UNESCO tells us that on the day of 11 of September 2001,
    36,515 children worldwide died of hunger.

    • Where:Poor countries.
    • News stories:none.
    • Newspaper articles:none.
    • Military alerts:none.
    • Presidential proclamations:none.
    • Papal messages:none.
    • Messages of solidarity:none.
    • Minutes of silence:none.
    • Homage to the innocent children: none.
--- Message from


Twenty-five years ago I was in the World Trade Center. From outside, the twin towers looked strangely puny. All decorative elements stopped at the sixth floor. The scale and the siting were executed as if the designer was trying valiantly not to make it too overpowering. The long ribs reaching up --- seemingly forever --- reminded me of the vertical bars I had known at the state reformatory where I taught classes in literature.

I had gone to the WTC to buy (I swear!) some antique Chinese National Railway Sinking Fund Debenture Bonds from (I swear!) Carl Marks and Co --- the biggest foreign bond-market maker in the country. I got off the elevator at the 55th (or 65th, or 75th) floor.

The halls were mustard-colored and smelled of too much money and cleaning and not enough joy. The narrow floor-to-ceiling windows at the end of the runway seemed absurdly small. All the doors were dun-colored and had peep-holes. When I finally got buzzed into Marks Co, the clerks lurked about behind heavy glass partitions, counting endless certificates. They never seemed to look out the windows at the stunning vistas out there.

§     §     §

People who suffer from acrophobia do not suffer from fear of heights; they suffer from reality. Tall buildings are designed to protect our psyches from the fact that we are a long distance from the ground. They don't build these structures with see-through glass floors and ceilings, although it is now possible to do so. Ceilings are solid, floors are carpeted with a pseudograss to disguise the fact that we are walking on cement, steel, and lots of thin air. Windows? In most skyscrapers, they are never to be opened. They, too, are part of the decorative delusion.

The people who worked in and visited the WTC could never see the ground and those tiny people down there as something to which they were connected. They were dozens or hundreds or thousands of feet above reality. The beautiful views of skyline and streets and harbors coming in through the windows were not unlike the pictures projected by a Miramax 180-degree projector: large, idealized, unreachable. It is said that the architect who designed the WTC, Minoru Yamasaki, had a fear of heights.

It was only when the shell surrounding their imaginary space was blown away --- the staircases jammed or cut off, the elevators no longer working --- that the citizens of this mangled aerie began to realize that there was only one way to reaching terra firma. After the first few bodies toppled from the upper stories of the WTC, the television cameras pulled back. It was reality TV, and none of us were prepared to see it through to its conclusion.

I will forever be haunted by the vision of those people hanging out the shattered portals of the upper floors of that fragmented building. It is a beautiful wind-swept day, with an achingly blue sky. There are dozens of them waving white towels, flags of hope (the day was so lovely), waving, waiting for help. Those white flags, for some sad reason, reminded me of the scraps of paper, hastily-scrawled notes, that, they tell us, were found along the tracks, there where the trains bound for Triblinka, Buchenwald, and Auschwitz had passed in the night.

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