Benjamin Tucker, University of Central Florida
This paper is a theoretical work in the field of practical philosophy. I will discuss theoretical issues regarding the Muhammad cartoon and suggest practical ways of living, intellectually and ethically, in the visual culture of the west after the publication of the Muhammad cartoon. I will tie the theoretical to the practical through a concept that denotes one of the most rewarding things in life, i.e., friendship.1 I will begin my analysis by examining, through the writings of Martin Heidegger, Gilles Deleuze, and Guy Debord, the expanding discursive role images play in contemporary society. My discussion of Debord will lead to an examination of Louis Althusser’s and Michel Foucault’s work on the political/ideological power that discourse has in the creation of institutional, and therefore, general knowledge. I ultimately want to suggest that the Muhammad cartoon functions as a discursive image that simultaneously objectifies and subjectifies Muslim identity through the creation and deployment of power/knowledge.
A Snapshot of the World Picture
The modern world is a world of images. In western culture, the majority of people interpret the world by recourse to modern meta-narratives, most easily understood through visual representations.2 We live, as Heidegger articulated, in the age of the world picture. “A world picture…does not mean a picture of the world but the world conceived and grasped as a picture…the fact that the world becomes a picture at all is what distinguishes the essence of the modern age.”3 Vast majorities of people get their news from television; huge amounts of people attend movies in their leisure time; a majority of Americans have a computer at work and home with a graphic-based user interface, and MTV has been adding pictures to music for decades now. It is virtually impossible to drive down the street without being visually assaulted by billboards, and consumers buy commodities for the logo the commodity brandishes. As Nicholas Mirzoeff notes, “In this constant swirl of imagery, seeing is much more than believing. It is not just a part of everyday life, it is everyday life.”4 Mirzoeff makes it clear that today what you see is literally (not just metaphorically) what you get.
The Image’s Relationship to Reality
Does what we see represent or create reality? Deleuze argues, in his magnum opus Difference and Repetition, that western thought, from Plato’s ideal forms to contemporary ideas of journalistic integrity, has traditionally been dominated by the logic of representation. The logic of representation holds that an objective physical world exists, and images simply re-present that world. This understanding does not depend on the accuracy of the images to do so, or the form that the image takes (photograph, cartoon, painting, etc). In fact, we often think of things like paintings as enhancing our understanding of objective physical reality. Monet, for example, gives us new ways of seeing the “Truth” of the city, and Van Gogh gives us new ways of seeing the “Truth” of the stars. In contrast to this “common sense” way of thinking, Deleuze insists that we think of images as ways of actively producing reality and abandon our belief in the logic of representation. For Deleuze, our images are not transcendent representations of life; they are immanent to life and have creative force within it. Van Gogh, viewed from Deleuze’s perspective, does not simply give us a new way of seeing the “Truth” of stars; he actually changes reality by creating a new and different mode of perception that fundamentally alters the object perceived.
Visual Identity and the Parallax: Is What We See of the Muslim What We Get?
In this section, I will argue that faith in the logic of representation gets us into trouble when we attempt to represent things visually that are not physically visible. The primary focus of this argument will be the image of Muslim identity constructed by the cartoon of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban published by a Danish newspaper. A belief in the logic of representation, when approaching this cartoon, frees one from the need to encounter Muslims and learn about them, because it insinuates that identity can be understood solely through “an unprejudiced gaze.”5 Michel Foucault associated the rise of faith in the gaze, and the consequent faith in the visual with the clinic. Foucault said that the clinic has genealogically passed on the belief to modern culture that “Alone, the gaze dominates the entire field of possible knowledge.”6 It seems that most of the contemporary world still has faith in the gaze as the ultimate source of knowledge (e.g., “seeing is believing”). However, the gaze has its limits. It seems to me that the idea that we could gain perfect knowledge of someone’s identity through the gaze is problematic.
