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Monday, June 4, 2007

Name-Checked by Al Gore

posted by on June 4 at 22:11 PM

A short and probably not exhaustive list of people and things name-checked by Al Gore:

Lyndon LaRouche, Gandhi, Socrates, Plato, Gutenberg, the Bible, “the Founding Fathers,” Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Theodor Adorno, Network, Lindsay Lohan (I think the former vice president meant to say Paris HiltonóLohan’s in rehab, not jail), Britney Spears, K-Fed, Earth in the Balance, An Inconvenient Truth, Star Wars.

There was much pop-culture bashing tonight; and as much as I hate to call a halt to all of the Donna Brazile-inspired fat-pinching prognostics, Gore sounds like a professor, a kindly scold, an elder statesman. He doesn’t sound like a man who’s running for president. That speech had a lot of red meat, but no A-1, if you know what I mean.

And now, a short selection from Theodor Adorno’s “The Culture Industry”:

The whole world is made to pass through the filter of the culture industry. The old experience of the movie-goer, who sees the world outside as an extension of the film he has just left (because the latter is intent upon reproducing the world of everyday perceptions), is now the producer’s guideline. The more intensely and flawlessly his techniques duplicate empirical objects, the easier it is today for the illusion to prevail that the outside world is the straightforward continuation of that presented on the screen. This purpose has been furthered by mechanical reproduction since the lightning takeover by the sound film.

Real life is becoming indistinguishable from the movies. The sound film, far surpassing the theater of illusion, leaves no room for imagination or reflection on the part of the audience, who is unable to respond within the structure of the film, yet deviate from its precise detail without losing the thread of the story; hence the film forces its victims to equate it directly with reality. The stunting of the mass-media consumer’s powers of imagination and spontaneity does not have to be traced back to any psychological mechanisms; he must ascribe the loss of those attributes to the objective nature of the products themselves, especially to the most characteristic of them, the sound film. They are so designed that quickness, powers of observation, and experience are undeniably needed to apprehend them at all; yet sustained thought is out of the question if the spectator is not to miss the relentless rush of facts. Even though the effort required for his response is semi-automatic, no scope is left for the imagination.

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Interesting. What was Gore's specific reference to Adorno? Did it have to do with "The Culture Industry"? It's rare to hear former statesmen evoke critical theory. Soon, he'll start doing a ventriloquist act with his penis, "Little Judith Butler."

Posted by Anthow | June 4, 2007 10:58 PM

I can't quite follow the Adorno quote. Maybe someone can sum it up in a few simpler-language sentences.

Speaking of name-checking coupled with film, my preferred theorist is excerpted in Slacker director's animating Waking Life. Andre Bazin, I believe, is the sole person featured who devoted his lifework strictly to writing about film.

Posted by Garrett | June 4, 2007 11:01 PM

Lindsay's probably going to jail, you guys need to keep up to date on things ...

Paris is already there.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2007 11:10 PM

@1: No, his Adorno reference was more in the horror-of-the-Third-Reich vein, a jab at ideologues and more particularly Republicans. (Here's Postman on the same quotation in an earlier speech.) But the Third Reich, we were made to understand, could not have come to power without radio.

Soon we were segueing into how many hours of television Americans watch per day and how most of TV is rot.

So let's say I wouldn't have been surprised if he's been reading "The Culture Industry."

Fun fact: During the 2000 campaign, Gore repeatedly expressed his admiration for French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Posted by annie | June 4, 2007 11:15 PM

Bitch, quit tryin' to bite tha scholar nigga.

Posted by Why Mustr I Cry By Reh Dogg | June 4, 2007 11:38 PM

I have no idea what you mean, but a good steak shouldn't need steak sauce, let alone anything like A-1...

Posted by Andy | June 5, 2007 12:49 AM

Steve Gutenberg?

Posted by Meagan | June 5, 2007 9:02 AM

I think "red meat" in politics means pandering to the base by being highly aggressive, metaphorically savage. As in bare knuckle political attacks, serving up one's politically slain adversary raw (hence red) to your bloodthirsty hard core supporters.

Such a banquet would hardly feature any type of condiment, whether it be lowbrow A-1 steak sauce or like, I don't know, bearnaise sauce or whatever.

So it still isn't clear to me if Annie Wagner thinks Gore isn't running because his manner was professorial and statesmanlike, or if he isn't running because his criticisms of those (George W. Bush & Co.) who lack Reason are so cutting.

Regardless, the correct answer is that Gore will run, and further, he will win. My confidence in that grows with ever Stranger pundit who says otherwise, among other reasons.

Posted by elenchos | June 5, 2007 11:50 AM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 1:10 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 1:11 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 1:11 PM

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