Michael Stipe on 9-11 and American Mindsets

Michael Stipe NewsCourtesy of pagesix.com

“On the morning of 9-11, I was asleep in my apartment on Jane Street in the Meatpacking District, just north of Ground Zero.” Thus begins R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe’s essay called “Thoughts on the 21st Century,” detailing his thoughts on September 11thThe essay was prompted by Douglas Coupland’s artwork related to the fateful day, and it appears in Coupland’s new book, “Everywhere Is Anywhere Is Anywhere is Everything.”
After his personal account of the day, Stipe starts by commenting on Coupland’s art: “With a small, powerful set of images, Douglas Coupland actually manages to playfully (how did he pull that off?) remind us of our collective 9-11 moment – the act that unzippered the 21st century in most of the world, and changed my notion of home and safety forever.” Stipe observes that Coupland’s pieces (abstract images of those who jumped from the towers, and another of Osama bin Laden) help Americans question what it is to be an American. As he continues, he gives personal, nearly cryptic, almost challenging responses to the ways he sees Americans handling the day.
Following his descriptions of those who shrug at the actions of the government and simply say “Support our troops,” he criticizes the mindset. “Is that who we are now? Blind, unquestioning, warlike? Are we that violent, that childish, that silly, that shallow? Are we that afraid of others? Of ourselves? Of the possibility of genuine change?” To the use of “Never forget,” he postulates, “Well, hold on. In some ways we don’t need to remember any more: it’s all being stored, for however long forever is, in our external hard drives. We’ve uploaded ourselves on to the Cloud, always there to look at, reference, recollect or ignore.” The article is published in full at The Guardian.
Meanwhile, other musical artists are taking a less heavy approach to the day. Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia posted a picture of a fireman with the caption, “Thinking of those who lost their loved ones.” Nicki Minaj tweeted an image of the Towers of Light memorial, captioned “Still standing.” Lady Gaga also tweeted: “Today we remember and honor all the lives and families ruined by the tragedy of 9-11. Practice love in their memory today.” Taylor Swift visited the memorial this year, and said it “was something I’ll never forget, in the memory of a day we will always remember with tears in our eyes.” Julianne Hough simply wrote “Never Forget.”