“Weren’t the towers built as fantasies of wealth and power that would one day become fantasies of destruction? You build a thing like that so you can see it come down.” (DeLillo 116)
Martin’s view, as shocking to readers as the Falling Man is to Lianne, is the guilty voice in the back of everyone’s mind. What did the towers symbolize, if not human hubris and capitalistic fixation? Of course, to suggest that the World Trade Center was either of those things touches upon the fuzzy, all-encompassing taboo of Disrespect.
Why is it that tragedy sanctifies its circumstances? Why must collective grief add more entries to the list of things that don’t come up in polite conversation? I understand the existence of this process, but I don’t understand why it must be so. Respect for the dead, gravitas, what have you, are perfectly valid concepts which undeniably deserve their place in our social mores, it just seems odd to me that our society’s way of showing respect is to only speak of an event with extreme discomfort and a pressing need to find a new topic.
Granted, a lot of the stigma around 9/11 has dissapated, the taboo slightly eased, but assholes can still get just about anyone (who was alive and American in 2001) angry by telling a joke about the towers. Politicians can still invoke terrorists like bogeymen, putting the remembered terror in the bank and the ballot box. This is power, but whose power? Who’s using the power? Why are we letting them?