The idea of “gazing” at identity is primarily problematic because identity is a rich, complex concept that cannot be adequately expressed through a static picture. Attesting to the complexity of the world and the simplicity of representation, Deleuze said, “Difference is not and cannot be thought in itself, so long as it is subject to the requirements of representation.”7 The second reason why “gazing” at identity is problematic, and it is tied to the first, is because, with the devout faith modern society has in images, the identity that images attribute to a group, no matter how stereotypical or destructive is generally accepted as accurate. Guy Debord said that the emergence of this faith in images creates a climate in which, “man is more and more, and ever more powerfully, the producer of every detail of his world.”8 Stereotypes, when accepted, create real ways of relating to, thinking about, and speaking of individual people, rather than simply representing the way an individual that belongs to a group of people “truly” is. Thus, we see that images do not simply represent, but actually create identities.
The Creation of the Muslim
What kind of identity does the Muhammad cartoon create? Foucault performed archaeologies of discourse in order to show that the way things are talked about serves to create “legitimate” knowledge of them. Foucault said, “Discursive formations are constantly becoming epistemologized.”9 This means that discourse constantly produces and modifies our knowledge of the world. Foucault also came to see that:
Power produces knowledge (and not simply by encouraging it because it serves power or by applying it because it is useful); that power and knowledge directly imply one another; that there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations.10
The power that Foucault sees as inextricably tied to all knowledge most often works to the advantage of those with the privilege of entering into discourse. Foucault writes, “power produces; it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth.”11 From this perspective, when we “gaze” at an image to obtain knowledge we do not “gaze” at a natural, neutral object, but a dynamic object that has literally been produced by an interplay between discourse and power.
Due to the prominence of the mass media in western culture, the dominant way of entering into discourse is no longer linguistic—it has become visual. Thus, the Muhammad cartoon emerges as a way of entering discourse and consequently constructing knowledge that serves to legitimate the Muslim identity as violent. The way I will approach an analysis of the cartoon and the identity it takes part in constructing will be to ask, following Deleuze, what the cartoon does. By dealing specifically with this question, I will be able to set aside questions about what the cartoon is. In order to analyze what the cartoon does, I will utilize Foucault’s “double-bracketing” method of archeology in an attempt to avoid making truth claims about what the image is. The purpose of the proceeding sections of this paper is to provide an analysis of the functional deployment of images.12
What the Muhammad Cartoon Does
The first thing that the Muhammad cartoon does is dissolve, or in Deleuzian terms “contract,” the complexities and differences between Muslims. This contraction creates what Deleuze refers to as an “organic representation” of The Muslim.13 The Muslim identity is composed of denominations that differ greatly (such as Sunnis, Shiites, Sufis, etc.), not to mention countless differing individuals, and the Muhammad cartoon creates something of a meta-identity (or in Deleuzian terms an “organic representation”) that subsumes all of these groups, and individuals to its image of The Muslim. The image of identity created and reinforced by the Muhammad cartoon inextricably ties Islam to violence. The connection of Islam to violence has undoubtedly resulted in the discrimination against and deplorable treatment of various Muslims across the globe. Moreover, this type of treatment is oftentimes perversely transferred from Muslims to Arabs in general.
