Thursday, 6 November 2008

"Star Wars in Iraq": Zeus energy weapon

Incredibly this weapon uses the same name as the "Zeus Cannon" featured in the movie Final Fantasy (I keep coming back to that earlier William Gibson quote about the difficulty of writing science fiction because it is now colonising reality). For some, this might be a story to put in the Kode9 files. I was interested in not only the possible applications in theaters of war, but also as part of an Urban Pacification Program (as per the Weyland Yutani corporation in Alien, albeit not particularly "biological" in its focus).
This dystopic reading is certainly necessary, although it is equally striking how its antidote can be found in unexpected places. For example, reading last night about the making and cultural legacy of Night of the Living Dead, I discovered that the black lead actor, Duane Jones, had insisted that his character be killed, as he thought this would meet the expectations of black audiences. This was confirmed shortly thereafter when Martin Luther King was assassinated. But here I was reading this on the night that Obama was confirmed as the 44th president! I felt his speech was long on agency, and short on structural references, as might be expected given the strength of his liberal convictions and the highest voter turnout in decades. Indeed, it was this characteristic that I found made for a stark comparison with the Republican side, who more closely resembled the kind of machinic pathologies in Michael Powell's version of The Tales of Hoffmann, which had originally inspired Romero to make his film (right down to its scenes of graphic dismemberment). Hence I see Powell's film as a morality tale warning of the appearance on the historical stage of a new era of machine politics, which drives the development of weapons such as Zeus: John McCain as Spalanzani, with Sarah Palin his automaton, Olympia. Of course, the electorate are allegorically represented by Hoffmann. The beauty of the representation of violence in this context though, as described by Romero himself, is that "the most important thing about horror and sci fi is to not restore order...We don't want things the way they are or we wouldn't be trying to shock you into an alternative place." Hence the violence is really about being held accountable for one's actions. By extension, Night is not a conservative representation of the failure of revolution, with the repressed past rising up to eat the future before a progressive alternative has time to take hold; it is clearly not that.
However, some clarification is seemingly required in regard to where the traditional reading may be more suitably applied. If not to Romero's film, then where? For example, is it possible that the dystopic machine politics of the Republican party are not alone? Perhaps also in proximity to the "silent majority" reading of revolution (albeit unintentionally in many instances) would be the tendencies of the Continental philosophy blogosphere (already critiqued on this blog), at least to the extent it equates to an almost zombie like paralysis of will? Therefore I am eagerly awaiting Derridata's deconstruction of Badiou's reading of "capital"...

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