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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The State, the Spectacle and September 11: Iain Boal,T.J Clark,Joseph Matthews,Michael Watts


 Western Aesthetics

The State, The Spectacle and September 11

Retort (Iain Boal, T.J. Clark, Joseph Matthews, Michael Watts)


Thesis statement: "We start from the premise that certain concepts and descriptions put forward forty years ago by Guy Debord and the situationalist International, as part of their effort to comprehend the news forms of state control and social disintegration then emerging, still possess explanatory power"


1.      Topic sentence: "the episode became an emblem"


Emblem - imagery - shock and awe - symbolic production


2.      Topic sentence: "These are the ambiguities, generalized to the whole conduct of war and politics over the past four years"


The news forms of state control and social disintegration - notions - the colonization of everyday life - society of the spectacle


3.      Topic sentence: "none of this means that we think we comprehend the whole shape and dynamic of the new state of affairs, or can offer a theory of its deepest determinants"


Left-recent wars - Security Council - Lenin's and Hobson's studies of imperialism


4.      Topic sentence: "what is new in the current dark circumstance still largely eludes analysis"


September 11 attack - demonstration of military supremacy – recolonization - in Afghanistan and Iraq-an historical regression


5.      Topic sentence: "the version of "spectacle" with which we operate is minimal, pragmatic and matter of fact"


World - historical force - Paradise Lost - epigraph


6.      Topic sentence: "the notion 'spectacle' was intended then, as a first stab at characterizing a new form of, or stage in, the accumulation of capital"


Spectacle - human sociability - forms of recreation - patterns of speech - idioms of solidarity


7.      Topic sentence: "the choice of the word 'colonization' to describe the process was deliberate"


Capitalist production - globalization - colonization


8.      Topic sentence: "the point of the analysis was to bring into focus the terms and possibilities of resistance against the colonizing forces; this in a situation, the later 1960's where it was not foolhardy, even if ultimately mistaken , to imagine 'reassembling our afflicted power' and doing real harm to the enemy"


Form of politics - state formation - surveillance


9.      Topic sentence: "first, that slowly but surely the state  in the twentieth century had been dragged into full collaboration in the micromanagement of everyday life"


Market's necessity - state's obsession - tension - modern state's constant armored other directedness - perpetual emotion machines - TV - dim pioneer


10.  Topic sentence: "the modern state, we would argue, has come to need weak citizenship"

Maintaining – impoverished - hygienized public realm - idiosyncratic civil society


11.  Topic sentence: "there is no place left where people can discuss the realities which concern them, because they can never lastingly free themselves from the crushing presence of media discourse and of the various forces organized to rely it"


The mechanism - social verification


12.  Topic sentence: "too many times over the past four years these sentences, in their very anger and sorrow at the present form of politics, have echoed in our minds"


Precision bombings - effect on the spectacular -martyr pilots - triumphs of power - proved negative


13.  Topic sentence: "Debord had a robust and straight forward view of the necessity, for individuals and collectives, of learning from the past"


Construction - made of obdurate - three dimensional materials - two way temporality - the essence of the human


14.  Topic sentence: "but even Debord sometimes took comfort from the recognition that the state too lived the nightmare , and would suffer the consequences"


Uncertainties of power - the cunning of reason - Bush and Blair's rush to war - faulty intelligence


15.  Topic sentence: "what then politically and strategically took place on September 11,2011"


Electing – atrocities - digitalizing the date - American power - conjured away - Fall of the Wall


16.  Topic sentence: "hopeless symbolic gestures"


Effectiveness - symbolic action - spectacle – state – wounded - flailing blindly


17.  Topic sentence: "is it necessary to state that because we refuse to extract the September bombings from the cycle of horrors over which the US has presided since 1945, and believe it necessary, if we are to understand then politically, to treat the events of September as an occurrence in a war of images , it does not follow that we fail to recognize the events' obscenity"


