“It’s clearly a tragic day for America. In a long, hard war, we’re going to have tragic days. But they’re necessaıy.
They’re pant of a war that’s difficult and coınplicated.”
DONALD H. RUMSFELD, the secretary of defense, after guerrillas shot down an American helicopter in Iraq, killing 16 soldiers. ıVY Times.com , Nov. 3, 2003
“…to think differently — this thought must enter deeply into ozw intentions, actions, and so on — our whole being.”
David Bohm, “The 1mplicate order:a new approach to reality”
This is a non-academic essay of civil disobedience to challenge the US ideology of vanity and pride. Please do not read if you are jingoistically patriotic, self-centered and bigottedly supporting patriarchal, sexist, bigoted, a dualistic, manicheistic fundamentalist (Christian and Islamic or whatever), who starts drooling when he hears the word Armageddon, and especially if you are Mr. Simpleton Hunting.
I would like to start with claiming that Mr. Rumsfeld’s discourse openly reveals that American discourse of innocence and that war is indispensable in the US’s self-imposed role of world’s saviour is losing ground. Rumsfeld should, and truely sensible Americans will, I am sure, ask themselves why the same discourse of a long war has been repeatedly used in all of the many invasions of America’s history. Has it got to do with the Calvinistic belief of the elect? Do American politicians believe that they are `elect’ enough to `sivilize’ (Ref. to Huck) the so-called uncivilized nations of the earth? How has the US developed this vanity? And perhaps even more important a question, why has the US develeped it, or out of which need? Is this role of the world’s jandarme or saviour a mask veiling the true intention of prevailing on earth only by possessing, or at least controlling the natural resources of the earth? Who will be drinking the last drop of water on earth? Surely, it must be an American. (Michael Haneke says that all questions imply their answers)
The New York Times.com page also highlighted on November 3, 2003, Richard W. Stevenson’s article titled “As Casualties in Iraq Mount, Will Resolve Falter?” But before the article, there is the sad picture of the Chinook helicopter crash. `after being hit by a guerilla missile’. The memory, or the history of the word guerilla is hidden in’the Webster’s definition of the word: a guerilla is
“someone engaged in harassing, raiding or sabotage operations carried out by small bands of irregulars acting independently. The term was first used of the Spaniards who harassed Napoleon’s army during the Peninsular War. This method of warfare has often been used against enemy occupation, esp. YVhere the terrain allows the guerillas to hide and live off the country. Tito ‘s partisans in Yugoslavia were an outstanding example in the 2nd World War.” (1995:427)
This definition clearly shows that leaders like Mustafa Kemal, like Commandante Castro or Che Guevara, like Lorca (with his poetry, and you might even have heard of a For Whom the
Bells Toll by Ernest Hemingway, who was a journalist siding with the guerillas fighting against the fascists, who shot Lorca dead, and Hemingway was American, right?) were also guerillas. Since the word is a variant of guerra (war), guerilla also iinplies that there is an enemy to `war.’ against. In this sense, the use of the word guerilla, implicity invalidates US troops’ presence in Iraq, because all US-causes to attack Iraq have been proved to be virtual, and bence is the loss of the viewers interest in the itılatrix or Lord of the Rings trilogies. Reality, is not what we see on TV; it is what the parents, and other beloveds of the dead soldiers who truely experience it. It is the mother in Saving Private Ryan who elegantly collapses on her porch when she understands that bad ne‘vs is at her door. From that scene, a sensible human being should arrive at a conclusion that war should be no more, and that saving a private is a big lie, just as was expressed in Wilfred Owen’ s `cult’ poem “Dulce es Decorum Est” (Pro Patria Mani). I also remember Luigi Pirandello’s story “War” at the end of which the father stops boasting that his son fought for the emperor and died for his country, bursts into tears when the woman in the same compartment with him asks: “Is your son really dead?” Stevenson in his above mentioned ./VT Times article reminds the readers of Bush’s former so-called intention, and wonders if he will abandon “his quest to bring a stable democracy to that country”. It is impossible for many people ta agree with this rhetoric of the vain and make-believe saviour, whereas from first-hand knowledge, I know that the soldiers who are in Iraq only wish to be lying on the couch enjoying their beer in front of their TV at horne. What a pity for the Americans who are challenging wrong boundaries, and supporting a so-called Mr. President who by no means fits in my memory of the picaresque rouge, who enjoys his rite-of-passage as a hero on the quest to bring (mind you, the writer does not say take, which underlies the expected and welcomed angelic saviour) a stable democracy wonder how a country of no stable democracy indoors can take it elsewhere) to that country (feel the sense of superiority). The world is made up Of United States of America, and them countries, ie., others, which are entitled to benefit from US opinions, U ways, US this, US that.
