A guest post by Carol Mavor, author ofBlack and Blue: The Bruising Passion of Camera Lucida, La Jetée, Sans soleil and Hiroshima mon amour (2012).
Alain Resnais has died, has vanished from the earth. The French filmmaker is known for his documentaries (including his 1955 Night and Fog on Nazi concentration camps) and feature films (including his 1959 Hiroshima mon amour, a film about making a film about Hiroshima, which is also a love story). Resnais has died on the heels of his friend and sometimes film collaborator Chris Marker (July 29, 1921-July 30, 2012). Resnias’s documentary film All the Memory of the World (1956), which turns the pages of memory as collected in the Bibliothèque Nationale, received assistance from Marker.All the Memory of the World follows a book, like the life of a man, like the telling of a story, from A to B:…
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Consensus, non-sensus . . . we can all disagree in this pseudo-democratic nation managed by power elites bent on keeping the masses semi-educated and semi-literate–but consensus in the end is the mandate. To disagree with mandated consensus is to become excommunicate and anathema, socially. If the President were Pope, I’d be excommunicate, I would have long ago become anathema. But the dogma of all Americans acting Americanly has itself reached a reinforcing consensus; after we disagree in any verbal exchange, itself only another ping ping match of monologues, we must come to some point where we all agree that everyone is partly right and partly wrong. There is no real democratic dialogue in America? Would this point to the,possibility that there is a fake democratic dialogue in America, one that masquerades as the truth of democracy in action? Of course it would; however, I eschew the new jargon for something more trenchant in political discourse. Our dialogue, though, is more an exchange of monologues than it is dialogue . . . .
If we had dialogue, real trenchant democratic dialogue, we would not need to scramble for consensus after extending our disagreements into tangentially drawn monologues, themselves more reminiscent of our collective dissociation in matters of reality, what now is real? Another question following yet other questions; itself popularly drawn into consensus managed by the media themselves controlled by sponsors selling products we most likely do not need . . . yes, more so this than anything resembling a healthy expression of democracy at work. But then, democracy is rule or law by the people and all we have in America, as far as the media or the government are concerned is a public–the people are managed as a public and not as a people because the latter are independent of the State, the former are always in the service of the State, as I have said elsewhere within one or another website I have managed these last dozen or more years.
What we have instead of democracy is a Public interest, a Public good, always managed in its images by the media, whether it is broadcast or print, Hollywood or Government PR. It’s absurd; it’s grotesque; this demand for consensus we hold as one of the foremost dogmas of our social interaction, our version of the democratic process. There isn’t even a thread of coalition drawn up in the paradigms of these consenses; that would at least have some residue of democracy working.
This idea has nothing to do with and mostly opposes democracy, again, rule by the People and not the State serving Public. Democratic action always benefits from more democracy; the only cure for the ills of democracy is not fascist policies or other brands of totalitarianism or dictatorship–no. The only cure for the ills of democracy are more democracy, but the democracy practiced must maintain a loyalty to the People, Jefferson’s We the People, not We the Public. The Romans, believe it or not understood this implicitly: the two words Populus (the people) and Publius (the public) were not synonyms in Roman Political Science.
The kind of consensus that societal norms demand is thus the kind of thinking and acting one finds in totalitarian societies. Do not imagine that it has not already happened here, this kind of totalizing that totalitarian governments enforce. We used to say that when fascism comes to America it will come as Americanism–the real horror is that it is not fascism or Nazism or Zionism or Bolshevism, but America’s brand of totalitarian rule, Americanism, a totalizing will to turn the People into a State serving, thus a Power serving and thus Money serving Public fed by crumbs from their tables. Without it being any of the former mentioned four isms, Americanism will be a new totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is totalitarianism–a truth revealed in tautology. I am not trying to be facetious, no more than a Buddhist is when he says good is good, bad is bad and both exist . . . because they do and there is no reductionism in this in the way we mean to make pejorative any attempt to streamline our focus on what is. America is the new Totalitarian Bourgeois Capitalist Super State.