Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Leaching the Gore from War

Dear George,

Go ahead and bomb the shit out of Iran. The fringe left will bitch, but the truth is that the general public, rather than protesting will be entertained, because in their eyes, wars aren’t real.

One writer[1] explained why when he said:

Virtual reality has about it the character of unreality, of transcending the ordinary world and its common smells and sights, its limiting rhythms of birth, growth, decline, death and renewal. For Americans, the chosen people of advertising, technology, capitalist orthodoxy, and religious faith, the greatest triumph of virtual reality is war, the great unexperienced reality…War is an action game, played in the living room, or a spectacle on a screen, but, in either case, not actually experienced (Pg. 12)

Rummy’s greatest legacy is the creation of the bloodless war in which our troops are neither maimed nor killed. Embedded journalists stay on message; there are no flag-draped coffins; we see no images of the wounded being carried out on stretchers. Photographs of our children with their artificial limbs are viewed as little more that media graphics that accompany an advertising campaign for the newest commodity. The war costs nothing and requires no sacrifice in this virtual world. (No wonder, you spend no time with the grieving families who have lost a love one. It would make for a shitty photo-op because it would be too real.)

Meaning is drained from a life of compulsive consumption. As a real world fades, a virtual one seeps in to fill the vacuum. Reality falls away and all that is left is a fragile ego fraught with a pervasive anxiety that can only be soothed by a new toy or a blinking screen.

The further one sinks into the virtual world, the more frightening the real world becomes and the greater the need for virtual security. So the nervous drone expects the state to provide a security blanket, which the state does by gradually stripping away the drone’s liberties in the name of this virtual security.

The drone doesn’t care as long as the screen soothes with its blinking imagery and the drone can find comfort in the passive numbness the screen induces. Who needs meaning when one has make believe?

Wolin speaks of the “limiting rhythms of birth, growth, decline, death and renewal.” These rhythms have to place in a virtual world. Nothing is born, noting grows, nothing dies and, most importantly, nothing is renewed. There is only a flat-lined void that is a virtual eternity moving with the split-second eternity of the image dancing across the screen.

Empty lives can only be filled with imagery and make believe. As long as this is true, you can start as many wars as you like, because none of them actually happen.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones





[1] Sheldon S. Wolin. “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.”

2 comments:

thepoetryman said...

Empty lives can only be filled with imagery and make believe. As long as this is true, you can start as many wars as you like, because none of them actually happen.

Goddamn that hurts!

Case Wagenvoord said...

That's Fantasyland for you.