Let The Great World Spin
By Colum McCann
"Within seconds he was pureness moving, and he could do anything he liked. He was inside and outside his body at the same time, indulging in what it meant to belong to the air, no future, no past, and this gave him the offhand vaunt to his walk. He was carrying his life from one side to the other. On the lookout for the moment when he wasn't even aware of his breath.
The core reason for it all was beauty. Walking was a divine delight. Everything was rewritten when he was up in the air. New things were possible with the human form. It went beyond equilibrium.
He felt for a moment uncreated. Another kind of awake."
"Which was one of the things that made Judge Soderberg think that the tightrope walker was such a stroke of genius. A monument in himself. He had made himself into a statue, but a perfect New York one, a temporary one, up in the air, high above the city. A statue that had no regard for the past. He had gone to the World Trade Center and had strung his rope across the biggest towers in the world. The Twin Towers. Of all places. So brash. So glassy. So forward-looking. Sure, the Rockefellers had knocked down a few Greek revival homes and a few classic brownstones to make way for the towers--which had annoyed Claire when she read about it--but mostly it had been electronics stores and cheap auction houses where men with quick tongues had sold everything useless under the sun, carrot peelers and radio flashlights and musical snow globes. In place of the shysters, the Port Authority had built two towering beacons high in the clouds. The glass reflected the sky, the night, the colors: progress, beauty, capitalism.
Soderberg wasn't one to sit around and decry what used to be. The city was bigger than its buildings, bigger than its inhabitants too. It had its own nuances. It accepted whatever came its way, the crime and the violence and the little shocks of good that crawled out from underneath the everyday.
He figured that the tightrope walker must have thought it over quite a bit beforehand. It wasn't just an offhand walk. He was making a statement with his body, and if he fell, well, he fell--but if he survived he would become a monument, not carved in stone or encased in brass, but one of those New York monuments that made you say: Can you believe it? With an expletive. There would always be an expletive in a New York sentence. Even from a judge. Soderberg was not fond of bad language, but he knew its value at the right time. A man on a tightrope, a hundred and ten stories in the air, can you possibly fucking believe it?