Calhoun's Cannons For Sept 11, 2014
It is difficult at times to repress the thought that history is about as instructive as an abattoir.
This day, the airwaves are flooded with September 11th remembrances -- all those endless tape loops of planes and buildings and dust and chaos. And death. So much death.
I don't plan on watching any of the specials. Nothing new there. Just heartache and sadness, the old wounds. On the TV news, the twin towers will fall again and again, each rerun more awful than the other. The Falling Man, that horrifying signature photograph of a man who jumped from the burning heights, will still remain halfway between sky and earth -- Schrodinger's cat in a business suit, permanently existing and not existing. There is no saving him. The script cannot be rewritten, the film unspooled. He will fall forever.
A day after that day, while the TV news was still filled with scenes of unbearable ugliness, without really being conscious of what I was doing, I went out and bought a wine-barrel planter and some flowers. It was rather silly, this thought that the horror in New York and Pennsylvania and Washington DC, could be countered in any way by some petunias. But there it was. The need to put something of beauty, something living, into the ground.
Locally, Mr. Tutt must have felt a similar urge because within hours of the onslaught his huge crane appeared on the corner of Los Osos Valley Road and South Bay Blvd, a giant American flag waving on the top of the crane's arm. And on the truck itself, as if by magic, local citizens, driven as I was to somehow reclaim something living, something renewing, had started putting vases of flowers on the truck-bed of this touching, home-grown memorial shrine.
But no amount of flowers could begin to counter the darkness that was unleashed on that bright blue day. The stain of an unnecessary war upon a region already cracking apart from barely contained sectarian violence, state-sanctioned torture, murder, destruction, death; the absolute worst human nature has to offer. Osama had opened the box and the insanity was unleashed. Celebrated. Reveled in. A world gone mad.
And so it remains today. Lessons unlearned. Hard to disagree with Seamus: The world as an abattoir. Countless dead, all that pain and loss, and for what? A new skyscraper pierces the heavens where the ghost of the Twin Towers stands: Business as usual. Osama bin Laden is gone, his cerebral dreams of a pristine, purified caliphate degenerated into a sadistic British thug done up as a badass rapping Ninja Warrior holding a bloody knife in one hand, a reporter's head in the other. You-Tube Jihad.
Muhammad himself would weep in shame.
So on this day, no re-runs for me, thank you. The past is irredeemable. And, anyway, we have far sadder things to focus on. As I sit typing this, the radio news has announced the latest U.N. report that the world's CO2 numbers are now well past the no-return, tipping-point numbers.
Which means on this day, the dire consequences of global warming are now unstoppable. Locked, and loaded, they have targeted all of us. Ignoring science and dismissing our future, we have flown our own planes into our own Twin Towers.
It is a supreme irony. Now, like The Falling Man, we are all Schrodinger's Cat. And no amount of petunias in wine-barrel planters or crane trucks with flags and flowers will save us and our children from what's coming.