Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Speaking of Saussure, now seems as relevant a time as any to examine how the Obama Administration is attempting to change the meaning--the significance/signification--of 9/11/01. Click here for the official Presidential word.

As Saussure reminds us, the relationships between signifiers and their signifieds are arbitrary and are subject to human convention. To date, the convention has been to commemorate 9/11 by mourning--publicly and privately--frequently in front of the broadcast of 9/11 footage. Thus, Obama's attempt to upset this convention represents an opportunity to gauge exactly how easily certain conventions and significations can be changed. 9/11 is obviously a charged date in America's very recent past; as such, there could be a great deal of resistance to this particular change. Either way, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

(BTW, I have yet to find any significant, rationally sound arguments against Obama's plan. Most of the criticism is coming from far right outlets that, to a degree, seem fanatical in their own right. Below is just one example:

For my own part, I'm conflicted about all of this because I'm actually working on a project on 9/11 at this very moment. In doing so, I've had to revisit a ton of media concerning that day, including The 9/11 Commission Report, United 93, a variety of news articles and recorded broadcasts of the attacks, and an assortment of audio clips of the 911 calls made during the attacks. As a result, I'm finding 9/11 more tragic and sad these days than I think I have since the actual day itself. All of which is the reason why I'm not passing judgement on Obama at this moment: I'm a little too emotionally bound up in the event to type things out just yet. I'd be interested in hearing responses to all of this, though.)

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