I. Say what you will about Democrats’ conflicting agendas, but Republicans betray their televisual lack of coherence like nobody’s business. They’ll want to have it both ways, of course, but you can’t yell “Drill, baby, drill!” and then call the worst man-made ecological disaster since Nagasaki, by which we mean the Gulf-Eating Rupture/Slick, “Obama’s Katrina”. Either they want oil rigs off every beach in the nation (which would still be insufficient for our energy “needs,” and which even David Brooks admits can never be engineered beyond catastrophe because of the inevitable complexity of the systems required), or they want to blame it in total on Obama’s Minerals Management Service (while conveniently forgetting the no-regulation, let-business-do-business Bush “philosophy”), thereby exploiting the tragedy for maximum political capital.
Reckless endangerment of an entire ecosystem (and economy, as the latter is entirely dependent on the former, no matter how smart a businessman you think you are, you Rand-ian doofuses) is, as they say about our energy “future”, unsustainable. It’s like the depressed person who lets his eighteen cats poop on the floor until it is ankle-deep and a sane person has to kill the cats and get shock therapy for the depressed person and either replace the hardwood or simply condemn the house and tear it down.
II. It’s difficult to overlook the Atwoodian/McCarthian (Cormac) sadness in the Gulf Rupture/Slick, the perfect metaphor for television’s raison. Or as Don DeLillo writes in Mao II: “Get killed and maybe [TV] will notice you.” The Gulf of Mexico will shit blood (or bleed shit) for years as our coastal wetlands become a sodden diaper, one that can’t be replaced with a trip to Wal-Mart: “What we learned was never, ever let oil get into a mangrove coast. You’ll never get it out. It’s like a sponge you rub on a greasy bacon pan. You need very hot water and a lot of soap, and you still might just give up and throw away the sponge,” says Jeremy Jackson, an oceanographer with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Pick your metaphor, but make no mistake about it; we’re experiencing the death of a very large body.
No one will actually believe the environment is dead until TV broadcasts the death photos. Where television is concerned there is simply no end to this story, so by any reasonable understanding of televisual desire the R/S is a good thing. Television’s image making is simultaneous with the technology’s incapacity for moral judgment. The R/S, as rendered on television, is the perfect Nowness of Postmodernity that “only clocks the variations themselves, and knows only too well that the contents are just more images (Jameson, Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism).
The R/S, which will provide the news media with teary-eyed disaster/collapse stories for years, and gallons of pointless punditry concerning its effect on someone’s political fate (the absolute lowest point of concern in this situation) is more than a “wake-up call” (a term more appropriate to, say, someone’s drinking problem than a global crisis). It is shock therapy. However, we at Postmanisms, never the most optimistic people in the room, think it is just as likely that the patients will come out of it restored to their senses as that they will come out in a homicidal/sociocidal rage on realizing they simply can’t have everything they want forever (like the Narrator/Tyler Durden in Fight Club when he says, “I wanted to open the dump valves on oil tankers and smother all the French beaches I’d never see.”). That infinite growth is a flat-out psychotic delusion.
Anyone for colonizing Mars? Live smaller or die faster. It is a choice you know.