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this year’s WCH auditorium dance party

November 28th, 2006 by slewfoot

“Officer Miller please.”

“This is him.”

“Hi, this is Josh Gunn returning your call about the false fire alarm yesterday.”

“Hello Mr. Gunn; thanks for returning my call. Yeah, as you might imagine we have a lot of paper work to do.”

“I’m sorry about that; we didn’t mean for it to happen.”

“Yes, well, someone said when those students were cheering, they were cheering because you were sneaking away.”

“We were told to evacuate the building, so, like, we evacuated.”

“[chuckle’s] We’ll, generally the cause of the problem is supposed to stick around. Because we could not find the [fog] machine we had to go through a complete investigation.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

“Didn’t you see the firetruck?”

“Yes.”

“Are you in your office? I need to come speak with you”

“No sir, I’m at home today.”

“Will you be on campus tomorrow?”

“Yessir.”

“Well, when you get in give me a call and I’ll stop by your office. Once I talk to you in person we can wrap up the investigation.”

“Sure, no problem.”

UPDATE: Thursday mourning—two days after the event—Officer Miller appeared in my office. He smiled a lot, was charming, told me he was born in 1967, and that he liked the music I was playing (it was the Fixx). After taking my DL number and UT identification number, we shot the shit:

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know we were supposed to stay. Maybe next year we’ll do bubbles instead.”

“Oh, no. You need the smoke. Here’s what you do next time . . . . ” Officer Miller described whom to contact to disable the fire alarm and offered suggestions to make next year’s dance party better.

the fountain

November 26th, 2006 by slewfoot

Music: Labradford: Mi Media Naranja (1997)

Last night Brooke and I saw The Fountain, Aronofsky’s sci-fi labor of love that was four years in the making. After two hours of what seemed like a prolonged dream-sequence the film abruptly ended, without discernable resolution. I decided to applaud in the (surprisingly) half-full theatre, to which a number of spectators responded with a chuckle. I think this gesture and response sums up the reactions to the film. It was not a good film, but . . . walking to the car Brooke and I agreed that we simply didn’t know what to think of it beyond the failure of form.

Andrei Tarkovsky is one of my favorite filmmakers, and I suspect that admission foreshadows what I’m about to say: I like The Fountain, pretension and all, very much. I like it because no one in the theatre knew what the heck to think about it as the credits rolled. Our impulse, I think, was to pan the film as overwrought and overacted (it was, in fact, overwrought and overacted). But the imagery and tone of the film was engaging, and despite its best efforts to laud the Love of Kitsch, it was not all roses and sunshine. The problem I had with the film is that I did not feel with it; intellectually I knew at times I was to feel anguish, but the drive toward anguish was rushed and, so, I didn’t feel it. Taking cues from Tarkovsky (in my mind, the obvious homage), the film needed to be longer for the emotional complexity demanded by the plot to be felt. I think that the reason the film has flopped is because it was rushed. I have hope that the “director’s cut” on DVD will remedy the problem, although I have doubts as well. I worry that Aronofsky has not seen Solaris or Stalker (two of the slowest yet greatest sci-fi films of all time).

This film is a good thing, if only because it is a major release that attempts to push at the boundaries of what is deemed commercially viable. It’s clearly a product of compromise—and I detest the surface “love conquers all” message—but something about the loneliness of life in general is dealt with in a pretty way. Yes, I found the maudlin moments laughable, but watching this film I wanted to “go along.” It’s not Tarkovsky . . . but it gestures toward that kind of filmmaking. Films are the dreams of our collective; while imperfect (and at times laughably stupid), The Fountain does express something that we suspect exists outside of schemes of mastery and efficiency—something beyond calculation. Ok: the film sucks. But the discernable motive of the film speaks to the promise of art and the failure of love, it dances about the edge of kitsch so well I have to see it once more . . . .

self-admiration, or, write-on!

November 25th, 2006 by slewfoot

Music: Robert Forster: I Had a New York Girlfriend (1994)

Old reliable, a.k.a. the OED, needs an amendment for the entry on “narcissism,” which is defined as “excessive self-love or vanity; self-admiration, self-centeredness.” Aside from my own projection(s), in the long list of examples that follow the definition, Lindsay Lohan’s condolence “statement” to the family of the late (and great) Robert Altman should be included. Apparently penned in throes of mourning just shortly after a few drinks and club-hugs in an exclusive, velvet-roped Hollywood hang, the napkin made its way to USA Today and other outlets:

I would like to send my condolences out to Catherine Altman, Robert Altmans wife, as well as all of his immediate family, close friends, co-workers, and all of his inner circle.

I feel as if I’ve just had the wind knocked out of me and my heart aches.

If not only my heart but the heart of Mr. Altman’s wife and family and many fellow actors/artists that admire him for his work and love him for making people laugh whenever and however he could..

Robert altman made dreams possible for many independent aspiring filmmakers, as well as creating roles for countless actors.

I am lucky enough to of been able to work with Robert Altman amongst the other greats on a film that I can genuinely say created a turning point in my career.

I learned so much from Altman and he was the closest thing to my father and grandfather that I really do believe I’ve had in several years.

The point is, he made a difference.

He left us with a legend that all of us have the ability to do.

So every day when you wake up.

Look in the mirror and thank god for every second you have and cherish all moments.

The fighting, the anger, the drama is tedious.

Please just take each moment day by day and consider yourself lucky to breathe and feel at all and smile. Be thankful.

Life comes once, doesn’t ‘keep coming back’ and we all take such advantage of what we have.

When we shouldn’t…..

Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourselves’ (12st book) -everytime there’s a triumph in the world a million souls hafta be trampled on.-altman Its true. But treasure each triumph as they come.

If I can do anything for those who are in a very hard time right now, as I’m one of them with hearing this news, please take advantage of the fact that I’m just a phone call away.

God Bless, peace and love always.

Thank You,

“BE ADEQUITE”

Lindsay Lohan

I know the letter would double as a great example of “incompetent” as well, but I regret I see this kind of writing every semester (oh, my Writing Center peeps: I love you and I laud your efforts!). This is also a great example of celebrity graffiti. I almost mourn Lohan’s public death.

What is most striking is that Leslie Sloane Zelnick, the super-star publicist known for her tenacious protection of folks like Britney Spears and Katie Holmes (both of whom fired her after—a-hem—some bad hook-ups and equally bad advice), let this writing sample reach the public! She must have gotten through the Tron-like sentry! I mean, even I know not to drink-and-email! Snorting bumps and clicking send is downright public suicide!

