Cinematic Geopolitics (Global Horizons)

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While it is certainly possible to politically analyse films in isolation from their cultural-historic contexts, awareness of such contexts allows researchers to utilise cultural artefacts to their full potential. If we are aware of the historical conflicts that influenced current foreign policy decisions, why not also, as scholars of culture and politics, be aware of the historical films that influenced contemporary cinema?

However, in order to fully understand the cultural aspects of the study of Popular Culture and World Politics, it seems that the next stage is to engage critically and academically with cultural artefacts, cultural theory, and cultural history. Aufderheide, Patricia.

Bleiker, Roland. Davies, Matt.

Cinematic Geopolitics

Der Derian, James. London: Routledge, Dittmer, Jason. James Monaco. New York: Oxford University Press, Shapiro, Michael J. Cinematic Geopolitics. Global Horizons. These struggles sought to use the logic of subjectivation to organize militant self-consciousness, constructing an active, politically constituted subject or subjectivity that could counter the process of subjugation. In the domain of art, after the shifts prompted by the ruin of aesthetic-political representation manifested in philosophy as post-structuralist theory , artists developed conceptual art strategies that aimed to dematerialize the art object in order to resist its ever increasing status as a commodity.

Through institutional critique they began to question the conditions of art production, and through a pedagogy of viewership, they made art most notably video art that sought to counter the spectacle. Parallel to student and worker struggles in Europe, anti-imperialism and decolonization battles were underway in the third world, seeking to establish alternatives to Western capitalism. Cuba, China, Palestine, Chile, and Vietnam were key referents in the s.

By the s, however, the revolutionary anti-imperialist subject and project had been disavowed as a sort of aberration of decadent socialism, A new de-ideologized form of third-world emancipation, beyond the international division of labor and the figure of the worker as a politically self-defined subject, was foregrounded. But a new ethical humanism took over, replacing revolutionary and political sympathy with pity and moral indignation, transforming the latter into political emotions within the framework of human rights.

By the late s it manifested itself in the art world as biennials in marginal corners of the world, somehow fulfilling the multicultural utopia of globalization. Under the site-specific intervention model of the biennial, space came to be regarded as epistemically rich; delivering experiences or intervening in everyday processes took over from representation. Site-specific art sought to infuse social criticism into the everyday. As a moral statement, however, site-specific intervention became the limit of its own political effect.

Confined within the art world, it provided contrasts and pointed at potentials, yet fell short of modifying the background of political turmoil, and even caused epistemic violence to the site in question. Site-specificity had been liberatory insofar as it had enabled the displacing of essentialized nation-state identities and had introduced the possibility of multiple identities, allegiances, and new meanings. This was prompted by what Susan Buck-Morss described as a compensatory fantasy that responded to the intensified fragmentation and alienation of an expanded market economy.

With the fall of the Soviet Union in , the political horizon of communism as a promise, a utopia, an intellectual construct, and a political vision waned. Instead, it became a place and an event in actual history, a disastrous experiment manifested in totalitarian dictatorships.

From Anti-Imperialism to the Global Celebration of Difference

Within this framework, anticapitalists critiqued the failures of neoliberal governance from an array of different positions: democratic sovereigntists, anti-border libertarians, and the more traditional, union-oriented Keynesians. Antiglobalization protesters converged at gatherings of world leaders, most notably in Genoa , and at their own international conferences, like the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil that same year.

The multitude exists within the imperial rule of biopower, a form of social control that regulates and administers life from within, extending through consciousness, bodies, and the entirety of social relations. As opposed to taking over power and the means of production, as Marxism prescribed in the twentieth century, for Hardt and Negri the task of the multitude is to democratize the common s , exploit networks of social production with the purpose of achieving autonomy, and undermine the sovereignty of biopower.

