I was surprised to learn that the Twin Towers didn’t really collapse. They just moved to New Jersey. You can see them across the Hudson from the Upper West Side. I didn’t believe it either.
But it’s true.
The Twin Towers are a tuning fork for paranoia. A game of spot the difference. A prompt to imagine all the sinister shapes the future could take, so you’re not surprised when one appears. It reminds me of visiting the Cady Noland retrospective in Frankfurt a few years ago. There were all these sculptures with long, twinned forms: a pair of rectangular HVAC ducts standing side by side, by Charlotte Posenenske; two Claes Oldenburg strips of streaky fabric bacon draped out of a high window. Made in the ’80s and ’90s, respectively. How could they have known? Did the shapes themselves foreshadow disaster, the way the runic “9/11” draws the towers with 1’s, or spells the number the victims dialed? I took photos of the sculptures with my phone and added an antenna to one of them—there—topped with a red dot.
So, maybe you’re right. What then? It’s like writing a good poem or building a good sculpture. Maybe a few other people agree with you, there’s some formal resonance to what you’re saying, maybe you form a small community around the congruence of reality and the metaphors you’ve laid out. On the other hand, conspiracy is an avian skill, a bird-brain achievement. Looks like water. Looks like an owl. Better check it out. Better stay away. You never see the plate glass coming. In a dim, crammed second-hand book shop buying a collection of newspaper front-pages from September 12, 2001, the same few pictures of the Twin Towers repeated over and over, dressed with copy in a dozen different languages but all saying the same thing. It’s the same thing the spectacled cashier said as he broke my twenty-dollar bill and slipped my purchase in a bag.
“Do you know about Building 7?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I know about building 7.”