The second thing that the Muhammad cartoon does, and it follows from the first, is reinforce an already oppressing apparatus that surrounds the meta-identity of Islam. I am drawing my definition of oppression from the feminist Marilyn Frye, who defines oppression as the confinement and shaping of one’s identity “by forces and barriers which are…systematically related to each other in such a way as to catch one between and among them and restrict or penalize motion in any direction.”14 Frye refers to this immobilization as the “double-bind.”15 Being in a double bind is being in a situation in which one is free to make choices, but whatever choice one makes has a negative consequence. The meta-identity of Islam forces Muslims into such a realm of limited choices. When confronted with the violent identity, reinforced by the Muhammad cartoon, Muslims have a limited number of choices: (1) they accept the violent identity associated with Muslims—this choice is an example of what is commonly referred to as internalized oppression,16 (2) they are forced to defend (usually unsuccessfully) Islam as a non-violent religion to masses of people influenced by the construction of the meta-identity—this often results in the formation of a good non-violent Muslim/bad violent Muslim dichotomy and does little to actually change things, (3) they have to deny their identity as Muslims, denouncing their faith in order to distance themselves from the violent connotations imposed on the Muslim identity, or (4) they can accept a violent past and seek to affirm a nonviolent present and future (but this will probably not work, since the actions of Muslims have, in my opinion, little to do with their identity, partly due to their almost complete exclusion from the discourse that creates their identity). As a consequence of the mass publication of images that link Islam to violence, Muslims are presented with choices in alignment with Frye’s theory of the “double-bind,” choices that are not optimal, require hard work, and will most likely not achieve their desired goal. In short, the cartoon both objectifies (in the sense that it creates knowledge about Muslims) and subjectifies (in the sense that it creates violent Muslim subjectivities, which lead to internalized oppression) Muslims and Arabs.
How the Muslim Identity is Created
At this point, some may doubt the power of the Muhammad cartoon to do all that I have described, and so I would like examine more carefully the role this cartoon plays in the construction of the Muslim meta-identity. Debord says, “The spectacle proves its arguments simply by going round in circles: by coming back to the start, by repetition….”17 To follow Debord’s argument, it is not the Muhammad cartoon alone that creates the identity, but the cartoon plays an integral part in that creation. Images of violent Muslims are published daily in all media formats, and as Debord suggests, this repetition proves the argument that Islam is violent. Raoul Vaneigem eloquently sums up my concerns when he asks, “Will it need as much bloodshed to show that a hundred pinpricks kill as surely as a couple of blows with a club?”18
Those who view the cartoon in isolation from its reinforcements and repetitions are looking at the cartoon microscopically. Frye suggests that analyzing oppression microscopically is analogous to examining one bar of a birdcage and wondering why the bird cannot escape. A macroscopic analysis forces one to explore the intricacies of the birdcage, to see where the bars interlock, and how they prevent the bird’s escape.19 (PR, 7-10). Similarly, a macroscopic analysis of the Muhammad cartoon must take into account all of the various instances of media that interlock with the Muhammad cartoon in order to form a cage of violence around Islam. Some examples of the interlocking of media include: the Pope’s comments about Islam as violent; U.S. President George W. Bush’s comments about “evil doers,” “Islamic extremists,” and “Jihadists”; almost all reports of insurgency in Iraq or international instances of terrorism on cable news networks such as CNN, Fox News, BBC, and MSNBC; much of the campaign rhetoric employed during recent elections within the United States; the epic graphic montages of gun-toting veiled Arabs that, on most cable news networks, lead into every segment on the “war on terrorism”; the January 22, 2007, edition of Newsweek which features an Arab child holding a gun blazoned with the caption, ‘The Next Jihadists”; recently made box-office breaking movies about terrorism that emphasize the huge role the Islamic faith plays in acts of terrorism, such as United 93; widely watched television dramas, such as FOX’s 24 and CBS’s NCSI, which frequently feature Arab terrorists as the main antagonists; the widely watched FOX animated comedy American Dad which constantly features Arabs in stereotypical terrorist roles; videogames, in which the player assumes the identity of a soldier fighting off Arab terrorists; NBC’s critically acclaimed docudrama, The Office, in which a regional manager is frightened by and suspects that an Arab software-engineer is a terrorist that has come to destroy the office, and probably most effective is the simple, water-cooler talk about living in a post-9/11 world, the war in Iraq, and other recently aired news stories of violent Islamic terrorism.20 As this expansive, yet extremely limited list shows, the Muhammad cartoon is but one of a series of images produced by the media that works to tie Islam to violence.
