IN THE RUINS OF THE FUTURE DELILLO PDF

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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Marco Abel. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. Resistingthe demandto speakwith moralclarityand declarewhat the event means, his essay instead shows thatresponseis always a ques- tion of response-ability,or the ethical how.

What DeLillo's response thus teaches in May Harron'sfilmadaptationof it [Angelaki: Foregroundingthe style-the ethical how-of responseslows down Journalof the Theoretical Humanities, the impetus to declare what an event is. He is workingon a book-length be voiced-represented-by the perceiving subject. And since truth,as study, tentativelyentitled "Seeingwith- Nietzsche teaches,mainlyoperateson a moralregister,the demandto say out Vision:EncounteringImages in the what's what is inevitablya demandfor judgment,for affirminga correct Age of DigitalProduction.

Deferraldoes not mean to step outside, as if one ever could fully escape Theworldis, quitesimply,beforeit is somethingto judgment's clutches. Rather,to defer is to sus- be condemned. Asking how the event works and what it does creates a suspenseful rhythm that might DeLillo's style of response does not occur in a slow down the rapidspeed of judgment-not to vacuum. Suspendingthe event to deferjudg- the Frenchcineast Andre Bazin once conceptu- ment is not avoiding taking a stance;rather,it is alized in termsof an ontophenomenologicalthe- takinga stancethat,paradoxically,is no stanceat ory of cinema.

Bazin advocates a film aesthetic all. As opposed to position takingthatpresumes mainly relying on the long-shot, deep-focuscin- the speakingsubject'sperceptualmasteryof the ematography characteristic of the neorealist event, which is then affirmedas a generality, as mise-en-scene.

Counteringearlierrealisms, es- the rightway of seeing or representingit, a stance pecially Sergei Eisenstein'sinfluentialtheory of as suspension puts the capacity to perceive at dialectical montage, as "makingreality the ser- stake. Suspensionconstitutesan immanentmode vant of some a priori point of view," Bazin fa- of response that heeds the event's "irreducible vors a cinematic aesthetic stance toward reality singularity" Baudrillard , whereas judgment that artfully responds to the world image in its begins from outside the object or event to be "wholeness" 64, In contrast,the neorealistvisual timately concerns the limits of perception as a process of abstracting images actualizes from concept.

Whereas phenomenology begins and the event modes of seeing that take the event ends with conceiving the subjectas the locus for elsewhere:seeing as a rhetoricalactualizationof and horizon of perception, Bazin theorizes the futurityratherthan a perceptivecapturingof an limit at which the perceptiveact transmutesinto event's inherent authenticity,which is then of- an act of seeing-a mode of response to the fered for judgment; seeing as an experimental world that,in Bazin's hands,puts the perceiving mode-not as creative discovery of what is but subjectat stake.

However,"inhering"does not connote a phenomenology,"which holds a "moreontolog- previously existing authenticityof the event so ical position than an aesthetic one" 65, As Claire Colebrook argues, "[A]ny specific Thus, an aesthetic stance that responds to the point of view is not a point of view overlooking event a subject encounters must be considered some object world, but a proliferationof points, first and foremost ontological.

Yet, at the heart a pre-personalfield of singularities" She of Bazin's answerto the question "Whatis cin- writesthat,consequently,"perspectiveand point ema? Style is not the ex- the way it is made to be viewed through pression of the humanpoint of view; the human artifice. For Bazin, the ontology of seeing con- is an effect of a certain style" For Bazin, sists of myriad modes of seeing.

These modes, the event does not containa truthto be un- or re- or force relations, continually become image covered. Hence, abstracting cliches from the events that eventually manifest themselves event to push it to its extreme limits necessar- throughhow specific subjected viewers actual- ily precedes the need for structuring images ize- are made to see-them.

Hence, if cinema through dialectical montage. Whereas Eisen- desires to encounterreality,it has no choice but stein assumesan a prioriemptinessof the screen to begin from within the acts of seeing.

Bazin thatmust be filled with dialecticallyorderedim- can thereforeclaim that the neorealist aesthetic ages arrangedfrom a preexistinghumanvantage stance "knowsonly immanence" This aes- point, Bazin's cinema thought implies that the thetic stance begins and ends in the middle, po- screen virtuallyis filled with images even before sitions the act of viewing amid the event's force the film projectorplays what the camera's eye relations, and, leaving the act there, tries to ha- has artfully"captured.

The one thing Stories tries ment "can only be achieved in one way- to avoid is recourseto the incomprehensible,or throughartifice" Bazin Cinema must aes- the sublime. Whereas the sublime names for theticallyextractone of the world'smost consti- Kant the thing in itself, which transcends and tutive material processes-acts of seeing.

