Memory, Memorials, and Art Spiegelman’s Shadow


Art Spiegelman is  the cartoonist author whose two volume comic-strip book Maus deservedly won him a Pulitzer Prize.  A native New Yorker, he and his family were in the city when the attacks on the Twin Towers occurred on 9/11/2001.  The entry from my journal posted below concerns his subsequent treatment of those attacks, and of the public, “official” responses to them, in his subsequent book In the Shadow of No Towers.

Readers can find a few more of my reflections on Spiegelman’s work–Maus in the case of that earlier post–in “Items Concerning LaCapra’s Works #1,” posted at this site earlier this  month, on January 7. 

On the dubious nature of official or semi-official “memorializations” of shared or public trauma, see Jenny Edkins, Trauma and the Memory of Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2003) and my comments on it in my earlier journal entry posted at this site on December 14, 2008, under the title “Trauma, Sovereignty–and Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Art Spiegelman, In the Shadow of No Towers (New York:  Pantheon Books, 2004), “The Sky Is Falling,” a two large-paged essay by Spiegelman at the beginning of the  book:

“Only when I heard paranoid Arabs and Americans blaming it all [that is, blaming “9/11″] on the Jews did Ireel myself back in, deciding it wasn’t essential to know precisely how much my ‘leaders’ knew about the hijackings in advance–it was sufficient that they immediately instrumentalized the attack for their  own agenda.”

Next page, same essay:  “I wanted to sort out the fragments of what I’d exper-ienced from the media images that threatened to engulf what I actually saw . . .”

The two–the “instrumentalization for their [“my ‘leaders'”] own agenda,” and the flood of media images–form a whole.  Each feeds and reinforces the other.

Plate 10 [in Spiegelman’s book], 1st frame is all text, the opening of which is:  “Nothing like commemorating an event to make you forget it.”

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