Read "Drafted into the culture of war" by Chris Colin.
I lost my brother in the World Trade Center. I am back at work now, walking among people who demonstrate some of the same consuming anxieties that Chris Colin writes about in his article. What strikes me is that for those of us who lost family and friends in the attacks, this is a time of reengaging with life, so that the memories of those we loved can be revisited happily. For Colin and others who watched it all on TV, this can be a time of disengaging from life. Following his example will guarantee that our country will not emerge from shock, and that we will not keep trying to become our best selves.
Great piece. This whole thing is like an eerie walk through time and space. We are fed by the airwaves, stuck somewhere between all this. Colin's piece strikes the unspoken nerve in some of us watching this. It's the numbing effect of 20 TV channels telling one story in its incomplete state. It's the hum of the warm motor driving and we are all passengers waiting and watching.
Chris Colin has summed it up for me. I am him and he is me. I feel alone because I can't find anyone I know who even approximates my complete obsession. I have to know ALL the details, from as many different sources as possible. All the time. I'm powerless to help myself.
-- Chris Woodard
Read "Movies of the Middle East" by Janelle Brown.
Thank you for bringing to light the wonderful films that have come out of the region in recent years. "West Beirut" and "Chronicle of a Disappearance" are two of my all-time favorite movies. In addition to reading books about the region, Americans should also look up these great movies and enjoy them. Viewers should also keep in mind such films as "The Silences of the Palace" from Tunisia, "Four Women From Egypt" and "The Dreams of Hind and Camilia," by Mohammad Khan. The last film offers one of the most excellent and breathtaking looks at the present lives of Muslim women.
-- Randa Jarrar
Read "The One War We Can Never Win" by David Alford.
Thank you very much for this article. It's a great relief for a European to find out that not all Americans hold simplistic views, whether they'd be of the Ann Coulter kind or the Noam Chomsky kind. Unfortunately, those kinds are the ones we hear most about. And it is truly infrequent that one could quote an American like Henri Louis Mencken (1880-1956) saying, "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." All the best to the loving people of the world.
-- Jean-Luc Delatre, France
I hope Mr. Alford's students don't take his musings as serious philosophy.
There are far better explanations of the cultural sublimation of death (starting from the Greeks). Mr. Alford seems to think that he has "discovered" that humanistic culture depends upon not embracing death: no kidding.
And that is why this statement of his is absolutely wrong, and quite shocking:
"It doesn't matter very much if death is the result of a long, slow deterioration that leaves us gasping for a last breath on a hospital bed or the consequence of a smashing blow to the head by a madman, even if the latter seems far less acceptable"
Of course it matters. It is the only thing that does matter. We have been lucky to live in a culture that understands that death exists, yet does not seek it; that realizes that life ends, yet embraces what joy there is to take out of it.
This isn't "cheating" death, or forgetting about it. It is being human.