Edited By Leslie Boldt, Corrado Federici and Ernesto Virgulti
Part IV. Fascination with the Void
Part IV . Fascination with the Void 10. The Image of the Falling Man Revisited Sandra Singer The words helped her locate the pic- tures. She needed the captions to fill the space. The pictures could overwhelm her without the little lines of type. —Dom DeLillo, Mao II Introduction This chapter concerning terror, trauma, anxiety, and social paranoia config- ures the victims of terrorism through the image of the euphemistically called 9/11 ‘jumpers’ from the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and ex- plores the social anxiety caused by witnessing the jumpers’ action—taken in the face of certain death. The image of the jumpers was immediately re- pressed, following the same impulse in the aftermath of the attack as control- ling the distribution of the image of the planes flying into the towers, espe- cially of the second plane that confirmed a terrorist attack in the mind of viewers. This repression created a silenced space, architecturally similar to an empty void, in public discourse. Nonetheless, in conventional trauma fashion, pre-linguistic memory stored as image recurs; in the decade since 9/11, after being immediately suppressed in news media, the image of the jumpers was increasingly probed through fiction1 and more recently televi- sion and film. Initial discomfort with processing the impact of 9/11 through witnessing the jumpers may be explained using Freud’s insights into the death drive in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Rejecting the experience of death by burning or suffocation in the North Tower, their final leaps or falling...
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