For them, the impossi- across as "being there"almost too much, in the bility to experience the thing is the thing in sense that the film's images capturethe moment itself in its radical negativity. Accordingly, the of terrorso well as to foreclose response-ability problemwith representationis not, as it was for that does not begin and end with what the view- Kant,thatit reduces reality that,e.

The film offers for not be representedjustly but thatit allows for a our perceptionimages thatdo not furtherour ca- positive entity to exist beyond phenomenalrep- pacity to see the event in a manner different resentation i. At in representation.? Ultimately, however, the film seems to cause when it is merely an effect of a series of reinforceratherthantransform,perhapsbecause forces acting on one another.

It does are apparatusesof capture that assign sense to not see that,as Deleuze puts it, the "differencein an event in accordance with the type of forces the origin does not appearat the origin-except, that produce these representations. Conse- perhaps,to a particularlypracticedeye, the eye quently,for DeLillo as well as Bazin, the critical which sees from afar,the eye of the far-sighted, task is to render visible the acts of seeing that the eye of the genealogist" Nietzsche5.

Producing realism to render visible the phor. While his "reflections on terror and from withinthe image event insteadof imposing loss in the shadow of September,"as the essay's itself on it. Yetthe essay does not avoid montage; subtitle states, alternate in eight sections be- rather,its splicing together of various images, tween more abstract,perhaps more "properly" stories,and styles of narratingthe eventprovides essayistic musings and detailed, almost impres- an artificial means to serialize the ontological sionistic imaginary?

In the Ruins of a Point of View: Unlike the dialecticaldesireto perceive-or capture-reality representationally to alterit, De- Suspending Plots Lillo's narrativestrategyintervenesin the world Plots reduce the world.

Indeed,the essay ality into different impressions of equal value, is overtly preoccupiedwith the question of how which combine in a speculative series: this hap- to narrateand thus see the event. Note, for in- pened and this and this and DeLillo's be perceived in the event's endless televised im- essay even invokes the need for us to respondto ages-images that through their proliferations the event by rewritingit.

The cold war narrative firstintensifiedthe public'saffectiveresponsesto favoredby the Bush administration"endsin the a point of utter confusion "Whathappened? Bush's "theevil ones". Operatingalongside and There are a hundredthousandstories criss- within television's powerful perceptualappara- crossingNew York,Washington, andtheworld. Therearethe doctors'appoint- instead allows the event to emerge with a "crys- mentsthatsavedlives,thecell phonesthatwere talline ambiguity,"to use a phrase Lawrence usedto reportthehijackings.

Storiesgenerating othersandpeoplerunningnorthoutof therum- Weschler once ascribed to Art Spiegelman's blingsmokeandash. Menrunningin suitsand graphicnovel Maus qtd.

As Deleuze glosses Go- We need them, even the common tools of the dard's slogan "Pas une image juste, juste une terrorists, to set against the massive spectacle image," "[A] 'just image' is an image that ex- that continues to seem unmanageable,too pow- actly corresponds to what it is taken to repre- erful a thing to set into our frame of practiced sent; but if we take images as 'just [a series of] response," or what he later calls "slant of our images,' we see them precisely as images, rather perceptions" , The ultimate task is than corrector incorrectrepresentationsof any- to alter "ourframe of practiced response.

Speaking for others both kinds enact their response-ability to show too often serves as a disguise for speakingone's how intensively inhabiting-suspending-an own point of view, thus eradicatingthatwhich is event can bringethicalresponsibilityto it. It alternates cally affects his readersby not allowing them to between what appearsto be a dialectical move- trust any of his narrativevoices as qualified to ment of impressionistic close-ups of the event do justice to the event.

Ostensiblynonfictionthat and distanced,intellectualanalyses of what hap- generically requires the writer to tell it as it is pened-but withoutever arrivingat a resolution or, in any case, not to make up stories , it com- of this movement. But even in this firstsection, tive dialectics," which proceeds "immanently" the third-personaccount is alreadycomplicated Dialectics 5 or chiasmatically, casting event by its explicit juxtaposing of different narra- and response as immanent to each other.

Terror'sresponseis a into the event's materiality. It is our lives tive relay that provokes responses including andmindsthatareoccupiednow. Wemayfind called first world, the situation, at least from that the ruinof the towersis implicitin other a United States standpoint, has now crucially things. ThenewPalmPilotat finger'sreach,the stretchlimousineparkedoutsidethe hotel,the changed.

