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Re: <nettime> Re: Images and Official Language: The Gap or How not to Kn
ed phillips on Wed, 2 Jun 2004 10:45:50 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Re: Images and Official Language: The Gap or How not to Know



Thanks for responding, Alan.

I was hoping that someone would remark on the intentionally naive
questions i asked at the end of my post. But I must confess that I
don't understand what your response is "about", sorry for being
horribly circular here, but you did bring up the dread ghost of
deconstruction.

> 'About' implies cause and effect and representation - this painting is
> 'about' the natural order of things, this war is 'about' oil. And such is
> a peculiarly occidental approach, I believe, this aboutness which insists
> on causation in relation to ethos, which insists on origin insead of,
> perhaps, taint. The war is unjustifiable, cruel, and in many ways 'about'
> America, in the sense of implication. America is responsible; reasoning
> and reasons are left in the shadows, and there are as many as there are
> shadows and they are as indistinct as shadows are. The darkness of the
> photographs throw a little light on the subjects: it's the captors who
> stand out, who make sure they are _named_ and _visible,_ while the
> prisoners are hidden, faceless bodies, hooded.


I want to thank you for pointing out the oddness of the word about,
which in the phrase "this war is about oil" surely implies oil is a concern if
not outright cause of this war, which it surely is. Political
commentators on the right were quick to point out that the war was not
"about oil" because it is the rest of the G7 that are much more
dependent on Middle East Oil than the U.S.  Obviously, the war is not
simply about oil, as if oil were ever a simple thing itself, but it
just as surely concerns oil, and the markets in oil, both official and black.

Your pointing out that an attempt to understand more structural causes
and reasons for this "extremely bold gambit" on the part of a
particular U.S. administration, is "occidental" in its concern for
cause and effect seems to me without meaning. Surely, you must think
that the policy makers and war planners had reasons for taking what
even they knew was an extreme gamble. The point of the naive
questioning was to begin to look at what the interests of both global
capital more largely and american empire in particular were and are
that are at stake in invading and occupying Iraq. And to begin to ask
those questions, I think it does help to clear the air of such psuedo
causes as daddy, or wmd, or even that the war was and is about 
particular individual idiosyncracies. But I don't think it helps to
throw out the very idea of interest or cause. It's not like pointing
out the history of the failure of the sanctions process, and the
growing black market in oil flowing out of Iraq, is some search for a
lost or trascendental origin. It is more humbly, getting at the story.
Which, by the way, I don't think I have, yet.

And this reference to the notion of cause and effect as merely
occidental seems to me at least to invoke some chimera of an east or
an outside of global capital, as if there were a part of the globe
that was not subject to the laws of capital or cause and effect.

> Finally it might even be added that 'about' implies some justification,
> however minimal. If this is 'real'ly 'about' oil, perhaps the oil will
> save lives elsewhere, But there is none of this, no balance, no reason.

I would counter that we should be willing to ask the about question,
not because we risk justification, but to attempt to understand
precisely the reasons and reasoning of those in power, and not just in
the United States, but in the entire G7. We can also ask how the populations in
those countries more or less are complicit in what their governments
are doing. But to say that all this is without reason is in my opinion
to let the policy makers, global capital, and the citizens of the
putative democracies off the hook.

Thanks again, I found your post poetic is not quite comprehensible.




On Mon, May 31, 2004 at 04:55:10PM -0400, Alan Sondheim wrote:
> 
> I think to be fair here, that there is a process of contamination going
> on, which is becoming more and more evident; that the images by their very
> overdetermined nature, are a form of speeage that will not be contained,
> will not be defined by any particularization, whether it be a group of
> seven soldiers or the prison system itself. Hopefully the contamination
> will spread. Even so I agree, and what is appalling to me, even more, is
> the over two million in the US prisons today - a system where in Jeb
> Bush's Florida, there is a 30 percent incarceration rate for black males.
> 
> Returning briefly to Iraq, I think stating what the war is 'about' misses
> the point - that the word 'about' must be deconstructed, that there is no
> 'about' - which 'systemics' perhaps implies as well. The war is not
> 'about' Daddy nor 'about' oil nor 'about' jeffersonian democracy' nor
> 'about' Saddam nor 'about' torture etc. etc. It certainly isn't 'about'
> 9/11. One might say it is 'about' those who ordered the war and managed
> it, but this hits a psychoanalytical deadend.
> 
> 'About' implies cause and effect and representation - this painting is
> 'about' the natural order of things, this war is 'about' oil. And such is
> a peculiarly occidental approach, I believe, this aboutness which insists
> on causation in relation to ethos, which insists on origin insead of,
> perhaps, taint. The war is unjustifiable, cruel, and in many ways 'about'
> America, in the sense of implication. America is responsible; reasoning
> and reasons are left in the shadows, and there are as many as there are
> shadows and they are as indistinct as shadows are. The darkness of the
> photographs throw a little light on the subjects: it's the captors who
> stand out, who make sure they are _named_ and _visible,_ while the
> prisoners are hidden, faceless bodies, hooded.
> 
> Not even the privilege of Auschwitz tattooed numbers, nothing. America has
> learned to manage everything. But the photographs leak, and it is the
> faces of the US soldiers who illuminate. And now the faces of everyone
> else, all this light.
> 
> Who knows the name of even one of the Iraqi in the images? On occasion
> there is an occasion where a name appears, briefly, then descends.
> 
> Finally it might even be added that 'about' implies some justification,
> however minimal. If this is 'real'ly 'about' oil, perhaps the oil will
> save lives elsewhere, But there is none of this, no balance, no reason.
> 
> Stare into the face of evil, and there's surprisingly little detail. Evil
> manages the news.
> 
> - Alan
> 
> http://www.asondheim.org/ http://www.asondheim.org/portal/.nikuko
> http://www.anu.edu.au/english/internet_txt
> Trace projects http://trace.ntu.ac.uk/writers/sondheim/index.htm
> finger sondheim {AT} panix.com
> 
> 
> 
> 
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