2011: Volume 4, Issue 2, pp. 63-77

The Talk of the Town: 
9/11, the Lost Image, and the Machiavellian Moment

Dan Fleming



A “lost” 9/11 photograph re-surfaced publicly in 2005/2006 and triggered some revealing debate in the United States about what 9/11 images “should” show. The paper unpacks the image and some key responses to it in order to describe a contemporary “Machiavellian moment” in which civic humanist ideals turn out to deny a reality that the image briefly hinted at, a reality recovered in the paper via discussion of a YouTube commentary thread concerned with a 9/11 “tribute” mashup video derived from comic books. Contrasting the latter with “proper” debate in The New Yorker and elsewhere, the paper argues for the necessity of hearing a different conversation that is discernibly “out there”. The result of doing so will be a better understanding of the materialization of affect in images and speech acts. It is argued that this will help us better grasp the nature of the “hot cognitions” that focus around a major event such as 9/11 and the ways in which those are mediated.



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