CHÂTEAU ATOME

Even if you tried, one cannot escape one’s times, no way to deliver oneself of the iconic images that have put their indelible stamp on the age. Having been glued to my leather armchair, all those hours witnessing what at first seemed to be a tower on fire, then the actual impact of a plane hitting the second of Manhattan’s Twin Towers, finally their sublime demise – how not to been impacted by that experience?

Strangely enough, there is a second image of those towers sticking in my memory – not registered in the vast ocean of ‘the media’ – an image which is perhaps only mine, or only an image of those who had the privilege of arriving on Manhattan island by ocean liner, observing the Twins rise in the early morning sun in our back, coming from the East from where we came – towering larger and larger, a bit like Klee’s angel, though less frightened.

The last ships making the voyage from Europe, were sailing in the very same years in which the towers were under construction. At the time, only one tower stood, the base of the other one was just being erected. I do not even know whether the first one had already been fully completed, perhaps not – but high it was…

During a visit to New York of a later date later I stood on one of them. I only know that, while in the Netherlands and watching the first of the Twins go tantalizingly, slowly down in its giant cloud of asbestos, gave me the feeling of being back at square one.

It is from the perspective of such inner iconic images that one subsequently lives the world. As what else could I perceive the enormous objects in this photo, as but a reflection of Manhattan’s Twins. Only in the second instance, observing the tiny contours of the Château de Morthemer on the left – knowing it to be there – did a second association come to mind: Château Atome – also knowing that these twin monsters are the chimneys of one of France’s centres of atomic energy production.

Sierksma, Montmorillon 10.5/2021

Author: rjsiersk

Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the objective world light up in his personal perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats. The reader, interested in my writings on aesthetics, literature, and sociology, may want to open Academia.edu, where various pieces are published.

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