Category Archives: 911

Remembering (trying not to forget) 9/11

At Slate.com they have a 9/11 Flash slideshow with photographs and audio commentary by the Magnum Photographers who were there on the day. It’s a breathtaking thing. You should watch it. I hadn’t seen it before (and I’m a junkie for these morbid artefacts) so I guess if it must have gone up for the fifth anniversary. Anyway, it made me think about all this again.

Was 9/11 over-recorded? Maybe so. The sheer density of camera crews, photographers and reporters on the scene (or nearby) dilutes the effect of work like this. In any other context almost every one of these amazing Magnum photos would have stood out as among the best news pics of the year. As it is they’re swamped… by other amazing pics.

Magnum still means something. I know a few years have passed since these pics were taken and there was no flickr or YouTube back then but these pics – their cogency, their astonishing, effortless artistry, their communicative power – are timelessly good. The old-time, analogue photographers who made them are still relevant.

Are we forgotting 9/11?. Jesus. In the welter of incompetence, negligence and venality that followed 9/11 it wouldn’t be surpising if we were. Its numbing impact has certainly been mitigated by half a decade of grim and grimmer news from the bleeding edges of America’s increasingly indefensible War On Terror (in which we serve). I’d argue, then, that we need to continually remind ourselves of 9/11’s wickedness and nihilism – even if only because otherwise the Bush regime’s stupidity might lead us to arrive at erroneous conclusions about the origins of this war. It’s worth a reminder that Al-Qaeda’s out-of-a-clear-blue-sky attack on thousands of innocent New Yorkers was an act of almost perfect wickedness. Nothing must every be allowed to subtract from the immeasurable ugliness and ignorance of an attack on a great City’s busy downtown by an amoral egomaniac like Osama Bin Laden .

Has Flash come of age? Looks like it. ‘Slideshow’ hardly does justice to this brilliant and immersive mini-movie – it really is like a mini-documentary. Well done to its creators.