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.
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).
Other likely candidates, mentioned in passing, include John Barth, William Gibson, Ken Kalfus, Neil La Bute, Claire Messud, David Rees, John Updike, and Paul West implying greater possibilities in further approaches to the mediation of 9/11.
The discussion on 9/11 is far from over and closed if we look at continuing debates as to the appropriate ways of memorializing the event, and given the fact that the publication of the book is in confluence both with the tenth anniversary of the attacks, and with the recent unveiling of, what some critics enthusiastically see as “a masterpiece at Ground Zero” (as suggested by a recent headline in ).
It is the book’s contention that the terrorist attacks have spawned new forms of domestic order relying simultaneously on new modes of intimacy, solidarity, affect, and other, more collective modes of socialty.
It is thus pertinent to assess how cultural readings as sensitive as Lauren Berlant’s model of the intimate public sphere or Judith Butler’s idea of reciprocality in mourning and bodily vulnerability might give us insight into the way the archive requires and fuels a new sense of (personal, familial and collective) identities.The likelihood is that the monument at the site of Twin Towers will gain a stature comparable to that of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC.The book is thus bent on capturing all the mythic resonances of the event but, in doing so, it reaches principally for historical and materialist tools.The reader is in for the main surprise, however, in the chapters that in a bold but fully motivated move enact the expansion of the 9/11 archive thus raising and keeping in focus a number of controversial and submerged questions, especially within the purview of a US-based perspective on the terrorist attacks.The additions to the archive are De Lillo’s novel predating , a novel that apparently has very little if nothing at all to do with the 9/11 itself, of which the author subtly dissuades us in chapter seven, with an even bolder intervention occurring in the final chapter which offers a reading of Thomas Pynchon’s latest monster of the novel, .The other position is less dramatic, in a sense that it looks at the event as being the end point of the long 1990s and thus coming as the climactic point of the story of global communism’s collapse and the end of the Cold War, on one hand, and placing of the United States more in synchrony with the corresponding events in countries worldwide, on the other.In that sense, as states the author, the event is less “eventful” as one-time occurrence but more so as an indication of long-term tendencies and a culmination thereof.Trauma theory is productively ruffled by concurrent reading approaches of new American studies, introducing categories of empire, political theories, nationalism studies, ethnic and postcolonial, and queer readings.Cultural theory, and its offshoot of visuality and media studies, offers another point of entry into the archive under examination.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).