“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

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Reaction Reaction Reaction: It Was Too Progressive for the Guardian so I'm Posting It Here Instead, Part 3

(Scroll down for Parts 1 and 2) 

9/11 is when most Americans suddenly realized that there was an outside. They really didn’t know. Actual thing said by my ex-mother in law, in 2006, on visiting London: “Wow, you have traffic lights too.” Totally sincerely. She meant it. It wasn’t a joke. She was genuinely amazed. She lived in Colorado. On September 11, 2001 the outside came crashing into two skyscrapers and Americans woke up from some of the dream, that had become strangely and quite wonderfully fin de siècle-ish under Clinton, and plunged into another one, orchestrated by Al Qaeda, whose explicit aim was to make America into a fascist country. I was so spooked by how quickly they came up with a name for an event which, in the memorable words of Fredric Jameson one week later in the London Review of Books, “hasn’t really happened yet.” A name that Al Qaeda must have wet themselves with delight at—the emergency call number they deliberately chose as the date for the attack on the Twin Towers. State of emergency. Habeas corpus suspended. I was on a green card and technically could’ve been rounded up without bail. They probably still can do that to people. See, it’s the 1790s. 

I liked the Twin Towers. They were built when computers were really starting, when Derrida talked about them in the introduction to Of Grammatology. I thought the Twin Towers were a joke in binary. They looked so starkly like number ones. In binary, 11 means 3. Where is the third tower? 

I arrived in the USA in 1992. America was like a marshmallow or a hamburger. So soft. So comfy. The nukes protected the marshmallow, or something. The USSR was gone. You could walk right to the gate to wait for your loved one. The idea that past security was No Man’s Land, which was legally correct, was not civil-society correct. At Heathrow Terminal 4 the United guy would interrogate you for ages, because of the IRA. But in America flying around from city to city on said United, you could trust your girlfriend to be waiting for you at the gate. “Keep me safe” is a thing children say to their parents. George Bush “kept us safe.” He said it over and over, because he hadn’t. 

Bin Laden was some rich dude from Saudi, “in construction” as they say, like my girlfriend’s brother, or Donald Trump. It means corruptly connected to everyone and anyone. Bin Laden was in the Sudan. My girlfriend spoke Pashto and was negotiating with the Taliban and etc about that pipe. It was 1998. No one knows that, but I’m writing it here out of sheer frustration. Bin Laden didn’t just appear like some wizard played by Christopher Lee in a Tolkien film. Like some demonic version of Christ. How he was portrayed in the media. The Taliban were never a terrorist organization. The whole thing was shit. 

The BBC was threatened with extinction when they questioned the bombing of Afghanistan. “Dresden-style” was the phrase one journalist used. The Labour Party, excited to win over thugs who would eventually vote for Brexit, and weirdly happy to be in charge in a moment when war might be on the cards, were outraged. I think the current corporate structure of the BBC can be traced to that moment. The compromise they made was, they were able to criticize Iraq, what a relief, but don’t lay a finger on Afghanistan. It’s all I can come up with to explain the outrageous failure of thought this last week. Please will someone start thinking, in public. Please, enough of the reacting. You have no idea how quickly the American Taliban will get back in power if this carries on. 


Jill Sorensen said...

yeah, but you are not supposed to say it out loud. And in public, too. Thanks for thinking and speaking.
Jill Sorensen (jillsorensen.net)

Jean-Pierre said...

I like your comment about thinking verses reacting. That's spot on. And when we react, what's generated comes out of prejudice and ideology. By the way, Baudrillard wrote about the twin towers too. For him it was in the 80s I think. And in the 70s too if I'm correct. Good reading by him as well.

Jean-Pierre said...

Your comment on the difference between reaction and thought is spot on. When we react what's generated comes out of predjudice and ideology. By the way Baudrillard also wrote about the towers too in the 80s and also in the 70s if I'm remembering correctly. Good reading by him as well.