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a date which will live in infamy

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Crossposted from Long Sunday. It’s a follow up to Jodi Dean’s recent post at LS on desire and 9/11, and the comments below it.

The concluding paragraph of Benjamin’s Work of Art essay:

Fiat ars – pereat mundus,” says Fascism, and, as Marienetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of a politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.

Relatedly, think back to the summer before the attack, the Pearl Harbor trailer. Christ – the damn thing actually ran for about a year before every single movie that made it to the theater. I must have seen it thirty times.


Think back to FDR’s speech that runs as a voiceover, as we watch the kids pretend to be fighter pilots, soliders screw nurses, women hang out laundry. The everyday.

How long is America going to pretend that the world is not at war?

From Berlin, Rome, and Tokyo, we have been described as a nation of weaklings and playboys, who hire British or Russian or Chinese soldiers to do our fighting for us.

We’ve been trained to think that we are invincible. But our people think Hitler and his Nazi thugs are Europe’s problem. We have to do more. Does anyone think that victory is possible without facing danger? At times like these we all need to be reminded of who we truly are – that we will not give up.

December 7th, 1941. A date which will live in infamy. The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the empire of Japan.

We are war. Tell that to the soldiers who today are hitting hard in the far waters of the Pacific. Tell that to the boys in the flying fortresses. Tell that to the Marines.

Toward the end of the trailer, subtitles appear on screen:

it was the end of innocence and the dawn of a nation’s greatest glory.

Think of how focus-grouped and wideband market-prepped this movie was. The trailer in particular. Think about what secret or not so secret desires the producers were touching, titillating, conjuring?

The contemporary reviews were on message:

Ninety minutes into this massive movie the attack commences, and the spectacular images come hurtling like fireballs. This is, let’s be honest, what we’re here for, and what most Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movies serve up best: the poetry of destruction (Newsweek).

The picture is nearly painstaking in its traditionalism, a tale of love, war, and valor in which nostalgia for ”simpler times” gets mashed together, almost fetishistically, with nostalgia for old movies and for the spirit of knightly self sacrifice during World War II (Entertainment Weekly)

Telepathy, for sure. If we have to know anything, it is that the causes of things aren’t always as straight and clear as Occam’s Razor might suggest.

Written by adswithoutproducts

July 4, 2006 at 11:54 pm

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