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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Some Perspective

posted by on April 18 at 11:37 AM

Unreal America:

More than 170 dead in Iraq blasts.
A US troop “surge” has not stopped insurgent attacks
At least 170 people have been killed in a string of attacks in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad - the worst day of violence since a US security operation began.

In the deadliest incident, some 120 people were killed in a car bombing in a food market in Sadriya district.
A witness said the area had been turned into “a swimming pool of blood”.

My point. It’s time for the next stage of consciousness to be realized and operational. At the moment it’s all talk; we talk about the transnational circulation money, goods and services, the affordability of jet travel, the surprises of the internet, the globalization of Hello Kitty, and so on. But this is very limited if transnationalization is not actually a form of consciousness, a way of thinking, connecting, and mapping. We no longer have the luxury of seeing things that are near as more important than (and unrelated to) things that are far. The day has long passed for that value system to crumble—a value system that is the ground on which the present administration stands and lives of. We are now in a position to see all of it all at once. It’s our only hope. Actual global consciousness. (Yes, Josef Krebs, this type of consciousness has much to do with what I was going on about last night at the Rosebud.)

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Posted by Skye | April 18, 2007 11:54 AM

The most depressing part of CNN is the Most Popular tab. Click on it and see what America REALLY cares about. On any given day it makes me want to cry.

Posted by Kate | April 18, 2007 12:06 PM

Fucking unreal, man.

Posted by Hernandez | April 18, 2007 12:08 PM

At least we're not hung up on some missing white chick.

Posted by phan | April 18, 2007 12:30 PM

phan @ 4,

Don't worry, the summer "shark attack" and "missin white wimmin" season is just around the corner.

Posted by Original Andrew | April 18, 2007 12:37 PM

I wake up to KOMO radio every morning, and they devoted entire segments to the Va Tech shootings.

The deadly Iraq attacks that killed 170 received a passing mention from ABC News.

This lack of perspective makes me hate people more than this shooting ever could. This country is so full of shit.

Posted by Gomez | April 18, 2007 12:41 PM

We'll be back to your regularly schedule gore shortly. right now theirs something gorey happening here right now at our fucking schools.

Posted by summertime | April 18, 2007 1:01 PM

Amen, Charles.

Posted by Sean | April 18, 2007 1:02 PM

"Koreans are the most hotheaded and macho of East Asians," wrote one unnamed commentator on the Sepia Mutiny blog. "They are also sick and tired of losing their Korean girlfriends to white men with an Asian fetish."
This was said said by someone(and I'm sure their are many more comming) to Koreans even before this mess became mainstream news.
Putting this into perspective is whats is needed before a bunch of wackos start freaking out over whos to blame.
And policing ourselves, forgiving and checking our hate before it turns ugly is a lot more important than what we already know is going on in Iraq. They are eating eachother alive overthere and yes it needs to stop.
But maybe we should focus and hound the hell out our own souls here in the U.S.A before we go preaching peace overseas. So I don't care if they beat this story about VT to death. Everyone is talking about healing and vigils and soon this will be behind us like Columbine and Oklahoma.
But is it really going to just disappear? you think because we are so far away from the shootings and victims we are not at all in some way ignorant of eachother? You don't think their really is a stereotype that is harmful to youths of any creed or nation that eventually the hate manifests itself and rears its ugly head?
We got a great bunch of kids in schools right now that are affected by these outcomes and they are not only at VT and Columbine. The fear is spreading like a virus and it needs to be put in check. My problem is not with the news. It is how everyone watching jumps to conclusions and they start with the profile and stereo typing. Now go give a Korean a hug today and tell them its o.k. everything is cool. Can you do that America. then lets see if your for real about Iraq and the rest of the world.

Posted by summertime | April 18, 2007 1:39 PM

I basically agree that rationally we should be just as impacted and angry (or maybe five times more impacted and angry) about the news of these deaths in Iraq, and much of the difference in response to the two events is because US college kids seem more like us, we identify with the tragedy more. Just as a shooting in Seattle might impact and interest you more than a shooting in Memphis (assuming you are from Seattle).

