Thursday, November 29, 2007

Night of the Lone Wolves

Night of the Lone Wolves by Adam Elkus is a short essay concerning the super-empowered individuals. Their actions are amplified by the Verbal World created by media. The author muses that destruction sells:
Perhaps, as European philosopher Slavoj Zizek theorized, we are unwittingly addicted to images of our own destruction. We eagerly devour disaster movies and thrillers that prominently feature events that range from catastrophic to world-ending. In a time of global terrorism and insurgency, one of the most popular television shows is Fox’s 24, which regularly shows fictionalized usage of biological, chemical, and even nuclear weapons. Disturbingly enough, before 9/11 several popular thrillers had plotlines featuring planes being flown into buildings.

Why do we vicariously crave these experiences? Zizek himself echoes Freud in claiming that they tap into deep anxieties and fears we unconsciously hold about modernity—that we fear that underneath the edifice of ordered, secure civilization is little more than raw savagery that threatens to consume us at any given moment. One can also point to the long tradition of apocalyptic literature and mythology, common to all faiths and cultures, and note that these media displays tap into a deep, subconscious cultural nerve honed over the centuries.
I would agree. Mass media has better enabled quick creation of Verbal Worlds. In the past, such trends took years and even centuries to mature. In a 24 hour news cycle, mass viewing can lead to the formation of a particular world view. The events of late 2001 are an obvious example. The population was glued to the television and therefore the experience was immediate yet shared vicariously. Decadence is a catalyst for such processes that corrupt solidarity in the name of unity. A criminal only succeeds beyond physical terms if we let him.

4 comments:

jomama said...

The herd psyche is alive and well,
isn't it.

SRL said...

And growing stronger every day it seems.

Civil Disobedience said...

The death-instinct is equated with a drive or ritually repetitive compulsion to achieve resonance with the original state.

The original state, equated with death in Freudian theory, is not so much indicated by verbal statements of a death-wish but is instead indicated by a behavioral patterning that is observed to return to baseline.

This psychological regression to the mean thus becomes, in Freudian theory, indicative of literal conscious or unconscious drives (i.e., wishes).

Later Freudian theory espoused that the repetitive compulsion to act out states of trauma and entropy, either assumed or exhumed, was an attempt at self mastery.

The psychological regression to the mean patterning reported as indicative of return to destructive media phenomena thus becomes either A) a wish for harm, or B) a wish for recovery. Gripped between this dichotomy is a proposed third option; namely C) a wish for recovery through the repetitive experience of the original, presumed, or perceived traumatic stimulus.

The European philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s pondering of the why do we ‘crave’ the media’s portrayal of destructive stimuli becomes a question that assumes a priori the wish fulfillment for harm (either to self or others). The operational use of the term ‘crave’ thus influences the resounding theories, notions, and assumptions of which it latter produces.

The question thus becomes, A) does humanity pursue the achievement of that which is most decadent, or B) is the means by which humanity pursues self mastery itself decadent and indicative of the modicum and thus debatable quality of the tools they have available? This question itself is appropriate for evaluation as well when the mechanisms, methods, and/or tools utilized are open to debate per their operational description and purpose. The assumption of its purpose, whether A or B, influences the observer’s experience of the object. The object itself, if it indeed discretely exists as either A or B, does not change.

SRL said...

The real problems are those self-absorbed individuals with death wishes that feel the need to include the rest of us. Compounding the problem are those with weaker impulses that want to go along for the ride.