05 September, 2006

notes, quotes, & news - "I'm a wrecker"

In Propaganda, Le Colonel Chabert reads crime and threat as racist propaganda tools, takes apart a BBC 'documentary' on the fate of prisoners during and after Katrina (many of whom were in pre-trial detention, i.e. 'innocent 'til proven . . .') and shows how the roles and narrative are pre-determined -- wrapped in a familiar myth of the frontier. "It's a western." The program takes the themes of the contemporary urban crime drama, depicting its form of the 'lawless' frontier (think of The Wire, The Shield, The Sopranos), draws on the viewer's familiarity with the genre, and raises it to the hyper-reality of faux-documentary, to be consumed as easily as any sweetly flavored drink. It's a frontier of the psyche as much as the street.

. . . a series of images that is really worthy of Goebbels. Not found footage - staged, set up, shot to the purpose. In black and white, to confuse you, the sequence begins with a door, half the handle covered by water. Then shadowy shoulders and heads of black men moving slowly through this water. Ominous music. Prisoner testimony over it. The reference is so clearly 'jungle' and 'stalking savages' it's hard to believe they got away with shooting it deliberately and inserting it like this. [snip]

A man is carrying a garbage bag. These must be the dark forces of Katrina, the killer, the chaos, this White Lawman has come to bring to heel. [snip]

The unbridled, unhesitating exploitative callousness of this image use and manipulative/referential audio is positively breathtaking. The deftness with which it is transforming evidence of a story the programme does not want to tell, but wants to conceal, into the props of a story it prefers, an older, mythic story, an untrue story that persuades by cues and clues, inference and allusion, is reminiscent of the masterful Kosovo propaganda of Christiane Amanpour.

See also Crime, which has these nuggets:

The story of men locked in cells and left for days as the water rose is transformed into the story of how those men almost, might have, could have committed terrible crimes against you. Containing and controlling this dark violence is the tension of its narrative. [snip]

This trope of crime and threat should remind us of Nazi propaganda. That it is far more versatile and artful, far less static, that it can shuffle and reshuffle and deal the old dark black threat from traditional American racism or the new swarthy terrorist semitic threat or a host of others, deftly and without your seeing anything, shouldn't blind anyone to the tradition at work and the function this discourse - its not really a discourse, this light show, this barrage of images as stimulus - is serving....

Excellent reads, both.

innocent 'til proven . . .

. . . during the hurricane, the inmates of the prison system here in New Orleans were not evacuated. They remained in custody at the jails in the central city part of New Orleans, which was flooded. The conditions that they remained in were horrendous. When they finally were evacuated, they were evacuated throughout the state. Those inmates remain throughout the state. When they were evacuated, their records were not taken with them. They were taken to different facilities throughout the state, Department of Correction facilities, as well as local parish facilities, local jails and their -- who they were, where they were, what charges they were being held on, all that information was lost. It was not transported with them.

. . . those people still remain out throughout the state of Louisiana, and we are still finding people every day who have not yet been to court, who have no lawyer representing them, whose interests have not been protected. They have been through horrendous experiences, both in the evacuation -- they have no idea where their families are, many of them. Their families don't know where they are. And what's unfortunate is, a year later, this situation still exists.

. . . the public defenders’ office went from an office of approximately 42 part-time public defenders to an office of four. You're talking about an office of four lawyers, who in theory represent all the indigent criminal defendants in Orleans Parish. And that number, the number of people in the jail, when it was evacuated, was approximately 6,500 people. So you're talking about four attorneys who are representing 6,500 people.

--Katherine Mattes ("law professor at Tulane University and deputy director of the university's Criminal Law Clinic") on Democracy Now! (8/29/06)
[updated 9/6/06]

"The real reason of the increasing violence in the Middle East is the return to imperial control and foreign occupation half a century after the European colonial empires were broken up. This is the fuel for Islamic militancy. This is why fanatical but isolated Islamic groups can suddenly win broader support. Governments allied to the US and Britain have no legitimacy. The attempts by America and Britain to crush Islamic militancy across the Middle East are making sure it will become stronger."  Patrick Cockburn

. . . that older poem of John Ashbery's - "America" - with the pun "I'm a wrecker" Interview with Anne Waldman

Pierre Joris on the late Ed Dorn & the Apache (who surrendered 120 years ago today) in "Recollections of Geronimo":

The longest continuous run
of external resistance:
the Apache Wars.

Without significant intermission
from the Seventeenth Century onward
can only be attributed to
the superiority of Native
over Alien Thinking.

--from Dorn's Recollections of Gran Apacheria, (1974)

in Gaza:  Beside especially severe burning "down to the bones", the doctors say that, in other cases, internal organs have been ruptured without any obvious sign of shrapnel wounds

in the race to proliferate:

Snubbed by US, Pakistan Doing Nuclear Deal With China
(Antoaneta Bezlova, September 4, 2006 - Inter Press Service)

Using its domestically built reactors, China has already completed a 300 Mw nuclear power plant in Chashma in Pakistan and is constructing another of the same size there. [snip]

Beijing aims to sign a deal in November that will see China helping Pakistan build six nuclear power plants with an installed capacity of 300 Mw each. The agreement will be inked during a visit by top Chinese leaders to Pakistan, bringing the South Asian country a step closer to meeting its target of having 8,000 Mw of nuclear power capacity by 2025. [snip]

In March this year, China's State Council approved a blueprint for the country's long-term nuclear industry development, which embraces the nuclear solution as a clean energy alternative. The document sees the expansion of nuclear energy as the most practical option for diversifying from heavily polluting coal-fired plants and Middle Eastern oil. link

Helene Cixous suggests that "[t]he border makes up the homeland. It prohibits and gives passage at the same stroke." Rusty Morrison


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