Chuck: that does make sense — both the scattershot style of the film and the failures of that scattershotness are symptomatic of that Jamesonian impossibility of representing the totality of the movements of late capital, and particularly the effects of those movements on our lived experience. It’s a fascinating idea — which makes me begin to wonder if Jameson’s much-vaunted “cognitive mapping” is in fact an impossible political project, if the more we try to map the postmodern the more we end up with a schema that makes plain not the nature of the postmodern but the flaws in the map…
Jake: I dunno. I’d love it if we on what passes for the left in this country were able to keep to the moral high ground. But I fear that such high ground is utterly invisible in contemporary culture. Lord knows the right is going to keep using the same cheap-shot demagogic tactics it’s been using so effectively for the last two decades; if the left disavows such tactics, it’s all but ceding the entirety of the media to the right.
I’m not suggesting, by any means, that the intellectual or artistic heart of the left should follow Moore in this mode of discourse. But we do have to acknowledge that, for better or for worse, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter serve several serious purposes for the right: by leading the charge out into the wingnut extreme, they not only give the true-believers a rhetorical line to repeat whenever necessary, but they also make the mainstream intellectuals of the Republican party seem moderate and sober by comparison. We desperately need a Rush on the left; until there’s somebody that public and that far out there, somebody whom at least some subset of the U.S. will listen to, then the pundits on the right are going to continue to be able to treat the John Kerrys as if they’re the extreme. I’m growing increasingly to believe that we need a sacrificial Michael Moore if we’re ever going to be able to elect a John Kerry.
So as far as I’m concerned, more power to him. And more power to Al Franken, and Janeane Garofalo, and Bill Maher. There’s a reason, I think, that the pundits on the left are coming out of comedy: the real political battles of the twenty-first century aren’t being fought in the capital; they’re being fought in the media.