Perambulating the Bounds

Friday, September 08, 2006

New Yorker cover

Check out the cover of the new issue of the New Yorker. All white, except for a little drawing of a man holding a long poll. Oh yeah. Philippe Petit. You fill in the rest of the scene that's not there.

This is on the magazine's outer cover. You turn the page and the tightrope walker is overlaid on a painting of the WTC site today, still suspended in mid-air. But the second picture is redundant. The one on the outside captures the loss -- people and buildings, but also the world that produced the WTC. The reference to Philippe Petit, who made his walk in 1974, reminds you that the WTC was a phenomenon of the 70s, and Sept 2001 maybe was the final chapter in a process through which that world was obliterated. Even though NY was falling apart in the 70s, the city still had its character as a place where everyone mixed it up. It's a point you get in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam too, nostalgia for what by all rights we should think of as good riddance. But it was a time when there seemed to be a lot more room in the culture for pleasure, for change, and for goofy stuff like Petit's stunt.

The other thing about the picture is that the figure could be falling through air.

It's a brilliant illustration, distills all this loss to one image.

You can see the cover in a flash box on the New Yorker main site, next to the box you click to subscribe.

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