< Piro >
Wednesday - September 12, 2001
donate blood. (we'll need blood for weeks to come, not just today and tommorow)
http://www.redcross.org/donate/give1-800-GIVE-LIFE or in canada1-888-2-DONATE
(212) 560-2730 for information on recovered or still missing people in NY
As i sit here writing this, i have a horrid headache. I've had so many false starts on this 'rant' that i wonder if I will ever finish it. Emotions have ranged from shock, to sadness, to rage, to hopelessness, to a bizarre kind of grim determination. I've had several days to sort out my feelings on these attacks, and i have felt the urgent need to pull away from this loss for words and find a way to say the right things, whatever they are.
I won't go into details about my own experiences with the past few days. We all have our own stories of how we have dealt with this - some better than others. For me, as an American, a New York native, an Architect, a Citizen of the World, and lastly as an Artist (yes, i will use the word here), the events of September 11th have impacted me on many fronts.
As an American, i'm not going to get into a lot of flag waving and patriotic speeches - there are people far better at it than me. I am very proud to see that happening around this nation. People have feared that the US would retaliate violently, but I have faith that our country will respond with specificity and appropriate actions. The logic of peace and the logic of war are not the same. I fear having to learn more about the differences.
Even though I have not lived in New York for many years, the majority of my extended family lives and works in and around the New York/Long Island area. For two days I worried extensively about friends and family who work in the Financial District, and as of this morning we finally have word that all are safe and accounted for. I am well aware of the fact that not everyone with friends and family in that area will receive the same news. As a New York native, i am at the same time horrified by the damage to our city, and proud to see New Yorkers pull together once again in time of tragedy.
As an architect, there is something deeply unsettling about the collapse of two of the world's tallest buildings. All buildings are far more than a complex assembly of steel, concrete, glass and systems - buildings have lives - they live and breathe. Large structures have immense symbolic presence in cities - they are beacon points used by people to navigate the city streets, they define the skyline, they house the lives and work of countless thousands of people. It wasn't just thousands of people we watched die on Tuesday - we saw the death of two buildings. As an architect, i not only had a previous understanding of the structural systems of the World Trade Center, but also an understanding of the sheer physics involved in a catastrophic failure of this magnitude. The buildings themselves, in the end, are unsung heros. They did not buckle and fall upon impact. Fireproofing on steel can only last so long before a intense fire will burn thru it. Once steel is heated to high temperatures, it weakens. Columns buckle, floors fall, dead loads become live loads with deadly complex inertia. The forces released by this chain of collapse are beyond comprehension. Because of the way buildings are designed, this did not happen immediately - These buildings stood long enough for many people to escape with their lives. I think it's important that people understand this.
As a citizen of the world... i don't know what to say. Today's comic came probably says all i want to say about this. But it only talks about one side. We are all mourning the fact that this act, and others like it that happen around the world all the time (no lesser in tragedy, if lesser in scope), happen at all, never mind with the frequency and the ferocity that they do. You would like to think that ANYONE with a functioning conscience would not be able to do acts like this. My first reaction is to loose faith in human conscience.
But maybe that's not really where it ends. It's more of a challenge to the rest of us and our own consciences. Like any disaster, we have seen people operate purely on what they feel is the right thing to do. All i need to do is think of all the public service people, police, fire fighters, and many others, who went *to* the crisis after it transpired, threw their own lives into danger to help others. It is horrible that not only did we see the failure of conscience on the part of those who perpetrated the crime, but in the loss of so many whose consciences functioned so well, that they paid the ultimate price in following them.
Finally, as an artist - and i only apply this term to myself loosely, and only then because i find no other way to express what i am about to say next - i find my feelings not only clear, but a grim resolve that in this area there must be a response. Here, I am defining an 'artist' as anyone who reaches out to touch other people's souls in one form or another. This can be thru art, painting, drawing, comics, writing, poetry, film making, video, photography, graphic design... any creative endeavor that revolves around the art of evoking an emotive response from an audience. As a manga/comic artist I try to evoke emotions of all sorts with what i do. Writers use words to paint images and events that make us laugh or cry, photographers try to capture image that move us in one way or another, film makers create immersive montages that carry us away and touch us in a variety of ways.
