Monday, September 06, 2004

A place for innocence

"[In a corporate State, a place must be made for innocence, and its many uses. In developing an official version of innocence, the culture of childhood has proven invaluable. Games, fairy-tales, legends from history, all teh paraphernalia of make-believe can be adapted and even embodied in a physical place, such as at Zwölfkinder. Over the years it had become a children's resort, almost a spa. If you were an adult, you couldn't get inside the city limits without a child escort. There was a child mayor, a child city council of twelve. Children picked up the papers, fruit peelings and bottles you left in the street....child police reprimanded you if you were caught alone, without your child accompanying. Whoever carried on the real business of the town--it could not have been the children--they were well hidden.]"

--Thomas Pynchon, _Gravity's Rainbow_, 419

"[After September Eleventh, anecdotes about innocent children gained measurable value, beginning immediately with the piggy-bank anecdotes. As a market, multifarious desires drive the stock of children higher, yet each piggy-bank anecdote functions as a miniature Zwölfkinder where innocence is produced around the state exigency. Like Zwölfkinder, these anecdotes are mediated by various desires that coalesce around the children that star in them. Though they serve the state's desire for an innocence that would let it wage war with impunity, these anecdotes are of course not state-issued, nor do they directly serve the state's interests. Rather, the stories are more directly mediated by various public, institutional, and journalistic desires that can all take their pleasures in the same nexus of childhood and innocence, as the wildly diverse interests of Chaucer's pilgrims once found fulfillment in the same pilgrimage. The journalists that press the acts of specific children into a predictale form do so because there already exists a public market for patriotism, sentiment, stability, and perhaps even for a willful blindness to the actions of its state. Organizations such as the Red Cross have something to gain in the market as well. These institutions take their pleasure on the anecdotal dimensions of charity while the journalists take theirs in the consumption of the stories. Once again, the public and the state invest their various desires for stability in the object of their children. State and public look up lovingly over the shoulders of their children and their gazes meet, though their fantasies are different...."]

-David Rando. "Reading Gravity's Rainbow After September Eleventh: An Anecdotal Approach." PMC magazine.

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