Thursday, May 11, 2006

Time Off! or, What is the Future?

Just scanning the front page of The New York Times brings such joy to my world, especially when the "Quotation of the Day"--"The future, what's that?" from an ex-hunter/gatherer who has just left the Colombian bush--complements/contrasts/conflicts/confounds the first of the op-eds (by David Brooks, no less) entitled "Don't Worry, Be Happy." No, he (or the editor) gets no points for lack of originality/creativity (although it certainly pays Brooks' bills, no doubt), but the synopsis/summary is priceless: "The smartest [sic] people in both the Democratic and Republican parties have shifted attention from the past to the future...." When it comes to the future (if there is one), I'd trust the ex-bush man (no pun intended) any day over those others.

For those who might be interested, here is a brief excerpt from each of my two term papers:
Il est temp! Baudelaire's Logic of Time and the Memory of the Present

In his 1984 The Painting of Modern Life, T.J. Clark introduces the banlieue as the site at which not so much the urban and rural merge as rather the urban and rural dissolve into non-spaces. There is an analogical relationship between the banlieue and Baudelaire’s logic of time, where the fleeting impressions of contemporary Paris dissolve on the periphery of the solidity and permanence of his memories of Old Paris, so that these two timeframes dissolve into non-times (the infinite). Baudelaire offers his own map of time with three distinct "tenses": the past (which is accessed by way of memory and nostalgia), the unstable and contingent present (Paris under Haussmannization), and the eternal, which exists outside of (human/earthly) time.
Tongues of Fire: Articulations of and against Terror

Regardless if resistance could have a truth claim, we are still faced with the issue that terror-power does generate its own knowledge, and any knowledge conjoined with terror (or, terror-knowledge) is little more than an articulation of terror itself. What good is a terror-knowledge if one of the new forms of behavior is (only) suicide? Does that form of resistance to terror-power ultimately mean anything? Drew’s insistence that he captured a moment in the jumper’s life seems little more than word games when faced with the moral magnitude such questions generate. Of course, we want to believe that the jumper exercised self-determination and agency, just as we would like to believe that Benjamin’s suicide somehow prevented the Nazis from their own (purely) negative exercise of power. Unfortunately Foucault does not address these issues. Nor does he flesh out his model of power to where the issue of resistance is perfectly intelligible. For example, if power always and necessarily substantiates resistance, then are we not caught somehow in a type of infinite feedback loop created by various powers and their resistances (or counter-powers)? Would the jumper’s resistance to terror-power (his suicide) automatically mean the jumper is complicit with the hegemonic power of the US? I think Borradori’s definition of terror offers a way out: the “essence of terror is not the physical elimination of whomever is perceived to be different but the eradication of difference in people, namely, of their individuality and capacity for autonomous action” (7). Terror necessarily effaces agency. If this is the case, then perhaps we can conclude that the uniqueness of terror-power/terror-knowledge lies in its utter inability to conjure up any meaningful form of resistance, whether individually or collectively.
Yeah, I didn't think so.

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