Monday, May 2, 2011

on the occasion of the assassination of bin laden.

everyone seems obsessed and maybe a little haunted by bin laden and his death.  his assasination is no attrition or redemption or justice, it is no testament to america's power. it is the end of a cycle of propaganda. bin laden is  by now deified (to use a christian term), declared a righteous martyr, and replaced not by body but by a body of ideals dessminated across a huge sect, a following.  bin laden is a symbol, and a symbol is an abstract and ironic thing. a symbol is only as powerful as the energy asserted by others.  he is a cult of personality.  a plastic thing.  to some he is a folk hero: a trotsky (assasinated), che (assasinated), a siddhartha, a guthrie.  to others he is an embodiment of pure evil.  posters portray a face of terror, display horror and atrocity and murderous contempt.  they neglect his dimensionality as a prodigal son of saudi aristocracy. they neglect what al queda may have done to improve things (if anything, if nothing).  he is no longer a man, he is a Symbol.  and i say leave him a symbol, just a symbol.  a cycle of propaganda. . . an act of war, a brutality, a target. (the language of propaganda is the language of war.  rhetoric.  the war of language.)  the ideals and energy and symbolism of bin laden is a power-narrative pushed against a face now decaying beneath a massive news camp (perhaps it should be broadcast in latin like traditional catholic prayers, or hebrew like judiac readings, perhaps we should display images of schoolhouses destroyed by missiles).  in the end, there is only force and consequence and retalliation.    there is only the abstract notion of who is a terrorist and who is an avenger. and while i do not subscribe to al queda thought nor bin laden's philosophies and means, i am wholly unconvinced that this is a great day in history.  just the end of a cycle of propaganda on which another cycle will begin.  there is no spiritual principal at work here.  
the one good result may be that our military can return home.