Tuesday, September 9, 2003

My homework -- 9/11

Our pal Scalzi has this time asked everyone to write about remembering 9/11. 

As it happens, I've been thinking a bit about 9/11 lately -- not because of its anniversary (which I confess I hadn't even realized was upcoming), but because of a rather remarkable play I just saw, called Journal of the Plague Year. The play, adapted from Defoe's novel of the same name, was about the year Bubonic Plague took out a significant percentage of the population of London -- told from the point of view of a man who chose to stay in London rather than flee when he had the chance.  And what was so resonant about the play for me was how it portrayed the way the surviving Londoners reacted to having lived through a common mass tragedy.  It was so strongly reminiscent of how we reacted in the aftermath of 9/11 -- things like the way strangers would just strike up conversations with each other because everyone was talking about the same thing -- and the small, but desperately necessary acts of sympathy and humanity.  I was surprised to discover how much a play taking place in 1666 so touchingly captured the way we felt in 2001.  It made me realize that what we went through wasn't so unique in history, and it was somehow comforting to know that the good things about humanity are timeless and universal.  Strange how something so clearly about death could end up being life-affirming.  Well, maybe not so strange.

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