[Reader-list] Coeternal 9/11

santhosh hk santhoshhrishikesh at gmail.com
Sun Sep 13 21:27:35 IST 2009

How will 9/11 go down in history? Will it be registered as a postmodern
crusade between America and Islamic powers? (In one of the commemoratory
albums doing rounds on Youtube, the wreckage of the erstwhile WTO buildings
look like a garlanded cross). Or as the first edition of battles in the post
coldwar era where frontiers are blurred and immaterial? Or as a watershed in
the American centered discursive formations of power? Will posterity hail it
as the herald of a new anti-imperial struggle? Or will it remain a gruesome
reminder of the incidence and intensity of terrorism? A memorial to the
world with strata percolated with venom? For an event that unveiled and
demonstrated, in no unclear terms, the intricate intermingling of politics,
religion and economics, future interpretations come dime a dozen.

Whatever be the future of that fateful day, it seems indisputable that 9/11
has already transcended and  crucibled different opinions and entrenched
itself as an eloquent and immortal billboard  of the Transnational. It was a
mental global village that the twin towers tumbled into, not a space with
spatial and temporal constraints.  This precisely is why any question as to
the nationality of the deceased—including that of the nine
“terrorists”—becomes irrelevant, if not irreverent. People were panicking
not over the collapse of a skyscraper in a far off land but in the very next
street.  The premature demise of a building in the strongest nation on the
earth was emblematic of the strongest incentive that prods the current
world--trade. What could be better than fall of the World Trade Center then!

In the aftermath of the death of the towers, there emanated from the U.S.
itself a few arguments that questioned the veracity of the bugbear of
Islamic terrorism. In fact there were quite a good number of well-researched
articles and features that sought to show the extent to which the federal
government colluded and connived in orchestrating the heinous act, with the
intention of bringing about political-religious consolidation. Revealingly,
none of them gained currency outside the country. The offbeat responses that
refused to swallow theories stuffed with “conventional wisdom” were largely
shrugged off or played down altogether overseas (India was brilliant here!).
Even the celebrity status of Noam Chomsky would not suffice to drill the
shell of belief in official American explanations!! Chomsky *is *correct in
linguistics, *maybe *so in other issues, but not here!! Why? The theory and
praxis of the battle waged by the U.S. and its allies are not bounded to,
located in or controlled by the physical/geographical space of any nation
but takes place in a mental domain marked out by a strong sense of
internationalism. We just don’t care about and think in terms of the bright
cartographical contours but would rather get into the shoes of an
international warrior. It is only after 9/11 that the term ‘terrorist’ (the
terrorist of one nation is the patriot of the other, you know) assumes
international signifying potential and terrorism becomes a meticulously
planned activity, masterminded by a highly centralized, exclusive and
esoteric coterie headquartered somewhere in the Middle East. There are
explosions and suicide attacks anywhere; but if you look through the
magnifying glass of Sherlock Holmes, you can’t miss the common hologram
‘Made in Iraq.’  (Just like products for the world market are owned by
American firms, designed in India and manufactured in China!!!).  The same
period witnesses certain names, sartorial habits and appearances become
objects of fear and suspicion in milling international airports and bustling
railway terminals. If  Hollywood heroes flexed their muscles and
single-handedly annihilated creepy extra terrestrials in the preceding
decades, the currents ones fight against terrorism—come hell or high
water—and keep the country intact. Not to be outdone, Bollywood has fared
better by interspersing cinematic texts with tall, bearded terrorists
swaggering in and out or waiting with the patience of a python in the quest
to grind Shining India into pieces.

To be sure, the shockwaves sent out by 9/11 have not been lost in art and
literature either. Arguably, nothing betrays the traces of the new
international conscience and its multiple manifestations more
emphatically  than
the film *11'09"01 September 11* (2002).  What weaves these short visuals,
triggered by the panic of the event, into a coherent whole is a host of
universal concerns, fears and anxieties. The not-so-good  individual
narratives by directors like Samira
Mira Nair <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mira_Nair>, Claude
Lelouch<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Lelouch>and Youssef
Chahine <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youssef_Chahine> have nothing in
themselves to stake the claim of a movie.

Wait a minute. Stop and look inward. See how the blog universe  swells by
the minute. Is it such a long a shot to say 9/11 has catalyzed the growth of
a universal writer/reader community, wrenched from local colors, cultural
ethos and personal concerns clubbed with the urge for self expression? Is an
Indian, for that matter any national, crouching behind an IP address an
Indian in the traditional sense of the word? He is in a fluffy virtual space
that could be literally *everywhere. *Still better to say he is a fluffy
space impossible to locate and penetrate.

hk santhosh
pk sreekumar

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