Magazine article The New Yorker

Talk[3]

Magazine article The New Yorker

Talk[3]

Article excerpt

I live in New York. Today, Thursday, I am in Salzburg. I can see the Alps. Before Salzburg, Vienna. A business trip. In Vienna, a few hours after arriving on one of the last flights to leave J.F.K., I turned on the television. It was around 9 A.M. on Tuesday in New York. On television, a plane flew through the south tower of the World Trade Center. How many times did I watch that? I once worked in the World Trade Center. Suddenly, like everyone everywhere, I was on the telephone. Telephone. Television. Telephone. Television. Four planes? Eight planes? Where is the President? One out of ten of my calls to friends got through. We all praised the Mayor. I felt that I needed to find everyone, even people with whom I had not spoken in years. I did this to make myself safe--not from any threat to my body, posed by anything outside myself, but, perversely, from myself, from something inside me, my own feelings of powerlessness. I was removed from the situation. I was in no way removed from the situation. It was as if I might manage my own terror by overseeing the terror of others. I was not the only one like this. Those of my friends who were outside the city, trapped outside the city, as it were, were becoming a corps of unofficial worriers. And the Austrians, my hosts, worried over me. They worried over me so that I could be free to worry over New York. "Are you all right? Are you all right?" they would say to me over and over. And then: "Are you all right? …

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