The flesh of the multitude, however, embodies a series of ambivalent conditions that can become dangerous: social production can either lead to liberation, or be caught in a new regime of exploitation and control, feeding biopower. In parallel with the antiglobalization movement, artistic production veered toward anticapitalist politics, characterized by interdisciplinarity and the adoption of an array of countercultural positions and political affiliations, with the goal of creating autonomous zones, albeit symbolically.

For Hardt and Negri, the multitude has the desire for world equality, freedom, and a global democratic society, and it has the power to achieve them; but it has no discernible goals or agenda beyond opposing capitalism and appropriating production. The limitations of the antiglobalization agenda are illustrated by one of the actions performed within the framework of Yomango, a Spanish artistic project of social disobedience.

The Yomango project involved disseminating instructions on how to appropriate goods available in globalized stores, followed by gatherings in which the goods were shared. Designed to facilitate the redistribution of the commons, the action, however, obscured the international and thus imperial division of labor and the conditions of production surrounding the goods that the participants appropriated for themselves.

Following Brian Holmes, the antiglobalization movement ultimately faltered due to the cultural consequences of globalization, that is to say, the global success of American mass culture, which extinguished local cultures only to resurrect them in a Disneyfied form. The antiglobalization movement was also defeated by the very neoliberal program that launched it in the first place, which manifested itself as a military, moral, and religious return to order, a massive expansion of capital, and a worldwide clampdown on civil liberties.

In parallel with the antiglobalization agenda, a current in art production sought to experiment with different forms of collectivity and community beyond identity and processes of identification. Relational art of the s was the catalyzer for transient communal gatherings that sought to revive social relations and counter the alienation brought about by the spectacle. This form of art, described by Nicolas Bourriaud, envisioned the audience as a community and unfolds in the realm of human interactions, elaborating meaning collectively.

We can regard relational, participatory, and dialogical art practices as experiments with new models of social and political organization. These experiments emerged in the face of the fragmentation, the destruction of social bonds, and the alienation brought about by globalization. These practices also evidenced how art has become a form of experimental activity that overlaps transversally with the world through its flight into other disciplines, dispositifs, and regimes, with the purpose of addressing sociopolitical concerns. Participation, however, has its limits, as it is one of the forms of neoliberal governance and power.

Governance in this regard implies the creation of systems that enable administered or controlled inclusion through the fetishization of democracy. Discontent is placated. Participatory art, however, can be understood as an effort to experiment with ways to restore community links that have been destroyed or threated by neoliberal policies. It is not that the world or reality has been lost, but rather that our connection to and belief in them have been destroyed, and thus need to be saved.

Art can help. The role of this kind of art has been to experiment with ways to restore vital contact with the real, highlighting the current crisis of presence due to extreme alienation in the West. Apart from the complications attending the motivations for the search—Ethan, a not unredeemable racist, had sworn that he would kill Debbie because her long captivity had rendered her unfit to rejoin white society, while Martin was bent on rescuing her—I want to focus on the rearticulation of domestic coherence versus external threat that this scene effects.

While the adventures associated with the five-year search are proceeding, a domestic drama is unfolding. However, by the time they are sequestered in the cave, Ethan has come, 22 The new violent cartography ambivalently, to accept his family bond with Martin, even though he continues to insist that Martin is not his kin. The implication seems to be that Native America can be part of Euro America if it is significantly assimilated and domesticated.

Ethan effectively supports that domestication by ultimately bequeathing Martin his wealth. He has apparently discovered that part of himself that craves a family bond, a part that has been continuously in contention with his violent, ethnic policing. And on his side, Martin fulfills all of the requirements of a family-oriented, assimilated Indian.

He becomes affianced to the very white daughter of Swedish Americans, after he has rejected an Indian spouse he had inadvertently acquired while trading goods with Comanches. By becoming part of a white family, Martin is involved in a double movement. Visual analytics How then can we read this Afghan photo Figure 1. In this period, the Euro American military effectively had to defend a form of domestic life that existed on the same terrain as the battlefield. Among other things, the Munita image reflects the current preemptive policy of a nation displacing a domestic security problem on foreign turf.

