Friday, March 6, 2009

Falling Man and American Suicide

I left this lecture really revved up. As I am sure those of you who attended could probably tell due to what I said in class. I found myself feeling so unbelievably frustrated by the comments made by art critics and faculty members of the school alike about the "appropriateness" of the artwork and literature released post 9/11. Appropriate has become a huge word used by those who are advocates of being Politically Correct. It bothers me. People are going to deal with 9/11 and address the situation in each their own manner. There isn't a law or a set of guidelines that dictates whether or not a person should write and publish a poem, paint a beautiful mural to commemorate the event, or use pictures taken of the event as a piece of art. Yet, everyone wants to get up in arms about it. It's bound to happen. Appropriate is such a broad term that has a definition that can be warped to fit any situation and to benefit anyone's argument. Let's stop using this word when it comes to judging artwork. What an individual should say is that the piece makes them uncomfortable. Then they should delve into why. That perspective will cause the public to observe how art and literature play upon emotion. This is not a bad thing. Why would we want to read or see something that leaves feeling nothing.

I feel that much of the controversy with the Falling Man piece is that it has to do with suicide. American society does not discuss suicide as anything positive or moral. Its a sin, its wrong, its selfish, etc the list can go on. Yet, this man was faced with a multitude of options that left him suffering a considerable amount so he chose his own end by jumping. We now have photographic evidence of American suicide and it makes the public uncomfortable. Why do we let so much of our culture cling to the extremely Christian views of suicide and why do we try to do the whole it happens everywhere else but here plea. We have seen as a country again and again that we are not exempt from anything that is innately human. So why deny this act?

What gets me is how people try to see his jumping as a selfish act. The real selfishness is the reactions of some of the families afterwards. He would never commit suicide he would want to come home to us. The us where is his decision and his right as an individual to decide what kind of pain he is going to face? Everyone gets so caught up in their arguments they fail to see the hypocrisy of it.

Even in discussion in class. Many people agreed that we have a right to read and write about the Holocaust as a means of remembering and commemorating, yet they get angry about American citizens doing the same thing. When do we get to decide where an argument fits and it doesn't? We can't have it both ways, yet everyone does.

I find the mural absolutely beautiful. Its a representation of 9/11 you don't often see(due to the public I would assume). It offers so many interpretations and it leaves you seeking out every small detail. Its not a painting you look at once and forget. It sits in my mind like Picasso's Guernica. You look and look and always notice some new detail that leads to a new interpretation.

In my personal opinion and pardon my language, but fuck the critics and fuck the people that try to enforce what they feel is appropriate in addressing how to deal with the aftermath of 9/11. As I said in class if we constantly waited for everyone to agree on when the moment is appropriate all the people who had first hand experiences will be long gone and so much will be lost. Yes, it upsets and yes its jarring, but guess what its making you feel. Thats what I think so many people are afraid of. They are afraid of looking at how they really felt about the event. Or they have to revisit their emotions experienced during the event and try to figure out why they were scared or angry. Yet, guess what in order to heal you have to feel and in order to remember there has to pictures, paintings, and literature. So, get over it. It's there, it's going to made and its going to stick around