The Skyscraper and the Airplane. Metaphors of 9-11


The destruction of theTwinTowers is the founding catastrophe of a historical period. It has been compared with the fall of the Berlin Wall, that simultaneously brought the eighties and the Cold War to a close, and its chronological coincidence has prompted to consider it the threshold of a century “which he have entered”, as Kofi Annan has said, “through a gate of fire”. But its importance could be even greater, and perhaps time shall place it at the same level as events like the fall of Constantinople or the French Revolution that serve as a hinge between different eras. This inaugural episode, the ultimate ur-event of the III Millennium, owes its importance to many circumstances, but never to its human or physical dimension: any neglected African tribal conflict leaves more victims than those registered in Ground Zero, and there is an endless list of natural or provoked catastrophes that have caused a greater material destruction. The one condition that makes 9/11 a historic turning point is its symbolic location in the heart of the empire, whose vulnerability it has dramatically exposed. Along with its media staging, which has left a extraordinary record of already mythical images, and its origin in the conflict with the Muslim world, which draws the main line of fracture of our time, this circumstance ties up in the remains of the WTC all the tension threads of the dawn of a century whose bright colors resemble those of a sunset...[+]