E.B White with the benefits of hindsight

21 juni 2011 | In Uncategorized | Comments?

Almost shockingly, E.B. White’s essay ”Here is New York” takes a turn to the macabre. Published in 1949, the following passage strikes the reader as remarkably contemporary:

”The subtlest change in New York is something people don’t speak much about but that’s in everyone’s mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlined of the latest edition”

It continues:

”All dwellers in cities must live with the stubborn fact of annihiliation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself, and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer who might loosethe lightning, New York must hold a steady, irrestible charm.”

The WTC not being conceived of yet, White thought the likely target to be the soon to be raised United Nations building.

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