To access that domestic life, in behalf of which this lone soldier sits on a dangerous vigil, from within the space of immediacy framed by the photo, we need an analytic that allows us to escape the confinement of the frame and effectively connects an element in the picture to parts of the absent world it can be seen to evoke. Two related options suggest themselves. To access this aspect of the photo, we have to seek elements that escape the control of its intended meaning. The second option articulates well with the first. Doubtless he is a U.

At the outset of his investigation of the history of the medical gaze, Foucault discerns three levels of spatialization. This broad, political, administrative, and professional collusion is deployed through an elaborate expansion of the primary and secondary spatializations of terrorism. Importantly, there are more than mere homologies between the tertiary spatialization of disease and that of terrorism. Thus, the secondary spatialization of terrorism like that of disease , its location in the body, has resulted in a body that is expanded well beyond its corporeal existence.

Bodies inside and outside, citizen and non-citizen, thus have enlarged silhouettes, shapes that extend to their financial, communicational, and informational prostheses. The recent publication Terrorism and Public Health applies the venerable medical strategies of epidemiology, a mode of medical knowledge that has for over a century produced an inter-articulation of medical and policing authorities, to the 26 The new violent cartography threat of terrorist biological warfare strategies. Thus unlike previous wars, the contemporary war on terror is deployed not only on a distant front but also on a home front.

As a result, a mapping of the current violent cartography requires an exploration of its dual spatial deployment. The distant front Given the elaborate network of agencies involved in the war on terror, it is clear that the home front is as much a target as are the distant ones. Moreover, on both home and distant fronts, there are technology-aided instances of hysterical perception.

Turning first to a telling instance in a distant front: in the fall of , shortly after the U. When first employed, the Predator Drone was an unarmed surveillance technology. Michael Moseley, the air force chief of staff, in September Whereas the industrialization of warfare, which peaked during the twentieth century, involved complex organizational decision making to shape the delivery of force on battlefields, contemporary infowar resembles some aspects of the historical trajectory of industrial production; the recottagization of production witnessed in such concerns as the Benetton corporation, which collects the products of many individual producers rather than relying on a factory system, is also apparent in the move to infowar structures.

Historical developments in weapons technology speak to a history of nation-state policy and, in particular, to a genealogy of sovereignty and sovereignty-related practices: productions of political space, epistemological orientations, and the biopolitical designation of qualified versus unqualified or dangerous versus benign bodies, especially those belonging to the friends and enemies of political entities.

Discourses on weapons therefore extend well beyond technological issues. As before, weapons design articulates the spaces of encounter. As a case in point, the American navy has announced a plan for a different kind of fleet. During the Cold War, the aircraft carrier and Polaris submarine patrolled in the spaces around the Soviet bloc. Now the plan is to resort to smaller craft with shallow draft. A report in the New York Times describes the design: The plan calls for 55 small, fast vessels called littoral combat ships, which are being designed to allow the navy to operate in shallow coastal areas where mines and terrorist bombings are a growing threat.

The plan calls for building 31 amphibious assault ships, which can be used to ferry marines ashore or support humanitarian operations. It is primarily the involvement of recruiting agencies that raises the question of the home front, the space from which vulnerable bodies will be drawn and, increasingly, the space within which domestic counterparts of external enemies are sought. A state of siege mentality is effacing the inside—outside boundary. For example, as 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 The new violent cartography 29 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 an instance of hysterical perception, an FBI fingerprinting laboratory identified a lawyer in Oregon as one whose fingerprints were found among the detritus of the train bombings in Madrid in And the FBI pressed its perceptions for some time, despite a rejection of their fingerprint data by their counterparts in Madrid.

The technologies deployed in the war on terror, which have been developed for the distant front, are sometimes operating on the home front as well. As was reported in the New York Times, on June 25, , unmanned planes known as Drones, which use thermal and night vision equipment, were used in the U. Ironically, given the participation of southwestern border patrol agencies within the Homeland Security network, much of the recruiting is aimed at those Hispanics who live on the margins of the national economy.

