The shock and horror that gripped America on September 11, 2001, has given way to a culture of pathological worry. Ignited by the terrorist attacks, anxiety has been fueled by the nation's official response, which sanctioned a narrative good vs. evil, the suppression of intellectual debate and the political expediency of keeping the citizenry in a constant state of fear. Snipers in the capital, the government in bunkers, flag euphoria and anthrax hysteria, torture in Abu Ghraib and a stuntman who survived Niagra Falls – these are the nation's portents, signs of the times in post-9/11 America. Portents of the Real examines culture to apprehend the foreboding political subtexts of a nation perpetually at war on terror.
Against an ever deepening climate of political repression and a journalistic landscape dominated by sensationalized controversy and historical forgetfulness, Susan Willis offers an astute analysis of the realities behind America's cultural myths. The effect is both wry and unnerving.
Sparing no room for nuance, the magazine covers are all reminding us that the United States—and hence the planet—is set to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, a day that not only changed the world and signaled the end of innocence and spawned a new greatest generation, but also launched a thousand new slogans with which to label that day, and inspired thousands of speeches intent on inspiring thousands more.
However, despite the horror, anger, uncertainty—and yes, for some, glee—from the damage inflicted on that momentous day, there remained, in the aftermath and up to now, a limited vocabulary within the mainstream with which to describe the events of that time and the trail of destruction that followed.
And since we aren’t anticipating a commemorative circuitous flight over the country on Air Force One with the President of the United States, we would like to offer an alternate journey—that is, a survey of Verso’s responses to 9/11: