October 12, 2004
The Chantelle Show:
The Discovery of America
I'm not at all sure what or if it meant, the fortuitous discovery of that quarter deck of card-sized Chantelle photos in Derrida's Of Spirit shortly after his death; less, what I might or might not have intended in sequestering them there almost a decade ago; even less, what last month moved me to photograph the photographs spread upon the back of Wilson leather, the classic black jacket, one of the happiest things I now own, long denied me by another's image of who I was and ought to be, until I reached San Diego.
Perhaps, it now occurs to me, it's that there are so few publicly acknowledged paths upon which to grow older in America, other than buy and breed, breed and buy, and buy some more, that one might as well make advertisements for nothing at all from bits and pieces picked up here and there from one's own peculiar wanderings. And show them to the void.
Perhaps I just like to tear and torture syntax.... (No doubt about that, really.)
In any event, the opening, advertising graphic has sat there deferring the promised "Discovery of America" for well over a month past Columbus Day, through Bush's dismal reelection, and on past Thanksgiving, which we as an imperial nation celebrated appropriately with "Operation Plymouth Rock," sending 5000 Marines on a "swing" through the towns south of Baghdad to pacify the natives pretty much in the same Christian spirit as marked the several centuries of genocidal slaughter that followed that inaugurating landing at Plymouth.
You'd think these guys would leave off the unfortunate Christian overtones in the choice of operation names, given the general and understandable Muslim sensitivity to echos of the Crusades. But no, in this administration's deep, dark fantasies of global domination in "The American Century," we are Apocalyptic Crusaders, God's Christian Soldiers marching onward, scattering infidels right and left, driving them before us as we head resolutely toward the Last Days. If you're only willing to listen, it's not hard to hear. They want to strike the fear of God in their enemies. Run! Run! The Christians are coming! Bush's America daily discovers itself to the Iraqis, with a vengeance.
But, but, but just who is Chantelle? And what the hell is "The Chantelle Show"? And what can either possibly have to do with "The Discovery of America"?
Yes, these are reasonable questions, ones that have tantalized, troubled, provoked, aggravated, and even inspired me many a time during the last month and a half the opening, advertising graphic has sat atop whybother.org. If you're one of the "lucky few" to have visited since it went up, perhaps you seen it once or twice and wondered. I, on the other hand, have stared and dwelled.... Yes, reasonable questions, but I'm not sure I can answer any one of them, or whether I'd even want to answer them, any more than I could or would answer the question "What is America"?
Some things elude not words, which, contrary to all old saws, are ever more than adequate to every occasion, but the experience itself, dumping one out stupefied, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, on the other side.
For example, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, now more significant than Thanksgiving itself as a near-official measured ritual performance and assessment of America's very soul, which these days parades forth under the star-spangled banner of "Consumer Confidence". On Black Friday, we stream forth to the malls to buy, to buy, to buy, to buy, to buy, to buy, to shop 'til we drop. And then we return home to absorb media coverage of ourselves doing the same, celebrating every vicious, fearful, giddy emotion ever known to humankind refocused in an orgy of waste and excess.
Where the hell do they even pile the shit they buy?
I was looking at some Black Friday frenzy pictures again today, fearful pictures from "The Heartland" of product-grasping, pasty-faced, tubby, twenty-something women -- it's one thing to "spread" a bit after forty, as do most of us; another to be a rolling mound of unappetizingly flabby flesh and hardly out of high school -- waddling through Wal-Mart with shopping carts piled so high and wide who can see over or around them, moving forward toward checkout through force of some blind shopping instinct.
And I had a brief terrifying vision of millions of these bloated, breeding Red State porkers as just so many fat, white maggots gobbling down the cardboard-plastic-styrofoam product & packaging waste of $1 hour wage slave armies in China, only to shit it all out, mashed, broken, crumpled, and scratched in one continuous stream of sordid backyard garbage cans and trash piles all across America.
This, the sum and substance of Desire.
Posted by Raoul