Sunday, August 28, 2011


In an eloquent response to my 9/11 essay below, Charles Simpson, a sociologist friend, seems to be arguing for an end to the 9/11 truth movement. His letter is not online, and is too long to be quoted in full.  But let me respond here by quoting a few sections which may give you as sense of his points.

Charles points to the "roadblock" that has frustrated all 9/11 truth seekers, the "room without an echo", and calls for "the next move", a "way out", engaging instead with "broader social movements", "face-to-face localism", and "alternative ways forward in the construction of meaningful lives" which will more likely resonate with American tastes, understandings of the world, and current conditions.

The irony of his call to leave 9/11 issues behind is the pessimism behind his suggestion.  Charles argues that people do not "want to go there" (9/11) because of a deep survival instinct towards optimism.  According to him, most people choose to avoid "the pitfall of despondency" that might threaten should one come to a realistic understanding of power relations in the capitalist world.

I find his hypothesis, however, too deeply pessimistic. The implication is that facts don't matter to human survival, that assembling evidence about important issues, even evidence packaged in "easy-to-digest" formats, can be a socially meaningless act, readily trumped by shoddy cultural misdirection.

I am not claiming that cultivating local gardens is unimportant, given the immanence of large-scale catastrophes. What I mean is that to give up hope for the rational component of human existence, is simply to give up hope.

Jung maintained that human consciousness was capable of four distinct functions: thinking, feeling, judgement, and intuition. To flee from such truths as 9/11 research may uncover is to give up two, if not three, of those capacities. I don't see how such emptying out can advance our capacity for survival.

The 9/11 research movement (my preferred term) wants to keep insisting -- in the face of much resistance -- that facts matter, that humans can reason on the basis of evidence, can intuit further directions for investigation, and can make judgements based on what is found. It may be pissing in the current wind, but eventually, the world must begin to smell the illuminating piss of alterity.

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