The Creation of the Cage
The creation of the cage around Muslims is the direct product of discourse (both verbal and visual). Foucault was generally leery about using the concept of ideology primarily because “like it or not it always stands in virtual opposition to something else which is supposed to count as truth.”21 I am not so leery. But, I would like to clearly define what I mean when I utilize the concept. I do not want to invoke traditional Marxist ideology, primarily because it is understood as unified within the state institutions. I will instead invoke a unique conception of ideology heavily influenced by Louis Althusser.22 The part of Althusser’s theory of ideology I will be primarily concerned with is his theory of the Ideological State Apparatus (ISA). Althusser says that the ISA is composed mostly of private institutions and includes “Churches, Parties, Trade Unions, families, some schools, most newspapers, cultural ventures, etc.”23 In order to show how these disparate, seemingly divided private institutions are united, Althusser says, “If the ISAs ‘function’ massively and predominantly by ideology, what unifies their function is always in fact unified, despite its diversity and its contradictions, beneath the ruling ideology, which is the ideology of the ‘ruling class.’”24 For Althusser, similar shared ideologies are enough to link together institutions that on a superficial level seem divided. Although Foucault initially rejects the concept of ideology, Althusser’s conception of ideology seems to be quite similar to the way Foucault describes the tie between seemingly divided discourses when he says, “they arose simultaneously to follow their separate ways, but our task is to trace their common genealogy.”25 I think one could effectively argue that Althusser’s common ideology is close to analogous with Foucault’s common genealogy. A conception of ideology derived from the intersection of Althusser, Deleuze, and Foucault and applied to the Muhammad image would expose an ideology that does not obscure the “Truth,” but instead obscures the function of the image by overemphasizing its content.
It makes sense that the “ruling class” would have the most power in the discursive production of knowledge, and through a common genealogy or common ideology the ruling class utilizes the ISA in order to monopolize discourse, effectively excluding most Muslim voices from being heard, and maintaining its position as the ruling class. One would be extremely hard pressed to find, within western media, any pictures of Muslims portrayed in a positive light as doing something peaceful. And, even if these sorts of pictures did exist, they would be assumed to represent the “good” Muslim, and would not eliminate or call into question the belief in the existence of the “bad” Muslim.
Toward a Genealogy of Islam or Why Muslims?
Foucault insists that everyone has some amount of power, but that does not mean that everyone has equal power. The distribution of power is, paradoxically, the product and the genesis of discursive knowledge production. The question is, how did Muslims end up with so little power, and how did the west end up with so much? Foucault says,
The archeological description of discourses is deployed in the dimension of a general history; it seeks to discover that whole domain of institutions, economic processes, and social relations on which a discursive formation can be articulated; it tries to show how the autonomy of discourse and its specificity nevertheless do not give it the status of pure ideality and totally historical independence; what it wishes to uncover is the particular level in which history can give place to definite types of discourse, which have their own type of historicity, and which are related to a whole set of various historicities.26
In Foucault’s view, discourse is the autonomous result of various accidental intersections between institutions. According to Foucault, coincidental occurrences led to the western dominance of military power, discourse, and the production of knowledge.27
Although coincidental occurrences may have led to western domination, the western world willfully choose to demonize and exclude the Other from discourse. Given the western dominance over knowledge production, we should look to our present, and ask, why does the west need the Muslim enemy? One such necessity can be attributed to the economic system of the west, i.e., capitalism. Capitalism tells a story about the necessity of competition for progress, but in order for capitalism to progress it needs to have something to compete with (rather than just the competition between capitalists), or at least the illusion of competition. Slavoj Žižek emphasizes capitalism’s need for competition, when he says that capitalism needs “the evocation of the external enemy…to displace the focus from the true origin of tensions, the inherent antagonism of the system….”28 Christianity, the most prevalent religion in the west, can also be seen as a social system with an inherent necessity of competition. Christianity tells a Manichean story of good vs. evil. The Christian narrative names itself the good, and so it necessarily needs an evil to battle. Politically, democracy also has needs competition. There have to be various competing parties and candidates in order for a democracy to even matter. Liberal individualism also necessitates competition, although this may be reducible to capitalism. The commonly accepted, pseudo-scientific theory of social Darwinism also helps to reinforce the western narrative of necessary competition. The modern idea of man necessarily extrapolates man as a being outside of the becoming of life and creates various other beings with which man is in competitive relationships. I am quite sure this list could go on, but the main point is that nearly every western mode of thought has within it and passes on a story of the inherent need for competition. This is not to say that non-western societies do not have certain types of competition inherent within their narratives. My goal here is simply to point out the coherence of these seemingly divided western narratives.29 Thus, we have found our common ideology (the dominance of the ruling class, in this case the west) and our common genealogy (the necessity of competition).
