Trauma & the Twin Towers (lies lies lies)

Oh well crouched between stacks of books the world has once again caught up with me. Tania Head, one of the survivors of the 9/11 attacks, has spent the last years giving testimony and telling touching stories about what happened. And now it turns out that along the way, among the dozens of stories she told, must have been a few untruths ’cause things don’t add up.
This will bring out indignance by people who have been ‘moved’ by Head’s stories and it will play into the hands of all the conspiracy nuts who believe that 9/11 has been orchestrated and testimonies have been bought. Lies, lies, lies, all of them will shout. I heard someone exclaim angrily: “she was not telling the facts straight!” But this kind of testimony is not about facts, as we’ve come to acknowledge in respect to traumatizing events such as the Holocaust. Wiesel, Primo, Semprún,they’ve all cast doubts upon the accuracy of their own testimony. Critics of Head might be asked to remember Edwards’ & Potter’s theory of a “discursive psychology of remembering” or, really, anything on Holocaust testimony (gotta stack of it right here). Semprun wrote “la réalité a souvent besoin d’invention, pour devenir vraie. C’est-à-dire vraisemblable” (in L’écriture ou la vie, page 271: reality needs to contain some invention in order to become truth.).
Yet maybe “untruths” weren’t Head’s problem. It was the inconsistency. Telling a story that has rather loose ties to reality is a rather neglegible offense (because “the Real World” is a show on MTV), telling it creatively, fleshing it out differently in conversations with different people is maybe what got her into this pickle.
There’s trauma again for you. Could be that strange stories have to be told in different ways, with different details, in order to maybe be able to catch the strangeness of the story within the folds of story all those variants have helped create. Perusing all these books here, my guess is that Head really might be vindicated, as long as she’s no second Wilkomirski.

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