Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I try to stay off politics when writing this blog, but given recent events, I simply can't resist.
I confess that I've just spent the morning searching for video imagery and/or pictures of Saddam Hussein's execution. For the past three days, I've been struggling to resist this urge, but I finally allowed it to overtake me. Unfortunately, my thirst for bloodletting was neither satisfied nor satiated by the poorly shot video, which conveniently goes completely black at the real moment of execution. (Even on obscure Arab sites.)
The thing is, it wasn't enough to see the rope being put over his head. Uh-eh. No. I wanted more. I wanted to bear witness to that fast, gritty moment that historians will probably one day look back on and reflect was the simultaneous peak and irreversible point of no return of American power as we know it. Beyond the historical significance of the event, I believe the apolitical, anti-intellectual animal part of me just wanted to see the pure public spectacle of the whole thing. I felt very much like the medieval serf being called into the town center to watch the gallows being erected in order to watch the hanging/beheading/public torture of so-called "criminals".
Once upon a time, public executions served as mass entertainment. These sorts of activities were highly anticipated. And popular! People would bring a picnic lunch. In fact, they would make sure to pack plenty of fruit and vegetables--some for them, and some to throw. As organized cities evolved, they were seen as providing an outlet for the animal tendencies of humankind. As I watched botched video after botched video, a part of me wondered if the rest of the world had been hoping to see Saddam Hussein dragged, flogged, and pilloried in the heart of Baghdad. I tried to imagine the turn-out if the execution had been publicly announced and performed out-of-doors for all to see. Crowds upon crowds of his victims would have been there to see it with their own eyes. Clearly a security risk, but still.
One more thing that I noted as my futile search for snuff was under way was the number of cookie-cutter internet blog sites, created by self-appointed "post-modernists", who all have something "deep and profound" to say about what has been dubbed the "first" world-wide internet execution. Umm...first, have we completely forgotten the video of Nicholas Berger? Or Nuremberg, for that matter? Many of these sites are written by poorly-read graduate students who have perused the works of Michel Foucault, and now think that they can spout off something unique about this event. One site generically asks, "Has the execution of Saddam Hussein managed to "revive" the use of public execution? Discuss."
I won't go on ranting with these details, but I would like to briefly point out the obvious:
1. Is the internet today's "town center"? Duh.
2. Are we (as human beings) any more evolved than our fruit-throwing forefathers (and mothers) who lived in the days of:
...30-year long religious wars...
Did my point just prove itself?
But, ok, really...what do I know? I'm just pointing out a few commonalities. Not sayin', just sayin'...
At any rate, I must end now. I have a gnawing compulsion to brush up on my knowledge of Brittany Spear's crotch photos.
Oh, and, if anyone out there is interested in the works of Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish is a worthwhile read in times such as these.