But if authority overdoes the truth that he is ruling, I start to believe that the authority has started to have doubts about his/her power, that the collapse is at hand. Stevenson’s `rriurky enemy’ in Iraq, is attacking the enemy who has invaded his country. Hence, the enemy whose nature is murky is the US.
(And I do not have space and patience enough to analyze why he is called on Turkish news President Bush, and not American President Bush? Why da Turkish newscasters also call him the President Bush, as if the American President is the President of the whole world? Is globalization already established, and of al! people, Bush is the leader of us all, our saviour to save us from ourselves?)
Remember The Horse, the Hungarian playwright Gyula Hay’s play, in which everyone turns into horses to underline allegorically the fact that one becomes a replica of the tyrant (bere it is Caligula) if he is too blind. Hence, the not of the animals in Orwell’s Animal Farm. It is high time that Americans established a stable democracy in the United States of America.
However, in order to challange some boundaries for economic, or symbiotic reasons, the Challenger (also the name of a NASA misilse?) needs purblind individuals, as well as blind masses. The title of the PALA conference was: “Challenging Boundaries”, which reminds to me of the sine quo nen existence of a horizon to go, the “ask for more” doctrine, or the ubiquitous frontier ideology, which was subtly criticized in The Truman Show.
The panel I attended at the PALA conference was titled as “The Discourse of Terrorism Before and After 9/11.” Being a man, as the Turkish saying goes, who always seeks a calf under the ox, i.e., a skeptic, I sense in this title the need to show, even to promote September 11, 2001 as important as the birth of Christ, which is the tuming point of history, which I never understand why. Why is it not the birth of any other man but Jesus? Why should the world history change after 9/11? Because 3000 people were killed? If so, why is any other tragedy not as important for Americans? Have the Americans forgotten that if they had not joined the WW2 so late, at least 6 million people could have been saved? Then I ask, why does “La Vita est Bella?” end so hypocritically with the American tank as a gift to the Jewish boy? If the planes hitting the WTC, and the Pentagon means to the public that “They are in the house now,” (Mel Gibson in The Signs), do I have to approve of anything and everything the superpower extravagantly does after the attacks, like attacking Afganistan, like invading Iraq under the veil of a Holy Coalition. (I wonder what Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown would have to say if he met this Holy Coalition in the forest?)
“Ground Zero” means:
1. “Solid surface of the earth, firm or dryland”: Out of the ashes and on that solid surface will rise a new tower, and other smaller towers forming a supporting circle around it. The solidity of the ground brings to mind Tom Cruise’s falling off the top of the highest building in NY, supposedly one of the twin towers, also alluding to the Fall, and the natural depravity of man. But, this long var, this long journey of man, this purgative way towards spiritual regeneration can only be justified by tragedies like the 9/11 attacks, which is, to me, just one of the million’s of other tragedies in the world which make me shed tears, but the American way of self-pity that they have become so vulnerable now that they are the super power, also underlines that they are suffering from a self-centered foreign policy, that they so “elect” that everyone wants to attack them, which is nothing but paranoia. (Hence is the replication myths of the other, evil, and all sorts of apocalyptic produces).
2. “Land having an indicated character”: From now on, the unfortunately empty space, and later the new towers built on Ground Zero, will be like the altar of the Acropolis of globalized world. Wishful thinking or not, this is in the hearts of many Americans, as New York is like a wounded woman, who has gained tragic grandeur, and Ground Zero is like the scar on her face, as a proof of the ordeals she has had to go through to reach her target. This land has an indicated character, the land of the chosen, the land of the righteous, the point that deservedly legalizes our past, present and what we shall do in return (symbolized in the feather in Forrest Gıımp);
a. A tract of land appropriated to a special use: The Retaliation de Dieu myth
justifies the US creating new protectorates, and making a long list of countries
challenging American boundaries.
b. The foundation or basis on which a theory or action rests; reason: That is
why I consider 9/11 itself as grounds to my statement.
4. Subject for discussion; topic: Eg., “Careful, you’re treading on delicate ground.” This also implies how delicate the nature of rhetoric, the word, the discourse of any kind, giving away the intention of its user.
5. Rational or factual support for one’s posItion or attitude: Le., the ground we fall to, September 11, 2001, these attacks US were subjected to, are to be rational, factual support for retaliation, for any US or “coalitioned” measure taken afterwards;
6. In fine arts ( in popular art, the cinema and in literature) it stands for:
a. a coating of some substance serviug as a surface for paint, ink, or other
media in art: “Lead white is a traditional ground for oil paintings”:
Though there is no need to interpret this, I just want to remind the reader of the warfare games played in the unfortunate history of us human beings, which is full of such cause-and-effect, ie., war and retaliation ridden foreign policies.
