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The Entry That Really Lacks a Title...

Recently BoingBoing had an article on the first international conference on netporn criticism. They quoted Mark Dery’s keynote, where I read this paragraph that really got me thinking:

Can we be far from the future foretold by J.G. Ballard, where car-crash enthusiasts get off on vehicular manslaughter and fans of Space Age snuff thrill to footage of astronauts being roasted alive during re-entry? In the introduction to his 1974 novel Crash, Ballard wondered if the android numbness induced by media bombardment – the “demise of feeling” – would open the door to “all our most real and tender pleasures – in the excitements of pain and mutilation; in sex as the perfect arena…for…our…perversions; in our moral freedom to pursue our own psychopathology as a game.”

This strangely reminded me of a lot of stuff I have read during the last year. For one there’s Michel Houellebecq’s “Les Particules √©l√©mentaires” (English: “The Elementary Particles”, German: “Elementarteilchen”), where somewhere in the middle of the book a character (David di Meola) gets introduced, who has sex and violence mixed up in the most shocking ways one can imagine. This is presented as a logical and inevitable process, which is the consequence of the destruction of old moral values in the 50ies, 60ies and 70ies: Once this liberation gave people the freedom to satisfy all their sexual needs, they went on to satisfy their more basic and gruel phantasies. And suddenly, Charles Manson isn’t a shocking counterpoint to the Hippie movement, but its logical consequence…

Reading how Houellebecq describes the content of the snuff videos the aforementioned character produces, one instinctly also has to think about Pasolini’s Salo. Shortly after the first pictures of Abu Graibh surfaced, I read a commentary that compared the aesthetics of those pictures to the one which can be found in Pasolini’s movie (if only I could find that link again). And when you now think about how this whole incident was covered in the media, don’t you also have a feeling that there was a strange urge to go into the most unpleasant details and show as much gruel photos as possible? Sometimes I’m almost convinced that TV news have become a convenient way to sublimely satisfy the darker parts of our own desires.

And then, when I read some texts about critical theory, I found this paragraph about how we as a society are constantly trying to rationalize things in order to get rid of old myths, a process in which enlightenment itself becomes the ultimate myth. This dialectic between overcoming old structures only to rebuild them in what we perceive as more rational, really makes me wonder if we as a society are only doing this in order to find explanations that allow us to follow the desires of our more primitive selves in a way that makes more sense in contemporary society. Do we even want to evolve? Or are we only looking for excuses for not doing so?



P.S. Sorry for this pretty unorderly rant, I’m just in a strange mood today and hoped that writing may help. This apparently didn’t work out…

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