What’s in a name? Plenty, according to Mark Redfield: in his book The Rhetoric of Terror: Reflections on 9/11 and the War on Terror he writes about the impact that the events of September 11, 2001 had not only physically, but culturally. He writes that the use of the term “9/11” as shorthand to refer to these events has given new meaning to the trauma, and refers to the specific impact as “virtual trauma:” Virtual trauma describes the shock of an event at once terribly real and utterly mediated. In consequence, a tormented self-reflexivity has tended to characterize representations of 9/11 in texts, discussions, and films, such as World Trade Center and United 93.
In a review in today’s Times Higher Education, Robert Appelbaum writes, “The Rhetoric of Terror doesn’t so much break new ground about 9/11 and the War on Terror as provide a masterly elaboration of post-structuralist thought on the subject.” He is writing from a European perspective, saying, “The rupture in American life shall be a rupture in the life of us all.”