Although the United States continues midtownskyscraperunderconstruction, carry- to circulate images-at a greater pace than ing the nameof a majorinvestmentbank-all ever-DeLillo writesthatit is now "[o]urworld, hauntedin a way by whathas happened,less partsof ourworld,thathave crumbledinto theirs, assuredin theirauthority,in the prerogatives which means we are living in a place of danger theyoffer. Sec- The other has already become other to itself: it tion 2 of the essay narrates a different kind now percolates in "us" and our technology, ef- of story.

Instead of affirmingthe dialectical us- fecting transformationsin "us"that cannothelp versus-themrhetoricthatwas encroachingon the alteringthe possibility of eradicating"them. The event pushing a supermarketcart,"is not affected by has, in a certain sense, brought back tribal the "sightof a womanpushinga stroller,"because forces, but this reintroductionof tribalpower is, "hedoes not see her" 34; my emphasis.

Incom- as Michael Hardtand Antonio Negri's Empire prehensibleto most of "us,"the terroristdoes not illustrates,not so much a returnas an intensifi- see the woman and is thus not touched by the cation of globalization.

Globalization is not image-because he exists in a narrative"format" opposed to what media punditsdemeanas "me- andmood thatdifferfromours Whereasour dievalism," nor is it a progressive movement narrativeformathas a logical plot thinkclassical away from medievalism. On the contrary,glob- Hollywood cinema , the terrorist pursues the alization is infused with and affected by me- "apocalypse" 34 -a narrativewhere logic and dievalism, constituting its most intensified understanding,or knowledge, have no purchase moment yet: the global self is always already on the event.

Thus,DeLillo's narrativeintimates, the tribalother going global. The event cannotbe reducedto an atmos- our self. The other bypasses us. The terrorist's phere of mass paranoia a la X-Files narratives self is alreadyotherto ourconceptof the self; the in which the main charactersmust always fear terrorist'sself is non-self-identical: the I of the that their bodies have been injected with alien self is alwaysalreadyan-other.

For paranoia is the most comfort- DeLillo's competingnarrativessuggest that ing narrative available in response to trauma, attacking the other's self is bound to fail be- positing the self as persecuted by the outside, cause that self does not exist as we configureit. Recourseto plot as reducethe world" DeLillo's essay does not plot an explanationthat would offer readers a safe reconstitution of the world; instead, the In the Ruins of Analogy: essay indicates that plot constitutively partakes Suspending Likeness in the problem, as a "vision of judgment" pre- Theeventitself has no purchaseon the merciesof ceding the event And what else is judg- analogyor simile.

DeLillo's essay reduces the ously teaches this last point. For while we as eventto its most intensifiedmoments,abstractsit: readers are inclined to believe that the essay's initial third-personaccountis reasonablyobjec- Thecellphones,thelostshoes,thehandkerchiefs tive, the essay quickly underminesthis impres- mashedin thefacesof runningmenandwomen.

Section 4 narratesthe story of Karen and Theboxcuttersandcreditcards. Thepaperthat came streamingout of the towersand drifted Marc, whose first names are the only ones used acrosstheriverto Brooklynbackyards:status in the essay. Sheetsof pa- perdrivenintoconcrete,accordingto witnesses. Deleuze and Felix luded to earlier. Yet, two-thirdsof the way into Guattaricall these limits "haecceities"-verbs this section, the narratorunderminesour confi- in the infinitive, propernames, dates, indefinite dence in him.

Havingjust describedMarc's ac- articles-which "consist entirely of relationsof tions during the attack Marc selflessly helped movement and rest between molecules or parti- othertenantsin his building ,the narratorstates: cles, capacities to affect and be affected" Pla- teaus A haecceity names the eventbecause Marccame out to the corridor. I thinkwe it "has neither beginning nor end, origin nor mightdie, he toldhimself,hedginghis senseof whatwouldhappennext.

It is not made of points, only of lines. It is a rhizome" The detectivetold Karento stay wherethey were. In DeLillo's asubjective,amorphousnar- When the second tower fell, my heartfell rative serialization, seeing is itself rhetorically with it. I called Marc,who is my nephew,on actualizedfrom within the event and away from his cordless.

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Tag: In the Ruins of the Future

I n the past decade the surge of capital markets has dominated discourse and shaped global consciousness. Multinational corporations have come to seem more vital and influential than governments. The dramatic climb of the Dow and the speed of the internet summoned us all to live permanently in the future, in the utopian glow of cyber-capital, because there is no memory there and this is where markets are uncontrolled and investment potential has no limit. All this changed on September

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