Friday, July 23, 2004

Mildly provocative Debordian analysis of the response to the attacks of September 11 from the New Left Review here, courtesy Joshua Clover.
‘You know our demands’, said the martyr-pilots (strictly to themselves). ‘And we know you cannot accede to them. We know what you will do instead. We are certain your answer will be military. We anticipate your idiot leader blurting out the word crusade. What you will do will vindicate our analysis point by point, humiliation by humiliation, and confirm the world of Islamism in its despairing strength. And you will do it because there is no answer to our image-victory, yet you (because humiliation is something in which you have no schooling) have to pretend there is one.’
Skipping to the end, Boal, Clark, Matthews, and Watts argue that the fundamental goal of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq was to "devise an answer to the defeat of September 11," to create an image "to put paid to the September haunting."

Totally unrelated, but sticking with me is this critique of Cole Porter's construction of musicals in Franklin Bruno's review of De-Lovely on Slate:
...for the most part, he was less interested in believability or dramatic unity than in showcasing his latest compositions —- the best of which have survived far longer than the shows and films for which they were written.
Also rattling around are a couple of passages in Vincent Deary's Conversations with Zizek review from last week's TLS:
...It is absolutely essential that the means of production of meaning remain, in Zizek's terms, foreclosed for reality to have its coherence. It is only when it begins to "peep through", in moments of madness, that we even notice it at work at all.
the foreclosed of any system is nothing but the inherent inconsistency of the system (mis)perceived as external obstacle/limit.
Yes I know that's not quite as catchy as a jingle, and I'm wary of the easy Lookingglass/matrix interpretation -- in which a destabilized reality simply becomes another reality. Just talking to you. Will close this lunchtime post with another graph from the NLR piece:
Debord had a robust and straightforward view of the necessity, for individuals and collectives, of learning from the past (not the least of the ways in which his thinking is classical, as opposed to postmodern). Of course he knew that the past is a ‘construction’; but of obdurate and three-dimensional materials, he believed, constantly resisting any one frame, and which only the most elaborate machinery of forgetting could make fully tractable to power. His deepest fears as a revolutionary derived from the sense, which grew upon him, that this elaborate machinery might now have been built, and really be turning the world into an eternal present. That was the key to his hatred of the image-life: that what it threatened, ultimately, was the very existence of the complex, created, two-way temporality that for him constituted the essence of the human.

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