Unless you are Paris Hilton. Lindsay, I know Paris Hilton (in fact, many know her). You are no Paris Hilton.

I send my more heartfelt condolences to Altman’s family and fans. I recognize that the deceased deserve sincerity, complete sentences, and a spell-check.

reason for the season

November 22nd, 2006 by slewfoot

Music: Heidi Berry: Heidi Berry (1993)

As I was strolling through a number of stores yesterday, I began thinking: all this red and green and kitsch because the monotheistic imperialists wanted to drown out “fun with fertility” festivals. What we need for the holiday season is more sex scandals, I think. Speaking of: the National Communication Association Convention in San Antonio was indeed a blast, but I’m absolutely exhausted. Also speaking of sex: I got home in time enough to clean house for mom, who is now bathing and preparing to be toured. Did you know she and my dad had to get it on over 32 years ago so that I could type this? How hot is that? Anyhoo, today we’re touring the city and should end up on Lake Travis. Tomorrow we cook with Brooke, and then, on Friday I think we will find a good game of chicken shit bingo. Although my heart couldn’t take it (it’s a family thing), I keep thinking about how helpful some crank would be for the next few weeks. In the spirit of Debbilicious’ hiatus-fest—or in the spirit of a nubile tween—my blogliciousness will be spotty at best.

poetry

November 14th, 2006 by slewfoot

Music: Harold Budd: The White Arcades (1988)

I was chatting with a friend today, and she mentioned in confidence that she was trying her hand at poetry. I shared with her that I have a number of friends who write poetry, including my chair Barry Brummett, and a co-author, Dale Smith. I told her that one of the reasons I do not write poetry is because when I hear my friends read their poetry I am in awe. I shared with her a favorite poem of mine by Farid Matuk, whose first book reading was also my first in Austin (I blogged about it here). Farid’s reading stands out as one of my best experiences of 2006. After hearing that reading I came home and tried to answer him. I failed.

Today I asked Farid if I could share a poem on my blog, and he agreed on the condition I mention his publisher, which is Effing Press. This press is effin’ awesome, and a link to the editor in chief can be found in my blogroll (that would be snapper’s effing junk(boat)heap). Farid’s book is titled Is It the King? and is stirringly moving. I guess part of the reason Farid’s poetry is so powerful for me is that I know a lot of the people that he mentions and because I know he is a lover. Regardless, I hope you find his poetry as wonderful as I do. I regret my HTML knowledge stops at HTML 2, so the spacing is all wrong; please get the chapbook so you can see it properly. Anyhoo, here goes:

“But Richard, Will You Show Me an Ethic of Freedom?”

by Farid Matuk

[By request of the author, I have deleted this poem.  Buy the chapbook!  –Josh]

rejecta-rama

November 13th, 2006 by slewfoot

Music: The Mission: Children (1988)

Like most Commies, I’m current prepping for NCA this week in San Antonio. I echo Debbalicious’ appreciation for her panelests! Thanks to my panel people getting their papers to me on time, I’m finished composing two responses . . . and a whole three days ahead of time. Woo-hoo.

I’ve also just finished my “script” for what will prove to be a fun time, “Manuscript Rejection Letters: A Reader’s Theatre.” It’s a panel on Saturday at three, I think. I thought I’d share my script here, which I will preform in character for each different review. These are all real selections from manuscript reviews I have received in the past four years. And for the record, three of the four essays “rejected” below were eventually published somewhere (the other one is still in review). Enjoy!

PART ONE:

A FAVORITE ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

I dislike the piece considerably with its tasteless approach to complementing a pseudo-analysis of [Nine-eleven] . . . .

AND NOW, A MEDLEY OF SOME OF MY REVIEWER’S GREATEST HITS:

I do not usually resort to quotations from movies when I write manuscript reviews, but my reaction to this manuscript was akin to Tom Hanks when he examined a toy: “I don’t get it.”

To be clear from the start, I am not a fan of either psychoanalytic theory as it is applied to, or performed via, rhetorical theory, nor am I convinced that the literature of deconstruction offers us anything particularly valuable that could not be found elsewhere. . . . this positions me at the outset as a skeptical reader.

This essay speaks with an unearned authority. . . . the essay, or rather the author, . . . throws into the trash bin—without what could be called a reasonable trace of discrimination—thinkers of diverse traditions . . . talents . . . and intellectual purposes. . . . To extend while also condensing, the author . . . seems as derivative as it is condescending with respect to secondary literatures . . . . At the end of the journey, this reader remains both unconvinced and annoyed at the price of admission relative to the show, and what a show it turns out to be! To conclude, then, the promise of a “demonstration” of critical precepts extracted from [Walter] Benjamin not only falls flat. It collapses into trivializing impressions of [Nine-eleven] that require as little thought as they reflect insight. At best, it’s a poor footnote to an already cluttered reference sheet.

I fail to discern any contribution at all to the literature on [Huey P. Long]. Nor does the essay contribute to the much larger theoretical discussions of the rhetoric of demagoguery and/or charisma. Indeed, the essay’s rendering of those two concepts is fundamentally a-rhetorical, even anti-rhetorical, locating their essence in “psychical structures” (whatever that means) . . . . [My essay on the subject] is completely overlooked, and other important works on . . . southern demagoguery . . . are also ignored or simply dismissed.

I think it is safe to say that you destroyed your initial credibility with at least two of these readers by the sloppy way you constructed the manuscript. Errors of spelling, grammar, sentence construction, and usage—not to mention tone—do count in scholarly writing. I urge you to proofread your essays before submitting them.

This is a good piece of scholarship on an interesting incident in cultural history. I find the essay well researched and skillfully written. However, I don’t think the piece . . . has much chance of being widely read or cited; people are not going to find it all that interesting except as a piece of antiquarianism.

PART TWO:

You stupid fuck! How can you submit to us an article with this incredibly stupid footnote? You obviously have not learned anything. . . . Keep playing around with Walter Benjamin and you will have a brilliant career among assholes such as yourself.

