"Matrix", Zizek and Besancon

Rob Schaap rws at comserver.canberra.edu.au
Fri Apr 9 22:33:51 PDT 1999

Doug quotes Zizek:

>"All this cultural stuff is a dead end. We look at some film noir and see a
>counterhegemonic subtext. Nonsense! We should be doing political economy

I like this bloke more the more of him Doug feeds us.

and Tavia suspects:

'Could you say that the only reason we feel motivated to have these sub/heg debates is because we really enjoyed and/or were moved by the movie, but we worry that if we enjoy a mass entertainment unreflexively, we become complicit with some industrial-technological-entertainment complex? If so, arguing the political merits and demerits of a film becomes prophylaxis: a way to participate in the enjoyment of the film while protecting ourselves against the legitimating effects of that enjoyment.'

I wouldn't like to make Mike Hoover cross (as I admire his posts on all things), but I think there's much to this. And there's good old-fashioned showing off somewhere in there as well. (I am reminded of that Ozzie art critic's - the one who wrote *The Culture of Complaint*, *The Shock of the New* and *Fatal Shore* [wassisname? Robert something?] note that Picasso's *Guernica* did nothing to prevent a thousand Guernicas - you could say the same for a *Schindler's List* or a *Saving Private Ryan*). Buffies and Matrices have nothing to do with anything that matters.

But we can't get upset about that, 'coz we don't either. I guess that's what should be making us cross.

And as for Besancon, Doug - you can see where he's coming from, but we have to be very careful. We have enough recent examples of lefties proposing entirely different 'truths', don't we? They get exposed on a relatively minor point of empirical fact, destroying their whole project in particular and a big chunk of the left's credibility in general.

That a kernel of truth usually underpins the greater lie is true. To deny that kernel is to risk giving the lie to one's greater truth, I reckon.

If it's Yugoslavia you have in mind here, I reckon a perfectly tenable argument can be made against NATO that need not even refer to the deeds NATO enumerated to justify themselves. We needn't deny their premises; we just take off from a different platform:


that strategic bombing on its own is murder without a point (you have all *their* history books to point to);

that evidence both leading up to the strike (failure to exhaust diplomatic options) and following it (failure to match the enthusiasm and commitment they evince in their bombing to help the very refugees in whose name they've been doing said bombing) point to either obscene stupidity or murderous deceit and opportunism (you have all *their* newspapers to poin to);

that a plethora of perfectly foreseeable effects definitively militate against the interests of *anybody* with whom a reasonable person could feel sympathy etc etc ... (you have *their* common sense to point to).

Hoist 'em on their own petard, I reckon (whatever that means). That way, you're coming from where those you seek to persuade are currently at, no?

Cheers, Rob

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