The Return of Walter Benjamin’s Storyteller: Ronald Reagan as the Incorruptible Saint of Political Media


by A. Staley Groves

1. St. Reagan and the Return of the Storyteller

The 2004 Republican National Convention was a significant event concerning language and aesthetics in contemporary politics. The Reagan myth appeared as a stellar aura of sentimentality that churned a cultic swoon. Among the polity this spectacular mystery passed a glow upon the shoulders of gleeful followers. Engulfing George W. Bush’s body, the Reagan aura of the protector, the prophet, the historian, and narrator of American destiny oft portrayed as a humble man who simply transmits “content,” bequeathed upon the sitting president his missionary staff to guard that “shining city on a hill.” This proverbial key to New Jerusalem follows Reagan’s own mythical thinking about the sacred role of the United States. After all the organism-city was under attack by “terrorism.” The “real America” had to be preserved from suitcase nukes and radical Islam, what was needed, in fact, was the wise counsel of Reagan-Bush to survive not only as a nation, but as a world.

When Bush ceremoniously accepted his spectral host his image was woven into Reagan’s, the ultimate sovereign who rode off into the screen on a white stallion. This journey scene manifested after two key elements of memorial montage: the late leader’s image preceded by a surging fighter plane that merged into the image of a priest calming his flock at what appeared to be Reagan’s own funeral service. With Reagan returning from heaven through media he assured the converted any crisis facing American providence was only a point of passage. Having returned a short time after ascension his “final journey to the West”1 was an aura every conservative leader need embody and project. Reagan’s channelers, the conservative faithful, amplified the aura of father Exceptionalism. This novelistic perpetuity endowed the faithful with an ability to overcome not only history and its seismic interruptions (given its attempt to claim the impossibility of nature), but as much the finitude of mortality. Contemporary crises of origin has breached a certain threshold of experience through broadcast media.

This phenomenon is provisionally linked to authenticity and language, similarly articulated by Christopher Fynsk concerning the “way” one takes “in the saying of language.” The way is complicated by the “fact” of language itself, and the fact of language may indeed be our devices that transmit political messages.2 Thus how we engage what appears or inflects as an essence in the experience of media persists in relation to our own speaking or saying. The first barrier is a thinking of or with devices we inhabit daily. It is easy to call this a type of agency, yet to target the device in hand obscures the question of the apparatus itself and its relation to language. Far more ephemeral than the Reagan myth per se something surpassed a key threshold related to that question.

The “funerary moment” as Jacques Derrida conceived of it examples, perhaps, the distinction Fynsk makes between Hegel and Heidegger on the fact of language in consideration of the way of its saying essence, it also links to a moment of terror and war as capitalism enters into its late phase. As Fynsk sets out in the introduction to Language and Relation, one must “attend to an implication of approach and object that is no less intricate than (though fundamentally different from) the one purposed by Hegel.”3 Method denotes the problematic of the death in language and the way it relates to political discourse, or, as we propound, the way death is turned against subjectivity.4 Derrida’s observation of Hegelian semiotics perhaps underscores this matter of the “fact” of language, that is, if we are concerned with recovering discourse from pure aesthetic manipulation, as a type of death-speaking in media devices is a language that is factual:

Hegel knew that this proper and animated body of the signifier was also a tomb. The association sōma/sēma is also at work in this semiology, which is in no way surprising. The tomb is the life of the body as the sign of death, the body as the other of the soul, the other of the animate psyche, of the living breath. But the tomb also shelters, maintains in reserve, capitalizes on life by marking that life continues elsewhere the family crypt: oikēsis. It consecrates the disappearance of life by attesting to the perseverance of life. Thus the tomb also shelters life from death. It warns the soul of possible death, warns (of) death of the soul, turns away (from) death. This double warning function belongs to the funerary moment. The body of the sign thus becomes the monument in which the soul will be enclosed, preserved, maintained, kept in maintenance, present, signified. At the heart of this monument the soul keeps itself alive, but it needs the monument only to the extent that it is exposed—to death—in its living relation to its own body. It was indeed necessary for death to be at work [… ]5