In your verbose reply you forgot to include an apology and an explanation. Do you know anything about . . . what we have published on the subject? Your arrogance is only matched by your ignorance. Before writing anything this stupid it would pay to read some of the relevant text. Your two contributions [to this journal in the past] were pretty mediocre and we had to edit out the nonsense. You should be grateful we took all that time to straighten out your incoherence and politically correct obsession with trying to reach the proper “Left” conclusions that do not follow. Enough with incompetent graduate students. Read more before making a fool of yourself.

You are a stupid fool to submit anything with so many errors and so many dubious assertions . . . Your nonverbals are just plain dumb.

Finally, just a word about the “explanatory power” of a “psychoanalytic theory of demagoguery” . . . . The analysis rests on the dubious, anti-historical assumption that we can’t really understand [Huey P.] Long’s “actual speech-craft” because it has been “filtered through contemporary symbolic structures.” The analysis also rests on he controversial assumption of “posthumanist” theory—that we are obliged (because Biesecker said so back in 1992?) to “displace the solitary individual or agent” . . . . Those are hardly assumptions widely shared by rhetorical critics . . . . [and after them] the discussion begins to read like a parody of psychoanalytic jargon. I apologize if my judgments sound harsh. Perhaps I’m responding in kind to the whole tone of this essay, which I found remarkably self-indulgent and at times even arrogant and offensive. I personally rebel against authors who pontificate about “our charge” as rhetorical critics . . . as if, in their superior wisdom, they finally have discovered the “right” way to do rhetorical criticism. And I especially resist suggestions that we must all change our rhetorical thinking to embrace this sort of wacky, psychoanalytical approach.

te deum for fed-ex

November 11th, 2006 by slewfoot

Music: Harold Budd: Luxa (1996)

It is not a coincidence that both K-Fed (hereafter Fed-Ex) and Rummy were divorced this week: the popcycle electracy electorate has as much—if not more—of a voice in partnerships as the political electorate . . . if we can still maintain such a distinction. The hackneyed observation is that interpellation is not a one-way street; Britney is hailed by screened life as much as George. We have our posterchildren of popcyclic overdetermation for the week, but it would be a mistake to identify them as Kevin or Donald. The question for me is: how did Britney and George resist for so long? Is there a way that we might draw inspiration and strength from their homologous hard-headed refusal to succumb to their storied destinies?

In part, Joan Copjec has an answer (though one has to wonder now that “angelology” is the new “hauntology”). In a footnote on a chapter about Ronald Reagan in Read My Desire, Copjec lift’s a concept from Freud’s writings on the case of Dora:


In describing her father, Dora used the phrase “ein vermögender Mann[a man means,” behind which Freud detected the phrase “ein unvermögender Mann [a man without means, unable, impotent].” In proffering her description, Dora was declaring her demand for a master; in reinterpreting her description, Freud was indicating the sort of master the hysteric prefers.

Copjec uses the concept of the impotent man to explain how Americans routinely elect “a master who is demonstrably fallible—even, in some cases, incompetent.” The reason, she argues, is that the vanity at the heart of American pluralism depends on an “unvermögender Other” to maintain our unique, individual differences—the very same differences that voter after voter coming to the polls on Tuesday hold so dear. You’ll recall I blogged about Mr. Righteous Voter on Tuesday. Mr. Righteous Voter is the creature who demands absolute and completely anonymity all the while making his individual difference known to everyone in the room; this is the paradox of democracy. One way in which the paradox of individual difference and anonymity is managed, one way in which the requirement that you and I must give up our particularity (or if you want, singularity) in the figure of abstract number for democracy to work (in both senses) is achieved, is by learning to love an unvermögender Other.

At first blush, we can easily hold up George W. Bush as the unvermögender Other of our time (my essay on Speilberg’s War of the Worlds tries to make that case). We can also hold up Clinton for much the same reason (just remember the “blue dress,” mmmm-kay?). And, if you have any faith in structuralism, then Barack Obama is doomed unless we can find a discernable problem with him (race does not count here, about which in a future post). Nevertheless, I think we can identify St. Britney and George as the paradigm citizen finding and falling in love with an unvermögender Other. Their divorces thus become synecdoche for the “change in public opinion.”

The reason these men were loved for so long—for years—is because George and Britney are, in the end, hysterical subjects who are trying to be what they believe the Other wants. But the hysterical position is hard to maintain forever; one has to get up from the sofa—or eventually leave the movie theatre—to take a piss. The illusion must always come to an end when, as Baudrillard says in The Spirit of Terrorism, the excess of reality accrues to the point that it cannot be ignored (or swells your bladder so much you just gotta get to the john). For Britney, the absolute event was unquestionably this footage:

For Bush it was not so simple. His other Other, people like you and me, are upset that the first official death count of civilians in Iraq is at least 130,000, and almost 3,000 U.S. military personnel have died as well. I guess what is most infuriating is that the Bush decision to cut his impotent Other has little to do with real people or real death; it’s just another shift in the hyperreality of the popcycle screen. At least with Britney’s dumping Fed-Ex, she seems to be sending a heart-felt signal back to her fans.

election hangover

November 9th, 2006 by slewfoot

Music: Arcadia: So Red the Rose (1985)

Although there is plenty to say about the returns and “voter mandates,” and although my desire to blog about Britney and Kevin is increasingly intense, today I thought I’d share a little of my in-the-trenches experience as a poll worker on Tuesday. The short version is this: yesterday I was absolutely wiped-out; I barely got out bed, and I was downing Red Bull all day just to be alert enough to read email and talk on the phone.

Part of the reason I was wiped out is that the spirit of volunteerism so lauded by my conservative colleagues doesn’t live here in Austin. Across Travis county the polls were short-handed. Myself and others processed almost 1200 voters. We started at 6:00 a.m. (barely getting the machines up and running—it was very, very stressful) and polls opened at 7:00 a.m. It was a constant stream of people, and at times the line apparently wound around the facility. If you were in the line when the polls closed at 7:00 p.m., you got to vote. Our last voter left at 8:30 p.m. We were finally finished at 9:25 p.m. I crawled into bed sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. (it’s all a blur). For added insult, they were announcing the victory of conservative schmuck Rick Perry on my drive home. Overworked volunteers helped hundreds of thousands of people to elect an official who claims volunteerism will fill the gaps of service-cutting. Oh Charles Murray: what have you wrought?

