Monday, February 04, 2013


note taking at Jadaliyya
The Boltanski quote in context:
"This process, and only this process, saves suffering from insignificance (from the absurd, from nihilism, etc.). Once the fictional characters of the prosecutors and the benefactor have been dispensed with along with their illusory reflections, the enragé victim and the grateful misérable, suffering is looked at in the face and confronted in its truth, that is to say as pure evil. But it is by watching himself watching evil that the spectator can unmask the truth of evil within himself and thus accomplish the fundamental aesthetic process, aims at the nondiferentiation of objective and subjective."
Zero Dark 30 is about Americans not Iraqis. The subject is American suffering, seen in the imagination of Americans. If it were about Arabs it would be a Spielberg film, which means it would be offensive in its pretense to represent Arabs. But Boltanski misses Baudelaire's point. You can't collapse subjective and objective. If you could there'd be no need for art. ZD30 is an exemplary Baudelaireian artwork in its honest description of Americans by Americans. The question of the relation on 3 thousand dead to 5 hundred thousand dead is beyond the scope of the movie. But it's a much more important question than whether torture "works" No American foreign policy over the past 10 years has "worked." The author also quotes Frank Bruni. Here's the last graph from the article: "In the name of our democracy, we have long done and we continue to do some ruthless cost-benefit analyses and some very ugly things, to which we should never turn a blind eye." In the name of democracy but not in the defense of it.

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