Reagan became an incorruptible saint by a death at work, a mythical force indelibly printed through the incumbent Bush and his bio-formative constituency. Limited not to a particular ideological identity the embodiment of American providence and its sacral mission is at stake in this transferral of aura. Sure to spring from his or her mouth are the wise maxims and proverbs, that in a sense of scale, Bush attained the attributes of Benjamin’s storyteller as a Reaganesque narrator: speaking wise counsel from beyond the pale of broadcasting lumens. The device in hand is yet a mere distinction to Benjamin’s concept of the novel and its crystallized narrator whereby a solitary reader (hence viewer of broadcast politics) reunited with their own death-speaking capacity. The distinction between the novel and the device occurs in the withdraw from reading a novel and return to the realities of life. Our devices today are increasingly attached to our mode of encountering and cracking phenomenon once demarcated by the actual pages and limited by distances that gave readers a chance to see a report for what it was.

Reagan’s ubiquitous Americana, telegraphed through folk speak crafted by his minders, is constantly recycled by neophytes. The likes of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Christine O’Donnell present to the American public newer developments of a candidate with special attributes of a storyteller narrator. These acolyte test models attempt to perfect what appears as a neo-romantic element of American cult. Even Barack Obama in his misguided attempt at Burkean consensus invokes Reagan.6 Given the lack of substance in conservative candidates today, the ultra synthetic reality surrounding political leaders denotes a crisis in authentic discourse. This demands a deeper mediation on the nature of essence, that is, where essence vanishes into the impossibility of nature and further, whether or not we can even think this distinction without committing an incredible fault of curiosity, that is, running the risk of participating in a fully synthetic political discourse. Our naive animality, if not our “bare life” holds the ability to distinguish what was given away to the device that understands more and more of our bodily movement. Since we are accustomed to thinking by way of self-reflection the experience of discovery has always lent itself to the destructive and “secret” mores of an ideology of progress. If I participate, no matter what, things might change. This is a matter limited to technological agency but not fully that: language has entered an eidetic blender. Therefore beyond this tendency to call Reagan acolytes religious lunatics we have entered a time of political eschatology. These candidates and the sophisticated elements of their campaigns gamble on our increasingly faltering capacity to grasp our own capacity for language. How are we to think the appearances of these figures in order to gain access to the displacement of a synthesis of reason, the crafting of thinking we have apparently left behind?

The content of Reagan and Obama’s speeches are stabilizations of a death-lost polity. This phenomenon is analogous to the emergencies of a stock market. The nature of machine-driven trading demands a more emotive check on tensing outcomes. The practice of language is in doubt because the usurpation of discursively built community, that is, communities have adopted the logic of information as the basis for their meaning: broken, without brevity and lack of context. The media device is an interesting object. Its capacity to subjectify or structure perception depends on our lingering from actual reality in the same way the novel and the newspaper did. We cannot however limit our thinking to the object. Appearances are linked to the fact of language. If engagement with forming language continues by way of device habitation, pragmatic legislation which is the synthetic material for rule of law will face continual destruction. Law takes its place in the body. The body marks the limit of freedom by moving to the limits prescribed by law. A perpetual image crystallizing a general condition in the American polity suggests the reflections of salvation, a blindness of vanity or the narcissistic awe of our devices and networks allows essence to meet this law beyond our perceptual capacity of reflection. The law is no longer engaged by the body in formal thinking, it is engaged by whatever imagination may be, arguably the furthest extent of a thinking, human body. Imagination would become the essence of a new law. Neo-romantic vision quests for the real America become the blinding element of political identity dominated by the aesthetics of an obscure authenticity. What is the authenticating body then, for whom? The American polity has hit an ideological bottom. Wandering in portable magic mirrors listening to every revelation spouting about produces a result that pushes once calculative governance by argument into endless oblivion, hence the craft of reason aimlessly drifting into a multi-polar voidance without any legible consensus. The question “how do we think of the multiple?” is perhaps phrased more effectively as “how do we avoid what appears as reasonable discourse?”

