us are dealing with that.

Three weeks ago, I was gripped with a sudden feeling of relief to be living in Canada right now... instead of that place where I've been sending resumes. Mostly, I felt relief for my mother, her beautiful pacifist heart gripped by every emotion at once in front of the morning news, holding close her husband and a stable of pets, but never having to wonder for even a second if I was safe.

After the first twenty four hours, CNN became an undisputed 24-hour uplink to The World and the days, suddenly flowing by commercial- and sitcom-free, felt longer for all their weight and depth. Relief at the distance between myself and Ground Zero was short-lived and replaced by a furious desire to be at the very heart of it. I was riveted by the smoldering energy of a civilization in crisis, addicted to the sound of raw, unscripted truth pouring out into the world to nourish souls starved for a connection.

All day and night, on every channel, from circling helicopters and the shaking hands of exhausted paramedics, we are transmitted images of canyons of twisted concrete and glass, close ups of collapsed storefronts and demolished lobbies. These images are burned into our minds; mountains of unidentifiable ruin and that one jagged wall reaching up out of the wreckage. The Twin Towers still crackle with kinetic energy, beckoning to our battle-scarred souls from the smoking epicenter of our new reality.

And so, it comes to war. A few Canadian journalists, roused from their usual editorial ambivalence by current events, have begun to seethe and snipe about their neighbor to the South and the prospect of being dragged into a war they'd rather not wage. It's like watching your spoiled little brother complain about doing the dishes after you've just finished resurfacing the driveway.

I'm not going to wax absentee patriotic here but I believe there are two schools of thought on this subject that are equally dangerous; one is a blind belief in America's Cold War image as the Military Superpower poised to blast any enemy back to the Stone Age. But what if they're already there? We've learned an awful lesson; all the money in the world couldn't buy us a little peace.

Equally dangerous and, ironically, even more arrogant is the belief is that, if "violence begets violence," the opposite must also be true. We all want peace — does anyone truly imagine that further acts of war can be avoided by setting a positive example and refusing to retaliate? Turning away from our enemies will not make them see reason or the value of human life and it won't absolve us of our own sins.

I feel inexplicably optimistic in the face of 24-hour war coverage and I'm strangely reassured by the sight of Rudy Giuliani, New York's new icon of strength and sensitivity. I'm a little embarrassed, but growing less so every day, to find myself rooting for George W. Bush, a man who just barely broke the nation's closest tie to claim the Presidency one year ago, and who is now enjoying a 91% approval rating (the highest in American history), all the while dropping phrases from the Old West and explaining our military initiatives with hunting analogies.

I am, however, still unable to look at pictures of the two towers intact, captured against the blue sky of that morning in a final salute, their impossible height and stark beauty more chilling now than the images of their destruction.