During the US&UK coalition attacks on Iraq there was a protest slogan on the internet: “Bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity.” Loss of virginity, in the morality-ridden brains makes a girl ordinary, but US forces bombing ‘that’ country are taking the revenge of a virtual offense, the enemy’s penetration, committing sin by touching the untouchable cult city, hence her tragic grandeur. New York is now like Marie Magdalena, the sacred whore, and in all of us there ıs one. The moment the hom of the unicorn is broken (and remember it only approaches to the virgins), the horse, the sanctity is gone. New York is no longer the unreacheable, we can all touch it. Le., it is no longer too exclusive to touch. I can easily be a part or a member of the cult in its aura. Now that it has been penetrated I can much more easily empathize with America, having gone through catharsis, having been purged off my feelings of pity and fear. Hence, the approval of the retaliation by many Americans imrnediately after the attacks. (I hear that nowadays the majority in America is no longer supporting the foreign policy of the Bush administration, I hope Americans give up enjoying the title “happy slaves”);
7. Ground also means the place we walk on, and that is how we feel safe and secure. I would never appreciate any act that aims at taking the ground I am walking on away from me. But perhaps the meaning that is the closest to the myth of the phoenix is the
meaning of the word connoting to life. In nature, the ground holds life in it, the root (zero?) is held by the ground, and life blooms out of it by the help of, for instance, water (alluding to faith, as the retailiation is appropriated in the name of God, which is part of the replication myths of American history—Ref. to: “With God on Our Side” by Bob Dylan). This explains why the miracle happens at the end of The Signs: Evil alien is killed by the sacred water poured all over it after it receives a deservedly swinged baseball bat (national sport), and that is how Mel Gibson, who had lost his faith in God after the unfortunate car accident killing his wife, restores his faith when his cry is heard by God only to bring his son back to life, reminiscient of the taught need of the Christians for the rebirth of Jesus Christ, and if that is not happening, the possibility of anti-Christ’s ubiquity, which good believers should always keep in mind. Thaf .is why, many people thought at first that US attacks on Afghanistan, and Iraq were ground attacks; or that is how US administration (please note my attention not to use the word “Americans”) places his argument on a foundation.
Zero, a number found by El-Harizmi, means;
1. the fıgure or symbol O, which stands for the absence of quantity in the Arabic notation for numbers (remember the vertical falliflow of numbers in Matrix: the message sent by the falling numbers off the tower of Babel is that they died to save us, similar to Jesus’s crucifixion. The fail of twin towers is therefore like cutting off Ada’s
(in Jane Campion’s The Piano) finger `thariks to’ which she is washed off her sins, also reminding the viewer of the almosfarchetypal American heroine Hester Prynne’s adultery. The sixth time I watched The Piano was only to see which finger was cut off, because :Lt was the same finger she touches her piano with, when she starts a new life with her new metal-coated finger; and the finger she was making a new start was the finger thaı. creates the musical note Soh, which is considered the beginning note in the simplest musical measure. In other words, similar to Katherine Anne’s Porter’s “In my end is my beginning” the circular nature of history is replicated in images, in rhetoric, in signs, in legends and myths, bence the forrnation, the re-vitalization and appropriation of the Western collective memory as the global memory.
2. Naught, nothing: It is nothing but it still is there.
3. The origin of any kind of measurement; the line or point from which all divisions
of a scale, as a thermometer, are measured in either a positive or a negative direction: Hence, is the title of the panel: “Before and After 9/11″. The media subtly monitored the world’s welcoming 9/11 as the zero point, which is the end and also the beginning of all scales.
4. The mathematical value between + (plus) and — (minus) Therefore, although it seems to be naught or nothing, it has a value, as something new will start from this point.
5. The lowest point or degree: This recalls its antithetical connotations, the highest point or degree, that NY is martyred, by falling to the lowest degree, in fact WTC has reached the highest point in God’s eyes. One has to experience Inferno before appreciating Purgatorio, and Paradiso. But before Dante, we must remember some Greek and Roman mythology upon which the signifıcation and approval of Westem civilization is established: Remember Ikarus falling into the, depths of the Aegean, remember Prometheus, hence the Bellonaic justification of warfare;
6. The absence of a linguistic element, as a phoneme or morpheme in a position in which one previously existed or might by analogy be expected to exist: This explains some of my comments so far made.