2. Shock Values: Masses in a Post-Electro-Mechanical Age

We think we are part of political movements every time we stroke our screens. Therefore when Reagan reappeared from death he was Benjamin’s storyteller, he was a saint and now incorruptibly true—this is the experience of devices and the claim of their ability to channel appearances of facts. This glazed upon Obama, who, no matter how brilliant, proves unable to stabilize the destruction of civic spatialization whereby law appears and may be thought about. Political strategists will continue to manipulate this factoring of language whether known to them or not. And the world beat essence of Obama once hailed as messiah can no longer keep up with the national quest for origin. “Birthers,” in fact, are a nonpartisan phenomenon that lends to our theorization. Birthers’ desire for authentic origin by way of mythical delusion indicates the power of appearances and a lack of perceptual literacy.

Conversely Obama did precipitate a potential cure for the inadequacies of death care through devices that reach beyond “Hope.” Casual observance of “conservative” right ideologies congealing in contemporary America demonstrates a growing reactionary position against government and administration. The Obama campaign, following all the progressive elements of political identification and subjectification is no exception, no one can win without using technologies of an increasingly sophisticated apparatus of voter identification. This is differentiated by Obama’s pragmatic style of governance, the executive versus the messianic candidate. By the administration’s own admission their information was “ineffectively” communicated.7 The arguments as to the real appropriation of Reagan’s good governance, whatever the case may be, are appropriated today by a radical right that rejects any America whereby its modern institutions survive, and that is the real fall-out in Washington today.

The bios that gives force to symbolic power is now oriented toward the thought of these bodies, not the bodies themselves. They have a whole new issue to enforce upon America: governance is no longer acceptable in any civic manifestation where organizing physical bodies was its primary task. These bodies are already in place. Governance would begin in our own blinding vanity as the submission to essence driven by a factored language. That is why following the wise counsel of contemporary politicians has less and less to do with how well one knows their leader or their half-baked conspiracies. Today more and more people do not clearly understand what these leaders really say or mean. Regardless of bravado, language contrasts to a general sense of reality these leaders exude once in office. Yet by 2012 it is not a gamble of prophecy to say this general rupture in political messaging will not be corrected and perfected.

Everyone knows revolutionary leaders are insane, yet to be insane is generally a mode by which one has little way of confronting its suppositionary notions. We live in a time of demented and hallucinogenic language inherited from the post-war America of the 1950s, yet that phenomenon has begun to transpire into nothingness and along with it any revolutionary possibility. Would the new emergence of far right leaders really qualify for a whole group of insane revolutionary leaders appearing in such prolific numbers? This question rests upon the disappearance and emergence of something like an iconographic scaffold whereby our ability to read depends on our aesthetic health, that is, grasping the death in speaking, which would be the ineffable fact of language itself. Our “conservative” leaders of the day, are not yet full lunatics, they believe what they say and what they say is authenticated by invoking the storyteller of Reagan who holds the mantle as the most malleable blazon in American political lexicography. This diction or literacy-shaping is buttressed by nearly countless amounts of data crunching and micro-targeting, the goal, as it has been since the formal introduction of social and information sciences in the early 20th century, is to find a way into the subjectification processes of human bios.8 Walter Lippmann, a pioneer on journalistic ethics and social sciences defines the goal of seeing images forming in people’s head in uncomfortably similar terms:

The pictures inside the heads of these human beings, the pictures of themselves, of others, of their needs, purposes and relationship, are their public opinions [. W]e shall inquire first into some of the reasons why the picture inside often misleads men in their dealings with the world outside. We shall consider first the chief factors which limit their access to the facts. They are the artificial censorships, the limitations of social contact, the comparatively meager time available in each day for paying attention to public affairs, the distortion arising because events have to be compressed into very short messages, the difficulty of making a small vocabulary express a complicated world, and finally the fear of facing those facts which would seem to threaten the established routine of men’s lives.”9

