… I tried to express my gut reactions to the Boston explosions

This is pretty much a verbatim post of some thoughts I’ve been trying to work through in the last hour or so following the explosions in Boston, edited a little for grammar and sense.  Please excuse me if it’s rough around the edges, but it seems important to keep that quality given the subject.

I’m starting to write as I watch the news unfolding about the explosions at the Boston Marathon about 30 minutes ago.  I have BBC News’ live feed on the TV, I have a twitter feed, which seems strangely quiet, but I’ve turned off the #Boston hash tag I was trying to follow because I just can’t keep up.

I started writing because I was trying to think about the impact mediated images of real horror have on me, while I was simultaneously faced with such images.  But all I’m trying to do now is put into words exactly why I can’t put into words what I’m thinking.

The only discourse available to me, while I’m still processing the events unfolding, is firmly rooted in terms of media and fiction.  The live pictures being streamed of the wounded, the constant play of a piece of pavement with ominous red smears, and all I can think is how my current emotions remind me of the effect some horror films have on me.  The images and footage are too close to the action, I don’t like being put in the scene on the ground.  It’s too intimate; too uncensored.  It’s how I felt watching Paranormal Activity; the horror is too close to home.

I’m comfortable discussing this event with family and friends, as I am now while I watch with my parents.  In such situations we know what’s expected of us; we know what’s acceptable and what’s not, and even if we don’t the level of possible negative repercussions are low.  But now I’m developing my identity as an academic I’m aware that that there are huge issues at stake here.  I imagine the frantic activity of journalism scholars, those who study public response to tragedy, and other related fields, trying to learn something from this, to improve the world’s understanding of these events and the representation of them.  It’s not my exact area of expertise so I’m cautious about expressing anything ‘academically’ for fear of being misinterpreted, or appearing uninformed.  But I desperately want to be able to do something, and maybe that’s me falling back on what I know.  I can’t be there and be a hero, but there are some things I could do if I had the right tools.

I’m struggling to express how frustrating it is to know how important these issues are, but feel that I can’t contribute because I can’t think of anything ‘clever’ to say.   I’m bound within an academic language and framework of understanding that falls short because it allows such little room for the emotion.  I don’t want to make this all about me; I don’t want to do a Bieber-in-the-Anne-Frank-museum.  But after reading this summary of interpretations of Bieber’s entry in the book at the Anne Frank museum I wonder which is better: to say something, or to overthink and end up say nothing? 

Tonight I have a good vocabulary, but I just don’t have the words.


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