Regardless, I was the only “Lap Top Clerk” in my crew. My job was to take ID from the voter, look them up in the database, confirm their address, ask if they still live at the same address, processes their precinct determination (which assigned them one of four ballots), print off two labels, and then hand the labels to a person on my right or left depending on which side I could spy open booths . . . but because the line was long and I was sitting down, I couldn’t really see and often got barked at for sending someone to a “full side.” Anyway, there was a scanner for bar coding on the back of Texas driver’s licenses and voter registration cards. Of course, the scanner did not work, so I had to manually type in numbers on the keyboard. Of course, the county election people did not input most of the state’s driver’s license records, so I had to search for everyone who presented a driver’s license by name based on tax rolls. Eventually I got pretty darn speedy at this—at times too speedy for my co-workers—but I was always slowed down because someone had a “change of address.” This was a major pain in the ass, because it meant that I had to send the person away to the judge to fill out a “change of residency” form and “call it in to central.” The judge was on the phone almost all day doing this; waits on average were 30 minutes. Sometimes the “change of address” line seemed almost as long as the voting line. I have this message for voters: don’t decide to effing change your address two days or two hours before election day!

I’m resisting the temptation to make this a bitch-fest, so let me get the bitching out of my system and move on to the good stuff. I’ll do this topically by referencing a really bad 1966 film by Clint Eastwood:

The Ugly

Aside from my aching buttocks, back, and wrists, the worst part of election day was Mr. Righteous Voter. We had three of these people. Since I was the first worker they dealt with, I got the brunt of their righteousness. First, it would start with “I have a question.” The question always involved something about anonymity, or “how am I assured that you are not tracking me?” The way electronic voting works—which was mandated to be implemented across the country by 2012 or something like that, I don’t remember (or care)—is that once I verify you are who you claim to be, you are then given a code for one of the “E-Slate” voting thingies. You punch this code in and then get the specific ballot for your precinct, and then you use some BIG ASS BUTTONS and a dial (like on the iPod, but BIGGER) to select your choices and vote. All of the E-Slates are daisy-chained to a JBC or “Judge Ballot Controller” that both issues your code and tallies your vote. Now, I’m not gonna say these machines cannot be fucked with—I’m sure they could. But I worked all day on Monday with the voting people and saw the “behind the scenes” stuff. If anyone is tampering with the voting machines, it’s the manufacturers. If anyone wanted to throw an election by tampering with the voting machines, it would have to be a conspiracy the likes of which we have never seen—it’s just impossible, unless, of course, it is done by the manufacturer of these machines.

Anyway, Mr. Righteous Voter would usually start with me about this (with hundreds of people behind him in line) and then when I tried to pass him off, he would keep going on bitching to whomever would listen. One guy pulled out a very crumpled article on electronic voting conspiracy theory and waved it in front of us, detailing how easily his vote could be tracked. Two of these suspicious creatures also demanded paper ballots, whereupon I had to quote from my Texas election guide a statute that says no paper ballots can be used if electronic voting is also being used at the same precinct. “The opportunity to use a paper ballot is via absentee,” I said to one guy. This made him mad, of course.

A third Mr. Righteous Voter was angry with me because, even though he moved two years ago and did not bother to change his license address or voter registration address (which by law you are supposed to do within thirty days), I could not, by law, let him vote without proof of address. Now, in Texas this can be damn near anything: a check with your name and address printed on it, a business card, a grocery store discount card. He did not have anything with his current address on it and kept saying “they should contact us and tell us this stuff.” “It’s in the newspaper,” said one of the volunteers. After he kept berating me and my colleagues for at least a minute about our failures to personally contact him to tell him the voting law had changed, I finally lost it. “Look, sir, no one of us has anything to do with the law; we’re simply under oath to follow it.” I said we were all volunteers and powerless to change the world for him, and that we’re here out of our dedication to the electoral process and so on. Eventually he apologized. The judge let him vote anyway just to get rid of him (it is in her power to do so, actually, by law!).

The Bad

My voting place was in a retirement home, which meant almost all the residents there voted, and some of them were in wheelchairs and motorized vehicles. One speedy elderly woman was not in full control of her scooter. She ran over someone’s foot in line. And, after I processed her she ran into the table and, realizing her mistake, backed-up quickly . . . with many of my cables stuck in the front wheel of her scooter. Although we averted disaster (I was able to plug everything back in and get up and running in about two minutes), it just goes to show you: if any one voter was determined to disenfranchise hundreds of voters, all she needed to do was give the daisy chain one good yank, or “accidentally” spill coffee on my lap top.

Another bad thing about the electoral process: across the country, the average age of voter volunteers is 75. Yet, we’re under a mandate to convert voting to digital and electronic machines; computers are now the centerpieces of this process. Folks in their 70s are not fond of computers. They are frightened of them, and do not have what most computer literate people would call “common sense.” The consequence of this was that I had virtually no breaks all day. I did get a brief lunch break—about five minutes to woof down a frozen dinner one of the retirement home staff heated for me—but was hailed back to the voting room because the alternate judge could not figure out how to close a search window in the voter registration program. Same story when I left to use the restroom about four in the afternoon; in the time it took me to pee, almost all the booths were empty and no one was getting processed (again, it had to do with a search window closure issue). If my experience was at all symptomatic of the whole, we need more younger, computer savvy volunteers in this country.

The Good

We assisted a woman who was 102 years old in a voting booth; she was alert and in full control of her faculties, and announced she was a democrat. Watching the volunteers help her vote and assist her make me cry a little. I’m a romantic, what can I say?

The majority of voters were excited to vote. You could feel it in the room, folks seemed almost giddy, and many of them were complimentary of the volunteers (“thank you for doing this for us,” one woman said nearing the end of the evening). There was nothing “mundane” to most folks about the experience of voting; everyone seemed like they were on a mission, as if they were serving some greater purpose. This optimism made the day whiz by rather quickly. Even Mr. Righteous Voter was part of the overall sense of importance that seemed to fill the room.

I have to say that, although I am, by default, cynical, I believe in the power of voting as a means of representation. It ain’t perfect, for sure. But Rumsfeld got canned yesterday, and there are a lot of new faces in Congress. Kinky Friedman didn’t have a chance in hell—but the fact is, he still could have won. That it is in the realm of possibility Kinky could have been the next Jesse Ventura, that a warmonger has been deposed and that we have a new, Democratic congress—these things are worthy of volunteering. I urge every reader to do so next year.

vote baby vote

November 6th, 2006 by slewfoot

Music: Lehrer News Hour

Today I spent four hours training to help others vote. Tomorrow I will be the guy who looks you up in a database and makes sure that you have a valid ID to vote. I will be the guy who does this for 1200-2000 mostly mid-aged to elderly people at a retirement center in northwest Austin.

