Saturday, November 11, 2017
"The Wonder of Tomorrow"
I am reaching out from the graveyards of gravity swells and monstrous turns of the galaxy’s dark wheel. It has been a while since I composed theory so this will be a difficult leap. It is safe to say that after the rise of Republican White Nationalism in 2016 and Trump’s war on everything that is coherent and compassionate in these United States nothing is safe and nothing can get outside a shambling shadow of fear and violence painting our existence. The problem philosophically is one of orientation. From where can we grasp perspective? I am from a tradition of Lacanian Marxism and cultural critique that much to my dismay demands a reconciliation between the passionate force of identity politics and the bureaucratic calculus of a truly egalitarian democratic socialism. We need to move forward in the dark. The four futures of Peter Frase stand like doors in front of us looking for us to ask the right question and to ask it toward the door that doesn’t lie. Perhaps the riddle of the doors should include not just the one that always tells the truth and the one that always lies., but the two others: the one doesn’t believe in a bipolar split between truth and falsity, intent to smash trained logos into a Derridian paste, and the one that believes it can be both true and false without contradiction, because the tension of the contradiction holds onto the power in discourse. Perhaps the key to revolution and a birth of Star Trek level luxury-communism lies in Zizek’s quadrilateral hidden variable of the ‘unknown knowns.’ About 100 years ago, president Woodrow Wilson staged a screening of D.W. Griffith “Birth of a Nation” in the White House. Today, the crippling majesty of that address is now occupied by a senile syphilitic reality TV dipshit who sits alone in his bathrobe at 6:00 pm in the Lincoln bedroom, angry because it hurts to pee and tweeting about kneeling football players and telling stories about trying to fuck Valarie Harper in a Bed, Bath and Beyond in the early nineties. I suppose not much has changed. Power is still a self reflexive loop, a masturbatory endeavor that turns upon death drive and shuffles like a zombie. Red Letter Media pointed wonderfully out how zombies would not eat the living, because zombies can’t digest; their guts are dead. The eating is hollow, a pure facsimile of consumption in both senses of the word. As a first strip in this re-orientation toward anti-fascism and anti-capitalism, let us turn to my favorite topic: film.
Consider Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman, (story by Zack Snyder) as not only a sequel but perhaps a soft reboot, a fertile spawning of Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film Children of Men. Let’s call it “Children of Men 2, The Rise of Dillon, now known as Diana.” Children of Men was set in 2027, (a frightening mere ten years from now if we manage to live that long under the golden reich of game show oligarchy.) The parallels are exquisite. Imagine at the end of Children of Men, when the 'Human Project,' a floating hospital ship disguised as a fishing vessel finds illegal immigrant refugee Kee and her child Dillon and the dead body of Theo floating in the waters of the shore of England at the end of the world rescues her. Now, imagine Dillon is taken onto the ship and transported to Themiscyra were her mother and African heritage and name are erased/transformed/disrupted into Diana, leaving one infertile land for an other, she was re-born as the only child molded by clay in a world of immortals who had never seen another child nor does she know the world of sex and war and yet is educated in all of these discourses. She is said to be that which will destroy Ares, the god of war, ending all the conflict that exists between men. To properly fulfill this prophecy one would imagine a future scene like that in Children of Men when soldiers of both sides lay down their guns to see Theo and Kee carry a newborn child for the first time. And yet at the end of what me must never forget is a "comic book movie," her role will actually be to inspire Spud from Trainspotting playing a Scottish sniper in the grips of PTSD to finally get his 'Chris Kyle' on and start killing again. The woman as energy for the phallus, an unending co-dependency of abuse and violence for centuries holds sway; both films are about the fear and rejection of impotence at all costs.
