Sep 11, 2006

The Fall of the Towers

If you're as old as I am, you'll remember when the 21st century was expected to be a wonderful time of domed cities, flying cars and colonies on the moon. Instead, nine months into the new millenium we got that most terrible and sinister piece of performance art, now known universally by its date, written in, appropriately enough I suppose, American style as 9/11.

It's become trite to say that 9/11 changed everything. Of course, in the big picture it changed nothing. Business as usual in samsara. Beings die, often horrifically, sometimes suddenly. Life is precarious, unpredictable, uncertain. So what else is new?

But in a lot of ways, we do perceive a pre- and a post- 9/11 era, making it one of a very few such events of world historical importance. Any sense of optimism about the world scene, and we had some of that in the 'nineties, naive perhaps but palpable, is gone. We are now in a period of dark international anarchy; war, terrorism, torture, the rise of the omnipresent security state. We are becoming divided along ethnic and principally sectarian grounds. White passengers are made "uncomfortable" by the presence of brown passengers and flights are delayed as those whose skin tone clashes with the zeitgeist are removed for questioning.

Most horribly, the psychic cataclysm of the event was used by those in power in America and Britain to unleash a greater cataclysm in the Middle East; wars, wars and rumours of wars. Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, poisoned and laid waste. More than a hundred thousand dead and how many lives ruined?

And we now live in a world of shadows and deceit. There are three or four versions of every event in the news and the scenarios are hotly debated. With 9/11 in particular, to this date, five years on, we still don't really know what happened. The official version is so full of inconsistencies and odd lacunae that it cannot any longer be taken seriously. But no problem, there are plenty of alternate theories to choose from. As I said about faith, it may be mostly a matter of aesthetics which one you believe in.

The power of propaganda to stupefy and delude is impressive. The official scenario, nineteen arabs with box-cutters led by a mad fanatic hooked up to a dialysis machine in a cave in Central Asia, is something out of a bad James Bond movie. This has been accepted as the real deal only by dint of repetition. The really amazing thing is the thread-bare nature of the evidence for this scenario in the public domain. There was Mohammed Atta's passport, miraculously found in the rubble, and a grainy video of some guy who looked vaguely like Osama Bin Laden if you squinted a bit. And not much else.

And, like in the case of the JFK assassination, whether there was any high-level conspiracy or not, there definitely was a cover-up. Why was so much evidence destroyed or hidden? Where are the black boxes? We know what happened to the air-traffic control tapes, they were "accidentally destroyed." Even the rubble was hauled away and melted down with reckless haste. It is normally a felony to destroy evidence from a crime scene, but apparently not in the case of the crime of the century.

I called 9/11 a terrible piece of performance art. On a psychological level it was more than that, it was an act of Black Magic; a ritual act of great power which shook and re-arranged the collective psyche. It struck me almost immediately that the scene had sinister mythic or occult undertones. The two towers; Joachim and Boaz (or Isengard and Barad-Dur?) cross-referenced with the sixteenth trump of the Tarot. Did somebody know precisely what they were doing?

In the sequence of the Tarot, the fifteenth arcana is the Devil, and the culmination of his works is the Destruction of the Tower. But after the smoke clears, the next arcana is the Star. If we can shake off our media induced stupefaction, and rediscover our common humanity, disown nightmare dreams of empire and terror, can we find our way back to simplicity?

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