What is Hollywood, you ask, dear children? A quorum of whores babbling endlessly on about fucking while the bordello is razed for a penny arcade -- Paul Bern

Thursday, January 13, 2011


That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed.  Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future.  She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful.  She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model.  She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want us to live up to her expectations.  I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.  All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations. 
– President Obama, January 12th, 2011.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

The little child, in this case, being a useful symbol for the repressed trauma of 9/11.

The idea of 9/11 as some kind of vague, karmic punishment for cracked, varnished sins has a beautiful mirror-like symmetry in the popular culture of the Gringos.  According to the “Religious Right”, the punishment comes from God for tolerating sodomy, Viagra, abortion, Dr. Phil, etc.  For the equally puritannical Hairshirt Left, the gringos are being punished for years of nasty imperial adventures that have forever tainted the supposed “purity of their democratic ideals™”.  Amusingly, the gringos’ master psychologist, Osama Bin Laden, synthesizes both POV’s in the critiques of America found in his post-colonial communiques.  America is being punished for being an arrogant infidel state that has displeased and enraged Allah (the compassionate, the merciful, PBUH, etc.), and for being the humiliating replacement for the colonial powers whose sadomasochistic whips and kisses figure so prominently in the deeply wounded and narcissistic Pan-Arab mindset. 

Conveniently for the gringos, both ideas are also narcissistic defenses against a spiritual wound, and magically restore America’s place (despite much justified anxiety to the contrary) as the center of the newly globalized cosmos. And The War on Terror™ echoes yet inverts FDR’s famous motto: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. If one must declare war on fear, then one can also guess that the battle is already lost. Ten years into it – exhausted by endless media exposure to propaganda -- people are more under the thumb of “terror” than ever, and Al-Qaeda is an old-time bogeyman who people have effectively forgotten. They have no choice.

Ellul, Propaganda: “We must also bear in mind that the individual is at the mercy of events. Hardly has an event taken place before it is outdated; even if its significance is still considerable, it is no longer of interest and if man experiences the feeling of having escaped it, he is no longer concerned. In addition, he obviously has a very limited capacity for attention and awareness; one event pushes the preceding one into oblivion.  And as man's memory is short, the event that has been supplanted by another is forgotten; it no longer exists; nobody is interested in it any more….[ ] Actually, the public is prodigiously sensitive to current news. Its attention is focused immediately on any spectacular event that fits in with its myths.  At the same time, the public will fix its interest and its passion on one point, to the exclusion of all the rest. Besides, people have already become accustomed to, and have accommodated themselves to "the rest" (yesterday's news or that of the day before yesterday). We are dealing here not just with forgetfulness, but also with plain loss of interest…[ ] Moreover, there is a spontaneous defensive reaction in the individual against an excess of information and -- to the extent that he clings (unconsciously) to the unity of his own person -- against inconsistencies. The best defense here is to forget the preceding event. In so doing, man denies his own continuity; to the same extent that he lives on the surface of events and makes today's events his life by obliterating yesterday's news, he refuses to see the contradictions in his own life and condemns himself to a life of successive moments, discontinuous and fragmented.” 
The beautiful challenge here (for the State, for culture workers at large) is to constantly relive the useful trauma of 9/11 without actually addressing it. So it’s the return of the repressed for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. More heaping helpings of irony: Both the gringos and Al-Qaeda are suffering from profound anxiety about Globalization. This globalization psychosis – the fear/reality of subcultures being dissolved into homogeneous and global mass techno-culture, drives on the War on Terror™.

And perhaps more interesting still is the power of the mythic idea that the wound is, in reality -- in truth, self inflicted:  things have gone so far astray from democratic ideals, that the State, in its’ neo-fascist arrogance and corporate lust for power, itself has orchestrated (or merely allowed to happen) these televised calamities. This is nothing less than a projection of fantasy power – the powerless explaining away their powerlessness and passivity before the screen (ultimately their lack of faith in democracy and the shirking of their democratic responsibility) through a fantasy of a sinisterly powerful yet secret cabal practicing secret violence (private, civil, economic, military) without limitation. A violence that can always be observed and mediated, glimpsed through the shadow, or in the "gap" of narrative. The perpetual representation of this mythic violence is more effective than its actual practice would be.

Living in the grip of remembered trauma is the necessary condition to certain aspects of tribal life. Because our memories are located in the technological, in the visible edge of the spectacle, like a patient with Alzheimer’s, we must always be reminded of what we would forget. We therefore live, gratefully, in the twilit space of myth.

The more simple and sinister truth: Nobody is riding the dragon of globalization…it is world-historical epochal chaos. Every man for herself. And Salafist Islam, so effectively characterized as an alien excrescence, is quite useful to calm globalization anxiety and thus to unite the world under the common banner of pluralistic progress and the sweet balm of techno-civilization – ideas which are the REAL SCARY stuff.

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