"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Moment

i've been watching the aftermath of the news of Osama bin Laden's death unfold on the internet, feeling really disjointed and weird. i feel like this should be one of those momentous moments that ppl remember, like when 9/11 was happening – i remember being in my sophomore AP Psychology class and remember my teacher saying to us while we watched things unfolding on the tv "you're going to tell your kids one day that you remember exactly where you were, who you were with, and how you felt the day those towers fell." and i knew then he was totally right. i remember going to AP English after that, and seeing everyone completely devastated, collapsed on their desks, sobbing and clutching onto their friends. one boy in particular caught my eye, my friend David, who sat underneath the tv, ashen-faced but silent, and unemotional. it was his birthday. his father was murdered when he was younger. somehow that last point is relevant because it made me think he was experiencing this in a way none of us could understand. i wanted to experience his Moment, the way he was feeling things. i wanted to know what strength or understanding or strange disjointedness he was experiencing that made it possible for him not to cry. i remember thinking that it takes a strange kind of strength or self-knowing not to cry just because everyone else felt obliged to cry together. i wonder now if he could foresee the aftermath of this very public grieving, the impending, unavoidable result of such a moment. already, not even before the end of the day, i'd heard classmates, even friends, wish aloud for Osama to die. not long after, and we were propelled into a war that has lasted almost half my life.

and now this. i just got back from visiting my grandparents, opened up my laptop and went to facebook, and saw my friend's post:

when i read that, i was excited, because i read "got" as "captured and took into custody," not "have his dead body in possession." i checked twitter next.

perhaps there is something to be said about the places in which we experience these Moments. when 9/11 happened i was surrounded by people, just as perplexed and distraught as i was. there was comfort and also escalation to that. there was a sense of acceptability, of belonging, to a shared sense of sorrow. you couldn't buy an american flag for weeks. everyone's tree had a yellow ribbon on it. neighborhoods never felt more united. and isn't that weird? i felt weird about it, how strange a Moment could make your world, and never knowing when it would return to normal again. that is how 9/11 and the days after felt. or maybe it was high school (although, one could argue That Moment lingers still, even nearly ten years after it happened).

this time around, i am alone, in my room i lease from an old lady i barely know, where i just moved about a month ago to start a job i didn't feel particularly strongly about but took out of desperation because my unemployment was running out and i got laid off from my school district last year. there was no one around me when i heard the news, i watched it happening from my laptop screen, one page refresh after another, a stream of posts on twitter, facebook and tumblr. i'm not sure if my physical alienation can take full credit for my sense of detachment in this Moment, but perhaps it plays a part in the experience.

my feelings on This Moment, as i'm experiencing it thru my lens of the internet, are that it feels totally alienating and weird and definitely sickening.

like, i'm really disturbed to see how many people are coming out en masse to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden. and what's more, to do it with such camaraderie. reports were saying people in NY were honking their cars, screaming jubilantly, people in LA were going to the bars to have drinks with one another, chants of "USA" reverberating down every street. what?? the very public performances of celebration (who can be the most excited, the most patriotic) coupled with the unquestioning acceptance of such are making me feel very uneasy. everyone delighting so publicly in the USA successfully exacting revenge on ONE individual is really, really weird. i can understand a feeling of relief or closure, feeling like we can finally end the war and bring all our troops home, but screaming and hugging random "fellow Americans" in the street and feeling like America is super awesome? i just don't feel like this is one of our prouder moments. in fact, it makes me really sad, because what we are celebrating is not Justice, but Vengeance. it is the eruptive self-acknowledgment of a society and culture of violence, one that does not end with this death, but continues onward from it. Obama has already said that the "work" in the middle east will continue, and Homeland Security is already predicting "retaliation" attacks from the aftermath. it reminds me of the end of the movie Memento, in which *SPOILER ALERT* Lenny crumples up and burns the polaroid of the murder he committed, in order to perpetuate a narrative that gives him a sense of purpose but ultimately necessitates further murders.

what i would like from This Moment is some reflection. i would like public officials and leaders and the media and celebrities and my friends and everyone to rethink our narratives. if our world would find it just as easy and acceptable to celebrate peace, as we do revenge, we would have an entirely different world.

i feel like i've had several of these Moments in my life already. 9/11, The Day Obama was Elected President, and now The Day Osama bin Laden Was Killed. i'm still waiting on The Day The War Was Declared Over.

oh and also, because of This Moment, this happened...?
and this:

text reads: "PARTY IN THE USA! let's be honest... it's what we were all thinking." oh? i guess i never got the memo...

[shakes head]

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