Monday, 2 January 2012

Archaeology and/or Apocatastasis

In the closing years of this century we are being given the opportunity, under the aegis of pax atomica, to examine in some detail our naive notions of good and evil, of peace and violence, and of life and death. Sentimental notions of peace and love simply will not do. Man is, and forever will be, a microscopic zoo containing snakes and eagles, lions and lambs, fish and frogs. It may be alright for lambs to eat grass, but for a lion - a proper one - grass will not do. Human consciousness is now being presented with new symbols and new meanings. We have not come to terms with the inner animal; therefore, its countenance has become quite fearful, like a charging tiger. This time around we are not confronted with a "babe wrapped in swaddling clothes", which is easy enough to accept, but with a "rough beast, its hour come 'round at last", that slouched to Alamogordo to be born.
Dennis Stillings Meditations on the Atom and Time: An Attempt to Define the Imagery of War and Death in the Late 20th Century. Collected in Apocalypse Culture

Faceless masters continue to inflect the economic strategies which constrain our existences, but they no longer need to impose their speech (or are henceforth unable to); and the post-literacy of the late capitalist world reflects not only the absence of any great collective project but also the unavailability of the older national language itself. In this situation parody finds itself without a vocation; it has lived, and that strange new thing pastiche slowly comes to take its place. Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask, speech in a dead language. But it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody's ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse, devoid of laughter and of any conviction that alongside the abnormal tongue you have momentarily borrowed, some healthy linguistic normality still exists. Pastiche is thus blank parody, a statue with blind eyeballs: it is to parody what that other interesting and historically original modern thing, the practice of a kind of blank irony, is to what Wayne Booth calls the "stable ironies" of the eighteenth century....This situation evidently determines what the architecture historians call "historicism," namely, the random cannibalization of all the styles of the past, the play of random stylistic allusion, and in general what Henri Lefebvre has called the increasing primacy of the "neo." This omnipresence of pastiche is not incompatible with a certain humor, however, nor is it innocent of all passion: it is at the least compatible with addiction - with a whole historically original consumers' appetite for a world transformed into sheer images of itself and for pseudoevents and "spectacles" (the term of the situationists). It is for such objects that we may reserve Plato's conception of the "simulacrum," the identical copy for which no original has ever existed.
Frederic Jameson Postmodernism: Or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism 

America in the movies is both mighty and weak, never safe for long. On the one hand, smug triumphs, banal rhetoric and globalising hubris conclude most of these films. But the fears which begin the films are of American weakness in the face of global hostility. America is rarely represented with interests to secure in the third world; this is much less explicit celebration of the benefits of imperialism than, for example, British imperial culture of the late 19th century. The only transnational economies seem to be drugs and guns; America brings rock and roll... and death. Often America is represented only by the 'democratic' military group or super-heroes. Like the ambivalence about the state, the simultaneous reduction of American presence and celebration of its global reach addresses a contradiction in ideology: it tries to square isolationism with the demands of super-power imperialism. It dramatises the extremism of contemporary international inequality, but also shows some hesitation or confusion about its appropriately benign or democratic costume.
Scott  Forsyth Hollywood's War On The World: The New World Order as Movie

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