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Lesson in commerce and tragedy
June 18, 2006 - Omaha, Nebraska

PLEASE, I would like you to very much send me the 9/11 flipbook to add to my collection of historical mass-death (and/or torture) novelties and party favors. Recently I’ve collected the Floating Citronella Garden Party Hindenberg, the Abu Ghraib Joy Buzzer and matching dog collar, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Inferno (self-igniting! Complete with 500 exploited garment-worker figures that fling themselves from the windows of the burning building with battery-operated SPRING-SHOT ACTION ®).

Please send me the 9/11 flipbook so that I may remind myself that the 21st century is already THE WORST CENTURY OF ALL TIME, even worse than the SHOCKING 20th century. And as everyone knows, things can only get worse!! (I’ve enclosed an additional $4.95 shipping and handling so that you can RUSH ME my 9/11 flipbook... before it’s too late!)

When I receive my 9/11 flipbook, I will lie, telling people it was manufactured in the troubled days immediately following the attack, in the DAYS WITHOUT IRONY, when many artists and writers and journalists were afraid to represent the events in any way that could be conceived as unpatriotic, inappropriate, or, even, disrespectful of a befuddled American president. I will flip the flipbook for friends and neighbors, fraudulently, allowing them to marvel at it, this relic of subversion, an underground expression available from a time when only weeping and gnashing and war and souvenir T-shirts and faux-bronze replicas of the World Trade Towers were deemed acceptable modes of grief, and grief and anger were the only acceptable modes of HUMAN RESPONSE. In my hands, the flipbook will become an expression of great quizzicality. At cocktail parties (I’m FAMOUS for my cocktail parties), I will stop the book mid-flip and say, “the world was one way here,” then I will flip the book forward, fluttering the paper plane into the building, “and it became something else in this instant,” but will I be being only melodramatic? Or did what they were saying back then turn out to be true, that the world really did warp, our rose-colored glasses tinting eternally into a definite, queasy shade of Pepto? Irony, as it turned out, did not die, it barely even catnapped, and though now it seems we went weeks and weeks without a Letterman monologue, we didn’t, it was merely days, time all accordion-like in our recall, events flipping forward and back, in fast-forward and slo-mo.

PLEASE send me a 9/11 flipbook so that I can sell it on eBay, along with the page reserved for my essay, to any interested parties. Perhaps a corporation would like to place an ad on my page (most likely one of the pre-explosion pages, a happier time, when the plane had not yet hit the tower, and the possibility of such things never happening still existed, a time more appropriate to enjoying a Bud or to buying the world a Coke, the advertiser sublimely and subliminally coaxing you to indulge in its products by tapping into those neurons that still retain the spark of that moment, the milliseconds before the plane crashed, when we thought, if we squinted hard enough, or watched the horror through our fingers, that what was certain to happen wouldn’t really happen, no matter how many times we had already witnessed the collision). The transaction will then become MY 9/11 art, a conceptual lesson in commerce and tragedy, in art and irony, the artist as both merry court jester and moral scold, all in one easy-to-interpret package.

Or I might prefer to keep my 9/11 flipbook entirely unflipped, or someday I might flip it and never stop, watching and re-watching, sickened and confused, unspeakably mesmerized; with each and every flip, it’ll feel like it always feels, every time I see the images, the shock never deadening, not even with repetition. It’ll feel like those moments when mortality sometimes asserts itself, a reminder of the presence of death like a dip-in-the-road rush in your gut, those moments when our comforting unconscious relinquishes its death-grip on our self-defense mechanisms, silencing the lullaby that trills perpetually in our skulls, and for that moment we feel that unsalvable fear, well-aware of our brains and other feeble organs all housed in a fragile cage of deteriorating bone and thin skin. But then one day when I flip the flipbook forward, the plane will miss its target, and the tower will stand defiantly, the building’s good ol’ American stick-to-itiveness on full display, all lives saved, our worst fears yet again, miraculously, for the millionth time, unrealized.

