On a date like this, everyone gets to remember what they were doing ten years ago when they heard about the terrorist attacks. And of course, any personal connection gets remembered.
I don't have any personal connection beyond having visited once the Twin Towers as a tourist. And it all felt so surreal at the time, it reminded me of a book called The fall of the towers by Samuel Delany. The book is full of surreal moments, including that, in spite of the title, there aren't any towers falling in it. The title was inspired by a piece of art called The fall of the towers that showed a crowd frightened of something that couldn't be seen in the frame. Maybe a picture like this one:
(This is recent artwork by Anthony Roberto)
It certainly feels appropriate for a day like today. But maybe even more appropriate, in a subtler way, is this excerpt of the book:
Normally the giant's telepathic receptivity was only a few hundred feet, but recently he had found his range expanding, sometimes for an hour or more, to cover miles. As he stepped on to the balcony, he felt the subsensory tingling that announced one of these attacks. Suddenly the City, as though a veil were pulled away, was revealed to him as a vast matrix of minds, clashing, jarring one another, yet each isolate. I am alone, he thought, adding the millionth repeat to a million-fold echo.[...]
Somewhere a man and woman sat together in a room, shoulder to shoulder, heads bent together, reading a poem from a crumpled paper, now stopping to ask each other what this line meant, now going back to look at another page. The patterns growing in their minds were not the same, but as they tried to explain what they thought to each other, or bent to read or reread the lines, the images the poem made upon their thoughts were like flames dancing orderly about one another, contrasting or similar, still a single experience, an awareness of unity, unaware of their isolation. Delusion? thought Arkor. No. The now brittle, now flexible, bending and quivering lights danced orderly together. The giant smiled, alone, as the two bent closer to the paper.
Or, expressed more briefly in one of my poems:
There's a barrier between us,
except that there isn't.
We are all alone,
except that we aren't.
We are all together
chained by the links of love.