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Monday, April 07, 2008

The Falling Man


... he departs from this earth like an arrow.

Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying.

He appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion.

He does not appear intimidated by gravity's divine suction or by what awaits him. His arms are by his side, only slightly outriggered.

His left leg is bent at the knee, almost casually. His white shirt, or jacket, or frock, is billowing free of his black pants. His black high-tops are still on his feet.

In all the other pictures, the people who did what he did -- who jumped -- appear to be struggling against horrific discrepancies of scale. They are made puny by the backdrop of the towers, which loom like colossi, and then by the event itself. Some of them are shirtless; their shoes fly off as they flail and fall; they look confused, as though trying to swim down the side of a mountain.

The man in the picture, by contrast, is perfectly vertical, and so is in accord with the lines of the buildings behind him. He splits them, bisects them: Everything to the left of him in the picture is the North Tower; everything to the right, the South.

Though oblivious to the geometric balance he has achieved, he is the essential element in the creation of a new flag, a banner composed entirely of steel bars shining in the sun.

Some people who look at the picture see stoicism, willpower, a portrait of resignation;

others see something else --

something discordant and therefore terrible: freedom.

There is something almost rebellious in the man's posture, as though once faced with the inevitability of death, he decided to get on with it; as though he were a missile, a spear, bent on attaining his own end.

He is, fifteen seconds past 9:41 a.m. EST, the moment the picture is taken, in the clutches of pure physics, accelerating at a rate of thirty-two feet per second squared ...

... and he is upside down.

... he is frozen; in his life outside the frame, he drops and keeps dropping ...
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posted by Pastorius at permanent link#

8 Comments:

Blogger Christine said...

This brought all of those feelings back.

Monday, April 07, 2008 3:00:00 am  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Well written, isn't it.

Monday, April 07, 2008 4:17:00 am  
Blogger Christine said...

Yes! It draws you in then spits you out, with your gut in your throat.

Monday, April 07, 2008 5:29:00 am  
Blogger revereridesagain said...

Superb writing. What kind of people believe that someone is damned for escaping the 1200 degree inferno of burning jet fuel by jumping from a window into the air? Can they even imagine what it is like to face such a choice?

The film by the Naudet brothers was shown a few weeks after 9/11 and people were asking each other if they were going to watch. I was irate. How could they think I would refuse to watch what these monsters had done to my city, my home for so many years. Turning their heads and refusing to watch was not respect, it was cowardice, denial and evasion. They didn't want to be disturbed by the images, so they turned away. They wanted to remember that something bad happened, but not those disturbing specifics. They didn't want to be forced by the horror to think about what sort of monsters do such things. They wanted to be free to forget, or to listen to the seductive whispers about conspiracies and "controlled demolitions". They won't watch videos of stonings in Afghanistan, or hangings in Tehran, or screeching mobs demanding the deaths of cartoonists, either. If they don't see the pictures they won't have to think about what is going on and start paying attention to it. They won't have to think about what is loose in the world and what it may do to their children instead of fantasizing about saving polar bears by refusing plastic bags and turning all their lights off. Better to sit smug in the dark than face the harsh light of reality.

Monday, April 07, 2008 5:48:00 am  
Blogger Epaminondas said...

Let's bear one thing in mind.

Nothing
has
really
changed


Al Quaeda still exists
It's ideology is powerful, attracting people.
Iran's power has grown.
There is PLENTY OF MONEY for it.
NATO infighting over their responsibilities in Afghanistan continues to hold the home of Al Qaeda at risk
Next door, the Islamic Emirate of Waiziristan plays Cambodia to the Vietnam of Afghanistan, BECAUSE WE LET IT. Pakistan, even for having elections, remains unstable at best, and with an Islamist ISI at worst. Africa is no better. Iraq is marginally better, but remains unstable. The dollar is hostage to sovereign wealth funds because of the overpricing of a basic commodity 35 years of elected presidents and congresses allowed to remain in foreign hands without efforts to replace it, BY ANY VISIBLE MEANS.
Propaganda pioneered by the USSR in the 1980's over the US placing Pershing missiles as a response to their SS-25's, we can see took root all over Europe amongst what are now adults, and WE ARE considered the 'dangerous' nation.
Israel is disliked only slightly less than Iran.

What's it gonna take?

In this world at this time, being ready to insist your nation uphold its freedoms is regarded as dangerous to the rest of the world.

Better to negotiate, give in here and there and get along.

The road we are on is going to end with a WMD attack in the west.

Monday, April 07, 2008 11:23:00 am  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Sadly, I absolutely agree with Epa.

I believe we will find ourselves watching another documentary in the future, and it will be called "The Melting Man."

Monday, April 07, 2008 3:19:00 pm  
Blogger Bosch Fawstin said...

I remember this article, thanks for the reminder, we all need it, some more than others.

Monday, April 07, 2008 3:19:00 pm  
Blogger Pastorius said...

Bosch,
I agree that we need to be reminded.

In my opinion, many of the things we post, and have posted over the years, need to be reposted every once in awhile.

We must remember that we always have newcomers, and many of them would like to catch up.

Monday, April 07, 2008 3:26:00 pm  

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