Hallucinogenic experience inherited something from the percussive shocks that shattered the body. Benjamin’s shattered human, as he thought it in “The Storyteller,” was one undergoing a decline in valuable experience. Lippmann’s cynical attitude stands in contradistinction to any progressive goal of educating and informing everyone by the merits of information and newspapers. Benjamin’s stance was quite similar to that. Despite the percussive assault of modern life and its loosing of biological sanctity, human-beings retained an ability to redress progressive obliteration. Benjamin therefore sought an “-ability” to think creatively against a desubjectification presaging the ascension of total war fascism. Would this form of desubjectification fully manifest today depends upon whether or not we are able to observe appearances proximate to death, or to authenticate the end of our personal world. The crises of finitude for the subject are linked to Benjamin’s analysis of a final review. A dying body allowed a necessary life-affirming transmission critical to human society.10 This is a society we conserve less and less of today. How do we engage technological claims on bios, and the use of our imaginations by political regimes exploiting those “plugged-in” to the system? Benjamin’s general prognosis aligns with this in a rather interesting way. The incessant wiring of the world digs into the destructive currents of our unknowable nature whereby our capacity to grasp our finite existence has few ethical stabilizations.

In Benjamin’s thought one could attempt to strike against this type of historical determination. This observation was linked to the electro-mechanical experience of the human body. Today it takes place at an aesthetic level and requires a new articulation whereby a new praxis lacks a consistent engagement. How do we un-subjectify with “smart” technologies and conserve the dignity and nature of our own language? How do we smash them without destroying our own bodies and imaginations?11 If we follow a type of linguistically driven empiricism language is the last place whereby a sensible conversation takes place. In fact I think this is the enigma by which Obama will secure reelection. It is based upon means of a synthetic authentication through accessing a human based temporality we are quickly losing touch with. This will not secure whatever governance is already taking position, the new governance may be confronted by what Benjamin called “spectrum analysis.”12 This mnemonic shift would drive death from language and throw it about the mediated world. It would, in effect, have to be supposed before imagined. Is this best addressed by whatever we are calling post-human? Is it merely an excrescence of writing that demands a more efficacious recovery? Would mourning for authentic language finally been overcome or does this post-human merely obscure it? Only a new art and poetry could emerge as a way to articulate it.13

3. Legibility in the Age of Sustained Beings: Thoughts on a Post-Human Militancy

Today it seems language is completely packaged on a level of thought-utterance. Recovering the dignity and nature of authentic speaking, or dare I say “organic” voice, is a move toward smashing historical determination. From the inside-out language seems ripped apart from being; conversely, from the outside-in death is inhaled through endless objects of commoditized life. Aisle after aisle of produced thinking we ceaselessly inhabit a neo-bourgeois ideology of moderation. Profane thinkers of the day have yet to turn to novel tactics that are sustaining fronts of resistance. How does one address something that we cannot even see? Paradoxically this ends in the destruction of the body if the aim of any determinative machine would truly want anything at all. But what it really hints at is the reflection of a real body more available than we think. If Benjaminian shock served as a positioning agent for the “sustainability” regime we have now entered, would we not benefit from seriously engaging a project of aesthetic rebellion? If we inherited shock from the long-term incubation with the technology of writing we should have access to its claim on imagination. That would need to be tempered by the fact that writing has begun a type of disappearance. In the sense of its general “legibility” the essence of writing could be what powers the affect of canonized authenticity.14 If the ancient human today dissolves in the wake of the shock and awe by a disappearing writing, its own natural propellant (voice and the mystery of nature) would obtain an appearance. Would this new phenomenon have already begun a decline?

Discourse for constructing communities would be one recovered through media that attempts to fully claim synthetic reason from thought. Discourse is therefore not directly from bodies in a sense of transmission, which would handle any effective construction of synthetic reason or moderation, i.e. Burkean calculation or post-Humean passion. Though clearly an issue of the posthumous it is in this death-notion that we surrender to our leaders appearing in devices. Whatever resembles of our own dead-death it is obscured by vanity. Vanity obscures scintillas of truth in media devices via storytellers by the essence of death itself. No matter what political or ideological identity, language is the device and perhaps the apparatuses of media in general. Powered by the force of death, our death, everyone’s dead-death, language is no longer a footnote for philosophical pause: it powers what appears now as political inanity. Imagination is in some sense legible, somewhere, somehow.

