Thursday, September 11, 2008
They Are Giants: In Memoriam
I'm at my university trying to finish my revisions to my doctoral dissertation, "Music, Sin, and Redemption in Victorian Visual and Literary Culture," in advance of turning it in to my adviser, so naturally I'm simultaneously devising all manner of time wasters, and wondering how students managed to do this before the Internet. I will miss my university. I remember how, during my coursework years, I would walk back and forth between my classes and my day job, and how, the minute I came through the university doors, I always knew I had come to the right place and never wanted to leave. Today, however, there are police in full riot gear milling about outside; the university is across the street from a major New York City landmark, and as much as we New Yorkers try to deny it, we live in a dangerous place in dangerous times.
During those coursework years, I was dating a man who was required by his job to move to New England. A lifelong New Yorker, he told me that he nevertheless was happy to get out of a city which would one day undoubtedly see the explosion of a dirty bomb or worse. I remember being angry at him for that. In a strange way, I thought such a threat was actually the best reason to stay, and that we New Yorkers should accept the dangers of life in our great city and band together in the face of them. But soon, I'll be leaving too.
Last night I watched the lovely 1971 film They Might Be Giants, starring George C. Scott as a judge who believes he's Sherlock Holmes. The title comes from a conversation he has with his analyst, played by Joanne Woodward, who likens his madness to that of Don Quixote. The judge counters that Quixote was indisputably mad, because he believed that all windmills were giants; he himself, on the other hand, is not mad, because he simply accepts the possibility that they might be. It's a quirky love letter to my beautiful city, and it was especially poignant on the eve of the anniversary of the day when so many of my brave fellow citizens met their deaths. To me and the others who survived the attacks, our fallen comrades are, and always will be, giants.