The Loneliness of the Falling Man


Unforgettable, Catastrophic, a frozen image of Human Suffering, Desperation, Forlornness, Loneliness in the Last seconds of  Light and Life before Everlasting Darkness.


by William A. Cook

Strange also that this anniversary of September 11th, comes at a time when the world has a chance to break from the indifference that has shrouded the lives of millions for six decades.

The moon outside that sheds its light over this desert landscape of chaparral and twisted Joshua trees where I live is not yet full, but it rises nonetheless, as the sun, fallen below the ragged hills in the west, leaves its salmon glow on distant clouds far to the north, while my mind tries to unravel meaning in a film, not yet released in the United States, “The Falling Man,” that filters through my thoughts this eve of infamy, the atrocity of 9/11 (“The Falling Man,” Allen L. Roland,).

The film highlights a photograph taken by Richard Drew of a man hurtling to his death, one shot in a series as he fell from the 102nd story of the World Trade Center. It is a shot no one wants to see or remember; yet it is unforgettable, catastrophic, a frozen image of human suffering, desperation, forlornness, loneliness in the last seconds of  light and life before everlasting darkness. No image captures the appalling reality of this atrocity as this unknown figure falling to his doom, the victim of unknown forces that knew nothing of him, nothing of his family, nothing of his struggles to stay alive, nothing of those left bereft of a father or son or nephew or grandfather, nothing of the sadness or happiness he brought to work that day, nothing of his desires or hopes or dreams caught now in the wind whipping through his shirt tearing it from his body as he twisted helplessly in the vortex that funneled him to his death.

As the sun’s rays faded and the moon rose higher, the thoughts that stung most were those of a life lost so suddenly no thought could guide the ultimate decision to jump; it came out of desperation, hopelessness, fright, even madness. What after all did he know of the causes of his impending death? What caused it? Why? What had he done to deserve it? When and who designed his death? Did they know him, did they care what souls they consigned to hell fire? What right had they to inflict such suffering on others; what minds dictate such acts of mutilation and feel no remorse? Where in this scenario is justice?

Thus did this twisted figure of impending death metastasize into a metaphor of human loss at the hands of those indifferent to human suffering, necessary detritus of human waste, scattered over the landscape, as they force their will on all who remain. What horror attends their efforts. What silence silences the mind that would cry for justice knowing there will be no justice, aware of the conscious need not to see this image, not to confront what it imports, not to demand investigation, evidence, judgment, and ultimate retribution. Ten years now and no one knows of this falling man nor what he, in his last gasp cries to us to seek–justice, that his last flight might have purpose.

Strange how this man’s dying moments rise from the ashes of the Trade Center this September to remind us of all who went to their deaths unbeknownest to the world, lives lost in our indifference to their suffering, unaware of the forces that imposed their will on their brothers and sisters: the Jews buried in the silence of the crematoriums, the Romas alone as always, innocent bystanders as Nazis marched toward empire, the civilians in Dresden that became pawns to the power of the allied minds that used them as fodder for their gain, the Japanese caught in the firebombing of 64 cities before the United States unleashed its weapons of mass destruction wiping off the face of the earth hundreds of thousands of lives never lived, children never born, minds destroyed before they could blossom; their future like that of the falling man lost forever to the ruinous longings of sick minds that find glory in horror and riches in destruction.

Strange also that this anniversary of September 11th comes at a time when the world has a chance to break from the indifference that has shrouded the lives of millions for six decades.

Mothers, children, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, the sick and the lame who have witnessed foreigners invade their land, steal their homes, destroy their fields, their green houses, their shops, their mosques—and no one cares, no one wants to see, to know that they are falling, their lives lost waiting for the empathy given to the Jews, the chance to rebuild a life after the destruction as was given to the Germans, to resurrect the people and the economy of Japan as though in recompense for the devastation we caused.

Where is the last vestige of hope for these people, the Palestinians, if the world succumbs once again to the impunity that attends the Israeli government through the dictatorial actions of the United States as it vetoes hope, denies justice, and casts a pall of continued suffering over the ravaged people of Palestine. Certainly we must pay attention to this falling man who epitomizes those caught in the merciless behavior of uncontrolled power–selfish, arrogant, soulless without remorse or compassion or respect or dignity for those they destroy. Ultimately that is what this impending vote in the Security Council is all about: justice by all, for all, that it may prevail.

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The Independent (London, England) January 29, 1995 | STELLA YARROW GLAMOUR, according to that expert source, Hair magazine, is the key-note for this year’s hairstyles for women. Big hair is back, while the flat, lanky locks of grunge have been discarded into fashion’s waste bin like so much crumpled tissue paper.

If you’re planning to follow this trend towards more elaborate styles, re-viewing your collection of hair styling products could be a wise move. Mousses add volume to your hair and help control it; gels give body and hold it in place, while hairspray ho lds the hair together. Some products, such as gels and creams, can also give your hair gloss and shine.

We’ve taken a look at some examples of the innumerable products you will find in the shops. They range from a traditional hairspray to new all-in-one products which, following the trend set by the two-in-one shampoo and conditioner (now out of favour with the experts), combine the qualities of individual styling pro-ducts such as gels and sprays. Hair-dressing students at the College of North-East London tried the products out for us.