Attacks – calibrated - indelible image - haunted


18.  Topic sentence: "it matters profoundly, we are convinced that the horrors of September 11 were designed above all to be visible"


Visibility – marked - air terror - sponsored by terror - Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima - horror - unseen - presented - report


19.  Topic sentence: "September terror was different"


Believes - a picture worth a thousand words – effective – statecraft - circuits of capital - circuits of sociability


20.  Topic sentence: "and you will do it because there is no answer to our image-victory yet you have to pretend there is one"


Martyr pilots – demands – answer – military – vindicate - humiliation


21.  Topic sentence: "the terrorists followed the logic of the spectacle to its charnel house conclusion"


Debord's aphorism - encapsulation - World Trade Centre


22.  Topic sentence: "but we believe that only by recognizing what was truly modern in the martyr pilot's strategy-truly the opposite of a desperate, powerless, atavistic pinprick; truly the instigator of the state's present agony-will the Left be able to move toward argument with the new terrorism's premises and upshots"


Terror – machinery – amplify - visible happening of defeat - popular culture


23.  Topic sentence: "the logic of the pilots was part fantasy, we would argue, part lucidity"

Terrorist – succumbed - temptation of spectacle - exponents of idea - image power - rule imaginary earth


24.  Topic sentence: "now a new breed of bomber has understood that in the society they are attacking such networks of sociability are secondary"


Perpetrators - lack - means


25.  Topic sentence: "David Runciman has gone so far as to argue that what is happening amounts to a genuine mutation of the international system"


Hobbesian view - September attack - post Hobbesian age-insecurity - modern political life


26.  Topic sentence: "there are several things to be said in response"


Runciman's argument – reasonable – fearfulness - availability of weapons of mass destruction - embarrassment - used weapons - disintegrating arms market - material dominance


27.  Topic sentence: "we agree with Runciman that the September bombings are a distinctively modern symptom"


New structural feature - international state system - technological advance – rise - secondary market in arms


28.  Topic sentence: "let us simply assert here, with the problem of September specifically our object, that failed states seem to us a structural element of the international system"


Failed state – product - new universe of globalization - no ontological difference - successfully weakened and permeable states


29.  Topic sentence: "there is a link clearly to our previous argument about the necessity of weak citizenship of the state's internal health"


Weak state - imperial control dismantled - failed state - flourishing economy shatters - political entities - crash programs


30.  Topic sentence: "the events of September , it is common knowledge, were directly the creature of this world of despair"


Key phenomena- failed state- power of al-Jazeera - Islamist websites


31.  Topic sentence: "failed states are a hideous amalgam of the feudal, the Nasserite 'national', and the spectacular"


Cruel and mistaken ones – emerge - treadmill of pain and hopelessness


32.  Topic sentence: "to this list of the triumphs of power we should add one result which has proved negative: once the running of the state involves a permanent and massive shortage of historical knowledge , that state can no longer be led strategically"


Kissinger problem - tension - dispersal and vacuity of the public sphere - consumer society


33.  Topic sentence: "we do not believe that one can destroy the society of the spectacle  by producing the spectacle of its destruction"


Tactical dissent - strategic rejection of terror – image - event


34.  Topic sentence: "the spectacular state is obliged, we are saying , to device an answer to the defeat of September 11"


The invasion of Iraq - idea - sanctions - the manner


35.  Topic sentence: "Europeans were by no means the only rulers with a superiority complex vis-à-vis their subjects"


Displayed - systematic and self - conscious way - symbolic settings - ingenious


36.  Topic sentence: "an unusually wide range of symbolic settings"


Setting - ordinary, unimaginative - extraordinary - dehumanization - image


37.  Topic sentence: "it seems that the state does not know what to do in these circumstances"


Primitive accumulation – retrained – democracy - unexportable


38.  Topic sentence: "states can behave like maddened beasts, in other words, and still get their way"


Dimension of spectacle - interfered palpably - spectacular politics - the historical knowledge of defeat



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