what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate

Posted in artlies, nerdlette, whipping girl by nerdlette on 4 June 2008

Elizabeth Schambelan offers an excellent review of my beloved Whitney Biennial…[]

In an overall intelligent and well-rounded analysis of the exhibition, she focuses particular attention on parallels between ramshackle materials and ineffectual language.

Following this thread, the author postulates that the structuralist concerns regarding the fallibility of language have facilitated the kind of authoritarian double-speak of the Bush regime.

The Bush administration has never been exactly totalitarian, but it has indulged in a classically totalitarian way of thinking about words, which is to view them not as a way of slanting or hiding facts (through spin and propaganda) but as a way of producing facticity. The unnamed White House official who notoriously sneered at the “reality-based community” subscribed to the belief that reality, quite literally, was whatever he and his cronies said it was. It has not been lost on observers that, in this respect, the past seven years appear to have borne out the old fear that the postmodern rejection of objectivity and master narratives might lead us down an Orwellian primrose path.  What was meant to be a critique, in other words, has been appropriated and literalized as a tactic of power—a truly bizarre and perverse outcome.