THE PANEL Maria Gambin, Sharon Bailey, Tau Nguyen and Yolanda Clarke, all students on a one-year course in hairdressing at the College of North-East London, Tottenham. here hairstyles for women

THE TEST The panel tried out the products on models. They gave them marks for how easy they were to use, how effective they were in styling the hair, how well the products dried on the hair and whether they washed out easily, their perfume, packaging andvalue for money.


**L’OREAL STUDIO LINE STYLING CREAM pounds 2.89 for 150ml The panel thought that this product, which only achieved average ratings, was best used to create a textured rather than a smooth and silky look. “Not suitable for blow-drying, better for a stiffer look. Use only a minimum for the best effect – too much leaves the hair looking lank,” said Tau Nguyen. “OK to use on short to medium hair, suitable for scrunch-drying, but a little sticky for blow-drying. Gives maximum volume to fine hair,” said Maria Gambin. “Sweet-smelling,” commented Sharon Bailey .**BODY SHOP SLICK STYLING CREAM pounds l.85 for 100ml This is ideal for the slicked-back, wet look style that never seems completely to have had its day. The panel voted it fairly easy to use and very good value for money. “It’s similar to Brylcreem. You need only a small amount to create a sharp fashionable style, so it’s a cost-effective product,” said Yolanda Clarke. “Not good for a firm hold, but has a good light or medium holding-power,” said Sharon Bailey. “A pump-action dispenser would be good for this product,” commented Tau Nguyen. From its packaging, the product is probably aimed at men, too. If there are any guys out there who aspire to look like the luscious lead from Strictly Ballroom, this one’s for you.

***ALBERTO V05 FLEXIHOLD 3 IN 1 MOUSSE, GEL AND STYLING SPRAY (NATURAL HOLD) pounds 2.69 for 200ml This is the Swiss Army knife of hair- styling products – handy, the manufacturers say, for slipping into your handbag so that you don’t have to carry three separate products around with you all the time. Flexihold is supposed to work equally well as a mousse to lift hair and give it body, as a gel to define it, and as a fixing spray. The panel rated its convenience highly: “It saves time and space”, commented Sharon Bailey. However, the panellists gave mixed reports on its performance, warning that it tends to become sticky and difficult to brush out if applied with too heavy a hand. “When I used it as a mousse it made the hair too sticky, but when it was used as a gel on fine hair it stayed in wonderfully,” said Yolanda Clarke.

***VIDAL SASSOON VOLUMISING MOUSSE FOR FIRM CONTROL pounds l.95 for 150ml This was one of the most popular products, the panel finding it very easy to use and effective at styling hair. The panel particularly liked its perfume. “This mousse adds volume, bounce and lift to all hair types,” said Yolanda Clarke. Maria Gambin found it a little soft, so she had to use extra for the hair to hold its style: “It’s not suitable if you want a really firm hold, but it doesn’t flake and it brushed out well,” she said.

**WELLA SHOCK WAVES SOFT WAX pounds 1.85 for 50ml The students thought that this block of pink, pleasantly scented, wax would be most useful as a finishing product. “Good on curly or permed hair, or on texturised cuts,” said Tau Nguyen. “Nice smell and good value for money. You must not use too much, orit will make the hair greasy,” said Maria Gambin – a warning echoed by the others. website hairstyles for women

***BOOTS HAIRSPRAY 89p for 100ml A basic, “no-frills” product that looks as if it has changed little since hairspray was invented in the Fifties. Nonetheless, the panel liked it: “It gives a strong hold and is very good value for money. It also brushes out easily, although it’s a littlesticky,” said Maria Gambin. According to Tau Nguyen: “The cap doesn’t re-lease very easily, but the spray itself is good, lifting the roots of the hair well.” (This gives body).

**DANIEL FIELD CACTUS STYLING GEL pounds 2.85 for 240g The panel thought this pale-green gel, which follows the well-worn trend for “natural” ingredients by including cactus syrup and myrrh in its formula, would be good for styles that need a firm hold, or for moulding and sculpting hair. “It’s good for European hair that is flyaway and needs to be managed, and on coarse hair to reduce frizz,” said Yolanda Clarke. But the panel did have a couple of criticisms: “It’s too watery”, said Tai Nguyen, while Sharon Bailey thought it became sticky very quickly ****SORBIE LIFT-IT BODIFIER MEDIUM HOLD SPRAY GEL pounds 4.29 for 300ml The panel’s top-rated product, the pump sprays out a slightly viscous fluid, more liquid than an ordinary gel. “It gives a good `lift’ to the hair,” said Tau Nguyen. “A very nice product, expensive but looks as if it will last for many applications,” said Maria Gambin. “It was very good for giving fine hair body, although you can use it on any hair type. The spray had a pleasant smell and wasn’t sticky,” commented Yolanda Clarke.

STOCKISTS: Daniel Field cactus styling gel is available from Daniel Field salons (phone 071-439 8223 for local salons) or from Boots. Body Shop and Boots products are available from branches of the respective chains. The other products are available fromBoots and other chemists, and from some supermarkets.



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William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Age of Fools, The Rape Of Palestine: Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied, Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy and The Chronicles Of Nefaria. He is the editor of MWCNEWS. The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction by Dr. William A. Cook is out now, available to order from Palgrave Macmillan!