When I was teen, my father worked near the old WTC. I can remember taking the train into see him in the evening -- at the station, there were two banks of 15 or 16 escalators -- at rush hour, you had to walk perpendicular to the 14 or 15 headed down to get to the 1 headed up. Memories of the noises, the smells, the pigeons, the cars, the yells, swinging briefcases, & mostly, the crowd come back to me when I think of the WTC. It is this ambience, I believe, that the builders of One WTC hope to recreate. Maybe they won't succeed, but to the extent they do, I don't see how this place -- as a place -- can carry much in the way of "sanctuary," "grave," or "shrine" outside of an individual's imagination. I respect the love & fidelity that allows a person to carry such feelings inside her in the midst of this noise and chaos. But the love and fidelity that can so shut out such powerful external stimuli -- how can it be both so strong as to do this yet so weak as to be destroyed by the mere concept of a particular building being near?
At one point the writer conflates religious buildings of all kinds with ideology & asks that no religious buildings be built near this place. How can we take such a request seriously? And what of the religious buildings already nearby? Why are they all right, but nothing new is acceptable? One of my favorite buildings downtown is Trinity Church -- all those tall buildings dedicated to nothing but money & there's a comparatively small church with a graveyard no less! Should that be brought down to assuage someone's grief? Trinity is an Episcopal church & I believe it remains with the current Anglican communion -- it has not joined with the conservatives who are angered by gay bishops or female priests. Doesn't taking either side in the Anglican rift make Trinity a kind of monument to ideology of some sort that the writer proposes not be allowed near One WTC? Why is the Cordoba House representative of an ideology but the mosque 4 blocks away not?
What is actually at "ground zero" is going to be a $100 million office building doing the sort of business done in the Wall Street district. Does anyone expect that its tenants, design, or ultimate uses can be vetoed by representatives of the victims? If we don't allow commerce to be vetoed by these people's feelings, why allow other buildings, farther away, to be controlled by their feelings?
There's also the issue of the extent to which a person is good at predicting her feelings. Research suggests none of us are good at this. http://www.newyorker.com/arts/...
Finally, there is the issue of time and place. The writer lives in Los Angeles. She goes to NYC infrequently -- it is primarily a place of memory for her -- frozen in her memories -- not a place that is alive & -- as all living things are -- changing. Once the people of NYC decided (with many dissents, of course) to replace the old WTC with One WTC, the idea that this land would be treated like a shrine or the victims' relatives consulted at every step is a bit precious & unrealistic. Who do we think we're protecting? & from what? There are many ways to mourn. Miss Havisham, in Great Expectations, shows us one -- a kind of mourning where everything is a shrine to grief & those unborn at the time of the tragedy are made slaves to a victim's sad memories. Is that the kind of mourning we as a group should practice?
More information about text formats