Didactic Elegy — Ben Lerner


many men and women were described as heroes.
The first men and women described as heroes were in the towers.
To call them heroes, however, implies that they were willing to accept their death.
But then why did some men and women
jump from the towers as the towers collapsed?
One man, captured on tape, flapped his arms as he fell.

Rescue workers who died attempting to save the men and women trapped in the towers are, in
          fact, heroes,
but the meaning of their deaths is susceptible to radical revaluation.
The hero makes a masterpiece of dying
and even if the hero is a known quantity
there is an open struggle over the meaning of her death. According to the president,

any American who continues her life as if the towers had not collapsed
is a hero. This is to conflate the negative with the counterfactual.
The president’s statement is meaningless
unless to be American means to embrace one’s death,
which is possible.


Typo — Issue Two