Prescriptive Versus Descriptive

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‘9/11 ripped the bandage off US culture’

As a work of cultural criticism, The Terror Dream is comprehensively shocking. But didn’t the extreme disconnection between reporting and reality that it exposed present the author with a problem? If the country’s cultural narrative was driven more by fiction than fact, and failed to reflect the truth of post-9/11 America, why base a whole book upon such spurious material?

“Because we live in a culture that’s so . . . you can’t . . .” She casts a hand around the hotel bar helplessly. “I mean, this is sort of miraculous, to be sitting in a room where there’s not some massive flat-screen TV yelling at us. It’s almost a sci-fi feeling, this kind of constant bombardment of programmed thought.” Its effect is not as simple, she stresses, as “monkey see, monkey do”. “But it certainly has a warping effect on how we think about the world, and how we think about ourselves.” Journalism became not descriptive but prescriptive – “and that had an enormous effect on our political life, our policy, our nightmarish policy, our misbegotten military strategy”.

This echoes my (not very original) view of modern mass (largely American) media as prescriptive and ideologically committed; the news has evolved to be less the recounting (mirror) of events couched in narrative form, and more a tableau where the details are exaggerated at the behest of some dark aesthetic. Still a mirror, but now reflecting the prejudices of it’s creator rather than that which it claims to represent.

In one respect, she concedes, cultural criticism today is less relevant than it used to be. “The culture used to move relatively slowly, so you could take aim. Now it moves so fast, and is so fluffy and meaningless, you feel like an idiot even complaining about it.” But on the other hand, “I think a reason that a lot of people feel politically paralysed is that it used to be clear how power was organised. But those who have their hands on the levers of popular culture today have great power – and it isn’t even clear who they are.” They may be commercially accountable, in other words, but not democratically.

In my youth I would often contemplate the highly accelerated nature of mass media, and it’s effects on culture. It was it’s instantaneous nature that occupied me the most. A good analogy for me was how, in bygone days of yore, the passage of time was a function of the sunrise and sunset. These days we measure the same phenomenon (illumination) through the flick of a switch.

Analogous to this, the instantaneous nature of media and popular culture lends authenticity to the mediated as immediate, and as a consequence we are prone to mistake the mediated for the truth.

J.K.


Happy MyBloodyValentine’s Day

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I hate Valentine’s Day. I love Loveless.

J.K.


The Korean (??)

News just in; ignorant feeble-minded warmongers mistake country for book, swearing-in process becomes impossible.

J.K.


Senate Bill 1959 to Criminalize Thoughts, Blogs, Books and Free Speech Across America

Hoi! You charcoal hag! Read this why don’t you. To get you started;

Think it couldn’t happen here? It’s happening right now! This is exactly how it happened in Nazi Germany. First, burn the Reichstag and blame it on the “enemy.” Pass new police state laws. Disarm the people. Spread fear. Erect secret prisons and secret police. Call anyone who disagrees with you a “traitor.” Control the mainstream media. Sound familiar? This is all happening right now in the United States of Amerika, and if we don’t work to stop it, this nation will rapidly devolve into a fascist police state where no one is truly free.

Then why not watch this;

Are we sitting comfortably America?

J.K.


It’s all “god this” and “jesus that”…

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I was casually looking at “Studio 45678 on the blah blah” (currently on hiatus) the other night. At one point one of the humans said to another human of the female variety (in order to assuage her concerns regarding her impending parenthood) words to the effect that god didn’t expect humanoid parents to hit the ground running. God didn’t expect. Human adults talking about god. With not a hint of irony. Human adults.

What is the problem with these humanoids?

It’s not that I don’t understand the younger generation’s obsession with “jesu, heart’s light”. For he was, after all, a foxy specimen and no mistake; he was always well dressed, he went to the gym regularly, he was built like a brick shit house (by all accounts), apparently he was hung like a donkey (that’s right ladies), and of course he was circumcised. Which young hormone-addled strumpet wouldn’t swoon at the thought of him?

But these were grown ups, and idolization of fictional characters should remain the domain of the younger generation.

There comes a time when children become adults. A time when each of us must put away the diversions of our youth, and take down from our bedroom walls the posters of our idols, as we each negotiate our passage to maturity.

Unless of course you are an American adult humanoid.

J.K.


Jean Baudrillard 1929 – 2007


an extract from Simulacra and Simulations;

Of the same order as the impossibility of rediscovering an absolute level of the real, is the impossibility of staging an illusion. Illusion is no longer possible, because the real is no longer possible. It is the whole political problem of the parody, of hypersimulation or offensive simulation, which is posed here.For example: it would be interesting to see whether the repressive apparatus would not react more violently to a simulated hold up than to a real one? For a real hold up only upsets the order of things, the right of property, whereas a simulated hold up interferes with the very principle of reality. Transgression and violence are less serious, for they only contest the distribution of the real. Simulation is infinitely more dangerous since it always suggests, over and above its object, that law and order themselves might really be nothing more than a simulation.

But the difficulty is in proportion to the peril. How to feign a violation and put it to the test? Go and simulate a theft in a large department store: how do you convince the security guards that it is a simulated theft? There is no “objective” difference: the same gestures and the same signs exist as for a real theft; in fact the signs mclme neither to one side nor the other. As far as the established order is concerned, they are always of the order of the real.

Go and organize a fake hold up. Be sure to check that your weapons are harmless, and take the most trustworthy hostage, so that no life is in danger (otherwise you risk committing an offence). Demand ransom, and arrange it so that the operation creates the greatest commotion possible. In brief, stay close to the “truth”, so as to test the reaction of the apparatus to a perfect simulation. But you won’t succeed: the web of art)ficial signs will be inextricably mixed up with real elements (a police officer will really shoot on sight; a bank customer will faint and die of a heart attack; they will really turn the phoney ransom over to you). In brief, you will unwittingly find yourself immediately in the real, one of whose functions is precisely to devour every attempt at simulation, to reduce everything to some reality: that’s exactly how the established order is, well before institutions and justice come into play.

French thinker Baudrillard dies

J.K.