Sunday, October 16, 2005

love of blogs

Charlotte Street:
Equally, there are philosophers, thinkers, whose ideas do not, so to speak, bear repeating. To study Walter Benjamin’s Theses is one thing; to turn them on the present, to re-open what the book of canonisation has closed (but without mentioning Benjamin, without the dutiful nod), to take him at his word rather than simply ‘editing and annotating’ his words, this would have the scholars calling the police.

The accusation against Zizek (see comments thread here) is that this citation of Santner is somewhat disingenuous. Luther Blisset links to the actual Santner piece (2003, I think) which, it turns out, cites Zizek’s own Welcome to the Desert of the Real (2002) as support for his argument. It would appear then that Zizek is citing as an authority/source someone who is citing as a source/authority Zizek himself. John Holbo refers to this referential circle as a ‘Munchausen’ tactic. Zizek has used Santner as a “sock puppet” another commenter states, and adds with obvious glee that this is the “killer” point against Zizek, and a suitable cue to “dismiss” him as a “clown”. Draw your own conclusions. Of course, those who are interested in Zizek are perfectly capable of recognising the lazy or ‘clownish’ elements, without seizing on these as convenient escape clauses...

(Recall that Trilling is complimenting Forster for his liberal imagination; it brings to mind a joke of Terry Eagleton's that Carl once quoted to me—I hope I remember it correctly: The liberal imagines that there will still be chocolate-chip cookies in a thousand years.)

Are you a philosopher, then?, I ask W. No, he's not a philosopher he says. For a start, he doesn't know any maths. For a start, the pair of us know nothing about maths. What about that book about maths, I ask him, that's on your shelves. And indeed, there it is, the book on maths, on the shelves. He doesn't get very far, says W., just as he never gets very far with his ancient Greek.

The first half of the film argues fairly unambiguously and persuasively and even with a kind of passion that the action genre is the product of the sadistic imagination of sadistic, avaricious appropriators. That in this sense it is deeply anti-humanity. Then the action unwinds inevitably toward the 'But' to this Yes, its excuse, its forgiveness; the genre is in the end the giver of life, that which alone can nullify death, can infallibly punish the wicked and monstrously evil and reward the brave and good, the place of redemption and moral certainty for the rôle, the tabula rasa, that is humanity.

The Last Action Hero can't decide about action films, but it's indecision is its own theme and mode of production. It leans toward action films on several axes - of narrative, style, generic value-ordering - and strongly against them on the built-in 'values' liberal-interpretive plane. The film demonstrates, as if at a trade show for genres, the ideological flexibility of the action genre by having the narrative enact its othering and condemnation (in the inner, and fascist, fiction) and recuperation and redemption (in the outer, and liberal one) simultaneously.

A more thoroughly liberal gesture is unimaginable.

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