Now, understand that if you live in Texas a valid ID can be anything short of a note from your mother written in crayon; no photo ID is required here, and it was stressed that an expired concealed weapon permit is, in fact, valid ID.

If you are not in the database (which is culled mostly from tax records), and you still insist on voting, you can do so via “provisional vote.” The paper work for doing a provisional vote takes about a half hour; in most cases, your provisional vote will not count. The very idea that such an option exists, in my humble opinion, is awesome.

Training today began with a power-point blitz by a woman who reminded me of Leslie Hall: she had a long hair, a poof at the top, and she had glued two sparkle-gems at the corner of each of her eyes. When she blinked, it sparkled like Christmas (she wore a red shirt and green pants, so, the comparison was overdetermined). When I entered the training room she demanded that I take my coffee outside (which I did, sheepishly). At first I thought she was going to treat us all like idiots. She turned out to be hilarious and, by the end of her talk, I thought about how much I would like her as a neighbor (what endeared me was a joke she made about the “ladies purse” as the black hole of postmodernity; drop something in it and it goes to another dimension). I also felt like an idiot after her presentation: along with two others, I was “new.” The rest of the folks at training today were repeat volunteers. They were also in their 70s.

Regardless, at the end of the fourth hour I think I had a general idea of what I’m supposed to do: don’t fuck up. Fucking up can throw an entire election, and we were warned “poll watchers” are predicted to be high this year because the races are so high-stakes. There are a myriad of ways that I can fuck up, and they all have to do with the 2002 hanging-chad recount.

PEOPLE, IF YOU KNEW HOW COMPLICATED THIS STUFF WAS YOU’D TIP YOUR POLL WORKERS. I’m serious: the rules, regulations, and policies that we have to follow for voting are absolutely insane. The paperwork is never-ending; the “worst-case-scenario scripts” are never ending. I have a new respect for the poll workers. They are truly gracious souls. They may be in their 70s, but they are amazing.

I just took a pill to sleep, as I have to awake at 4:30 a.m. The polls open at 7:00 a.m., and close at 7:00 p.m. (voting continues, however, until the line ends as it existed at 7:00 p.m.). I am not used to 14 hour days, and I just know I’m going to be super-pooped at the end of election day. But I’m excited to be a part of the process, even though I’m about as cynical as they come.

Voting is a good thing. A very, very good thing. Hence the Deee-Lite reference:

what is a paternal sovereign?

November 4th, 2006 by slewfoot

Music: Harold Budd: Abandoned Cities (1982)

Today I finished drafting the War of the Worlds essay; why it took me over a year I am uncertain. Maybe it is because I had a move to Texas and start a new job and then had some romantic set-backs; maybe it is because a little navel-gazing got in the way (that navel comment was for you, E!). I’m not quite sure where to send it, yet, but it’s got much work to be done on it so I suppose I have time to figure it out.


This Saturday it is a bit gloomy outside, but that is the perfect weather to write in. Today is the last day devoted to my work; tomorrow and all of next week I begin to review essays for journals and to read and start composing respondent remarks for our big hoo-hah conference in San Antonio a week from Wednesday. I am not ready for that circus at all.

I have a gathering with friends (and a lover) tonight to look forward too. Yay! Anyhoot, here’s the rest of it. As always, comments welcome but not requested (it’s my scholarly navel and I’ll gaze if I want to):

The Third Term Refigured: On Paternal Sovereignty

What is A Paternal Sovereign?



It is obvious that a soldier takes his superior, that is, in fact, the leader of the arm, as his ideal, while he identifies himself with his equals, and derives from this community of their egos the obligations for giving mutual help and for sharing possessions which comradeship implies.

–Sigmund Freud[13]

From a psychoanalytic standpoint, thus far I have suggested that the figure of the sovereign is an imaginary representation of the symbolic father who embodies two functions that are often in tension: the function of protection and the function of prohibition. From a historical and political standpoint, however, most individuals understand this figure in terms of the monarch, the autocrat, or simply “the dictator.” In dictatorial regimes, the sovereign is the one who has the power to decide who counts as a human being worthy of consideration (e.g., of citizenship) and who is expendable. In light of Rousseau’s theory of the social contract, of course, War of the Worlds is merely one of many Western fantasies that collapse the father and the sovereign at the level of function; in fact, such a collapse into a singular figure has a name. In the philosophical tradition, the political leader and symbolic father converge in the notion of the “paternal sovereign,” a concept first and most famously advanced as the “philosopher king” in Plato’s Republic and continued in Hobbes’ Leviathan. The explicit paternal sovereign is, of course, ubiquitous in Hollywood film: from the Gandolph or “white wizard” character in the Lord of the Rings trilogy to the President of the United States in countless disaster films, the imago or fantasy figure of the paternal sovereign is not difficult to locate.[14]

What is troublesome about the imago of the paternal sovereign is that, more often than not, he is portrayed as benevolent. Perhaps because he is usually explicitly parternal, rarely is his absolute power of discernment questioned in Western fantasy. As a representative of the paternal sovereign in War of the Worlds, for example, Ray’s murder of Ogilvy is excruciating but ultimately justifiable, insofar as he is the only figure with the power of judgment in an undeniably exceptional state. For Agamben, what is troublesome about the legislative power of the paternal sovereign in such states is that it rests on an essentialist understanding of human being and nature that artificially objectifies people into “bare life,” and which often leads capricious abuse. For Agamben, sovereignty as such rests on a biopolitical fracture that results in the real death of human beings.

Unlike Hobbes, Rousseau, or Schmitt, Agamben’s understanding of human being is anti-essentialist and anti-identitarian, which leads him to argue against the idea of sovereignty itself on the basis of what some might term an immanent ontology of potentiality. Space limits discussing this ontology in any detail, however, a brief sketch helps to illustrate how the paternal sovereign gets caught up legislating life itself. In much of his recent work Agamben advances an understanding of human being as an existential potentiality, abandoning the essentialism of “human nature” and the logocentric notion of identity that informs it. Human being is to be understood as “the single ways, acts, and processes of living” that are only possibilities, never determined or given in advance.


