Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembrance of a Thing Past: 9/11

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Obviously, I have to start with some respectful words regarding the fact that today marks the fifth anniversary of the tragedy that befell this country on Sept. 11 five years ago.

What Pearl Harbor was to a previous generation, 9/11 will probably be to ours. In its sheer magnitude of atrocity, 9/11 truly was a defining event, especially in light of what has transpired in the world afterward: how much more we have thought hard about terrorism and ways to combat it, for instance. Only history, of course, will determine our invasion into Iraq---which certainly the Bush administration tried to paint as an integral part of an appropriate response to 9/11---was a brilliant move or merely a brilliant Vietnam-like blunder (it seems to be more the latter than the former, but I don't know if we can afford to simply pull out of there now). Nevertheless, the day itself will stand as a genuine landmark in our history, especially for our generation: this is the event that we all will be telling our own kids about.

Sorry if that previous paragraph sounded like platitudes and cliches; I don't know if there's much else to say about today's fifth anniversary that hasn't already been said in five years.

I do, however, vividly remember what I was doing that day when I found out about what happened to the Twin Towers (but then, who doesn't?): still in high school at the time, I was walking into my Physics class when I saw people looking up at images on the television screen in our lab room depicting smoke coming out of the North Tower. I vividly remember my confusion and surprise. I also vividly remember my slight revulsion at some of the people sitting at the back of the room who seemed to think this was some kind of perverse "entertainment." In hindsight, dunno if I could totally blame them, though: either this was their way of masking their own horrified feelings, or they simply found the whole thing a bit surreal. I mean, those images certainly did look like something out of a disaster movie---except this was real life, and real people were jumping to their deaths from about 70 floors up.

I'm not sure if I've experienced the horror of 9/11 in the same way as a lot of other people have, though. Maybe I'm just generally detached like that---I didn't really lose anyone close to me that day---but when I think of 9/11, I don't get emotional in the way many other people do; I always seem to think of it as a fact of life, some devastating thing that happened, something that made history. Would it offend anyone if I suggested that sometimes I feel just a tad bit of a rush when I realize that I was alive for what will ultimately go down as a great and terrible day in history? I was a part of history, cool! (Somehow that kind of reaction seems like it denigrates the terror of that day; but in this blog of mine, I always strive for honesty.)

In any case, condolences to all those who lost people close to them on Sept. 11. I know this is another newspaper-wrought cliche, but let me say it once more: We will never forget.


Could my decision to take Editing and Layout be the smartest decision I'll make this year? (Sorry to break the melancholy spell of the previous segment, heh.)

One of the things that my mother bugged about constantly this summer was about how I planned to make a living and support myself as a film writer. I never really had much of an answer for her---if I wasn't totally sure myself, how could I?---but of course she was probably right when she suggested that one couldn't necessarily make a living on film writing alone. What was worse, of course, was that I couldn't help but feel she was accurate when she accused me of not being nearly as broad-minded as any good journalist is supposed to be. I mean, yeah, in this blog I occasionally sound off on stuff going on in the outside world and all, but I don't take as much an active interest in following, say, politics as I do following what goes on in the film world. Deep down, I know I should, but whenever I open a daily newspaper, I can't help but go straight for the Arts section rather than reading the front page carefully. Just another fault on which to lower my self-esteem, I guess.

But if my Editing and Layout teacher is correct when she says there's a high demand for copy editors in the media field---maybe this class has opened up a possibility that I didn't even think about beforehand.

Now granted, most editors probably need the kind of broad, deep, wide-ranging knowledge that I sometimes feel I lack. But of all the options I've considered over these past few months as far as how I could find a way to support myself as I toiled away at finding my film-critic voice and all, copy editing---at this point, anyway---strikes me as the one I feel most comfortable with. Not teaching, not even reporting (although I have tried my hand at it, and have gotten my share of kudos for it too). Maybe copy editing is what I need to try to learn if I'm going to have a measure of satisfaction doing something just to pay the bills---because sometimes i wonder whether passion will necessarily sustain me, as much as I like to think it would.

Of course, I'm just saying all this having only sat through two class sessions of Editing and Layout. But maybe this realization will allow me to take more intense interest in this class, which I didn't even think about taking 'til late August. Thus, maybe this might be the best lucky decision I'll have made this year, especially if it pays off in the future.


I saw Hollywoodland yesterday, but I think I'm going to reserve my comments 'til next week, after Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia comes out. I suspect both films are probably going to be rather different stylistically---unlike De Palma, former TV director Allen Coulter is no Hitchcockian stylist or anything---but both seem to tackle a similar kind of subject: seedy, murderous intrigue underneath the Hollywood dazzle. It might make for an interesting comparative review, so I'll wait 'til next week.

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