Timothy Schaffert

Previous Essay Main Page Next Essay
Name Date Location Title
0. Scott Blake September 17, 2008 Omaha, Nebraska Introduction
1. Sarah Baker March 12, 2006 Omaha, Nebraska The very first essay
2. Sean Smith May 10, 2006 Toronto, Canada Tactical application of slowness
3. Mike Fischer May 17, 2006 Racine, Wisconsin My birthday is September 11
4. Pat Riot May 23, 2006 Los Angeles, California 9-11 FLIP OUT
5. Julian Miller May 31, 2006 New York, New York Desperate grab for attention
6. Scott Grant June 5, 2006 Bristol, United Kingdom I wished I didn't own a television
7. Daniel Clark June 6, 2006 Henderson, Nevada Media Monotony
8. Damon Lawner June 10, 2006 Los Angeles, California Concise yet massive story
9. Natalie Conforti June 12, 2006 San Francisco, California American student in Italy
10. K Torpy June 13, 2006 Omaha, Nebraska Incomprehensible accessible
11. Pierre Ernest June 18, 2006 Borsbeek, Belgium I also was born on Sept. 11th
12. Timothy Schaffert June 18, 2006 Omaha, Nebraska Lesson in commerce and tragedy
13. Chris Fischer June 18, 2006 Landisville, Pennsylvania i could give a fuck less
14. Aaron Norhanian June 19, 2006 Brooklyn, New York Hold the moment in my hand
15. Anonymous June 19, 2006 Anonymous. i think that Bush planned it
16. Steve Chudomelka June 19, 2006 Omaha, Nebraska Caught in the moment again
17. Adam Arsenault June 19, 2006 Prince Edward Island, Canada Respecting each other's visions
18. Pierre-François Maquaire June 19, 2006 Paris, France I collect folioscopes
19. Kim Lyvang June 20, 2006 Ontario, Canada My life is now richer
20. Alexis Turner June 20, 2006 Portland, Oregon Listen to *me*
21. Patrick Hughes June 21, 2006 Gainesville, Florida I would not like a 9-11 flipbook
22. Philippe Dubost June 26, 2006 Chamalières, France Sensational effects of this game
23. Jean-Pierre Becker June 27, 2006 Paris, France I could smile about your question
24. Jayne Sonshine June 28, 2006 Twp. of Washington, New Jersey Hold a piece of history
25. Tabitha Straws June 28, 2006 Seattle, Washington Selfish American
26. K. Verbonus June 28, 2006 Steilacoom, Washington Everyone wants to be right
27. Jo Bryan June 28, 2006 Cambs, United Kingdom Another frantic day
28. Hayley Gardiner June 28, 2006 Northampton, United Kingdom Not just about the victims
29. David Vogt June 28, 2006 Rockford, Illinois Feelings and emotions of others
30. Nick Jugovics June 28, 2006 Paxton, Illinois Made from suffering
31. Lennaert Bosch June 28, 2006 Cuijk, The Netherlands Ten and a half year old
32. Anonymous June 29, 2006 Anonymous Trivializing those events
33. David Pitman July 1, 2006 South Wales, United Kingdom Slap in the face
34. Tracy Cowell July 1, 2006 Somerset, United Kingdom Agree with it or not
35. Candy VanOcker July 1, 2006 Springville, New York This happened to everyone
36. Fadel Haowat July 1, 2006 Chicago, Illinois What the news can do
37. Daniel Sahagian July 1, 2006 North Arlington, New Jersey Light against Hate and Ignorance
38. Sam Brobvision July 1, 2006 Nottingham, United Kingdom Little effect on my life
39. Cain Radford July 1, 2006 Broken Hill, Australia Through tragedy life goes on
40. Susan Rabka July 1, 2006 Johannesburg, South Africa I might as well have been there
41. Nicole Brodsky July 1, 2006 San Francisco, California Arbiter of the act
42. Julie Gormly July 2, 2006 Brisbane, Australia Uncomfortable sharing
43. Nicola Dingle July 2, 2006 Somerset, United Kingdom Seize the day
44. Tarryn Bow July 3, 2006 Broken Hill, Australia Far more shocking
45. Ricardo dC Russo July 3, 2006 Manaus, Brazil World is full of lost words
46. Pascal Fouché July 4, 2006 Paris, France How people can see it
47. Anthony Mack July 4, 2006 Lacey, Washington ALL humans strive for freedom
48. Teri Jenkins July 6, 2006 Ontario, Canada Deepest sympathies