Does object-philosophy promise to solve this problem through dejected curiosities, or veiled desubjectification? Thinking the claim on imagination would be the only way to confront the lunatics attempting to destroy public and civic governance. Yet this is a problem of immanence or waiting. God is a crisis of imagination incredibly difficult to conceive in the self-conceptualization we have today. It would depend upon those entrepreneurs savvy enough to create a type of space to accommodate radical language in an already fully exhibited human body. The affirmative and immediate truth we ignore today, or simply cannot stabilize any further for examination, enters a paradoxical crux.15 This seems confirmation enough to open a debate about the aesthetics of object philosophy as a proper place for the remnants of capitalist thought, if we are still thinking on terms of commodities. Dead-death is ripping imagination from the body and reselling it in what is called “wise counsel” from the likes of a used-car politician. I would like to take this question in this direction, because though this has never been the expressed goal of commodification, it is the result of late capitalism.

Any new image of language presents a substantiation or claim on our “post-human” future and what type of politics it would produce. Does it appear in the ironic phrase of “Hope,” is it something intimate about our conditions with media? Are we in some sense entering a vast hopelessness but at the same time challenged not to fall victim to narratives of salvation? The human’s lingering ideal of having a “post” in society finds a possible irony as a type of Loughnerian grammar (the invisibility of constructing reason)16 and is linked to this pervasive loss or mourning. Indeed we may have fewer positions in society today. Conversely is not having a “post” the militant imperative of liberal democratic thought and its utopian undercurrents? What we have is equality through opposition and war. What was an inner contradiction in the promise of a welfare state was actually a warfare status of privileging groups or individuals in a larger manifestation or correcting apparatus of natural laws. By abusing “diversity” what was concealed are the nefarious elements of economic sciences and the invisible mastery of divisiveness, one that appears internally, as we see in contemporary politics, the most unnatural nature.

This human position in liberal democracy is utterly collapsing. Authentic exchanges, friendship, and mutual care for creative destruction and construction are not nourished long on denatured excrement. Our post in contemporary society is thus messianic. The recycling of thinking has an end in itself, an end we must overcome. Our uncanny boot camp of psychosis, if never set down, will always obscure the locus of creative acts, that is, where reason or craft enters into the actual by way of reflection. That we all have a “Call of Duty” means the placement of the game controller in the hands of a biped: a direction that ends in the point-of-view. And the space between them presents an opportunity to move this orienting post. As for the word “orient,” the preverbal East is the last place the West appears as Western.

Who or what is godlike has today a point of view that projects a world. What replaces orientation is the capacity to observe this schematic. First, one could destabilize the ordering of imagination itself by way of the individual imagination. This is our first “profanity.”17 Second, the imagination and the created world are thus voyages into the logic of an image and not the radical productivity of imagination alone. Their integration, or transmogrifying capacity, lends to our need to learn to read what is writing today in our imaginative bodies, that is, to read experience and navigate the punctual claim, its eidetic variations of our own movement in the world. To stop this novel illiteracy of sense from falling into a politician’s image of counsel one would have to recognize that any game console is not a true voyage without deference for reading “outside the box.” Here, object philosophies may offer thoughts on grammar. As it relates to its interiority, it, the post-human, must consider both until it is once again human. This is the only conservative position left in the world of thought. This would describe our musing about a post-ing, positing, or depositing—the punctual orientation of biology. For imagination available to each biological life is an imaginative “access” to their post or point in the world. This posting is what their real point of view could become as the perishing of this point of view, as an interior window to being. Every human has, in the military anyway, a “post.” And the post of Sarah Palin, among other inane creatures, is a twisted language, which has no regard for poetic care.

