Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
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Friday, August 18, 2006


I was perusing Newsweek (as obvious from the previous post) and came across this letter (I'm including the link; didn't realise that letters were included until I went looking) in response to the Oliver Stone 9/11 story of a recent issue. I'd like to see this research; it sounds very interesting. As someone who has studied folklore and oral history, I wonder how the stories will be told and preserved for generations to come. But a 'particularly American' approach to stories and the effect on the individual psyche sounds fascinating.

From Jonathan Adler, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and Michael Poulin, University of California, Irvine, California:

We were pleased to read 'How Myths Are Made' (Aug. 7), which touched on a matter receiving growing attention in psychological research. But stories about 9/11 aren't just told by filmmakers like Oliver Stone. Every American has a story about that day. As psychologists interested in the way people make meaning of their experiences, we have been studying stories people tell about 9/11. In our nationwide sampling of Americans, collected within two months of the terrorist attacks, we found that individuals who crafted stories of national redemption--a style of storytelling that recent research suggests is particularly American--were psychologically better off than those who storied the events differently. This work reminds us that we all shape national myths, and that the way in which we tell these myths matters for our psychological well-being.

Well said.

By the way, the most moving thing I found in that issue was the photograph of 14 people who were pulled from the rubble of the Twin Towers after they collapsed. Only a few were not pictured; I can't remember the exact number but seeem to think it was 19. Period. Standing against a black background, it's a testament to human survival and also in the negative space captures the people who should have been there--but never made it out.

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