Posted: February 2, 2012 by extremehistory in Uncategorized

The collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Holocaust of World War II were all twentieth century horrors that greatly affected a place, a group of people, a family, a child and generations of descendants carrying the weight of their ancestors who lived through or died in these events. These moments of national historic trauma leave scars that never go away. Each person and place that experiences these events are radically changed, like the New York City skyline, and will never be the same. But there comes a time, a generation, a voice, a child, who realizes that though changed, we must still move forward, embrace the change, carry the memory but move toward creating a new world, a world that just might even be better than what had been before. This is the story behind the book, and now movie, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a story of a single child’s experience, trauma and reflection on a day that changed him forever and his journey to find meaning and, ultimately, to move forward from his suffering. It is a story of historical trauma. After eleven years of destabilizing trauma after 9/11, it’s time to reflect upon this day as a nation, accept its history and move forward, carrying our suffering in a small, velvet bag to honor it, but put it away in order to create a new world where such suffering can diminish. Jonathan Safran Foer, the book’s author, has explored this subject of the generational affects of historic trauma before. His book Everything is Illuminated followed the journey of a young American man back to his grandparents’ village in Eastern Europe to discover the trauma and effects of the holocaust in World War II. These works remind us that though we carry the suffering of the past, it is up to each of us to move forward from it and find a way to create peace. We live in a world where retribution has been the sword of choice in the battle for existence, a sword that hasn’t worked and has caused even further suffering. Can we put down the sword of retribution and reflect on the causes, meaning and suffering of these traumatic events in order to forge a new day, a new world where we all can live together peacefully?
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on that “worst day,” heal our own experience and look to the future for a world where such events can no longer happen. 9/11, as each example of historic trauma, will always remain a part of our history and cultural identity, but that identity is made up of the individual experiences and suffering of that day as our national identity is made up of all these blended molecules of past lives and current lives merging into one. I am my history and my history is as unique and individual as every snowflake. Its uniqueness deserves honor and respect as each of our histories combine to make up the historic patchwork of this planet. We must always honor and respect our individual identities in order to live together harmoniously.

  1. Absolutely beautiful and totally true. Well done and well spoken Marsha!

  2. Marcia lane says:

    Those are very wise words and I agree that this does need to be done in order to move forward and take measures to ensure such traumatic events are prevented from happening to our children and grandchildren. But for some victims who are so emotionally damaged, this will be hard to do and sadly this too will be passed on to future generations. Can severly abused children, now adults from the residential school era who are still disfunctional ever really heal? Their children are suffering too because of the parent’s disfunctional state from all the horrors they witnessed and had inflicted upon them. I sure hope so in time but so far only a few have found the inner strength to move on.

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