After the Fall: American Literature since 9/11

After the Fall: American Literature since 9/11

After the Fall: American Literature since 9/11

After the Fall: American Literature since 9/11

Synopsis

After the Fall presents a timely and provocative examination of the impact and implications of 9/11 and the war on terror on American culture and literature.
  • Presents the first detailed interrogation of U.S. writing in a time of crisis
  • Develops a timely and provocative arguement about literature and trauma
  • Relates U.S. writing since 9/11 to crucial social and historical changes in the U.S. and elsewhere
  • Places U.S. writing in the context of the transformed position of the U.S. in a world characterized by political, economic, and military crisis; transnational drift; the resurgence of religious fundamentalism; and the apparent triumph of global capitalism

Excerpt

If there was one thing writers agreed about in response to 9/11, it was the failure of language; the terrorist attacks made the tools of their trade seem absurd. “I have nothing to say,” Toni Morrison told what she called “the dead of September,” “– no words stronger than the steel that pressed you into itself; no scripture older or more elegant than the ancient atoms you have become” (1). W.S. Merwin, in his poem “To the Words,” addressed the tools of his craft directly, “When it happens you are not there” (3), he complained, as he contemplated the attack on the Twin Towers. While Suheir Hammad confessed that there was “no poetry in the ashes south of canal street./ no prose in the refrigerated trucks driving debris and dna./ not one word” (139). Philosophers, called on to make some comment, tended to agree. “The whole play of history and power is distorted by this event,” Jean Baudrillard observed, “but so, too are the conditions of analysis” (Spirit of Terrorism, 51). And, interviewed on the function of phi losophy in a time of terror, Jacques Derrida, said much the same. “We do not know what we are talking about,” Derrida argued:

“Something” took place … But this very thing, the place and meaning
of this “event,” remains ineffable, like an intuition without concept …
out of range for a language that admits its powerlessness and so is
reduced to pronouncing mechanically a date, repeating it endlessly …

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