Monday, September 11, 2006
Fall down go boom
Let's be honest: The World Trade Center is not the first time we've watched the tower crumble to the ground. The image is one of our culture's oldest. Let's review: the Tower of Babel - it fell, a smackdown by God for human arrogance. Apparently, we were trying to rely on masonry techniques to get all the way to heaven. Gibberish resulted.
Later, in the fifteenth century Tarot, the Falling Tower card shows a castle struck by lightning, and sometimes getting blitzed with dragon breath. The card is interpreted widely in folk psychology circles as a violent shift in our lives caused by - you guessed it - hubris.
There's even a similiar myth in Celtic history, based around King Vortigern, who ruled around 460 AD. Legend tells he was unable to complete his castle tower; it continued to collapse because it was built on an underground lake, underneath which two sleeping dragons laid. In the end, Vortigern and his men are killed by a lightning storm, a curse made to order by a Druidic priestess. Why Vortigern? Turns out he seized power of England by killing the young king Constanc, when Vortigern was pretending to be his advisor. Yep, more hubris and duplicity.
Well, what possibly could the World Trade Center's fall have to do with hubris and duplicity? What is it about the tower of commerce that is unstable? Top-Heavy? Over-inflated? The same warnings can be found today on the back side of the sunvisor in any SUV - "WARNING: This vehicle is ridiculous and it's only a matter of time before it rolls over."
But we're not rolling over, of course. We're staying the course. It's no longer the War on Terror, remember. Cheney announced earlier this year that the US is involved in "The Long War." Okay, that's cool, that's got the ring of history, unlike the ill-fated previous name for this conflict "the Global Struggle against Violent Extremism." (This is when our enemy was identified as radical Islam, which made me snort milk out of my nose). Interestingly, in Orwell's 1984, Emmanuel Goldstein says:
"It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist."
So I went to a craft store today and ended up buying an eleven dollar puzzle, made in Russia, called "Round Castle Tower." My plans for the rest of the afternoon are basically to watch 1984, build a plastic tower, and maybe re-traumatize myself with CNN's sweet pipeline of tower-falling footage - which Nerve blogger Clayton James Cubitt calls "9/11 porn".
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your teeth.