But there is also an issue of (Pavlovian?) conditioning. I would say every other day at least is a report in the paper about Iraqi deaths. Each time I see this it has less and less impact. Mass shootings on US colleges don't occur on a daily basis, so they are more shocking. We are amazingly very conditioned animals, not just about the news but about daily life.

That said, Charles, global consciousness is a great dream... Who knows, perhaps in 100 years the idea of a nation state will seem as dated as the idea of monarchies, and we will be of one nation... or environmental chaos and change will be such that we must return to the local to survive. Who knows?

Posted by Jude Fawley | April 18, 2007 1:40 PM

People have plenty of difficulty looking past their social class, much less their metro area, much much less their nation.

There's a really great part in Passage to India about this, after Mrs Moore dies (and this will be a Mededesque comment):
It's only one's own dead who matter. If for a moment the sense of communion in sorrow came to them, it passed. How, indeed, is it possible for one human being to be sorry for all the sadness that meets him on the face of the earth, for the pain that is endured not only by men, but by animals and plants, and perhaps by the stones? The sould is tired in a moment, and in fear of losing the little she does understand, she retreats to the permanent lines which habit or chance have dictated, and suffers there. (xxvi)

You can move those lines, maybe even around Iraq (though I doubt it), but they'll always be there, and can never encompass too much.

Posted by john | April 18, 2007 2:05 PM

Check out CNN International. Night and Day.

Posted by Aexia | April 18, 2007 2:06 PM

ps. when something happens in south central los angeles, nothing happens. -nwa.

Posted by john | April 18, 2007 2:10 PM


Thanks for the quote. Passage to India is an amazing book... I should re-read it.

By the way, did anyone watch the documentary on Gangs of Iraq on PBS? (it was on Tuesday night in NYC)

Since I barely watch TV I don't see much of Iraq, just read about it. Following the US and Iraqi soldiers around Baghdad was an enlightening experience - I think I really saw some reflected version of what it is like there. Sort of like Iraq in fragments. Video could really break down our barriers by presenting reality. Too bad so much video and filming is used to create a pseudo reality... where people mean nothing, where everyone is fake.

Posted by Jude Fawley | April 18, 2007 2:15 PM

All this commentary about 'one's own' reminds me of an excellent general point:

Most of us don't know anyone in Blacksburg, VA and at Va Tech, no more than we know anyone in Iraq or Compton or Darfur. And yet we mourn them tenfold when students there die.

Posted by Gomez | April 18, 2007 2:20 PM

On the general topic of the shootings, has anyone noticed that these things always seem to happen right around the same time in March / April? Columbine, the Capitol Hill shootings last year, and, it seems like, dozens of other "lesser" incidents like this, have all happened within the space of a month or so, albeit in different years.

Has anyone credible ever offered any kind of psychological or anthropological explanation of this phenomenon?

This may be a slightly silly question, but it's not meant to be glib or diminish the awfulness and seriousness of this situation, I'm just honestly curious as to whether that has ever been a study done on this. If anyone would know about such a study I'd guess it would be Charles.

Posted by BillyCorazon | April 18, 2007 2:22 PM

It was a lovely conversation, Charles. My foot felt much better by the time we were done. My liver felt much worse.

Posted by Josef Krebs | April 18, 2007 2:51 PM

I think Ken Kesey in his novel Sometimes a Great Notion tried to explore why suicide rate in the Pac. NW, which was high, tended to occur when the weather was getting better, as well as why a deer might start swimming out to sea. If I recall his idea was that it was the actual lifting of the winter burden, the end of the struggle to get through the dark hours, that reminded them, once the sun was out, that there was nothing to struggle for. Someone can correct me on this, the details of the idea are hazy. As for scientific studies, I am not sure.

Posted by Jude Fawley | April 18, 2007 3:04 PM

It's funny Charles, I was with you, in a way, last night. The term, Geo-Local, popped into my head, ran down to my hand and appeared in my notebook.

Posted by Rich Jensen | April 18, 2007 3:51 PM

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