I was reading an article last night entitled “Cultural Studies and Forensic Noir” by one Thomas Doherty (Title: Cultural Studies and ‘Forensic Noir.’ , By: Doherty, Thomas, Chronicle of Higher Education,00095982, 10/24/2003, Vol. 50, Issue 9), and this gem of a blurb popped out at me. He’s actually referencing another author, Indiana University’s James Naremore, who is in turn quoting film critic Andre Bazin. And I’m quoting all of them, with no context whatsoever. What a romantic, visceral, corporal thing to say, though.
This reminds me that I was also reading The Spirit of Terrorism by Jean Baudrillard the other day, a jaunty, mindfucking little read that threatens to agree with you on everything so completely that you nearly return to an egoless pre-Lacanian continuousness with your environment that you only had at that magical moment you got squeezed into your casing from momma’s meat grinder so many years ago (if you’re me, that’s 28 tomorrow).
Anyhow, the reason that this reminds me of Baudrillard is that he is talking about the collision of a system that denies the existence of death (the antiseptic, self-proclaimed generator of only good, justice, and life system of the modern capitalist West on the march) with one that is willing to “gift” its own death to it, such as happened in the suicide/attack on the WTC. A system anchored to the ideological position of life and life only experiences a rupture in reality that is traumatic. If we get Lacanian, we can say that all attempts to represent and thereby understand and master the moment of trauma fail, because reality defies all representation. The inability to represent the reality of the original trauma coupled with a recall of the original trauma creates further trauma, which induces further representation and attempts to patch reality and master the source of angst. Hal Foster wrote an article, I think it was called “Death in America” or something like that (I read it for class last semester, as well as most of the stuff I’m quoting here), about Warhol and his traumatic realism- the repetition of flawed and disturbing images such as a car crash, Marylin Monroe (suicide), a skull (portrait of everyone on earth). In that article he talks about attempts to innoculate ourselves against trauma through repetition of its images, while at the same time those flawed images create the trauma of missing the essence of the original traumatic event. Baudrillard says that when a system is willing to “gift” death to a system in denial of death, the system in denial of death begins the process of manufacturing death and death alone. When society attempts to innoculate itself against death and trauma by repeating the trauma, by expecting trauma, it begins to take on an eschatological imperative to avoid being surprised by the eschaton.
Happy new year, everyone. I love you.