An Art of Desecration

I was curious about the way people reacted in the book to the falling man act. As I was reading I thought, at first, that people were simply reacting negatively because they didn’t want to be reminded of the heinous scenes from 9/11… the people jumping from the windows, that is, to escape the fire and collapsing building.

It seems to me though that the Falling Man act is also symbolic of the decline of America. We as citizens are now falling, or in the case of the performance artist in the book, hanging suspended in mid-air by some invisible string, just waiting for that string to be cut. Waiting to fall. As I searched, I found a very recent article that talks about a similar issue with a photograph taken on 9/11 of a falling man. The photographer caught this man in his lens as he was tumbling from one of the buildings on 9/11.

Photo courtesy of Richard Drew/AP;AMC

This photo is being compared to the popular show Mad Men, which airs on AMC. The poster for the upcoming season which airs March 25th shows a man falling in a similar fashion as the famous falling man from 9/11. This is outraging people. Why? Because it’s a desecration, or because they don’t want to remember? This reminded me directly of the text, in which people were outraged over the Falling Man performance directly after the attacks. Were they upset because they saw his performance as a desecration or because it was too close to home? In the article I found online, Tom Junod says out loud (about the photo of the man falling from the building) exactly what I was feeling as I read about the Falling Man performance in the book. “We’re all falling men now. Drew’s photograph became a symbol both specific and universal because it dared to tell us that 9/11 was not the beginning of something but rather the end, that it didn’t constitute the “victory of the American spirit,” as presidents and pundits tried so hard to tell us, but rather a loss, final and decisive, with which we’d always have to reckon”(Junod).

This can be brought back to the text, when Lianne was picking up her mother and ran into the Falling Man herself. “He brought it back, of course, those stark moments in the burning towers when people fell or were forced to jump. …. There was the awful openness of it, something we’d not seen, the single falling figure that trails a collective dread, body come down among us all”(DeLillo).

Each person deals with tragedy in a different way. Some people drink, others withdraw or depend on pills to numb the pain. Others use art as an outlet for their pain and frustration. The Falling Man act may be seen as controversial, but I see it as another person’s way of dealing with the pain and sharing that pain with others in hopes that they won’t forget.

DeLillo, Don. Falling Man. Thorndike, Me.: Center Point Pub., 2007. Print.

Junod, Tom. “Mad Men Season 5 Poster Controversy – Falling (Mad) Man, by Tom Junod – Esquire.” Beautiful Women, Men’s Fashion, Best Music, Drink Recipes – Esquire. Esquire, 30 Jan. 2012. Web. 01 Feb. 2012.


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