Thursday, September 16, 2004

Isn't That What I Said?

I love it when esteemed institutions endorse my ideas (even if they don't know me from nobody). Adam Begley, writing in the latest issue of the New York Observer, reviews In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman:
Mr. Spiegelman’s new surviving...9/11 -— but it fails to tell a story: not a whole one, anyway, and certainly not a coherent one. Michiko Kakutani, in her New York Times review, seems ready to forgive the disjunctions and amputations on the grounds that Mr. Spiegelman has at least "suggest[ed] one aesthetic approach for grappling with the enormity of 9/11." She believes that with "[i]ts frantic, collage like juxtaposition of styles; its repudiation of traditional narrative; its noisy mix of images and words; its trippy combination of reportage, fantasy and paranoia," In the Shadow of No Towers somehow captures the essence of that terrible morning when the terrorists struck.

I wish I could agree. Mr. Spiegelman dazzles with his artistry: He flashes his wit; he shows off his remarkable flair for design. But he never hooks his reader....He gives us only the very personal and the bitingly political (furious and by now familiar attacks on "the Bush cabal")....

Mr. Spiegelman becomes some of the comic-strip characters—Happy Hooligan, for instance (with a dangling cigarette, naturally)—but though he morphs a half-dozen times, he’s always center stage, parading his panic, his paranoia, his politics. Self-aware in the extreme, he comes close to acknowledging that the trauma he needs to survive is his own tortured psyche....

If the 10 strips show us a self-absorbed man shocked into a more perfect self-absorption, the preface is just plain irritatingly egocentric....From the first sentence ("I tend to be easily unhinged") to the last ("I still believe the world is ending, but I concede that it seems to be ending more slowly than I once thought … so I figured I’d make a book"), the preface echoes with the clamor of the first-person singular.
The headline sums it up: "Image of Twin Towers Ablaze Haunts Narcissistic Cartoonist." Actually, I summed it up in a post way back on August 6, when I wrote this about a NYT interview of Spiegelman at the time of the publication of his atrocity:
He doesn't talk about the innocents who were slaughtered on September 11, 2001. He doesn't talk about the cretins who flew the planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, or about Osama bin Laden, or about terrorism in general. It's all about him. It's all about his hatred of the war in Iraq. But he's going to make some money off September 11, by selling copies of his thing to like-minded Manhattan jerks.