Joe Bob Briggs writes:
The World Trade Center is, on the one hand, trillions of microscopic particles that have settled into the crevices of back alleys and embedded in the facades of Wall Street buildings where guys named Winthrop trade debentures, and, on the other hand, 1.8 million tons of twisted metal that has been shipped all over the world as souvenirs. I remember being on the E train on 9/11 when the conductor was supposed to say “This is a World Trade Center-bound E train,” but what he actually said was “This is a…train that will be terminating at 14th Street.” He couldn’t even get the words “World Trade Center” out of his mouth—because the World Trade Center no longer existed. The buildings that have replaced it don’t have the same scale or the same purpose or the same missions that the World Trade Center had, and in fact many of those companies have moved to Jersey City or some other less expensive business haven. And certainly no one mentions today that the Twin Towers were considered supremely ugly, outsize even by the standard of New York skyscrapers, and destructive of several downtown neighborhoods when they were built in the ’60s. After they were destroyed, there was even talk of “restoring the old street grid,” meaning getting rid of gargantuan structures and making downtown more pedestrian-friendly. That idea apparently got nuked by the Oculus, which cost, by the way, $4.4 billion to build. And the reason has something to do with the name. It’s a mystical name now, World Trade Center, a name so revered that it has no actual building to identify with. It’s the whole area, the general vicinity. “World Trade Center” is not tangible at all, but diaphanous, metaphysical. The World Trade Center exists because we will it to exist. It’s a faith reference.