From to , the number of Latino enlistments in the Army rose 26 percent, and in the military as a whole, the increase was 18 percent. The increase comes at a time when the Army is struggling to recruit new soldiers and when the enlistment of AfricanAmericans, a group particularly disillusioned with the war in Iraq, has dropped off sharply, to The story continues: Sgt.

They also involve militarizing other agencies. It was intellectually shaped as a cultural institution whose task was to aid and abet the production of the nation-state, a coherent, homogeneous cultural nation contained by the state. Certainly the colonial period is significant. The university, like weapons technology, helped to consolidate colonial empires. For example, it was invented in Britain as part of a colonial pedagogy to subdue the Indian subcontinent culturally.

It articulated the idioms of political science with those of other social science disciplines, and partook of an undisguised, geopolitical partisanship. Beginning as a military-sponsored set of research teams, the national security state shaped the field, which soon migrated into academia, while nevertheless retaining its defense department and military funding. Some humanities scholars helped to make university space a supplement to Cold War geopolitics. To appreciate the extent of the collaboration it is worth scrutinizing the USC program, which assembles the military, the Hollywood entertainment industry, and the university into a cooperative enterprise.

For Hollywood, it is a form for filmmakers to contribute their knowledge and expertise to the daunting challenges of anti-terrorism and national defense. The lab [they note] is doing groundbreaking research in active range sensing, global illumination, reflectometry, dynamic simulation, human and facial animation, and real-time rendering. Recently, for example, investigative journalists discovered that the U.

Cinematic geopolitics

Part of the new violent cartography is to be found in the pages of many daily newspapers, often in feature sections rather than national and international news reports. Nevertheless, in recent months some of the independent media is asserting itself, rather than allowing its space to be incorporated within the new violent cartography. The violence that has emerged from contemporary practices of securitization and militarization is being contested in display spaces that function outside of the governmental controls that were exercised in earlier historical periods.

France installed the Austrian archduke Maximilian as the puppet monarch of Mexico in By , Napoleon decided that funding the French forces required to keep him in his position—in the faced of an armed, republican insurrection—was too costly and withdrew his troops. Being left without sufficient protection, Maximilian, who had in fact behaved for the most part as a humane and enlightened monarch, was captured and executed by a firing squad, along with two of his loyalist generals in Shortly after the event, Manet completed his first of four historical paintings of the execution.

However, because it was politically controversial, inasmuch as it displayed, graphically, one of the lethal consequences of the French foreign policy, visited on what many regarded as an innocent victim, it was denied entry into the Paris Salon, year after year. A picture that was perhaps a nineteenth-century equivalent to the images of a helicopter on the roof of the U. In contrast, not long after media publicity revealed the torture and humiliation of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the Colombian artist Fernando Botero executed a series of paintings of the atrocities committed against the Iraqis held there.

Shortly after they were finished, the paintings began traveling around the world, appearing first in Rome at the Palazzo Venezia beginning in mid-June and heading thereafter to art museums in Germany, Greece, and Washington, D. As I note in the Introduction, contemporary film festivals provide a venue for films with significant anti-violence and anti-war themes and cinematic styles.

Because his first choice of a best man cannot come along, Asif recruits another English friend as best man, Ruhel Farhad Harun. How does the film achieve its effective challenge to the U. Gulag at Guantanamo? It does so by confronting lies with truth. For those who try to achieve it, it is a technical one.

There is a need for some degree of simulation. And as the drama reaches Pakistan, the juxtapositions are between the hostile moments of capture versus the forms of sympathy and affection afforded by extended families and village communities. At a minimum, the recognition the film has achieved testifies to the role of film festival space, which is opening itself to images that disclose the violence and abuses of rights that constitute much of the new violent cartography that has been effected during the war on terror.

