As the World inTerns: Episode II 09.10.09
In this episode, Nick will attempt to discuss 9/11, the Plum Academy, and the spirit of volunteerism without too many English Major meanderings.
As the resident English Major intern, I was asked to blog about Friday, September 11, 2009: the opening celebration of SPACES Plum Academy. Recently, it has also been declared the first National Day of Service and Remembrance. Despite its new designation, 9/11 is a difficult day to host an opening. Lets face it, theres no room in perceptions of 9/11, for a non-profit art gallery. For the novice blogger, it is similarly daunting to fuse these absurdly unrelated phenomena. But what after all, creates the feeling of unease here?
In linguistics, they talk about what differentiates human language, from say, chimpanzees grunting. Steven Pinker refers to human language as a system of symbols. Words are arbitrary symbols like musical notations, an alphabet, or numbers. They, unlike a screaming monkey, dont seem to be rooted in the concrete. (Bear with me!)
After all, can you, in real life, point out to me the letter A, or a B flat minor chord, or 9/11 walking down the street? Maybe on Sesame Street, but even in that case, Id like to see how they might approach the latter...
Im straying. But my point is that perhaps 9/11, an arbitrary combination of numbers and punctuation, does not have to represent ground zero, Muslim fanaticism, or the terrifying idea of human life as not only an expendable means of proving a point.
For me, that last idea is the most difficult to get past. It is hard to see past the tragedy of it when the New York skyline is permanently changed. Thankfully, there are people who push me to do so. In April, President Obama signed legislation making September 11, 2009 the first National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Maybe the symbol 9/11 can mean something else: Instead of focusing on the fear and anger of 9/11, perhaps the best way of remembering the lives lost that day is by recreating the spirit of empathy, volunteerism and service that emerged out of ground zero. It is a call to action: do a good deed for someone else in remembrance and reverence.
As a non-profit gallery, SPACES is dependent in many ways on volunteerism and service. And so, on September 11, 2009, the first National Day of Service and Remembrance, SPACES will not only hold an exhibition opening for the Plum Academy. We will also be working alongside our volunteers, because they are an integral part of how art happens at 2220 Superior Viaduct and beyond our walls, too. The SPACES staff"interns included" will be honoring the spirit of volunteerism that drives so many individuals who help us every day. And that is undeniably good.
Until next time,
Nick, the English Guy