Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Repetition Compulsion, Democrats

The Obama campaign has settled on a winning slogan, it seems. Written on the outside of a recent (unopened, soon-to-be-recycled) mailing are the words “Jasper, this time will be different.” Ah, yes—I’ve heard that before, said it to people I’ve loved and not loved, said it to myself, placed it at the very front of the card files marked pure and utter bullshit and electoral politics, hollowness of. Seriously, do you think they could have come up with anything that rings more false than this? The phrase is nothing less than the rhetoric of the addict’s (or the obsessive’s) superego. Jasper, this time will be different. Following on the heels of which comes a temporary loss of consciousness, of self-possession, and when you return to your senses you have a cigarette in your mouth, you’re walking out of the liquor store with a fifth clutched tightly to your side, walking back from the parking lot where you meet your connect, you’re lying in his or her bed, you’re walking out of the polling booth where you’ve just voted for the murder of hundreds of thousands and the immiseration of hundreds of millions. Fill in the rest yourself.

But, as The Dark Knight teaches us, the American people, those loveable schlemiels, need something to believe in, they need hope, never mind if that hope comes with a variable rate mortgage.


Kristen said...

While I agree with much of this, I still vote. Why? I'm a woman. Reproductive rights in this country have taken a serious nosedive as of late; and if you're poor and in, oh, 23 or so states, things are hanging by a thread. (The rich and the middle classes will be able to afford a trip to Canada or elsewhere; the "leave it to the states" approach is hogwash if you can't afford the trip from South Dakota to CA). I don't think voting for a democrat (or green party, or whoever else supports women's rights) is saying that I validate the rest of the whole rotten system. I also don't think voting is enough, of course-- one has to work for change.

jane said...

"Elections: idiot trap."

Fran├žois said...

Strangely, I've thought that the American people constantly needed saving. GWB as saving the honor and something else from the dereliction of the Clinton Administration, Reagan saving them from "malaise" and now this. It seems it's always the end of the world with each presidential elections.

kristen said...

It's so thrilling to learn that a French intellectual thinks I'm simpleminded for voting.
Was interesting to see that Britney Spears rated five mentions on the Why War site, though.

Fran├žois said...

Kristen: What I have written is absolutely not in response to what you have written. What I criticized is one, the overdramatization of American electoral politics, and two, the fact that too many Americans seem to think that elections are the only possible political action.

Secondly, I have yet to earn the title of "intellectual."

Jasper Bernes said...


I think Kristen meant Alain Badiou, not you.


Laura Carter said...

I'm not sure why Badiou contests that voting is singular. Normality is to be both presented and represented (hence, the candidates' re-counting by the 'state' or 'State' of the situation; 'God bless America' & other ills). Singularity is a presentation without representation; perhaps he's commenting on the ineluctable pull of the pure presence that, ultimately, fails to bring forth representation of real needs?

Being mesmerized by television is the opposite of political engagement.

What do we do?

kristen said...

Jasper's right; I meant Badiou, not you.
Happy weekend,