In the recent past, the necessary adversary of advanced industrial capitalist societies in the west was communism. Communism was an excellent adversary because most western institutions could easily find something to disagree with communism about. Unfortunately, the west had not yet perfected the eternal war, and they crippled their enemy far too quickly to the point that communism was no longer worth being considered competition.
After the fall of communism, the west quickly scrambled to find a new adversary and unfortunately chose Islam. Debord, in 1988, almost prophetically envisioned the future of the western society of the spectacle when he said, “Such a perfect democracy constructs its own inconceivable foe, terrorism.”30 Debord, however, missed the importance of the Christian religion to the west and failed to realize that constructing simple “terrorism” as a foe would not fulfill all of the necessities for competition. The west quickly improved upon Debord’s “inconceivable foe” to meet all of its necessities and violent Islamic terrorism was born.
The similarities between western representations of communism and Islam, can lead one to conclude that the world has effectively been reduced to nothing but uncreative repetition. This was the conclusion that French philosopher Jean Baudrillard drew. Baudrillard says, “We are no longer in the society of the spectacle, of which the situationists spoke….”31 Instead, we find ourselves in “A hyperreal henceforth sheltered from the imaginary, and from any distinction between the real and imaginary.”32 Most events that occur are simulacra, a copy of a copy. Everything is simple repetition that just reinforces the status quo, the power of the ruling class, and limitations on life. If we inadvertently defeat our ultimate evil enemy too quickly (as we did communism), no big deal, the role of the evil enemy is easily replaceable (in this case the communists were replaced with the Muslims). Nothing of significance has changed about the world in recent history. The roles remain the same, they are just played by new actors, and the ruling class maintains their position as the ruling class. The Muhammad cartoon plays a part in ensuring the constant repetition of these events by ensuring that Muslims are still thought of as a dangerous, violent enemy of the west. The poststructuralist comes to see that if there is such a thing as violent Islam it is because society, both non-Muslim westerners and Muslims from all regions who have internalized oppression, have created it. At this point, it seems pertinent to note that this paper actually functions as a criticism of the entire premise of this conference. The idea of arguing over whether individuals should be free to speak and represent the world however they see it functions as what I have called ideology. That is to say, that it conceals the fact that our speech-acts (both verbal and visual) actually create the world we perceive and live in, and do not simply represent it.
How the West Uses its Enemy
The west has a peculiar way of defining itself and legitimating the evil of its opposition. The tactic the west employs for this task is “queering.” David Halperin says that “Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant.”33 Vaneigem, referring to those whom Halperlin defines as queer, writes, “Those whom Power can neither govern nor kill, it taxes with madness. The category includes extremists and megalomaniacs of the role, as well as those who deride roles or refuse them.”34 The west often employs rhetoric of “Muslim extremists,” but rather than accuse Muslims of insanity, it seems that the west usually just defines Muslims as evil because of their (constructed) propensity for violence. When Muslims are defined as evil, it allows the west to define itself, in opposition to Muslims, as good; thus, the west becomes the “city on the hill,” the “world police.” As a result, American citizens rarely see their own government’s acts of international state-sponsored terrorism.35
Freedom of Expression
A countless number of people have invoked the simple phrase “freedom of expression” in order to rescue the Muhammad cartoon from criticism. Most “defenders” make arguments that focus on what the cartoon is (satire, a joke, etc.). This is not my concern. I am only analyzing what the cartoon does, and in my view, what the cartoon does is deplorable. Although, at this point, I must concede that it is probably quite correct to say that either all content is legally permissible or none is, but part of my argument is that legal permissibility does not always equate to ethical permissibility. My argument is that the content of all messages is and should be legally permissible, but the function of some images is ethically deplorable, and those images that function in ethically deplorable ways must be criticized.