However, the brilliant mirror to social weaponry in this film take the form of actor Danny Huston who appears in both films. In Children of Men he is a wealthy government official and cousin to Theo who is building an Ark of the Arts to salvage great pieces of human creativity from the savage downfall of civilization, who Theo points out, will be looked at by no one when we are all dead. In Wonder Woman he is playing the red herring of Erich Ludendorff, a German general in WWI who seeks the ultimate weapon to win the war, an ark of chemical warfare, a gigantic plane filled with an uber-mustard gas. Diana actually manages to kill Ludendorff only to discover that Sir Patrick, the seemingly crippled appeaser and proposed architect of peace is the real god of War. It is fitting that after her emergence as a warrior she hides and takes on the job of of art preservationist at the Louvre not only as her disguise but perhaps as a penance. She now having murdered the savior of all art from Cuaron’s film (both as an actress and part of the DC cinematic-industrial complex.) Wonder Woman can unironically be seen as the death of the artist’s presence in cinema itself considering what is to come.
A few lovely touches: as Dillon left the shores of England on a boat, that is how Diana returns: with a man guiding her. Also, In the misery of London in the middle of a war she notices a baby being held by her mother and is immediately shifted away from it by Steve Trevor to attend more important matters, in one fell swoop destroying the beauty of the child rescue from the battlefield at the end of Children of Men. Here, babies mean nothing if not an inspiration to fight as we get in the No Man’s Land scene. Parenting as the influx, influence and pre-demiurge of cascading alienation and social upheaval is marked in the Campbellian story circle, the atonement with the father that never comes. Theo’s cousin played by Danny Houston has some kind of relative, a son or nephew who seems trapped in a video game playing fugue state and being forced to medicate, that is the Dr. Poison character’s origin story perhaps. The strangest parallel is the loss of hearing scene in both films. In Children of Men, Theo loses his hearing when a bomb destroys a coffee shop, his ex-wife played by Julianne Moore points out that the hearing loss is permanent due to the cells dying and hearing that frequency for the last time. The scene is meant to illustrate his lost of ambition and morals and a descent into the drunken apathetic anti-hero who may or may not be redeemed or redeemable. At the end of Wonder Woman the roles are strangely reversed. Steve Trevor, a Gavin McGinnis Vol-cel Proud Boy is now the revolutionary who dies crashing the chemical ark to inspire Wonder Woman to get stronger and keep fighting. Before he dies he tries to tell Diana he loves her but a bomb causes them to lose her hearing temporarily. Wonder Woman takes on the Theo role as'unable to hear' but in a fuck-up of narrative logic magical does later hear what was said to her, and it was of course that tautology of our ego-death driven, nomadic, infinite, inescapable, unrelenting, re-invention indentured entrepreneurship : “Love conquers all.” But unlike Theo who uses love to save a child from war, Diana upon hearing the words of Steve, kills the fictional god of Ares who had already confessed that men are the makers of war and he is but a devil who tempts and influences, she then indulges in a epilogue about how she no longer seeks to end war or save the world, she simply recognizes that war is a part of human beings and she must accept it. Neoliberalism embodied, military intervention is not a choice, but a way of life.
In a quite brilliant stroke, Diana becomes the dream of the alt-right answer to Children of Men; what was lost was not just infertility but weak men unsupported by women who understand them. Wonder Woman is the woman who finally understand men and then can love them allowing them to perpetuate war without interruption. Children of Men was a perfect allegory of a world dying under the future-less path of late stage capitalism and ethnographic cleansing mania. The role of Children of Men in Zack Snyder’s worldview is the impotence of leftist PC posturing in the face of a world dying under multicultural finger-pointing and a refusal to accept the tent poles of the future. The insanity of that premise and position, as those seeking to purify the river of diluted white male sperm that barely glues middle class life together in the American failed state is expressed in grotesque vista and CGI and a fucking narrative Infertility as both a prelude to war and as a prelude to end all war. In terms of story structure, I suppose if Children of Men is a Star Wars, a literally new hope in the face of a dying expanse, Wonder Woman can be seen as the Empire Strikes Back, an anti-immigrant pro-war lashing back to regain blood and soil, the Return of the Jedi is yet unknown to us, but this trilogy has reached it’s darkest apex and we wait anxiously for the rubber band to snap back.