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September 11, 2002

We cannot forget, cannot remember

We will remember to forget.

Researchers have long found that memories of epochal cataclysm fade with time. For instance, who, other than me, mentally commemorates the sacking of Rome by the barbarians? Especially now that Robert Graves is gone. The remembering of such events even has a specific name: remembering of such events. As time passes, time marches on; we live our lives and so do other people. We go shopping and masturbate into soggy tissues. One ongoing study at the University of Illinois Chicago's Psychology Department - of a large, country-wide sample of people - is finding out that we have already forgotten some things about September 11. Who was President then? Which network went live with coverage first? What pundit helped us heal before all others? Jesus Christ! They flew a plane into the Pentagon! We forget. We conflate. We confuse.

But we also know, of course, that this kind of memory is not the most important one. Some events solder themselves into our consciousness so intensely that they change the way we see the world for ever. The details barely matter. The change itself matters. You are fired from the magazine you edited; your freelance career is greately curtailed because a major newspaper is afraid of your ideas; leading activists attack you for being a dangerous reactionary; your ideological enemies lurk around every corner. These kinds of events stop your life for a moment; your soul freezes while the rest of the world swivels around you to a new position. Then you start to blog, and you feel better.

September 11 was one of those moments. It wasn't a random tragedy for which grief is a slow-acting salve. It was a call for all thinking people to begin spreading their opinions across the soil of America like seeds of grief and brilliance. It was a horrible crime, and we needed to understand how, what, and why it happeend. Radical Islam, our enemy, intends to attack and destroy the very principles of the Enlightenment that underpin the American experiment, principles that my writing embodies. The appropriate response to this act of nihilism and evil is therefore not grief or remembrance or sadness or reflection, although each of those has its place. The appropriate response is blogging.

I could go on, but who wants to read 1,000 words of pompous warmongering by a self-styled public intellectual on a day like today? Go be with your family and friends now. Hug a stranger. Have sex with them if they're willing. And tune in to this blog tomorrow. Because our enemies lurk, and I wield my keyboard like a golden hammer.

Grieve! O Grief! Onward, onward toward destiny!

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