Friday, 21 February 2014

Destruction porn

Here is a(nother) splendid and thoughtful post from The Plashing Vole (though his interest in fencing - as in l'escrime, not handling stolen goods - seems to have led him to write balestra for ballista).  I was thinking about Baudrillard myself, only yesterday, as it happens and pondering how the 24-hour news culture that he discussed leads to a sort of inversion of the usual historical narrative process.  normally one gets jumbled accounts from various sources, which are then gradually sifted and reassembled into a narrative, or more often several competing narratives.  In the instant transmission of pictures and stories, the simulacrum of reality that Baudrillard discussed, the story and the lesson are almost decided in advance, certainly they are already part of the 'information' received through the TV screen.  So, in a way, we have to take the historical narrative and then take it apart in order to arrive at the jumble of disparate sources and viewpoints.  Then, needless, to say, we put it back together in a different order.  Of course, even in other periods, historical sources are also interwoven with their own narratives and viewpoints, but it nevertheless seems to me that there is still some sort of crucial inversion, or at least (and perhaps better) reordering, of the process involved here.

3 comments:

  1. I was thinking along similar lines this morning: the failure of the BBC, Guardian, and other news outlets (except, bizarrely, the International Business Times) to acknowledge the fascist sympathies of many of the key players in the Euromaidan movement seems a prime example of such an inversion at work. Sure, many have emphasised that there are people from all across the political spectrum involved in the movement, and that fascists aren't leading it. I'd like to believe that, but the triumphant seizure of this movement by most of our mainstream media (as it ignores or demonises similar movements at home and abroad, when they are less suited to a neoliberal perspective) makes me wonder which power structures are really at play.

    (Disclaimer: I'm not siding with the Ukrainian administration, here - heavy-handed approaches to democratic protest are never the answer)

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  2. (which I realise is a somewhat divergent from the issue of lack of empathy with the protesters and those enduring the suffering, but there is another narrative here, and those unempathetically sharing images of destruction are listening to it)

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  3. Damn - I do have a very poor A-level in Latin but just couldn't come up with the right word!

    I do feel that the spectacle has replaced the messy complexity of the event. As James points out, there are some very sinister elements in the crowd, and media reports need to examine the multiple strands even if it means not having a clear and simple soundbite about who are the baddies and who are the goodies.

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