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Its more than fear Luke: its death « Previous | |Next »
February 9, 2003

Luke Slattery has replaced Philip Adams on the back page of the Weekend Australian Review. Philip was getting bit tired, and the content was pretty thin at times. I have to admit that I mostly yawned and nver read much of it. But he was still able to stir the local neo-cons into a bit of a frenzy. Still, it was all pretty much froth and bubble.

All I know about Luke Slattery is that he hates postmodernists; thinks that Derrida says there is ‘no reality outside of texts’; ran a trite thesis that 9/11 put postmodernist relativism in its grave; used to edit the Higher Education pages of The Australian and then disappeared from public view. Now he's reappeared.

I put all this together and come up with conservative who dips into high culture. But who cares about labels. Its the writing that matters. So what is Luke saying in his piece, 'I lost it at the movies'?

He is talking about about fear unleashed by 9/11 war--the day the world changed---and panic that can lead to madness at a time when we citizens are being requested by the federal government to be alert for anything suspicious but not afraid. Well fear rules, judging from Luke's little story about the response to strange noises in his bag at the movies on New Years Eve in 2003.

He says we should not worry too much. We develop a sort of tentaive immunity to fear ---eg. the bombing in WW2; or Israel today. Horror becomes routine-- -he mentions the banality of evil of the Nazi's, but he hopes that we never become inured to catastrophe.

So we get fear and a coping with fear from all that. Not much really. A lot more happened. The Americans dumped their liberal triumphalism, as their self-confidence and existential security was shatttered by 9/11. They felt vulnerable and fearful, realized that there was no effective deterrent against international terrorism, quickly placed their nation on a war footing, and set about to take out a fundamental Islam that had challeneged liberalism.

We can start to go wild at this point. Luke does start to go wwwwwild. He approvingly mentions Montaigne saying that fear deftly unseats reason; only he then backs off and ends lamely:

"When fear and politics mingle, courage, of course is tested--and intelligence too."

The immediate reaction is, can this be all?

Slattery appears to lack the courage to take Montaigne on board: fear is a subset of madness that unseats reason. Too close to the abyss for the national newspaper? It would not sell newspapers? So we have resignation.

Montaigne is pretty reasonable as he gives us a reason/unreason scenario. Thus the federal government culitvates fear among citizens through security alerts about terrorism threats then promises us national security in the name of reason so that it can retain an electoral advantage over the ALP.

We can crank the wildness up at this point. Heres a suggestion to mullover with morning coffee.

Its a death metaphysics at work in the national security state of Bush and Howard Our lives are now lived with a heightened risk from dying at the hands of sleeper-cell Islamic terrorists armed with chemical and biological weapons. That is what the Bush administration and the Howard Government are saying to us---it is a metaphysics of death.

Have we aborbed this new reality----that we are going to die a terrifying death? All I know is I get the historical shudders from fearing death due to the convolutions of history. Death and history are hand in glove. How can you hope when everything is nothing? How can you be positive when daily life is a void? Is it still possible to hope when mired in fear and despair?

Now we are starting to go wild. But that sort of negative stuff about metaphysical experiences in the national security state does not sell newspapers.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:54 PM | | Comments (0)
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