On tuesday, our own medium was stolen from us, and used as a direct assault on the people we serve.
The attacks on the WTC building were masterfully designed to produce the most shocking video footage possible. The first plane flew down the length of Manhattan at a low altitude, in such a way that it would draw attention to itself, so that eyes would be on it as it plowed into the first tower. Because of this, we DO have footage of the first impact. But that was just gravy for the perpetrators. The first impact was intended to draw the media eye squarely on the exact point where a second plane was brutally flown into the second tower shortly thereafter. We are used to seeing the aftermaths of disasters. Watching one actually happen has unbelievable impact. This was planned so that there would be no question that we would see it.
The intended targets of these attacks were not so much the people in those buildings - it was everyone of us who has seen the images of that second plane plowing into the world trade center's south tower. The horrible brutality of the timing and the staging of this chills my heart to the core.
These people were painting with blood.
Their work is available on all the major news websites. The result of their efforts has left for us a series of video clips, photographs, sounds and images, that record their execution of this horrible act. It is intended to shock. It is intended to strike fear and loathing in the heart. The third and fourth works are almost extras - horrifying video of immense structures collapsing on themselves. My heart stopped the first time i saw the collapses. Most of us do not live in or near New York. Most of us will never see the devastation in real life. it doesn't matter. We experienced it. We all did. The jets bled fire, fuel and shed velocity, the buildings bled concrete dust, broken glass and twisted steel into the city below. Like a Hitchcock film where horrible atrocities are only hinted at, leaving the worst to your own imagination, we don't even have to see the horrible painting in real blood underneath it all. We know it's there. It's in our mind's eyes.
It is a horrible work. I am sickened by it.
We must take the hearts, minds and souls of our people back. We must not allow such images painted with blood stand in their potency. We cannot let it have a greater impact on the world than the rest of us do. I have never felt more challenged before in my life. We are all artists in one form or another. We musn't let this work stand. We must touch people's souls to better things.
Life goes on - things change, but life does go on. But we have to work hard to build, collectively, things that will lessen the effect of this horrible work. Everyone in the online comic community, as well as the rest of us who are involved with entertaining and enlightening people every day have much to do, but i think that in the end we will prove far more capable of producing a body of work that makes the footage from tuesday a piece of history, not a everyday factor in our lives.
Deep stuff. I'm sorry, i do that sometimes.
It felt good to get that off my chest. For those of you who stuck with this rant and read it thru to the end, thank you. We've all been dealing with this stuff in our own ways. I originally had many other plans for this week, there is a lot of pretty interesting stuff going on - tuesday's tragedy interrupted everything, but it does not stop them. So, on a lighter note, I will mention something i was planning on mentioning today - mainly because, i am not going to let a group of terrorists interrupt my life and our comic anymore. Besides, if you live in the Los Angeles area, you might enjoy this.
This Saturday, the new OmochaBox retail store will be having it's grand opening in Los Angeles. This store is basically the equivalent to a 'Gamers' store opening in the US. :) If you are in the area, head down and check it out. They are gonna have Kunihiko Ikuhara (director of "Utena") and Mari Iijima on hand to sign autographs and stuff. Visit the store's site for more info. [quick note - OmochaBox has postponed thier grand opening stuff in light of recent events, but they are still going to open up on the 15th. So, if you are in the area, it's probably still worth visiting the new store. :) - piro]
After a hard week like this, i think we could all use something to brighten the spirits a little. I think i'll run down to Wizzywigs myself after work.
Take care, folks, and thanks for sticking with us thru this difficult week. Megatokyo will be back in full gear next tuesday with a brand new comic, brand spankin new back end for the website, and even some new graphic goodies to freshen up the look of the site as well. And no one, except our own inneptitude, perhaps, is gonna stop it. ^_^