7. In ling-uistics, it notes a hypothetical morphological element that is posited as existing by analogy with a regular pattern of inflection or derivation in a language, but which is not represented by any sequence of phonological elements: Eg., ” `Deer’ has a zero plural.” The twin towers, if not the World Trade Center, will exist in our memory by analogy, and I am sure it will find its metonymical usages in the English language very soon. Eg., “The 9/11 effect” or “The 9/11 syndrome” (remember the metonymy `Chinese Syndrome’);
8. In mathematics;
a. the identity element of group in which the operation is addition
b. root (function of a complex variable has the value zero); therefore, the US
action taken after 9/11 is an addition to the country’s identity, a new life will
spring from those roots…etc.
9. (in the military jargon): A sight setting for both elevation and windage on any particular range causing a projectile to strike the center of the target on a normal day [emphasis mine], under favorable light conditions, with no wind blowing: Well, I could not better describe that ominous day, September 11, 2001. The psychoanalytical connotations of the center of capitalism (New York City), and the center-of-that-center (World Trade Center, which I called the Khabe of Westem Capitalism) was hit at the very beginning of a new day. I am suggesting again, the assumed circular structure of time, and that the end might be a beginning.
10. a single-engine Japanese fıghter plane us’ed in WW II: The planes `entering’ the WTC were not single-engined but the wörd Zero definitely reminds many Americans of the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor, as a result of which the US joined the war. I do not know why history keeps repeating itself. Perhaps it has no imaginaticn.
a. (military jargon, especially in WW I) the time set for the beginning of an
attack. Therefore, the early hours of September 11 marked the beginning of an attack on the US, also starting the US attacks on the suspect countries that are supposed to be feeding terrorism (according to the BBC, there are some 60 more countries in the list)
b. (informal). A decisive or critical time: It sure is.
In addition to so many connotations, suggestions and associations the words Ground and Zero bring with them separately, or independent of each other. the term “Ground Zero” all by itself is “the point on the surface of the earth or water directly below, directly above, or at which an atomic or hydrogen bomb explodes.” Therefore, the attacks on WTC, the towers collapsing with images similar to the mushroom images of the atomic bombs the US forces (please note, I refrain from saying `Americans’) on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (I stili wonder why the death at Ground Zero of hundreds of thousands of Japanese, and the destruction of future generations on those two spots only, never had the same value as the birth of Jesus Christ. Maybe it is so for the Japanese, as it happened to them and not to us, so it is their tragedy, for which we can only feel sympathy. Is this how human being is taught to relieve his guilty conscience?)
Therefore, the tragically opened space of the World Trade Center, this “Ground Zero”, has become the epitome of the embodiment of all meanings, connotations put in the words ground and zero on the way to establishing a foundation for what will come after 9/11. American history aspires to have an expression like “Before 9/11 and After 9/11”, which will in time be a term to stand for a turning point of a universally accepted American-based global history.
To conclude, there are boundaries that are challenging the US aspirations, longings, hunger. Therefore, the US memory should be shaped so that Americans should approve of the US powers challenging these boundaries. (Hence, the power that lies in the pun). In both interpretations boundaries exist. In other words, boundaries are taken for granted, accepted as living entities, as the other. These boundaries may be challenging because they are supposedly evil and thus dangerous, hence the approval of their destruction; or they may be different or not `sivilized’ like the native-Americans, so they have the right to be changed by the vain generals of the frontier history; or these boundaries have all the natural resources I must use to exercise my power (like oil) or to survive first and then tocprevail (like water and other natural resources). The US has (not have; in this sense it is one, and like the `deer’ it is both singular and plural, but since I mean the govermental policies, and not the people of many different states, here by using has I put the blame on one big State, which has unfortunately come to symbolize for many teınpest tost the capitalistic, imperialistic ideology stili fed by a sick memory, the psychic residue created by primordial images, archetypal metaphors, patterns of legends and myths, fears,
aspirations etc., which should be destroyed or kept inactive, like the delusions of the protagonist in A Beautiful Mind, for the hope of healthy future generations) been challenging the geographical boundaries of others and also their tolerance, as the US has turned out to be the devil incarnate, for some, at the presence of which many believe in God
(fear of the devil is essential to establish the love of God, remember?); but even if not so, it is
definitely a country ruled by an ideology diabolically using the discourse of terrorism as a weapon against whoever is a threat to his will, his power, his order, his democracy, his very being. “We are the people” is misunderstood by the present ideology; now it means yes “We are the people” and “You are threats to my existmce, the others” hence the rain of “patriots, cruises, tomahawks”.
These days we are watching Matrix Revolutions, the attacks on Zion. Neo (new Jesus Christ) and all the images, metaphors around him are aiming at structuring a new conceptual universe. Hence, the sine quo non nature of terrorism discourse, the searching and destroying smart bomb. If only Rumi, then Emerson and Thoreau could rise, seeing how wildly misused their ideas are, they would, I am sure, say: “This is not what I meant, this is not what I meant at all.”