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This is a productive, if ultimately irresolvable, impasse for Art Speigelman, as is the case in some segments of De Lillo’s work on or around 9/11, or with some facets of Pynchon’s text.
Such a reading of Speigelman’s perspective allows for a diachronic understanding of the event of 9/11, and institutes a different temporality, not exclusively that of the US at the dawn of a new millennium.
Spiegelman’s example is illustrative as he, firstly, shows ways of reframing iconic images so as to make them legible in unexpected contexts, and, secondly, because he consistently tries to place the notion of “traumatic repetition” within a historical record (86).
Spike Lee's filmic intervention offered in What is brought in by the inclusion in chapters five and six of De Lillo’s, first, occasional piece, an essay entitled “In the Ruins of the Future,” written in immediate response to the attacks, and, subsequently, a novel that he was working on at the time, , are at least two major concerns.
The first invites us to observe a necessary, if not immediately obvious, economic undercurrent permeating not so much the event itself as the encodings it has elicited over the ensuing months and years, while the second refers explicitly to the way De Lillo urges us to think of 9/11 and of the responses to it as an attempt by the USA to grapple with a new phase of globalization, where it no longer figures as a single strongest player (247).
Despite the grain of trauma theory the author’s further examination of a confluence of some aspects of trauma and its textualization in the Bildungsroman and infused with a heavily melodramatic mode (Foer, Messud, Glass, Updike, Wasserstein, La Bute are among those cited or analyzed at length), seem to suggest a task of national homogenization successfully performed and resulting in “an increasingly regulated political space in the wake of 9/11” (50).
Another important intervention the book suggests for the growing body of work on 9/11 is to situate the debates on the scope of the event at the intersection of the national and the global, which is ostensibly also the way to treat the questions of temporality and causality in connection with and beyond 9/11.Some of the procedures applied on more representative segments of the archive are the familiar fare (notably so trauma theory) since this has predictably been one of the prevailing frames for mediating the event.Where Cvek’s approach enriches the discussion is in its insistence to historicize the traumatic impact, to consider trauma also as a socially produced and sustained process, and to further politicize its ramifications, especially as its fallout is seen to be manifested in the way history enters the national debate in the shape of a foreign body, “an alien other” (19).In order to accomplish this goal, the author marshals his evidence in the chapters that both reinstate and reconfigure the fluctuating, ever expanding or shrinking boundaries of the textual archive that is his interest.but from motives that are themselves cast as a point of analysis in Cvek’s approach.Both views are represented in an array of fine, sensitive, and provocative analyses presented in Cvek’s book dealing with the aftermath of 9/ 11 but also pointing to a prehistory of the event.The book’s agenda is deceptively simple as the author intends to uncover what lies behind the “hegemonic cultural encoding” (187) of 9/11 attacks in New York City in particular (other locations are mentioned but not elaborated on).As Cvek makes clear, the context of the US nation-state would exact the idea of radical break and justify Benjaminian sense of crisis, “a moment of danger,” whereas a globalizing view that situates the nation-state as one among several contending forces is less autistic and more in favor of an international perspective providing a mirror to the USA, deflating its exceptionalist ethos.Arguably, even in many probing readings of the event coming from the States, the sense is that an exceptionalist stance is still a governing perspective that even many an astute critic cannot evade.In order to appreciate the intricacy of the author’s argument, first we have to outline at least two ideological positions in relation to the events which occurred in the States some eleven years ago.The one perspective would render the events as a shattering and paradigm-changing rupture (and this is in part the subject of the book’s chapters where trauma theory is the principal mode of reading).