Such films, which have opened the way to cinematic challenges to U. However, perhaps the success of the art house-oriented anti-war films at festivals have had an effect on Hollywood. But film offers a version of realism that is also critical rather than merely warrior-vocational. Fact grows conditionally in the soil of an indeterminately present futurity. It becomes objective as that present reflexively plays out as an effect of the preemptive action taken.

Brian Massumi1 When are you going to believe what your eyes see and not what military intelligence tells you to believe? Accordingly, Foucault refers to: the rationality of calculations, strategies, and ruses; the rationality of technical procedures that are used to perpetuate the victory, to silence. It was a series of publicly offered, duplicitous rationales for an invasion by a government that went to war against nation-states when their actual antagonists were from violent extra-state networks. Those in power had created their own version of truth.

It is also important to recognize that film, and its extension in critical analysis, provides a political pedagogy that exceeds the dramas of individual lives. As many critics have pointed out, feature films, which invariably foreground the experiences of individuals and bring into view the individual consequences of violent collective dynamics, also articulate spaces and historical moments that transcend the events of individual encounter.

However, his films put him in danger because they disturb an authoritarian anti-violence policing institution. As a result, he is compelled to drop out of sight after surviving a murder-for-hire plot against him. But the drama surrounding Mike Max, who abandons his former life and hides by joining a more or less invisible group from the vantage point of his past lifestyle , the Mexican groundskeepers of his former estate, is only 42 Preemption up close intermittently in focus. It does not render itself readily available to the allegorical analytic applied by Jameson to Cold War-era conspiracy films, because its structure resists traditional narrativity.

However, her cleaning woman status is a cover for her actual job; she is employed by the anti-violence policy officials to spy on Bering. It is implied that it is her testimony that causes his death. Before she turns over the information that Bering is pursuing his discovery of a murder—an event of the violence undertaken by those involved in the policy to end violence—their relationship becomes sexual. Her surveillance role is clearly suborned. Working for the violent anti-violence officials is the quid pro quo for her protection from being sent back to her official enemies elsewhere.

If we assume that Mathilda is Salvadoran the most likely origin of Central American political refugees in the s , she would clearly need such protection. For example, in her autobiographical treatment of her experiences in El Salvador, Joan Didion reports the dire warnings about the dangers in El Salvador from her Salvadoran domestic employee: She spoke with considerable vehemence, because two of her brothers had been killed in Salvador in August of , in their beds.

Her father had been cut but stayed alive. Her mother had been beaten. Twelve of her other relatives, aunts, uncles, and cousins had been taken from their houses one night the same August, and their bodies had been found some time later, in a ditch. This singular, suborned body is a legacy of U. First, the panoptic all-seeing vantage point that Ray Bering operates in the Griffith Observatory, in order to facilitate a war on crime, reflects two dimensions of the nature of contemporary warfare. The preemptive dimension of the contemporary war on terror has a wellknown external dimension, realized in the preemptive attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq.

Less well known, but increasingly publicized, is a preemptive dimension of violence prevention on the domestic front, an issue central to the Wenders film. Contemporary preemptive violence prevention operates not with a panoptic gaze over a city but with a nation-wide wiretapping technology, coupled with the use of agents provocateurs. Aref, federal agents set up a sting. They used a suborned informant to ask Mr. Aref and a friend to launder money being used to buy shoulder-launch missiles, allegedly to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat in New York.

Aref and his friend have been jailed ever since. It takes us to the death and destruction rendered in the U. Cold War-motivated proxy wars in Central America. Bare life is vulnerable to injury and death; it can be killed without the killing being recruited under the rubric of homicide. Specifically and ironically , Mathilda is a person devoid of legal protection, an expendable pawn 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 Preemption up close 45 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 in an organization involved in eliminating violence.

Agents of the anti-crime unit, sent to kill her, pull back at the last moment.

