Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Instead of trying to say something prolific or worrying over whether or not my feelings are appropriate, I’d like to acknowledge the memory of 9/11 by suggesting we look to art and to each other for comfort.

After 9/11, our country was sent spinning and a lot of us, especially us kids, were just confused.  Were we in danger?  Who hated us?  What does “us” mean exactly?  I was 12 on 9/11 and I just didn’t quite understand.  I knew that I was sad, but it didn’t directly affect me.  I felt patriotic and worried and scared.  We were all genuinely sad.  We were all aware of the loss, and saddened for our fellow Americans.  At the same time, I think many people also felt confused in all the madness because they didn’t know anyone who was anywhere near the East Coast.  Everyone was affected, whether by the day or in its aftermath.

As a nation, we’re still healing, still trying to figure it out.  As a nation, we can and should turn to art and artistic expression for that healing and for the answers we just don’t have.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is a great example of art helping us heal in life.  It’s the story of a young boy who loses his father in attack on the Twin Towers.  He is young, inventive, and precocious.  He is deeply hurt and just wants to find something to hold onto.  He wants answers, comfort, anything to make him feel better.  The book is romantic and sad as it follows his struggle to figure out how to deal with life and pain.  The book can make you feel better because his story will illuminate yours (pun intended).

In the book, Oskar talks to people to figure out what happened to his dad, and what’s happening to him.  He listens to their stories and they listen to his.  It helps everyone.  He helps people just because he is willing to hear them.  The art of the book is that it works in real life and in art.  The characters heal and the readers heal too.  It’s really quite lovely.

Sure, some people don’t like the book, but the idea is the same.  Use art to feel better.  Listening to someone else’s story will always help you hear your own.

So on this anniversary, let us honor the memory by looking to art and looking to each other.

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