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(M, 49)
Philadelphia, US
Immortal since Jan 9, 2008
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  • Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    Since 11 Sept 2001 and the creation of the DHS which followed, some people (How many? I don't know) entering the US have been subjected to a variety of humiliations. Every Internet news savvy leftist and civil libertarian is familiar with stories of unwarranted detentions, deportations, odd "security" interrogations and so on.

    gladiators_mosaic2.jpg

    There is, for example, the recent experience of Erla Osk Arnardottir Lillendahl, a woman from Iceland who reports being shackled and denied food, water and rest for 14 hours and held for a total of two days after arriving at New York's JFK. Her apparent crime was overstaying her visa by a week or so...in 1995. Here's an excerpt from her blog entry describing the detention:



    I was completely exhausted, tired and cold. Fourteen hours after I had landed I had something to eat and drink for the first time. I was given porridge and bread. But it did not help much. I was afraid and the attitude of all who handled me was abysmal to say the least. They did not speak to me as much as snap at me. Once again I asked to make a telephone call and this time the answer was positive. I was relieved but the relief was short-lived. For the telephone was set up for collect calls only and it was not possible to make overseas calls. The jailguard held my cell phone in his hand. I explained to him that I could not make a call from the jail telephone and asked to be allowed to make one call from my own phone. That was out of the question. I spent the next 9 hours in a small, dirty cell. The only thing in there was a narrow steel board which extended out from the wall, a sink and toilet. I wish I never experience again in my life the feeling of confinement and helplessness which I experienced there.

    [...]

    Full (and I recommend you read it).



    Let's look beneath the story's immediate details and consider the mechanics.

    A woman is detained and treated as if she were a dangerous criminal (or, more to the point, terrorist) because of a twelve year old technicality. She's subjected to what sound like civilian-adapted versions of the "harsh interrogation" techniques used at Camp X-Ray. She's asked questions about her beliefs. Her jailers maintain an abrupt and harsh demeanor as if they're tough operatives working against the clock to uncover the location of a 'dirty bomb'.

    gladiators_mosaic3.jpg

    What is this if not a form of pornography?

    Someone - I believe it was a friend of Susana Breslin - recently said that pr0n performers are modern gladiators. The ancient Romans used gladiatorial games as, among other things, a method of vicariously experiencing the danger of combat: a danger they held in high esteem. Of course, the gladiators were actually fighting and dying but the circumstance (for example, the war against Carthage, re-staged in the Coliseum generations after the fact) was often a simulacrum.

    Porn is very much like this. The performers may or may not be experiencing pleasure but the circumstance - for example, the pizza delivery boy gifted with much more of a tip than he hoped for - is pure fantasy, a world in which vigorous sex can happen anywhere and anytime. Porn performers stand in for us, doing things many of us can't, or won't do.

    The sexual act is real: the setting, unreal.

    ...

    The DHS' creation was inspired by the fantasy that the US faced an imminent threat to its existence (and this is the key thing to keep in mind: not merely a new law enforcement problem, but an existential threat) which required the founding of a vast state apparatus. In truth, outside of contested hot zones and 'failed states', terrorist acts are rare and the total number of active participants small.

    What is there for a vast state apparatus to do?

    Incidents such as the story of Erla Osk Arnardottir Lillendahl reveal its true job: DHS, TSA and the entire "Global war on Terror" complex are elements of a new sub genre of government sponsored, live action security pr0n. The cruelty is very real, but the circumstance (the security allegedly being created via cruelty) is false, through and through.

    Lillendahl had no information to reveal; she concealed no perfidious plans. And yet, she was interrogated as if she held dreadful secrets which desperately had to be uncovered. She became a victim of a gladiatorial event which requires live participants to complete the fashioning of its simulacrum. The guards, the supervisors the rent-a-cops: all stand ready with nothing to do hour after hour except try to portray themselves as grim faced defenders of freedom.

    Empowered by their superiors to be arbitrarily vigilant (and with vigilance unofficially defined as cruelty and excess of zeal), it's inevitable they would select an unsuspecting person, guilty of a minor transgression or victim of a bureaucratic error, upon whom they could act out their false scenarios and dark fantasies.

    Those of us who are interested in crafting an alternative reality - or, as Obvious states, an alternative narrative - should resist the unreal masquerading as the real even as we dream to build what comes next.
    Wed, Jan 9, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: Desert of the real
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