“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness”. That is what Safran Foer settles in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close in the voice of one of its charachters. This book, which seems to be about 11S, is not really about 11S. Is about a boy, a normal boy, a normal guy, a normal person, which could be everyone of us, who had lost his father and is trying to find one way to make it understandable.
Because… which death is understandable? Which life-ending has a sense? It is always hard to get, even if you are a believer. There are so much doubts and so much questions in life as to say that one has understood its meaning. Oskar Schell, this 10 year old boy, can not get it, can not understand it, can not asume that life has an end and, obviously, he is trying to fix it as the child he is. He is trying in his own way. Playing. He plays, he becomes a Sherlock Holmes in this new world that has appeared to him after his father’s death. Or maybe it is not good to say ‘his father’s death’, maybe it is better to say: the relatives of his father’s death. Maybe that is the thing. Because, of course his father is now dead, but the people who live that event is his family, Oskar and his mother, his grandma. Not his father. The one who needs an explanation is not the one who is now dead, is the people who loved him. That is this book about, about death, and about suffering and about the irrationality of life, and about how it is too hard for us -little and weak human beings- to carry on with this heavy and short life. This story is about a boy, that is, about humankind because everyone of us, in facing dead, are all little and clay-made boys. And, yes, I am using this religuous language (clay-made) to settle clearly that we all need someone who catches us, who embraces us, someone Absolutely Other we takes care from us.
Oskar Schell is looking for life, is not looking for death. But he is looking for life because he had lost it, and he lost it on 09/11/2001, as many other people -real people- did.
I remember this because twenty years ago, many people could find freedom and could reencounter with their families and with their friends. Tha fallen of Berlin wall on 11/09/1989 was the recovering of life for many people who lost it years ago, by losing their people. Because life is people. Our life is ours, is of our own, and nobody can live it by ourselves, but we can not take it alone. Human life has only a meaning when shared. That is what the fallen of Berlin wall symbolizes: not only the historical and valuable fact of the reunion of the two Berlins, but also the best proof to assert the truth which I conceive as the most profound of literature and all human knowledge: we can not live alone.
One of the best celebrations for this 20th anniversary was one about a giant and his daughter, who were separated from each other. This spectacle does not need an explation. None. This giant and this ‘little’ girl are not only ourselves looking for our families or looking for our destiny in love, is humankind looking for somebody that give sense to our lifes and, much more improtante, to our deaths. Is humankind, working for our destinies.
It was death what made comunism terrible. It was death which made this totalitarian regime unbearable. I know, death is present always, everywhere, whenever it wants and however it wants. I know that death does not depend on a certain regime or another. What I want to point out is that with comunism there was no freedom to die. People died only because they were themeselves. People die only because it was necessary for the regime and for the state. And that is precisely what makes a regime a totalitarian regime: the control of our deaths.
Which will be our criteria for life, or for settling conditions for life? I dont want to say that it is necessary to make possible for us to decide when we want to die. It is not necessary. Actually, it have been always possible. We have already get it. What I really want to say is that no one has the right to say when we must die or when we must live. That is why 11S has to do with the Berlin fall. Maybe we have no comunism anymore. But we still have ourselves. And that is where danger is.
Leaving ourselves to our own care is what makes life dangerous. When humankind abandones itself to its own capacities to free from evil and pain, there is no hope. When we want to protect ourselves from suffering and from death is when they come keener. That is what comunism intended, protect ourselves by protecting the state, protecting the existence of human being by killing human being. Is overprotection of ourselves with our own selves what places us in the most dangerous location. Only the acceptance of the fail of our own protection will help us out. That is exactly what comunism did not do: create the necessary overprotection so they could decide when an individuum must live or die. We must abandonde ourselves and leave our own protection alone, we must trust in something beyond our own selves, bigger and grater than ourselves. We must unyield our lifes, and that is the only way by which we leave free the terrain for some God can come in and help us. If we persist in thinking that there are not going to be new Walls, or new 11S’, there sure will appear sooner than we expect. And then, may one God help us.