The argument against criticism of this cartoon is quite often that it is a “slippery slope to censorship.” I do not advocate censorship. I see myself as an intellectual and iconoclast. Of iconoclasts, Baudrillard says, “One can see that the iconoclasts, whom one accuses of disdaining and negating images, were those who accorded them their true value, in contrast to the iconolaters who only saw reflections in them and were content to venerate a filigree God.”36 I do not hate images or “freedom.” But, I do champion the destruction and criticism of all images that limit what a life is capable of. At this point, defending the Muhammad cartoon under “freedom of expression” is really defending the west’s right to monopolize expression. Unless we can make discourse rich, filled with innumerable voices speaking thousands of different languages, I will advocate a rebellion against the west’s monopolization of visual (and verbal) discourse. This rebellion can be carried out in several ways, but practical examples could include: writing a critique of some specific instance of the ISA’s system in action; refusing to be a spectator of the media; talking to your friends, teachers, students, colleagues, or family about these issues; “detournment[ing]…preexisting aesthetic elements”37—the tactic of rebellion advocated by Situationists. People refuse to eat meat everyday not because they are morally opposed to the slaughter of animals for food, but because they are morally opposed to the way the animals are raised, taken care of, and then slaughtered; the rebellion I am advocating is something akin to this. I do advocate a rebellion in which the rebels refuse to consume the images of the media. However, in place of consumption, the rebels would manipulate the media’s images through detournment and critique the media’s use of images, not because the rebels are morally opposed to images, but because they are morally opposed to the ways the images are deployed, the ends that they serve, and the destructive results of the identities they create. I advocate a rebellion that provokes a need and desire to think differently from our common sense western modes of thought that almost all presuppose competition.
The rebellion I advocate is theoretically rooted in Albert Camus’s ethic of rebellion. For Camus, “rebellion is consecrated in the name of moderation and of life.”38 Camus’s rebellion has at its heart what is at my heart, the opening up and enrichment of discourse. Camus wrote, “Monologue precedes death.”39 This implies the necessity of opening up discourse into dialogue for the continuation of life. The opening up of discourse to the point where power is as equally distributed as possible and as many voices are heard as wish to be is a necessary step in overcoming oppression. Camusian rebellion is about a diverse bonding together on the basis of affirming life, as Camus wrote, rebellion is about “unity and diversity.”40 Rebellion creates a sacred bond, in which selfishness is dissolved, and all of life takes part in the battle to end oppression, this kind of solidarity is epitomized when Camus writes, “I rebel-therefore we exist.”41 It seems that the Muhammad cartoon and the entire cage of the ISA’s oppression of Muslims is a worthy target for Camusian rebellion. Such a complex apparatus must be dismantled, piece-by-piece, and I chose the Muhammad cartoon as my starting point, although, this should not imply that the Muhammad cartoon is the most important part to be dismantled. What this essay should imply is that the dismantling of the west’s oppressive images cannot stop here. We must work together, in solidarity, diversity and rebellion to dismantle the entire oppressive apparatus in order to liberate the life that it imprisons.
The Responsibility of Intellectuals
In conclusion, I would like to explore the responsibilities of intellectuals in situations such as the publication of the Muhammad cartoon. Lorraine Code defines a teacher as a friend, someone who is not an authority, but a facilitator of knowledge.42 I would like to take this a step further and give the intellectual the same status. Intellectuals quite often are in influential positions, whether they are professors, authors, mentors, parents, or neighbors (and I am quite sure the list goes on), and their responsibility as intellectual people who hold influential positions is to be a friend to all, especially the oppressed. This responsibility extends beyond humanity to all forms of life. As friends of life, intellectuals have the overwhelming ethical responsibility to do all that is within their power to raise social consciousness and liberate life.
