Monthly Archives: April 2010

Sock Crime

Syed Hashmi pled guilty to once count of conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization today. According to the NYT:

Judge Loretta A. Preska asked whether he was pleading “because you are in fact guilty?”

“Alhamdulillah,” he said, or Praise be to God, and then added, “Yes.”

He acknowledged, under questioning by Mr. Ruhnke, that in 2004, while he was a graduate student in London, he knew that a man staying with him was planning to deliver outdoor gear like ponchos, sleeping bags and waterproof socks to Al Qaeda for use in Afghanistan.

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Knowing (HUM415)

Here’s a post I wrote some time ago on The Calcutta Chromosome:

One of the things we could emphasize about Ghosh’s novel is its insistence on the presence of a secret history, a category of historiography (history writing) that continues to exert a gravitational pull on the public imagination. Conspiracy-thinking is a seductive activity because it seems to offer a total account of any given situation. Theories about the assassination of JFK, for example, seem to offer a final answer to the ambiguities of that event, an answer shorn of loose threads. Today the so-called Truther movement (which I understand to be a pejorative term) claims to possess hard evidence about the collapse of the World Trade Center towers which indicates that it was “an inside job.” None of this evidence has been submitted to a credible, peer-reviewed journal– usually the first step in any effort to establish the scientific veracity of a claim– but the absence of ordinary protocols such as this has not stopped a cluster of factoids, speculations and paranoid invective from going viral. Given that the US government’s inquiry into 9/11 was partial, possibly incompetent, and incontestably designed to maximize the Bush administration’s political capital, on the other hand, it’s easy to see how suspicion becomes certainty.

Still, the conspiracy theory as a genre of history— as a way of thinking about what it means to know and what the consequences of knowing might be– would be useful to consider with respect to The Calcutta Chromosome.

Carl Levin Will Save Capitalism!

Sen. Carl Levin goes for the South Park record:

For those who read Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulations” consider the above in light of Baudrillard’s contention that

Watergate is not a scandal: this is what must be said at all cost, for this is what everyone is concerned to conceal, this dissimulation masking a strengthening of morality, a moral panic as we approach the primal (mise-en-)scene of capital: its instantaneous cruelty; its incomprehensible ferocity; its fundamental immorality – these are what are scandalous, unaccountable for…. Capital doesn’t give a damn about the idea of the contract which is imputed to it: it is a monstrous unprincipled undertaking, nothing more. Rather, it is “enlightened” thought which seeks to control capital by imposing rules on it. And all that recrimination which replaced revolutionary thought today comes down to reproaching capital for not following the rules of the game. “Power is unjust; its justice is a class justice; capital exploits us; etc.” – as if capital were linked by a contract to the society it rules.

Capital in fact has never been linked by a contract to the society it dominates. It is a sorcery of the social relation, it is a challenge to society and should be responded to as such. It is not a scandal to be denounced according to moral and economic rationality, but a challenge to take up according to symbolic law.

Full Text: S&S (AMS179)

Jean Baudrillard

Simulacra and Simulations

from Jean Baudrillard, Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster (Stanford; Stanford University Press, 1988), pp.166-184.

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth–it is the truth which conceals that there is none.

The simulacrum is true.


If we were able to take as the finest allegory of simulation the Borges tale where the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the territory (but where, with the decline of the Empire this map becomes frayed and finally ruined, a few shreds still discernible in the deserts – the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction, bearing witness to an imperial pride and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, rather as an aging double ends up being confused with the real thing), this fable would then have come full circle for us, and now has nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra.l

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Simulacra and Simulations (AMS179)

What is ideology? What is ideology criticism?

What the relationship of Baudrillard’s essay “Simulacra and Simulations” to ideology/ideology criticism?

Can we use “S&S” as a means of explicating and understanding William Gibson’s Neuromancer and the Wachowsky Brothers’ The Matrix?

“Ideology only corresponds to a betrayal of reality by signs; simulation corresponds to a short-circuit of reality and to its reduplication by signs. It is always the aim of ideological analysis to restore the objective process; it is always a false problem to want to restore the truth beneath the simulacrum.”

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