“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Friday, August 27, 2021

Reaction Reaction Reaction: It Was Too Progressive for the Guardian so I'm Posting It Here Instead, Part 1

 I'm writing a book with Nicholas Royle, it's such an interesting project. And this is my latest installment for it. Nick thought it was so good that I should send it to the Guardian. But that was a few days ago when everyone in the media was going neocon insane. Probably even the Guardian. I didn't dare to look, ,as you will see. So a few days have gone by, and I'm pretty sure they still can't quite print it. So I'm putting it here instead. It's a few pages long so I'll post it in installments. 

Reaction Reaction Reaction 

Timothy Morton

I can’t listen to the radio. The Khyber Pass-ness of the way the BBC in particular is handling the exit from Afghanistan, the beyond fatuous editorials of John Soper, worst Washington correspondent ever. The Facebook and Twitter-initiated age of sensibility in which exactly the right opinion must be jumped to immediately. As if without mediation. I often feel we’ve been teetering on the edge of the Romantic period for two hundred and thirty years, since 1790 we’ve been teetering, and social media—which appeared just after 9/11 and appears to have installed at its heart that fact as an inviolable basis for its existence, isn’t helping, not at all. 

People do die, hit by drone strikes at a wedding or falling off planes. By accident or on purpose, that’s the choice right now. 

The media has loads of neocons on, the people who took us into Afghanistan. I think it’s to distract from the more serious issue—forgive my Wildean humor here—of how offended everyone is by images on their screens. 

The reactive culture of sensibility meets the reactionary politics of Dick Cheney. Reactionary neocon responses to the withdrawal are just exactly that—reactive. They take 9/11 and Afghanistan as givens. And, I now realize, they always were. All that invading and bombing and imposing democracy on people looked for all the world like the acting-est actions ever. But they weren’t. 9/11 happened, then came the reaction. 

The idea of a just war that at least was a feminist way of bombing the crap out of people, sustaining the illusion of British imperialism one more time, seems particularly acute on the BBC. I simply won’t listen. At least NPR is saying, wait. Give it some time. 

My mum told me that when my grandfather went into Berlin, my communist grandfather, he was one of the first in Berlin, “liberating it” in 1945, many Germans behaved exactly like the Afghanis now. Desperately clinging, begging to be taken out of Germany. Of course. Everyone’s relative or neighbour is some kind of Nazi. Everyone’s brother is in or supports the Taliban. Of course everyone is terrified. Of course. There’s no way to get this right. I’m reminded of when I left ____. There was a moment when I actually had to physically leave. Things had been sort of kind of okay, but this was a moment that could not be okay. I remember saying, “I can’t make this part better for you, I can’t.” Couldn’t make it better for myself either. I had to make myself do it. It was right to do it. It felt so wrong. It was right. She tackled me to the ground. She broke my glasses. I had to keep on and on leaving. It took months. But it all started one night when I just…left. I went to stay at my new address, with a suitcase. It was either that or die or go insane, or both. 

I actually admire Biden. He did a thing, and stuck by it. What to do, pull people out weeks ago and then the same things happen, only weeks ago. There’s no good time to do this. But it’s right. The whole thing was a total lie. Of course it’s going to seem wrong. My grandfather leaving Germans to die in Berlin. The instant opinionating is part of the violence. Of course the guy who exposes that it was a total lie is going to get in terrible trouble. 

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