The Ruin of Representation

The Icelandic sagas teach us that medieval Iceland had a singular way of identifying political affiliation and allocating legal protection. It was a function of family and hereditary attachment. However, legal identity was spatial. In medieval Iceland, a person was either inside or outside the law. The process of transition, of going from inside to outside, was juridically determined. Once declared an outlaw, the killer could be killed with impunity. Certainly, to be outlawed in Iceland was unrelated to a security problematic, such as that preoccupying the contemporary state.

It was a penalty designed to disconnect wealth and violence as well as to regulate inter-clan violence. But there was no centralized system of revenge. Retaliation for the alleged crime was strictly freelance; it was in the hands of the aggrieved parties and their allies. As a result, it was common for cycles of retaliation to develop and engulf almost the entire social order. The justice system of the modern state was designed in part to avoid the escalating cycles of violence that have occurred in pre-state political systems.

By monopolizing retaliation, the state monopolizes revenge. There are various ways to characterize the advantages and disadvantages of centralized state power. Certainly there have been salutary effects of juridical systems that have developed protections for those with territorial identities that fall 46 Preemption up close within state protection, among which are the rights of those accused of crimes.

And much of the corpus of political theory and analysis testifies to the way the state system is an improvement over the anarchy of systems in which individuals and groups were in charge of retaliation, and legal protection was relatively absent. The narrative describes such a system and testifies to a society that was torn apart by an escalating cycle of retaliatory violence that respect for the law could not contain.

At a collective level there is a displacement of the U. It comprised the rest of the known world. Now that imbalance is reappearing. As the juridical space within which the accused have protections against arbitrary arrest and injury shrinks, the spaces of incarceration and physical abuse proliferate. The anarchic violence of the pre-state system has returned as part of the exercise of state power. Whereas the Icelandic outlaw was perforce a nomadic wanderer who existed in an unprotected extra-legal status on the margins of the social order, the status of the contemporary U.

The contemporary U. The consequences of arbitrary, extra-legal detention become increasingly evident. It was the inevitable result of creating a netherworld of despair beyond the laws of civilized nations, where men were to be held without any hope of decent treatment, impartial justice or, in so many cases, even release.

It makes it into nothing other than a sign of its own rage. Everyone is perpetually engaged in acts of interpretation. They are busy interpolating themselves as, for example, citizen subjects, threatened species, guilty fathers, unappreciated working mothers, disappointed professionals, and so on. They are screening options well before they experience what is, for example, on-screen in a film. As a result, as Vivian Sobchack has emphasized, the phenomenology of the film experience unites the dynamic motions of both on-screen and off-screen bodies.

The impact of a critical film is a matter of its ability to disturb that already-initiated interpretive work rather than reinforce it, so that viewers can apprehend the extent to which they have labored within an anachronistic imaginary, an officially promoted illusion, or a merely partial mapping of a sinister world. I turn to a treatment of that film here, both to illustrate how a critical film functions to disrupt officially encouraged political imaginaries and to offer a version of the U.

Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U. Walter LaFeber expresses well the agonistic historical moment within which the film was inserted: The film Salvador, resembling the actual U. Above all, those memories revolved around the tragedy of the U. Benjamin Schwarz effectively summarizes that latter project: With the exception of its involvement in South Vietnam, America had never been so deeply and intimately involved in attempting to transform a foreign society that it had not defeated in war and hence did not control.

Whether the geopolitical stakes demanded that involvement and whether letting events take their own course would have resulted in even more atrocities can be debated. What is indisputable is that for a decade American policymakers in Washington and American civilian and military personnel in El Salvador consorted with murderers and sadists. Early forms persist rather than being completely displaced by later ones. The United States thus engaged in a proxy war—its signature mode of warfare during the Cold War—at the same time that it was involved directly in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: Officials said that the C.

The film stands as a counter-historical text to the attempt by policy makers to conjure away their complicity with one of the worst episodes of official murder and other violations of human rights. The truth value of cinema exists outside of what its characters say or see because it can achieve what mere human looking tends to obscure. While human sight tends to be ideological—for example turning the bizarre into the expected45— the movements and interrelations of images in films works to: put perception back in things because its operation is one of restitution.