The suppositions we operate on still concern on the imperatives of an “informed citizenry,” that is, their entire index of thoughts and thinking as a public property. The idealistic requisite for voting in a representative democracy is precisely what I mean by electro-mechanical profanity now relegated to a wet dream in the anti-humid reality of a computer. We are wise therefore to rethink the famous and certainly defunct “Canons of Journalism.” The modernist scientific answer of stabilizing information was to have its site in the bodies of thinking human beings. That is, the object of information and the newspaper itself were the plane by which one could reason effectively if they would just learn how to read them correctly. We have long since entered that phase, a time of readers and writers that we now no longer understand as separate positions. Benjamin observed that the vanity and egoistic desire of readers to be writers is often abused by editors. This is in no case diminished today, that is, “users” have constant reflection in the devices in hand and hackers find themselves committing the errorism of a Flusserian “functionary.”

Perspective, that is, a point of view, is the habitation of the object of the paper by imagination, this is only sped up by way of the user comments. More precisely a migration of thinking-bios into information. The newspaper is now a motherboard, everybody reads them and no body understands it, the goal is to standardize the movement of bios. Science, in particular what is called “social science” does not determine democracy as we opined earlier. This cynical attitude toward participatory democracy is a cornerstone of a more accurate and forgotten conservative skepticism of “liberalism.” Thus liberalism fosters the correct conditions of warfare in order to gain access to imagination, and if democracy (the want of grammar) demands discursive freedom, we are far from that today. Conservatives today are merely liberal radicals who intentionally or not use information science to further manipulate every biotic form bleeding being into a corrective system of illegible grammar, that is the way to stabilize the orthodoxy of their followers, return the uncared death of language into the image of their regime.

What is the point-of-viewing humans like that? The point-of-view, or the point-of-viewing has in some sense left us with a type of novel mourning. What is post-human is thus still human, a matter of access to positions of every moment of legible and illegible verbiage (referring here to Fynsk’s thinking of essence and language). We have to determine an increase in legibility that fits a criteria of dignity and privation. One can stop speeding-up to outsmart the calculative and programmatic nature of civil machinery and thus find ways to ethically engage ordering. Timing is thus the answer to impossible speed, at least in boxing. This imperative emerges in political want today, as in America and across the world the hard rightward migration toward national origins is based on the loss of a relationship to language and thus aims at destroying what it believes are results of a “big government.” The speed that has desubjectified the hobbits and ancient Vikings of a Tea Partying America are equally astounding, yet they too will undergo a perishing of becoming. The masticatory capacity of necrotic capitalism today is a type of political mourning for a reasonable discourse obscured in essence. But the answer is not by incarnating politicians as storytellers, or creating fictive worlds whereby our narrators emerge in actual certainty versus a general schematic of reality, these are things we merely attend to as objects and essences.

4. The Negative Kingdom of Sound Being

It was the cultic and exhibitive dialectic that Benjamin thought in consideration of fascism and technology that excavated language, removing its production of wisdom for the finite subject into the device and returning it as something promising actual, infinite capacity. The weigh station remains the human body yet a body that has lost it capacity to handle the radical being concealed in language itself due to the technologization of metaphysical thought. If ana-logism or analog life characterized the annihilative expression of “world war” via media and its acceleration into images, what was underwritten was the capacity of seeing.18 Shock via media has left the body in a missionary-messianic position that indicates this lack of seeing as the site of almost every political utterance guided by the synthetic narrators of false histories. Iterated earlier, the ideological imperative of sustainability solidifies what appears as the imperatives of smart technology: a novel ground of human imagination and the mastery of the ineffable capacity we are no longer able to tacitly handle. Therefore Reagan’s post-humous appearances designate the ethics of optical thought as an ethics most inhumane. Reflected in the rise of Obama, the 2004 Republican Presidential Convention was only one site that is not fully consequential of what has since emerged as disquieting behavior exampled by “conservative” politicians and media despots. The emergence of cultic lunacy is built upon the incredible exploitation of language and being. We cannot fully account for these figures who seemingly occupy the fringes of imaginative thought through an inversion of bodily force into a nearly immaculate conception of the signification of wise counsel, that is, they emerge as our modern version of an effective storyteller capable of facilitating what was lost from real conversation, community and the essentiality of creative embellishments (not unlike the author Leskov for whom Benjamin afforded some finding of counsel even if the orator was merely a page).

