Theorists and politicians, those frightening apostates


Wittgenstein and Hitler at play
lads at play


The theorist is one who can easily feign lasting convictions to positions, but then become an apostate: betraying those convictions, but betraying them so immensely that we are awed by the sheer weight of the colossal cognitive shift we understand him to have endured. We know he has betrayed himself in some sense, but only because what we know—all we know—is a collection of deferred simulacra of him; we know him, as it were, in a temporal and mental chaos that fashions a working (always, endlessly working—and tiring, resting, and working again) model of him. But what we know then really is not that he has betrayed himself, but that he has betrayed our model of him, created from whatever of his sundry broadcasted images we’ve ingested.

This may seem like an obvious point, but not at all: it is obvious in this context, that is in our context, in a critical and self-critical essay with acrimony feelers all aflame for both author and reader, for you and for me, but think of its degree of immediacy to the average fashioner of a mediatized personality—the everyday undummy, the sharpies and shamans (for the point of this rumination is that these two are the same)—who ingests, aggregates, and conflates simulacra unselfconsciously. Think of his instantaneous filing away of any particular individual simulacrum, and his subtle and perhaps subconscious conflating of that simulacrum with all others (the process which forms the supposed-“whole,” the working model). Think of that, and you see the danger of the theorist and his cousin and in some sense ally, the prominent politician, being allowed to exist at all: they make us uncertain irresolvably with the sheer magnitude of their obviously contradictory motions.

And thus some of you will come to now the danger of the existence of the media (a reaction to the recognition that it will indubitably discombobulate with whatever results and so forth), while others will come to the danger of excising the media from the social; or, in our cultural moment’s rights-rhetoric discourse, the marginalizing, alienating, oppressing of the subject or (and more interestingly) an object-mass. But this second danger is impossible, at least if one is concerned for the media’s continued and ideally permanent ability to exist (to express desires of subjects), and not for the subjects themselves, and thus one with this stance, against excising the media, must have necessarily already prioritized freedom of expression over his own body and life. Thus is the danger of the media’s excision denied, but the danger of the media’s existence remains intact and insistent—but also irrepressibly solvent to our attempts to reckon with it.

All such attempts fail, yet for some reason, hope perhaps (but for what? for whom?), we keep on trying. It is in this contradictory, ironic, irreverent space between the conspicuousness of the media’s pernicious nature and the conspicuousness of the impossibility of doing anything about that nature that the theorist and the politician feed: in space we might well call “fear”—and it is in this fearful space that the theorist and the politician is most himself at home.


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