The Falling Man

Whatever your conclusions about the events of September 11th, 2001, I suspect you will find this article of interest.

In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow. Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying. He appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. He does not appear intimidated by gravity’s divine suction or by what awaits him. His arms are by his side, only slightly outriggered. His left leg is bent at the knee, almost casually. His white shirt, or jacket, or frock, is billowing free of his black pants. His black high-tops are still on his feet.

In all the other pictures, the people who did what he did—who jumped—appear to be struggling against horrific discrepancies of scale. They are made puny by the backdrop of the towers, which loom like colossi, and then by the event itself. Some of them are shirtless; their shoes fly off as they flail and fall; they look confused, as though trying to swim down the side of a mountain. The man in the picture, by contrast, is perfectly vertical, and so is in accord with the lines of the buildings behind him. He splits them, bisects them: Everything to the left of him in the picture is the North Tower; everything to the right, the South. Though oblivious to

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How to ‘Stick’ a Landing

When I was studying for my pilot’s license in 2001, my instructor, a retired F-15 pilot (who incidentally loved to teach me all sorts of things that are not normally covered in preparation for a solo), told me that if I couldn’t find a good place to land, that I should get as low and slow as I could and stall out right above the tree tops. I always wondered how that would work out. Now I know

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