English Composition II - Dr. Lovell's class

Page 8:  Twenty-Four Questions: An Interview with Alberto Alvaro Rios

[Page 1: On Writing]    [Page 2: On the Writing Process]     [Page 3: On Reading] 
[Page 4: On Creativity and Imagination] [Page 5: On Teaching] [Page 6: On Culture]  
[Page 7: Some General Questions]    [Page 8: On the September 11th Attacks]  
[Page 9: An Essay by Ríos on the September 11th Attacks:"The Night of No Airplanes" and Some Final Comments]

On the September 11th Attacks

Ben Carsten: Mr. Ríos, when asked about the poem, “Taking Away the Name of a Nephew,” you said, “We cannot gauge big numbers. We cannot gauge tremendous pain. But I know what a paper cut feels like. That is immediate. I don't want to get one; I hate them; I know what it feels like. What is the equation here? How many of these equal death? And how many more equal torture and suffering? I can't even live with one papercut. I'm trying to gauge the unimaginable, to use something I know to begin imagining something I don't know, and don't want to know.” This is an amazing idea that makes it easier for me to consider certain situations rather than dismiss them. I found myself applying this  comment to the recent destruction of the World Trade Center. I was wondering if this tragic event, or ones like it, cause you to respond to them with writing. 

AR: I'm so glad you found that passage. When I wrote it, I really felt I had an epiphany about big events--that is, that we only have small events to gauge them by. There's a wonderful admonition by Wordsworth to poets, and to people generally, in which he suggests that, in looking up at the stars, we had better first look at the stones in front of us. We always want to make great leaps toward understanding, but the real work is adding our small lessons together.

I have responded to the events of 9-11 with writing. Indeed, I feel that is a writer's job. I don't always think that you need to respond right away--time is not the measure of good or important writing, how fast or how slow you do something. But, responding is something I think we will all do in the best ways we can. For writers, that will likely be with writing. I have an essay that was published in the local paper--I'll try to figure out how to post it if you all are interested. 

Linda Lovell: Yes, please do post your essay! We would like to read it. 


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