Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years since September 11, 2001

Here is the World Trade Center, as I photographed it during my visit to the USA in 1997. I admit I didn't appreciate very much the Twin Towers while they were still standing. Now, in retrospect, the old Manhattan skyline in the golden mist of the sunset seems to me a picture of a blessed realm too beautiful to exist in this world - not for long at least. It represents a lost paradise.
September 11, 2001 became one of the most important events in my life. It changed my view on the world. Before it, I worried whether and when my country would fully join the civilization. After it, I realized that the entire civilization was at stake, brought by its prosperity to a comfortable nap, having neglected the power of barbarism for too long and now attacked by the 7th century Barbarians at its heart.
At the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, I have to say with regret that I am less optimistic than I was at Sept. 12, 2001. Then, I hoped that the Western world would awaken to defend its values with unity and resolve, while many millions of Muslims, disgusted by this mass murder, would be driven by their conscience to either reform their faith or leave it. Neither did happen.
One of the best songs of Bee Gees is New York Mining Disaster 1941. Although commemorating a much earlier event unknown to me, it is strikingly coherent with my feelings about Sept. 11. Here are the first three couplets of the lyrics (copied from; the other couplets repeat the first two):

In the event of something happening to me,
there is something I would like you all to see.
It's just a photograph of someone that I new.

Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?
Do you know what it's like on the outside?
Don't go talking too loud, you'll cause a landslide, Mr. Jones.

I keep straining my ears to hear a sound.
Maybe someone is digging underground,
or have they given up and all gone home to bed,
thinking those who once existed must be dead.

In memory of the Sept. 11 victims, I translated the lyrics to Bulgarian:

Понеже нещо може да се случи с мен,
моля, всички погледнете за момент -
това е снимката на скъп за мен човек.

Да сте виждали моята жена?
Знаете ли навън какво става?
Тихо, че ще се срути от гласа ви някой пласт.

Все наострям уши да чуя звук -
дали някой за нас копае тук,
или спасителният отряд се е прибрал,
мислейки, че няма никой оцелял.


programmer craig said...

Great song, Maya... my mother used to play that when I was a little kid :)

I found it on YouTube, but it's not a very good recording:

The Bee Gees - New York Mining Disaster 1941

Good post... I've been wtaching the news most the day. I had no idea this day would still be so emotional for me. The only thing that really seems different to me is that the shock is gone. The rage and the sadness is still there.

Highlander said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Highlander said...

Hi Maya, your post is beautiful and very emotional - only you have such turns of phrases. Sometimes I wonder maybe you should not be a biologist seriously but a novelist . Have you ever thought about it ?

However beautiful and genuine your feelings are - and which I totally respect by the way - I would tend to disagree with the following statement:
"I realized that the entire civilization was at stake, brought by its prosperity to a comfortable nap, having neglected the power of barbarism for too long and now attacked by the 7th century Barbarians at its heart."
Who gets to say who is a civilization and who is not there are various civilizations currently living side to side on this world.

Maybe it was just an exageration? as I got the impression that centuries of a beautiful past flourishing civilization has just been wiped out and all its achievements in one sentence .

programmer craig said...

H, you don't think it's the goal of the jihadis to destroy western civilization? I absolutely do. I don't believe for a minute that this is all about Palestinians, or any other contrived grievance the terror groups have. This is about smashing all that isn't Islamic. I can't (easily, anyway) think of anoter comparable war in history. In most wars, one civilization or culture tries to dominate others. In this case, the goal is not to dominate, but to destroy. It's a very different thing.

programmer craig said...

I guess I do agree with you about this:

Who gets to say who is a civilization and who is not there are various civilizations

But only up to a point. And that point is when one civilzation tries to do away with another. And at that point, we all are very much free to make dcisions that our own civilzation has more value than somebody else's. I'm including you in that, because I am sure you think Arab culture is superior to others.

Just keep in mind the historical cost of failure is, when somebody attempts to put others under their heel and fails. The Jihadis have put your way of life on the table. Your life, and the life of every other person in the greater middle east, will be radically changed if they lose. And probably not for the better. And they are going to lose. Their cause was doomed from the beginning. But they don't care, do they? They think they are on a mission from God, and all muslims should be willing to pay whatever price is necessary to serve God.

AlanK said...


have not visited your blog in a while, will try to visit a bit more often

nice image of the twin towers, hopefully the memorial to them will look just as good

Anonymous said...

I guess dropping a 2 ton bomb from a fighter jet into a building in one of the most densely populated areas of the world is civilised


Maya M said...