Each behavior and each form of human living is never prescribed by a specific biological vocation, nor is it assigned by whatever necessity; instead, no matter how customary, repeated, an d socially compulsory, it always retains the character of possibility; that is, it always puts at stake living itself. That is why human beings-as beings of power who can do or not do, succeed or fail, lose themselves or find themselves-are the only beings for who happiness is always at stake in their living, the only beings whose life is irremediably and painfully assigned to happiness.[15]

In a qualified sense, one might characterize Agamben’s understanding of human being as being on this (left) side Rousseau, except that for Agamben the sovereign is always involved in a kind of slight-of-hand that threatens human being in the name of protecting it. “Political power,” says Agamben, “founds itself—in the last instance—on the separation of a sphere of naked life from the context of the forms of life,” thereby cleaving human content and form, as it were, or eroding what philosophers have dubbed “the good life.” The content, or “naked life” (zoe), and the form, or “the manner of living peculiar to a single individual or group” (bios) are separated by the paternal sovereign, who establishes his or its power by meting biological and political death. The power to mete life and death can only be established if one has the power to define life, or rather, to determine what constitutes a valuable life. Sovereignty necessarily entails the exclusion of some lives in the creation of “the People” or the polis itself. Agamben suggests that excluding is the function of the modern sovereign: he decides what lives are worth living (e.g., citizenship) and what lives are merely bare or naked lives and therefore dispensable. Consequently, “a political life, that is, a life directed toward the idea of happiness and cohesive with a form of life,” argues Agamben, “is thinkable only starting from the emancipation from such a division, with the irrevocable exodus from any sovereignty.”[16]

Whether or not one believes that an exodus from contemporary sovereignty is possible (or as Hardt and Negri would have it, inevitable), we know from history that an ideology of paternal sovereignty is problematic because it promotes the concentration of political power into a single figure or leader who asserts the right to murder others in terms of a “natural” or “elected” mandate. If the sovereign is the one who “decides on the state of exception,” as Schmitt argues, then the paternal sovereign is the one who decides who is and is not worthy of life in such a state as well in the name of protection. What is unclear in Agamben’s discussion of sovereignty is how such a figure comes to power: why do people accept a paternal sovereign? Or put alternately: what is the appeal of the dictator and demagogue? With a little help from Freud, I think that War of the Worlds helps us to understand better the appeal of the paternal sovereign “in real life.” As a sensurround experience in the theatre, I argue that War of the Worlds attempts to (re)create the kind of feelings that lead to an acceptance of a strong, paternal sovereign.

In his lesser known later works, such as Totem and Taboo and Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, Freud set forth a theory of group behavior and leadership that Mark Edmundson argues anticipated the most infamous paternal sovereign in recent history—Adolph Hitler.[17] Arguing that groups or communities behave in a manner that is analogous to the individual psyche, Freud’s theory of political leadership begins with the assumption that groups are only sustained over the long term by strong leaders.[18] Downplaying the theory advanced by Gustave Le Bon that “crowds” function somewhat autonomously with a collective mind, Freud argued that most significant communities and groups persisted only to the degree they have a powerful leader that inspired the transference (that is, the misattribution of feelings about an early, childhood relationship with a parental figure to a leader). Freud suggested that strong, paternalistic leaders come to stand-in for the superego, which is that aspect of the individual psyche that functions as a social authority (essentially, the internalized, prohibitive function first represented by the symbolic father). Moreover, leaders come to occupy the place of the superego in a demonstrably erotic manner that helps to quell, however, temporarily, a default psychic discomfort that every self-conscious subject experiences.


For Freud, the individual psyche is conflicted between the demands of society (the superego) and human drives and desires, which the “ego” ceaselessly mediates. Edmundson elegantly explains that


Humanity, Freud says, has come up with many different solutions to the problem of internal conflict and the pain it inevitably brings. Most of these solutions, Freud thinks, are best described as forms of intoxication. What the intoxicants in question generally do is revise the superego to make it more bearable. . . . Falling in love . . . has a similar effect [to drinking wine]. Love-romantic love, the full-out passionate variety-allows the ego to be dominated by the wishes and judgment of the beloved, not by [the superego]. The beloved supplants the over-I [superego] . . . and sheds glorious approval on the beloved and so creates a feeling of almost magical well-being. Take a drink (or two), take a lover, and suddenly the internal conflict in the psyche calms down. A divided being becomes whole, united, and (temporarily) happier one.[19]


Consequently, Freud argued that “love relationships” constitute a group and make it cohere by revising individual superegos. These relations, however, necessarily need an individual or person who has the power to recognize them or the crowd will disperse. For example, Freud argues that the two “artificial groups” of the church and army are held together by the “illusion” of “equal love” from the “Catholic-Church-Christ” or the “Commander-In-Chief” alike. The story here is that a paternal figure comes to power by standing-in for the individual superego via love. The leader remains in power, Freud suggests, insofar as s/he is able to permit some transgressions that were previously prohibited by the individual superego. For example, “as the Nazis arrived in Vienna,” explains Edmundson, “many gentile Viennese, who had apparently been tolerant, turned on their Jewish neighbors” by trashing their businesses and looting their homes. “And they did all this with a sense of righteous conviction-they were operating in accord with the new cultural superego . . . Adolph Hitler.”[20] In this sense, the paternal sovereign is a desiring valve for the group, and the pain of the individual fractured psyches is resolved-at least temporarily-in (bad) love. Freud’s answer to the question, “why do people come to accept a dictator?” is simply that they love him. Members of a group led by a paternal leader participate in, and enjoy, the exclusion of others from His loving recognition.