49. Alexandre Noyer July 6, 2006 Annecy, France Internationnal langage
50. Yolanda Yuyu July 6, 2006 Chengdu, China It tell us to remember something
51. Craig Park July 7, 2006 Rocky Mount, North Carolina Are we better for our learning
52. Kell Black July 11, 2006 Clarksville, Tennessee Small matchbox diorama
53. Anonymous July 12, 2006 United States Sophisticated visual humor
54. Lauren De Luca July 12, 2006 New York, New York Less than a mile from the Towers
55. Nanette Allen July 12, 2006 Las Vegas, Nevada Intimate translations
56. Manfred Reichert July 21, 2006 Visselhoevede, Germany Flash animation
57. B Rousse July 22, 2006 Paris, France It deserves our irreverence
58. Charlotta Bjorkskog July 22, 2006 Kokkola, Finland Of course you gain on it
59. Stuart and Tara July 24, 2006 Brooklyn, New York Better view on the TV
60. Dave Schneider January 29, 2007 Chicago, Illinois Remind me of "real" pain
61. Dan Keane January 30, 2007 Bloomfield, New Jersey what the fuck was the 'message'?
62. Thomas Hill February 6, 2007 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma perception is reality
63. Robert Fischer March 29, 2007 Houma, Louisiana the defining moment
64. Frank J Perrotta December 5, 2007 Sharon, Pennsylvania 9-11 Flip Book Manipulations
65. Matthew Lahey January 7, 2008 Los Angeles, Califronia On A Flipbook
66. Kristin Heikel March 16, 2008 Omaha, Nebraska Reporting and Voyeurism
67. Aibyouka Kun September 29, 2008 Westmont, New Jersey The First IM Chat
68. Bobby Ryan November 4, 2008 North Cape May, New Jersey Patriotic Work of Art
69. Trevon Watson February 3, 2009 Guyton, Georgia War On Terror is Fading Away
70. Adrian Davis February 17, 2009 Fort Bragg, North Carolina Something you care about
71. Dear December 26, 2008 Portland, Oregon Second IM Chat
72. James King May 4, 2009 Glasgow, Scotland The world will never be the same
73. Beáta Istvánko October 27, 2009 Budakalász, Hungary Opinion of the audience
74. Alex Klehfoth June 1, 2009 Lexington, Kentucky Twin Tower Pinata
75. Wolfgang Skodd May 5, 2010 Dortmund, Germany Agents & Provocateurs
76. Michiko Tanaka August 2, 2010 Seattle, Washington Over and over
77. DJ Tilley January 7, 2011 Reno, Nevada Wandering around the playground
78. Benjamin Goggin January 8, 2011 Portland, Oregon Tornadoes to terrorism
79. Tom Eubank January 8, 2011 New York City, New York Top floor of 95 Christopher Street
80. Ian January 8, 2011 Oakland, California Stir things up
81. Anonymous February 24, 2011 Anonymous Inconsiderate and offensive
82. Amanda Marsico March 3, 2011 District of Columbia, USA Thank you for making me think
83. Anonymous April 18, 2011 Anchorage, Alaska This isint a joke
84. Jessica Schwartz April 27, 2011 USA Who is the work for?
85. Dr. Kevin Dann May 19, 2011 Brooklyn, New York Thanks Art Spiegelmann
86. TheBigBoss May 26, 2011 Nairobi, Kenya Le Chêne et le Roseau
87. Stephania June 27, 2011 USA More Real Than Reality
88. Anonymous July 11, 2011 Brooklyn, New York Weak and Irresponsible
89. Renee Nied August 4, 2011 Cobleskill, New York Pick Up Tomorrow
90. Elliott Burris September 2, 2011 Saint Joseph, Missouri I was only 3
91. Sheila Zachariae September 9, 2011 Omaha, Nebraska Protecting the people from themselves
92. Wendy Parker November 6, 2011 Leicester, United Kingdom Interesting Yet Horrifying
93. Aidan Hicks March 12, 2012 Aurora, Colorado Quite Young on September 11
94. Patrick McCarthy April 17, 2012 Chicago, Illinois Propaganda Attack
95. Billy October 12, 2012 Sandia Park, New Mexico Bling Review 41
96. Gabriella Cutrone June 25, 2013 Brooklyn, New York Inspired and Upset
97. BSG October 31, 2013 Portland, Oregon Images Detach From Emotions
98. Wilfredo Raguro July 28, 2016 Irving, Texas Looking Back Now
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