Thanks, Programmer Craig, Highlander, Alan and also Non-blogging for his e-mail. I'll answer only to Highlander, and only to touch the matter, because a complete answer would require writing a small book :). Thanks for the compliment to my writing; I enjoy it, I've written a few short texts with no relation to biology, and of course my work often requires writing of teaching or scientific texts.
By "civilization", I mean a society with intense intellectual life and high degree of tolerance. When talking about other advanced societies, I prefer the broader term "culture".
Currently, the only civilization I see in this world is the Western one. People often talk about "clash of civilizations" but I fail to see the other civilization. There may be some uncivilized things in us, Redneck (I don't know which event you are hinting at), but who can point at ANYTHING civilized in our enemies?
At least a century ago, the Western dominance became so pronounced that all other cultures either joined it (retaining of course their roots, language and other specificities) or became obsessed with being rivals/enemies of the West.
Take for example the ancient and highly developed culture of Japan. It engaged itself in a war against the West, was defeated and then joined it.
The problem with being a rival of the West is that the rivalry seems to deprive the other culture exactly of the key elements that could make it a civilization. In fact, how could the rivalry be honest and productive, after the rival culture uses Western technology and databases?
There were times when the Muslim world fitted my criteria for civilization, or at least fitted them better than any other contemporary society. But these times are long gone. If people like Geber and Avicenna were catapulted by a time machine into the present, I don't think they would feel at home in any of the current Muslim societies.
I would recommend to Highlander (and everybody else) Ortega y Gasset's "Revolt of the Masses". What he writes in 1930 remains alarmingly true for today's Western masses, and I find it even more valid for the Muslim masses. Gasset writes that the man comprising the masses is a primitive man, "Naturmensch", anachronically appearing in a civilized world. He uses technology and other goods of the civilization, but without realizing his duty to contribute to the civilization; he uses them with as little gratitude and care as if they are free gifts of nature. About today's Islamists, I would add that they don't understand even nature. Because they have stayed away from the development of the technology currently controlling the natural world, they live with the delusion that the natural world is friendly and safe. Hence, when a tsunami comes, they say the Jews must have detonated a nuclear bomb underwater, when an epidemic breaks out, white women are accused of supplying and distributing the virus, and when electricity kills thieves hiding in a power station, the police are blamed for not letting the boys steal in comfort.
It is why, as Programmer Craig mentioned, the Islamists try to destroy the civilization rather than subdue it. They don't realize that they need it and if they destroy it, the world's then mainly Muslim population will be decimated by famine and epidemics. I wonder, do Islamists discuss e.g. if and when they destroy the Great Satan, will they try to maintain the GPS system, the NCBI biomedical databases etc.? Or do they seriously think that because Allah wants them to make jihad, this is all they have to do, and He will feed and protect them in return? I have no way to know about such debates, because they would be in Arabic (Highlander, you once asked me whether I speak Arabic - no, I don't, if you hear I'm learning it, know that things are really bad :) ). But I strongly suspect that nobody is debating these important matters.

Anonymous said...

Of course you don't know Dear is called "Selective Memory"...You also probably dont know ... who used chemical weapons in war for the first time, and then went about using on defenseless civilians nor do you know who used biological weapons to exterminate the original owners of the land.... and I'm sure you don't even know who were at the receiving end of such wonderful gifts....

Selective Memory ;)


Maya M said...

Yes, and they also beat Negroes in America, Redneck, but you haven't answered my challenge.

programmer craig said...

Selective Memory ;)

Yes, it seems to go well with revisionist historians such as yourself :)

The first people to use chemical weapons were the first ones who developed them. They were used by both sides in World War 1. And then they were banned. If arabs had been the first to make and use chemical weapons, do you think they would have written a treaty to ban them, afterwards? Or would they have gleefully committed genocide on their neighbors and on themselves with their new toys?

BTW, chemical weapons were not used against civilians in WW I. They were used (illegally) against civilians in WWII, by Adolph Hitler. A role model of yours, perhaps?

Bio weapons have never been used. But I'm sure you are referring to Columbus infecting Indians in the Americas with diseases for which they had no natural immunities, right? Nice.

Anonymous said...

PC.... Since you have been caught several times with your pants down with regards to history....Why don't you go and read up on the history of the Eye-talians and the colonisation of Abyssinia ....Maybe for you they are "untermensche", and it is ok not to count them.... What about the Brits, when they chemcalised the kurds in northern Iraq in the 20's of last century.... As for Biological warfare...The history of your forefathers speaks volumes with regards to how the eradicated the red indians...

Time and time have proven to be a tosser.


Anonymous said...

"A more "recent" use of a biological weapon involves the British during the French-Indian War (1754-63). The Native Americans greatly outnumbered the British and were suspected of being on the side of the French. As an "act of good will" the British give blankets to the Indians, but the blankets came from a hospital that was treating smallpox victims and consequently smallpox raged through the Native American community and devastated their numbers."

If that is not Biological warfare...not exactly sure what is?


Winston said...

good post!