Monday, February 22, 2010

Fetishizing Apocalyptic Aesthetics and the Veneer of Radical Politics


Part of 2012 Panel Discussion at ROYGBIV Gallery, February 22 8pm, by Cassandra Troyan


When faced with monumental catastrophe, we divert into absurdity with outlandish understatements, or inflate contemporary situations beyond comprehension with gross conspiracies and misconceptions of the truth. The Haiti earthquake was not the result of the Haitians doing a deal with the devil, or because someone test-detonated a soopah-seekrit Tesla weapon, or HAARP, but because Haiti is located above a hugely volatile tectonic area.

Our pragmaticism extends only as far as our desire to ameliorate current dilapidated situations does not interfere with upholding this present state of delusion. Our post-revolutionary condition recognizes the impossibilities of revolutionary change, thus our fear and complacency reverts to Twitter and blogging Activism.

This extends beyond the realm of politics as well. The art of today comments on issue so miniscule only those deeply entrenched within their own psyche show any interest, and academics have cloistered themselves so deeply inside tenured safe-holds, their voices appear only as hushed murmurs on narrow topics to the outside world.

Our generation is one that utilizes fantasizing about action as the action itself. Our American society is one that in the face of impeding doom everyone sits back docilely, and accepts their fate, while the death of two teenagers in Clichy-sous-Bois in 2005 can cause the entire nation of France to be in flames and an official state of emergency for 20 days.

We are contently enthralled with a numbing nostalgia, which encourages remembering for the sake of remembering. Facebook is flooded with fan pages that enthusiastically recall events and objects from less than a decade ago. The page for “If you remember the L’Oreal kids FISH SHAPED SHAMPOO BOTTLE!” currently boasts over 1 million fans in just a week after its creation. The liberal left opposition to the fanatical right considers movements to be as simple as expanding a fan base for the said cause, or choosing alternative unrelated animals as an end in itself.

“I have more Foreign Policy Experience than Sarah Palin
I Bet Buying Handmade can get More Fans than Wal*Mart!
I Bet We Can Find 10 Million People Who Support Same-Sex Marriage!
Can this poodle wearing a tinfoil hat get more fans than Glenn Beck?”

And even if the tinfoil hat-wearing poodle can have more fans than Glenn Beck on Facebook, Beck still has over 2.3 million viewers nationwide at any given time. When Glenn Beck speaks people listen, whether you think he is insane or a true American. Yet what happens when the poodle whimpers?

Conservatives have become so powerful by making themselves believe they are the trampled underdogs of the political world, and use that to bolster support from a frightened, and disenfranchised American people.

Jeffrey Jones, author of the book “Entertaining Politics,” said that Mr. Beck engages in “inciting rhetoric. People hear their values are under attack and they get worried. It becomes an opportunity for them to stand up and do something.”

We are presently paying that price by sitting on our asses, when we should be in the streets. Fanatics incite action. Liberals sit and wait.

“The truth is — that you are the defender of liberty,” Beck said. “It’s not the government. It’s not an army or anybody else. It’s you. This is your country.”

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