Iraq is in a Postmodern War (Scrap 1)

Posted on July 4, 2007

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Taking as our information eidolon Andy Warhol’s screen print cans of soup, as an icon key to the postmodern – you sit yourself down at the table … WHOOPS!  Sorry, forgot it wasn’t real; forgot it was just a paper chair – ok, stay sat!!! – don’t move – we have an information technology that in tendency homogenises reality into a processed information soup – voila!  Sir.  Madam.  Democracy soup is on the menu.  Neatly addressed by labels copied from elsewhere.  Some of the effects of this could be seen in Vietnam.  The videotape streams of tv produced political reactions.  The ‘information soup’ that Vietnam was ‘communist’ and that on the ‘domino theory’ (dominoes being a kind of information soup of dots, so to speak) everything else would go communist too derived its authenticity from this emulsion.  The emulsion of the grey goo of video was discovered to have a ‘hard core’ of political reality. Reason operated through the logic of the electronic mist that floated over this soup!  We have the same with the ‘war on terror’. That all ‘terrorisms’ are alike. The concept of war with ‘terrorists’ – succeeds by its sheer wallpaper definition. It is hoped that by making Iraq ‘democratic’ (another kind of information soup concept) a reverse domino effect can transform the hatred.

Another blueprint so to speak is to be found in Philip K Dick’s Time Out of Joint.  I am thinking of the incident where Ragel Gumm comes across an ice cream kiosk that turns out to be not there.  He discovers that what he had thought was an ice cream kiosk is actually a kind of psychic construct … Compare this to the ‘communist threat’. The ice cream kiosk is actually just a small slip of paper with the words ICE CREAM KIOSK printed on it. Looking around, the same applies to everything else. The grass is actually a piece of notepaper saying GRASS. And so forth.  Media reality has in perception become larger than reality itself.  News banners fill our heads and seem to have the very caste of the ‘things themselves’ in their banal concretisations of the imaginary.  Reality is reduced to the status of a fantasy; a situation that by destroying all sense of limit as real, invites us to think about reality as black and white.  In order to discover the moral limits of reality we learn to invent those limits through technology.  The result is that we still think according to the categories; but in an even more fiercely delusional sense than is created by the dogmas of religion; or that combines with religious dogma even more grotesquely and strangely; so that we still believe: “Exists”  “Does not exist”, only in the impoverished terms of the gross metaphysical simplifications that seem to be transmitted by television.

In other words, America dealt with a real enemy in whatever country, in Vietnam, in South America, in the Middle East, and so forth, because in so far as that enemy could be understood televisually it was perfectly real.   If your mind set supposes that reality can and should be understood according to the idea of categorical opposites that treats of fact as a televisual idiom – rather than (say) according to the actual very complicated facts on the ground – then this is where you are, in the world of Ragel Gumm.

In other words, where we find the ‘enemy’ in these circumstances, by which the state defines itself, is rendered as an ever more abstract ‘other’. According to the intelligences of Good and Evil as demonstrated by the virtues of a superior technology, rendering fact more clearly, more sharply, at a higher level of definition.

Clear distinctions are understood.  But conceived in the categorically inauthentic circumstances of a technologised truth.

Not much has changed, one could say.  Greed, fear and arrogance: all is as of old, the political world remains chaotically imaginary.  But I don’t think this has ever been quite so transparent as it is now.  I don’t think there have been as many moments in history as there have recently where the protagonist picks up a piece of paper and realises that here is the reality of the ice cream kiosk he has just bought his ice cream from.

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Posted in: Iraq