Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The narrative of moments in time

I have just attended a fascinating and thought provoking seminar by Prof Jen Webb, a visiting academic from Canberra University. Her seminar started with her personal narrative of 9/11, where she was when she heard etc. This started me thinking about how we all have very personal narratives to momentous moments. We all can say we remember exactly where we were we first heard the news and the images started being broadcast into our lives, like the one at the side here. However, even if we were in the same place as other people that narrative is going to be yours alone as it will be defined by your experiences, thoughts and cultural moments.
For me 9/11 is in extricably linked with serious illness. I hadn't eaten anything or drunk properly since the December of the previous year when I had had surgery that went wrong. I was lying on my bed starving to death watching people jumping to their deaths. I felt connected to them. I had met my own terrorist in the surgeon who had operated on me. He had no grievance against me personally or even my country, unlike the 9/11 bombers, but I was one of Blair's initiatives - do them quick in private hospitals and churn them out then we can keep to our waiting list target.My surgeon was a bureaucratic terrorist primed to meet and beat targets.
But that is irrelevant now as I survived at the intervention of another surgeon, maybe a peace-keeping one who gave me a tube into my stomach that keeps me alive. I was lucky those in the Twin Towers on that fateful day weren't. I have a whole new life and the person I was then watching the Towers fall almost doesn't exist anymore. I have a new narrative based on survival and the future, not on image and money as it once was.
As I said I was lying on my bed to weak to move watching the tv in embarrassed fascination. You felt you should look away but you couldn't, there was a morbid fascination. It was almost too huge to comprehend and there was always this thought that it was a joke. It was just a disaster movie and someone's cruel script being played out in front of you. Unfortunately it wasn't,those people jumping weren't stunt men, those buildings collapsing were not choreographed, instead this was the moment that the US knew, what the rest of us had known for a lot longer, what terrorism was.
As an aside I heard that the French railways had to apologise for a press release that went out saying that several hundred people had died in a bomb blast on one of their trains. It was fake and it had been a scenario they had been working on to test all their systems...just someone forgot to tell the PR man...oops...we laugh about it but the fact is it shows us that people are out there creating appropriate discourses 'just in case'.
I wonder how many 'just in cases' there are and how many will end up being used?
Now some gloriously naf music but I do believe what it says: (they won't allow me to embed it so you will have to click on it)

No comments:

Post a Comment