In the context of the Muhammad cartoon, I would like to suggest that the intellectual is responsible to be a friend in two ways. First, the intellectual is responsible to be a friend to the Muslims by rebelling against their oppression. Second, the intellectual is responsible to be a friend, in Code’s sense, a facilitator of knowledge about the oppression of Muslims, to all those with whom he or she has a relationship. Camus wrote, “not giving in to hatred, not making concessions to violence, not allowing our passions to become blind—these are the things we can still do for friendship….”43 Being a friend entails a great amount of responsibility and work. The intellectual is a friend to life and this friendship includes the great responsibility to rebel against all that limits what a life is capable of. With this definition in mind, I think we can easily say that it is the responsibility of the intellectual to rebel against the Muhammad cartoon. However, not everything is a battle, for as mentioned in the very beginning of my paper, a good friendship is one of the most rewarding things in life.
Aseger, Jorn. The Situationist International Anthology. Ed. and trans. Ken Knabb. Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981.
Althusser, Louis. Lenin and Philosophy. Trans. Ben Brewster. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2001.
Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1994.
Code, Lorraine. What Can She Know? Feminist Theory and the Construction of Knowledge. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UP, 1991.
Camus, Albert. The Rebel. Trans. Anthony Bower. New York: Random House, 1991.
Camus, Albert. Resistance, Rebellion, and Death. Trans. Justin O’Brien. New York: Random House, 1988.
Chomsky, Noam. Failed States. Metropolitan Books, 2006.
Chomsky, Noam. Hegemony and Survival. Metropolitan Books, 2003.
Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. New York: Zone Books, 1995.
Debord, Guy. Comments on the Society of the Spectacle. Trans. Malcolm Imrie. New York: Verso, 2002.
Dreyfus, Hubert and Paul Rainbow. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1983.
Frye, Marilyn. The Politics of Reality. Berkeley: The Crossing, 1983.
Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition. Trans. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia UP, 1995.
Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs and Steel. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005.
Foucault, Michel. The Archeology of Knowledge. Trans. Rupert Swyer. New York: Pantheon, 1972.
Foucault, Michel. The Birth of the Clinic. Trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Random House, 1994.
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Random House, 1991.
Foucault Michel. The Foucault Reader. Ed. and trans. Paul Rainbow. New York: Pantheon, 1984.
Heidegger, Martin. The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays. Trans. William Lovitt. New York: Harper Perennial, 1982.
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. An Introduction to Visual Culture. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Sullivan, Niki and David Halperin. A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory. New York: UP, 2003.
Vaneigem, Raoul. The Revolution ofEveryday Life. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. London: Red Press, 1994.
Žižek, Slavoj. Welcome to the Desert of the Real. New York: Verso, 2002.
- This paper is very much a rewarding product of friendship. As such, I would like to thank those who proofread this paper and provided me with valuable suggestions for improvement (in alphabetical order): Dr. Bruce Janz, Dr. Shelley Park, and Dr. Michael Strawser. Thank you all for the help on this paper and the valuable knowledge you have imparted to me both in and outside the classroom.
- I realize that the “western” and “the west” are somewhat unstable signifiers. When I use the term, I am primarily referring to the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the countries of Western Europe (the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, etc.).
- Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays, translated by William Lovitt (New York: Harper Perennial, 1982), 130.
- Nicholas Mirzoeff, An Introduction to Visual Culture (New York: Routledge, 1999), 1.
- Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic, translated by A. M. Sheridan Smith (New York: Random House, 1994), 195.
- Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic, 167.
- Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, translated by Paul Patton (New York: Columbia UP), 1995, 262.
- Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: Zone Books, 1995), 24.