Intentional artistic activity renders unto the events of sensible matter the potentialities the human brain had deprived them of in order to constitute a sensory-motor universe adapted to its needs and subject to its mastery. For example, Salvador begins as a combination road movie and buddy film, as Boyle and Dr. Rock character, who whines and complains much of the time about being exposed to danger, Dr. Rock as an 52 Preemption up close Figure 2. Rock, who is more or less accidently in El Salvador with Boyle and is unused to seeing violence, is the one who continually verbalizes directly, and without mediating and legitimating concepts, the pervasive and uninhibited violence that he and Boyle witness.

In contrast with Dr. And, at least at the outset, he is a self-interested cynic, trying to make a journalistic score. Nevertheless, although a very different type from Dr. Rock, Boyle is also an effective witness to the violence. It is a liar who delivers the truth of the events in Salvador.

To summarize briefly: Rick Boyle heads back to El Salvador, which is in a state of civil war, because his life is in shambles. But once the drama unfolds, Boyle-the-liar, whose manipulative behavior is aimed at personal survival, becomes the one who speaks the truth about the conduct of right-wing death squads and their official support by both the U.

During a debriefing with a U. He refers to the insurgency as a peasant revolution about which numerous lies are being told and goes on to refer to the U. At the outset of Salvador, Boyle seems oblivious to the violence, while Dr. Rock is the one who is jarred by the savage realities they encounter. When the two of them see a burning body as they drive into El Salvador, Dr. This truth-telling aspect of Boyle is contrasted with another character who has a different, vocation-related relationship to truth.

Pauline Axelrod Valerie Wildman , a television journalist whose major credential is being photogenic, is unambivalently committed to accepting and reporting official statements as the truth.


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For example, when a Salvadoran military unit rapes and kills a group of nuns, she espouses the official line that perhaps they had run a road block and drawn weapons. Although Boyle is well aware that this kind of legitimation for the U. Although Boyle is repulsed by the circumstances that have yielded the bodies he and Cassady photograph at El Playon, professional survival and recognition remain among his strongest motivations.

Each of them imagines achieving the same degree of celebrity by finding an equivalent shot. Thus Boyle and Cassady, like all the other Americans on the scene, screen the war not merely through right-versus-left versions of ideological commitment but also through their vocational practices. Only the Catholic sisters appear to engage with the victims selflessly but, of course, selflessness is also a vocational commitment in their case.

And Dr. Rock, who understands little of either the historical background or the present stakes but is continually shocked by both the violence and the way it is exploited by all parties, is the only one who offers disinterested statements about what is going on. Before he manages to leave the country, Boyle loses two people he is close to, Cathy, one of the Catholic nuns, who, along with several others is raped and killed 56 Preemption up close Figure 2.

Certainly, at a minimum, Boyle seems to shed much of his persistent cynicism at that point. However, to his credit, Stone never makes Boyle a full convert. Moreover, the dialogue tells only the part of history that Stone wants to provide. The spatial contrasts and their relationship to perspectives on the reality of the violence are especially important. Rock engage various characters involved in shaping the official frames within which the war is understood: Salvadoran military officers and politicians, and American diplomats, military, and journalists. For example, after Boyle and Cassady visit El Playon and that scene is followed by one in the tent where a human rights group is providing photos of the bodies for relatives, there is a cut to the Sheraton, where a swimming 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 Preemption up close 57 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 Figure 2.

Like most franchised environments—once you are in them, the singularities of the locales within which they are inserted dissolve—the Sheraton Hotel is a space of illusion. The realities of inequality, class status, and the processes of oppression are in suspension, as the only interactions one can see are polite conversations among a narrow segment of social and visiting constituencies and the consumption of food and alcohol.

