Wednesday, August 25, 2010

reading war

...the permission to abstract from nature that print created is why we have such a terrible culture crisis. Because, well, a trivial example, it was said, by Marshall McLuhan, strangely enough, that the Vietnam war could not be won the way an ordinary war is won, because the citizenry couldn’t tolerate the sight of what war was, and modern warfare became impossible when it could be televised into the living room, because war is something that you must read about, you must not see it, it must be this grand thing of the distant clash of armies and young heroes being created, but when it turns into amputation and maggots and screams of pain, the political fund goes out of it. So war is therefore a literary activity, and the one argument that can remain in television’s favor, is people don’t like to see images of violence. If we have to show so much violence on television, let it always be real. The violence is only indefensible, when it’s vicarious. If it’s real violence, you need to see it, because it’s happening in a world for which you have a partial moral responsibility. I think warfare has been remade by media in that sense. A lot of politics has been remade, because imperial doings are usually ugly, brutal, and not something you’d want to exhibit before the populace. And yet modern media makes that very difficult to avoid...

-Terence McKenna