Monday, November 16, 2015

Pictures at an Explos(it)ion

Godard did not show this picture at his Sarajevo Writers Festival appearance in Notre Musique (2004). But if he did, would audience members mistake it for something else ("Stalingrad?" "Hiroshima?" Sarajevo?"), like they did when he showed them Matthew Brady's picture (below) of a bombed out Richmond, Virginia taken in the last year of the American Civl War (1860-1865)?

Since its introduction as a news item, I have been reluctant to take seriously the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), thinking it more a construct of those who stand to gain by it as an agent of fear than a group of mercenaries (ex- and otherwise) fighting for a self-determined political structure designed to oversee the production of oil.

Which returns me to the first picture: Jerusalem's King David Hotel after the Irgun blew up its southern wing in 1946. This act (of terrorism?) is generally seen as the last straw in Britain's attempt to manage Palestine and is counted as one of a number of events that allowed for the modern state of Israel.

So what's the difference between what the founders of the modern state of Israel did and what ISIS is doing? Why was the former group rewarded with state recognition and the latter group vilified?

Perhaps an answer begins with an understanding of this rather damning "agreement"-- a WikiLeak before there ever was such a thing. (It should be noted that what happened in Paris on Friday comes exactly 100 years to the day the French and British governments sat down to discuss what became known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement.)

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