- Michel Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, translated by Rupert Swyer (New York: Pantheon, 1972), 195.
- Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, translated by Alan Sheridan (New York: Random House, 1991), 27.
- Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 194.
- Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rainbow describe Foucault’s archeological method as “double- bracketing” because they insist that Foucault, like the phenomenologists, “bracketed the legitimacy of context-free truth claims,” but went farther than the phenomenologists by bracketing the belief in his own “sense.” Dreyfus and Rainbow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1983), 50-51.
- Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, 34.
- Marilyn Frye, The Politics of Reality (Berkeley: The Crossing Press, 1983), 4.
- Marilyn Frye, The Politics of Reality, 3.
- Internalized oppression is when an oppressed person internalizes the stereotypes that oppress them, and act in ways that serve to legitimate the stereotype.
- Guy Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, translated by Malcolm Imrie (New York: Verso, 2002), 19.
- Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith (London: Red Press, 1994), 24.
- Marilyn Frye, The Politics of Reality, 7-10.
- This list of examples helps to illustrate the reasons why and how one can talk about the Muhammad cartoon without reference to its context of creation (what it is). I could easily have written this entire essay about any of the examples cited above without having to change much content. In this sense, my paper does not really talk about the Muhammad cartoon. Rather than speak about the Muhammad cartoon, I utilize the Muhammad cartoon as a kind of microphone to speak through. The real subject of this paper is the way that contemporary western societies legitimate their enemies. The question which I have been trying to answer throughout this paper is a question about the discursive strategy that westerners use to understand their enemies. The question I hope that this paper leaves the reader with is: are the better ways of understanding our enemies than popular media images?
- Michel Foucault, The Foucault Reader, edited and translated by Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon, 1984), 60.
- I know that it may appear quite odd to bring Althusser, a theorist that is traditionally looked at as a structural Marxist, into a poststructuralist critique, but I believe that Althusser, if his concepts are deployed in the right manner, is as much a structuralist as Foucault was in his early days of archeology.
- Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy, translated by Ben Brewster (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2001), 97-98.
- Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy, 98.
- Foucault, The Foucault Reader, 90.
- Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, 164-165.
- For an insightful history of these accidental coincidences that led to western dominance see Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel (New York: W.W. Norton, 2005).
- Slavoj Žižek, Welcome to The Desert of The Real (New York: Verso, 2002), 154.
- At this point, one could accuse me of “doing bad history,” something of which Foucault was often accused. It could be said that I ignore important historical issues such as the Israel/Palestine conflict, but I am not doing hard history as we normally think of it. Foucault was appointed professor of the history of systems of thought, and systems of thought are exactly what I am interested in and alluding to by providing these examples. I am not so much interested in the physical hard history that led up to the present, I am interested in the various narratives that we, as regular people, employ in everyday life in order to make sense of the world. It is my belief that the narratives we use to make sense of the world, at least in part, create the physical events that hard historians study. For this reason, I do not think I am doing “bad” history per se. In my view, I am doing a different kind of history (a kind of history Foucault was fond of calling genealogy). I believe that both kinds of history are valuable, but different (not better or worse, just different).
- Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, 24.
- Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, translated by Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1994), 3.
- Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, 3.
- Niki Sullivan and David Halperin, A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory (New York: UP, 2003), 43.
- See Noam Chomsky, Failed States (Metropolitan Books, 2006) or Hegemony and Survival (Metropolitan Books, 2003) for a good exposition of United States sponsored terrorism.
- Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, 5.
- Jorn Aseger, The Situationist International Anthology, edited and translated by Ken Knabb (Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981), 45.
- Albert Camus, The Rebel, translated by Anthony Bower (New York: Random House, 1991), 305.
- Camus, The Rebel, 284.
- Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, translated by Justin O’Brien (New York: Random House, 1988), 243.
- Camus, The Rebel, 22.
- Lorraine Code, What Can She Know? Feminist Theory and the Construction of Knowledge (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UP, 1991), 37.
- Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, 63-64.