Freud’s theory of group psychology helps to explain why a film like War of the Worlds participates in the erotic economy of the contemporary political scene: after seemingly countless images of destruction, the character of Ray-played by well known “hunk” Tom Cruise-emerges as the love object and, eventually, the paternal sovereign. The feelings of yearning and love, as well as the adrenaline rush, inspired by the “action” and violence of War of the Worlds are scopophelic and directly related to the “ideological apparatus” of the cinema itself, which is why film in general has such a powerful, emotional effect on spectators.[21] A number of film scholars have argued that cinema functions in an analogous manner to temporarily quell and “make whole” the psyche of the subject. Laura Mulvey has famously argued, for example, that film achieves this false sense of harmony through the spectator’s primary identification with the camera and the secondary identification with the filmic protagonist-both of which are culturally coded male.22 Film watching is thus a catalyst for love or feelings of pleasure, and the temporary “release” from self-consciousness it affords is one of the reasons why moviegoers love their celebrities: the star system functions in a manner analogous to the political system, providing publics with a series of intoxicating love objects. It is for this reason, in part, that politically mindful films-or films that purport to capture “real history” in a fantastic way-have been especially troubling to film scholars, who have worried since the beginning of cinema studies about the narcotizing and propagandistic uses of film in the service of state interests (e.g., Triumph of the Will, Why We Fight, and so on).[23]

What is particularly powerful about the ideological promotion of paternal sovereignty in War of the Worlds, then, is the emotional effect of its familial fantasy (which inspires the love of a father figure), its unrelenting violence (which overdetermines the yearning for a sovereign), and the “suturing” of the movie-going experience itself.[24] The ideological effect and affect of the film is not simply reducible to the plot, which promotes an essentialist view of human nature as fundamentally “ugly,” nor is it reducible to its tacit call for a sovereign to save the world.[25] What is noteworthy about the War of the Worlds is the way in which the spectator is made to feel helpless in the service of these plot features: the State fails at every turn, and the spectator is forced to see Ray as the only figure of hope. Ray asserts the state of exception at every critical turn in the plot, and the spectator is caused to love him. As Freud helps to explain, the spectator learns to fall in love with Ray as the protagonist, not simply because this is what protagonists in general are for, but because War of the Worlds is so bleak in its outlook, because there is no alternative in the violent, chaotic diagetic frame. If War of the Worlds can be said to promote an ideology of paternal sovereignty based on an essentialist view of human nature, then the film is no mere story, but a powerful fantasy that is constitutive of our contemporary political and social realities. However unwittingly, I conclude by suggesting that War of the Worlds helps to explain why a large number of United States citizens supported the unprecedented sovereign power of George W. Bush.

Concluding Remarks: Cruising Bush



Americans love their masters not simply in spite of their frailties but because of them.

–Joan Copjec[26]

In this essay I have argued that War of the Worlds tacitly promulgates the ideology of paternal sovereignty through its negotiation of the father figure. Insofar as (1) War of the Worlds deliberately recalls the events of September 11, 2001; and (2) negotiates the anxieties of the symbolic father explicitly in terms of the imaginary father and implicitly in respect to the paternal sovereign, I suggested that War of the Words directly intervenes and participates in contemporary social and political realities.
To this end I suggested that the film is about sovereignty because it re-stages a state of nature and because the paternal protagonist of the film is an imaginary representation of the figure of sovereign. Consulting Lacan, I suggested that the imaginary father and the imago of the paternal sovereign are convergent representations of the symbolic father, a function or position of protection and prohibition. Consulting Agamben and Schmitt on contemporary sovereignty, I then detailed the grave consequences of the brand of paternal sovereignty promoted by the film. Finally, consulting Freud, I described how the cinematic experience of War of the Worlds interpellates the spectator emotionally by inspiring feelings of love for the paternal sovereign. I want to close by suggesting that a viewing of War of the Worlds can help to explain why powerful–arguably dictatorial–leaders such as George W. Bush continue to find support from U.S. citizens.

First, a word on Bush as the paternal sovereign: as a number of scholars have commented, the conception of the sovereign as (1) the one who can assert the state of exception, and as (2) the one who decides what is and is not valuable life in the name of protection is easily illustrated by contemporary political and legal events.[27] At the time of this writing, the most recent and familiar assertion of sovereignty in this Schmittian/Hobbsian vein was Bush’s “military order” on November 13, 2001 that authorized the indefinite detention of suspected “terrorists” at prison camps in Guantánamo Bay.[28] After Nine-eleven, the Bush administration has repeatedly declared that the country is in a state of emergency (or in a “war on terror”) and has asserted that many of the controversial practices of the military and other government bodies (e.g., wire tapping, torture, and so on) are exceptions to the rule of law.[29] Agamben argues that these more recent, post-9/11 assertions of sovereignty are problematic-indeed, dire-for two reasons. First, they reflect a dark view of human nature as fundamentally dangerous or “evil,” which contributes the dehumanization and destruction of others as “terrorists.”[30] War of the Worlds‘ many traumatic scenes-most especially the brutal carjacking and the murder of Ogilvy-reflect this view; as wave after wave of the “evil” alien Other decimates throngs of humans, the spectator is made to yearn more strongly for their decimation as well. Although the aggressive feelings inspired by the film concern either computer generated monsters or over-acting extras, these are the same feelings that have been promoted in Bush’s post Nine-eleven speechcraft: feelings of survival and vengeance. Second, such assertions of sovereignty are symptomatic of a troubling political trend first noted by Walter Benjamin in the wake of the first total war and in the shadow of the second: “the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule,” meaning that the norm has collapsed into the exception, thereby tempting atrocity.[31] When a paternal sovereign asserts a continual and never-ending state of exception, argues Agamben, “when the state of emergency becomes the rule,” as War of the Worlds demonstrates so well, then “the political system transforms into an apparatus of death.”32 Inasmuch as War of the Worlds promotes a disturbing ideology of paternal sovereignty, it always serves as a commentary on contemporary political affairs. The film may also serve as a warning.

Whatever one’s personal, political beliefs, it is clear that the international community thinks that George W. Bush has abused his sovereign power in the so-called war on terror. In a 2006 poll conducted last November by the British newspaper The Guardian, the United States is “now seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbors and allies.”[33] The poll report concludes that “British voters see George Bush as a greater danger to world peace than either North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, or the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”[34] These opinions are not new, since the descriptions of Bush as a “dictator” and “demagogue” surfaced long before public attitudes about the war in Iraq began to sour significantly in 2005; criticisms of his cowboy, go-it-alone style of foreign policy were widely known before the 2004 election.[35] In light of these blunt criticisms of the president, the question many have asked is “why?” Why was a leader roundly criticized as dictatorial, hard-headed, and intellectually limited re-elected to office? Why do people still support George W. Bush?

