Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Religious War

After the DOW dived 449 points today, I found myself wondering how we got into this mess. I've read the articles and there are some strong opinions, but what I haven't read, what seems to be eclipsed in all of this turmoil, is that on 9/11, we lost some of the brightest financial minds on Wall Street. (And then, I see I've used the word "lost" and I'm annoyed by it - it isn't that we lost them, they may have suffocated, or tried to find their way down stairs when the building collapsed on itself, or thrown themselves out of a window with a computer in their hands as buttress, but they weren't lost). We're aware of the immediate impact of their death, and of the sheer strength many used to pull us out of it, but can it be that the poor decisions we are now faced with are also a direct result of not just sub-prime mortgages and CEO over-compensation, but that we didn't have these people, their expertise sitting in the chairs that had once guided our investments?

I found myself grieving today for these victims, for all the victims, and I realized that seven years ago, I knew we had just lost a fabric of our society that was irreplaceable, and the damage would be severe. I can't say in all certainty, but is it possible that the investors who superseded them just weren't ready? And I wonder, are other people feeling these emotions too, and in a sense, the agony of having a financial market that is at the moment "unprecedented" is now compounded by the grief we feel as a nation for this event, if only subconsciously?

Ulmer discusses that a religious war over the status of icons has begun both the era of print, and now the digital era. What I think we've been left with is fear - and as he mentions this feeling of having a bullseye over our icons, of being the target. If, as he states, there is an interdependence of technology, social institutions and individual identity, then a site that allows us to grieve, the electronic Rushmore that can't be a physical bullseye, may help lesson the fear.

I went today to the Pentagon Memorial ( and the images were subdued, a place of respite, and even though it is an icon, and a symbol of the devastation from a religious war, I felt it had no energy as a target. Perhaps being a target goes hand in hand with bravado? I'm not sure, but I understand our need for memorials/MEmorials.

1 comment:

Cynthia Haynes said...

Wendy...This is a stunning post. So thought/full. I had not thought about all of the financial minds who lost their lives on 9/11, though certainly all of those who did die that day have been on my mind (and the families they left behind...and the country they left behind). Certainly the current financial mess will be examined ad nauseum, with lots of finger-pointing to go around (would Nietzsche be asking us to turn the finger around and point at ourselves?). I have blame fatigue. I'm so very tired of the blame game. I want another game.