The cinematic juxtaposition between the Sheraton as a space of illusion and the outer dynamic of violence and repression reinforces the verbalized illusions, as American diplomats, military personnel, and television journalists interpolate a class war into a case of an outside communist conspiracy. Interestingly, the development of the American franchise hotel chain was conceived, at least in part, as an anti-communist statement. Conrad Hilton explicitly remarked that extending his hotel chain to foreign turf was a Cold War statement as well as a rational financial venture: Let me say right here that we operate hotels abroad for the same reason that we operate them in this country—to make money for our shareholders.

However, we feel that what we are saying about liberty, about communism, 58 Preemption up close about happiness, that we as a nation must exercise our great strength and power for good against evil. We mean these hotels as a challenge. A politically relevant temporality as well as a spatiality emerges in that later cigar scene.

Harry Harootunian describes the Cold Warengendered forgetfulness of alternative histories that the cigar montage throws into relief: The massive polarization staged by the contest between the so-called free world and the totalitarian dictatorships—between democracy and MarxistLeninist communism—narrowed the compass of competing alternatives, forcing them out of the field of contention or encouraging their assimilation into one pole or the other.

The first takes place after the nuns are raped and murdered by Salvadoran national guardsmen. The second is the abovenoted moment when Boyle clasps the hand of his dying fellow photojournalist, John Cassady. These connections between Boyle and exemplary characters, one selfless and the other courageous, seem to help him bring out the repressed politicized and humanitarian self that had been hitherto over-mastered by the survival-striving self.


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  3. Account Options.
  4. The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Classic Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Problems.
  5. Boyle is ultimately a mobile subject. If one then recalls the trajectory of face shots of Boyle, it becomes evident that the shifty-eyed Boyle has been displaced more and more frequently by an ideologically resolute Boyle, whose face begins to register moral indignation and political purpose. But this time, instead of 60 Preemption up close Figure 2. What is registered in his new face emerges in his utterances. This is the point at which Boyle, the liar, has become Boyle the truth teller in both aural and visual registers. Along with the change in his facial expression is a change in the proportions of his discourse.

    Increasingly, a political commentary on the duplicitous U. However, the viewing audience is well prepared for the oppositional Boyle, because he is a subversive body from the beginning of the film. As a disruptive and disrupted body throughout Salvador—disrupting all personal relationships and the illusions of the U. He refers to: the cinematographic body [which] is no longer an object of film or knowledge; rather it is a model of knowledge via editing.

    Afflicted by what he sees, Boyle serves not to reproduce Cold War thinking but to provoke critical thought. And by juxtaposing spaces through cuts between the anesthetizing space of a franchised environment, where people are comfortably consuming hospitality, and spaces of violence and repression where people are suffering, the viewers are confronted with a massive crime of indifference and complicity because they too are afflicted by what they have seen. It should be recalled that the victory of the right-wing reactionary forces over the insurgency in El Salvador was not won only through the battles in the countryside.

    What was preempted, with a combination of U. As a result, little political opposition was left. Subsequently the United States used Uzbekistan as a surrogate jailer. Why provide such support? Apparently the violenceby-proxy that the Uzbeks supply trumps U. What kind of history does a Stone film provide?

    Robert A. Rosenstone supplies an appropriate thumbnail sketch. Surely not history as we usually use the word, not history that attempts to accurately reproduce a specific, documentable moment of the past. Yet we might see it as a generic historical moment, a moment that claims its truth by standing in for many such moments.

    Thanks to the archiving process by which films are preserved and are therefore available for ongoing viewing and critical commentary, that question remains open in each individual case. Once the world has achieved some distance from the violence associated with the current war on terror which is not simply targeted on those whose violence provoked the disproportionate and badly aimed reactions that have produced an overwhelming degree of death and destruction and have ignored the legal and ethical bases of human rights , one would hope that the victims are the ones that will rise above the threshold of historical recognition.

    In chapter 3, such issues of an ethics of recognition are foregrounded. Pavel made a certain cult of his father—of Alexander Isaev, I mean.



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