Falling Man

Now that we start reading “Falling Man” by Don DeLillo and I began to look for interesting material connected with the novel I start to feel that the book was not such a bad choice after all. Still for an elementary course the narrative will bring some hard work, because often locations are switched without the reader being immediately aware of it and the use of personal pronouns instead of names, even though we suddenly have to deal with different characters, makes understanding for students of EFT difficult.

Richard Drew: The Falling Man / Esquire Magazine 2003

I began with the meaning of  “Falling Man” and almost at once came to Richard Drew’s photograph from 9/11 which you can see here.

It is part of an article by Tom Junod in Esquire magazine from Sep 8th, 2009. Go there to read the complete collection of texts of which we read some in class.

Reading the article I was quite surprised by the reaction of  the majority of the American public to this photograph. It was more or less banished from the US media after it had apeared in almost all the newspapers and magazines immediately after 9/11.

For most Americans – it seems – it was too much reminding them of voluntary suicide, of having surrendered and being cowardly and weak. “This piece of shit is not my father.” was what a young woman – in anger and grief simultaneously – said about the picture which might or might not show her father. (see the article from Esquire, link given above).

But how could a picture in any better way give some sort of dignity to the cruel death of so many people? And if one sees a relaxedness and acceptance of what lies ahead in the posture of the falling man, a decision to go head forward without fear what more appropriate way could there be to show defiance and strength against an inhuman enemy, or as one of my students said ” a calmness of mind and soul” in the face of anavoidable death?

Read more about how the photograph was taken and about the reaction on it in the article mentioned above.

It is also interesting and perhaps not surprising which photographs the American public liked. One which you have probably seen is one that presents the heroes of 9/11, the firefighters.

You surely see the allusion to a famous picture from the Pacific War / WWII whose story is so greatly told in Clint Eastwood’s movie “Flags of our Fathers”. (Definitely another MUST SEE!).

heroes of 9-11: firefighters and flags of our fathers

I will continue writing about photographs in further posts.

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