Many pollsters and scholars have responded to the “why?” question by arguing that a large part of the answer is Bush’s “war on terror.”[36] Echoing the opinion of a number of commentators and scholars, Peter Hart, a well-known public opinion research analyst, argues that the threat of terrorism decisively won Bush the election in 2004. What few have discussed, however, is the emotional economy set into motion by the “war on terror” and the central role of Bush as a father figure who inspires feelings of love: as Freud said of group leaders in general, Bush’s continued success among a certain public has to do with his ability to refashion the superego such that previously impermissible acts-such as torture, wars of aggression, phone-tapping, and so on-become permissible as a consequence of a new, exceptional state of affairs. In Bush’s case, however, the model cannot be said to resemble the more recent, historical past. Whereas strong, dictatorial leaders of the World War II era represent a flawless sovereign, a political creature of absolute autonomy impervious to critique, even those who continue to support Bush are cognizant of his many shortcomings. The persistence of Bush is only explained by the way in which he inspires love in spite of his impotence, and in this sense the arc of the Bush presidency closely models that of War of the Worlds‘ plot: Like Ray, the Bush presidency began with the theme of “deadbeat”; Bush’s meteoric rise to popularity was a direct consequence of Nine-eleven and the feelings of desperation and impending catastrophe catalyzed by the death of thousands. War of the Worlds not only replicates the feelings of Nine-eleven, but also uncannily tracks the narrative trajectory of George W. Bush’s rise to popularity as a paternal sovereign. Such a homology implicates what Lacanian critic Joan Copjec has termed the “unvermögender Other”-the impotent father or daddy without means-as more central to the patriarchal sovereign of contemporary American political fantasy than Freud’s ideal, unassailable dictator. The reason the spectator falls in love with Tom Cruise’s character in War of the Worlds is because Ray protects his children and comes to adopt the position of the symbolic father, the supreme protector and legislator, despite innumerable shortcomings and failures.37 Similarly, our sitting president was party to the same fantasy, moving from “bad” father toward the achievement of good parenting: when it’s time to protect his people, George is a great dad! If one wants to understand why George W. Bush continues to garner support as a paternal sovereign, she needs to see War of the Worlds and reflect on what she feels about Ray.

Notes

13 Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, trans. James Strachey (New York: W.W. Norton, 1959), 85.


14 Plato, The Republic of Plato, trans. Francis MacDonald Cornford (New York: Oxford University Press, 1945), 189-193.


15 Giorgio Agamben, “Form-of-Life,” translated by Vincenzo Binetti and Cesare Casarino, in Means Without End: Notes on Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 4.


16 Agamben, “Form-of-Life,” 4-8.


17 Mark Edmundson. “Freud and the Fundamentalist Urge.” The New York Times, 30 April 2006; available http:// http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/30/magazine/30wwln_lede.html accessed 30 April 2006.


18 Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, trans. James Strachey (New York: W.W. Norton, 1959), 1.


19 Edmundson, “Freud,” par. 7.


20 Edmundson, “Freud,” par. 8.


21 I am thinking in particular of Jean-Louis Baudry’s theory of the “cinematic apparatus.” See Teresa de Lauretis and Stephen Heath, eds. The Cinematic Apparatus (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980).


22 See Laura Mulvey, Visual and Other Pleasures (London: Macmillan, 1989).
23 See, for example, F.R. Leavis, Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture (Cambridge: The Minority Press, 1930).


24 See Kaja Silverman, The Subject of Semiotics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 194-236.


25 In an interview with Rob Feld, David Koep is asked: “as long as everything’s pretty much copasetic, we’re okay. But as soon as we get scared, or threatened, or something’s being taken from us”-DK: “Yeah-we get ugly. . . . We were in a story meeting one day, when I was maybe halfway though the War of the Worlds script. I had show the first have to Steven [Spielberg] and he said: ‘I want you to remember, though, that in times of great disaster . . . it does tend to bring out the best in people . . . . I said, ‘Yes, you’re absolutely right,’ and went home and wrote the carjacking scene, where it’s as ugly as ugly gets. In part, because I’m still a teenager and I have to rebel against Dad, but also because [I am not optimistic like Spielberg].” Friedmann and Koepp, War of the Worlds, 150.


26 Joan Copjec, Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994), 149.


27 Moreover, Alan Wolfe argues that ” Schmitt’s way of thinking about politics pervades the contemporary zeitgeist in which Republican conservatism has flourished, often in ways so prescient as to be eerie. See Alan Wolfe, “A Fascist Philosopher Helps Us Understand Contemporary Politics,” The Chronicle Review 2 April 2004, available at http://chronicle.com/free/v50/i30/30b01601.htm accessed 18 February 2006.


28 See Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, translated by Kevin Attell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 3-4.


29 The many legal transgressions of the United States government are detailed in the most recent report issued by the United Nations. See United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, Situation of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay, 62 sess., 15 February 2006. Doc. E.CN.4.2006.120.


30 For Hobbes, human “evil” reduced to what we might term survival instincts-the animality of human being. For Schmitt, the fundamental “evilness” of human being is neither our animality nor our capacity to do harm to others, but rather, a fundamental tendency to scapegoat the other, or to define “us” in distinction to “them,” that which Jacques Derrida terms “logocentrism.” In politics, this is the irreducible logic of “friend” and “enemy” central to Schmitt’s concept of the political. See Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, translated by George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), esp. 25-37. For a sustained critique of this logic at work outside of the political, see Richard Kearney, Strangers, Gods, and Monsters: Interpreting Otherness (New York: Routledge, 2003).


31 Walter Benjamin, “On the Concept of History,” translated by Edmund Jephcott. In Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 4, 1938-1940, edited by Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 392.


32 Giorgio Agamben, “The State of Emergency,” lecture given at the Centre Roland-Barthes at the University of Paris VII, Denis-Diderot, Generation-Online.org, available http://www.generation-online.org/p/fpagambenschmitt.htm accessed 11 February 2006, par. 26.


33 Julian Glover, “British Believe Bush is More Dangerous Than Kim Jong-il, The Guardian (3 November 2006); available http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,1938434,00.html accessed 4 November 2006, par. 1.


34 Glover, “British Believe,” par. 2.


35 See “Why Bush Won,” Rolling Stone 963 (9 December 2004): available http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/6635544/why_bush_won/ accessed 4 November 2006.


36 For a good overview of the answers given, see James E. Campbell, “Why Bush Won the Presidential Election of 2004: Incumbency, Ideology, Terrorism, and Turnout.” Political Science Quarterly 120 (2005): 219-241.


37 Arguably, another reason is because, after numerous controversial statements and appearances promoting the film, in the public eye, Tom Cruise is a hopelessly misguided Scientologist.