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Archive for March 3rd, 2005

Preemptive Blogging II

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James Wolcott’s got a great example of preemptive blogging up today, where he asks us to watch for an uptick in the chatter of/about Hezbollah in the coming weeks and months.

Here’s your homework assignment, boys and girls. Study cable news in
the coming months, if you can stand the stomach upset, and see how many
segments are devoted to the emerging threat posed by Hezbollah, and
what America must do to protect itself. Particularly what-if scenarios
about Hezbollah obtaining WMDs, and what they could do to American
cities. I suspect we’ll see quite an uptick.

Wolcott seems to see this rolling towards Iran, but I’m wondering about the preoccupation with Syria in the last week or so. What, exactly, does Syria have to gain by way of the Lebanon assassination and the bombing in Israel, just when everything was "going so well"? If you were a mideast pariah state, is this the time that you’d pick to launch a quixotic region-wide terror campaign? Seriously?

Maybe this is what that unnamed Bush aide meant by "we create our own reality."

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality- judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

This dude was right out of Heart of Darkness central casting, no? Speaking of which, I handed out these two passages from Said’s Culture and Imperialism today in class. Think they’re, um, timely.

Let us return to Conrad and to what I have been referring to
as the second, less imperialistically assertive possibility offered by Heart of Darkness. Recall once again
that Conrad sets the story on the deck of a boat anchored in the Thames; as
Marlow tells his story the sun sets, and by the end of the narrative the heart
of darkness has reappeared in England; outside the group of Marlow’s listeners
lies an undefined and unclear word. Conrad sometimes seems to want to fold that
world into the imperial metropolitan discourse represented by Marlow, but by
virtue of his own dislocated subjectivity he resists the effort and succeeds in
so doing, I have always believed, largely through formal devices. Conrad’s
self-consciously circular narrative forms draw attention to themselves as
artificial constructions, encouraging us to sense the potential of a reality
that seemed inaccessible to imperialism, just beyond its control, and that only
after Conrad’s death in 1924 acquired a substantial presence (28-9)

Yet the whole point of what Kurtz and Marlow talk about is
in fact imperial mastery, white European over
black Africans, and their ivory, civilization over the primitive dark continent. By accentuating the discrepancy
between the official “idea” of empire and the remarkably disorienting actuality
of Africa, Marlow unsettles the reader’s sense not only
of the very idea of empire, but of something more basic, reality itself. For if
Conrad can show that all human activity depends on controlling a radically
unstable reality to which words approximate only by will or convention, the
same is true of empire, of venerating the idea, and so forth. With Conrad,
then, we are in a world being made and unmade more or less all the time. What
appears stable and secure – the policeman at the corner, for instance – is only
slightly more secure than the white men in the jungle, and requires the same
continuous (but precarious) triumph over an all-pervading darkness, which by
the end of the tale is show to be the same in London and in Africa (29).

Great stuff…


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March 3, 2005 at 12:15 am

Posted in Current Affairs