There is a bit of countermovement that may have an optimistic tenor. Our own recovery of being forces the question of how we recognize a return to being. If we have lost our collective vision it may be that we have only realized sight has nothing to do with appearances. This first theoretical step would address the ethical need erupting in not only our continuous digital migration, but the colonization of language by media and its claim on being. If our time is not engaged toward the preservation of biological thinking supposing the incredibly elusive element of human experience, it is at the same time an indifference oriented toward the utter destruction of human systems whereby a chaotic outcome would express a negative fecundity unseen, but one we conversely have some type of access to. Would this shift first appear in imagination itself or merely as another testing? Have we truly divorced ourselves from language by the pent up desire to escape the fact of finitude that has only resulted in near-death testimonies and theosophical doctrines?

Piece originally published at Continent Continent | Creative Commons License


1 Quoted from Ronald Reagan’s memorial as broadcasted by FoxNews

2 I refer in general to Christopher Fynsk’s inaugural questions concerning the “linguistic turn.” See Fynsk, Language and Relation.

3 Fynsk notes that verb status of essence relates to the “way-making that occurs properly in the speaking of language,” whereby discerning essence and language might lead, via Heidegger to an experience with language: “…namely, the relation of essence and language as it involves the human engagement of speaking its essence.” See Fynsk, Language and Relation, 76-7.

4 I have begun a theory of such a recovery, See Groves, “Ultima Multis: The Raising of Deathcare.”

5 See Derrida, “The Pit and the Pyramid,” 82-3.

6 Sam Tanenhaus has observed that Obama is most likely a consensus conservative in the Burkean sense of calculation. See Tanenhaus, The Death of Conservatism.

7 See Beam, “Speech Therapy.”

8 I refer here to Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion, published in 1922, whereby the goal was to see the pictures in people’s heads.

9 Lippmann, Public Opinion, 30.

10 In “The Storyteller,” Benjamin assigns this to anyone, including the “wretch,” where after death was swept from view presaging the asylum mentality of the disciplinary society.

11 In fact one may begin the conversation of imagination as body forming rather than bodies forming imagination.

12 Benjamin’s concept of material theology as he articulates it in the “Paralipomena to ‘On the Concept of History’.”

13 I reject the narratives of non-anthropocentric thinking. Any thinking is only human thinking even if by proxy.

14 Benjamin’s notebook N from The Arcades Project as well as “On the Concept of History,” attempt to find ways in which historical continuity may be disrupted, either by colliding with this historical penitentiary or by the realization of our suspension in its directional domination of perception.

15 I refer to Judith Balso’s most current work on poetry and ontology whereby an astounding concept of subjectivity introduces a novel conceptualization of history. See Balso, Mandelstam, Stalin, Hölderlin, Heidegger.

16 See Sharrock, “Explained.”

17 I refer expressly to Giorgio Agamben’s concept of returning to the public by way of profanity from what was sacred. Yet returning to the public also contributes to the contemporary culture of exhibition and therefore has nothing to do with private dignity. See What is an Apparatus?

18 Literary scholar Laurence Rickels identifies this as “not-see,” hence “Nazi.” See: Rickels, Nazi Psychoanalysis.


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Groves, A. Staley. “Ultima Multis: The Raising of Deathcare.” artUS. 29 (2010). Online.

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Rickels, Laurence A. Nazi Psychoanalysis, vol 1: Only Psychoanalysis Won the War. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002. Print.

Sharrock, Justine. “Explained: Jared Loughner’s Grammar Obsession.” Mother Jones (Jan. 11, 2011). (Aug. 22, 2011). Online.

Tanenhaus, Sam. The Death of Conservatism. New York: Random House, 2009. Print.