Cartel of Defiance

cartel of defiance (noun): 1. In medieval combat, a formal declaration, delivered by herald, of a combatant's intention to fight and refusal to submit. 2. An electronic assemblage of engaged and enraged citizens. 3. An intertextual mode of reading, writing, and thinking that puts the current political, cultural, and personal moment in dialogue with text/art from the past in counterargument to the ahistorical Memory Hole into which America seems to have slipped.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Zoo Story

The desire for the presence of the most anicent is a hope that animal creation might survive the wrong that man has done it, if not man himself, and give rise to a better species, one that finally makes a success of life. Zoological gardens stem from the same hope. They are laid out on the pattern of Noah's Ark, for since their inception the bourgeois class has been waiting for the flood. The use of zoos for entertainment and instruction seems a thin pretext. They are allegories of the specimen or the pair who defy the disaster that befalls the species qua species. This is why the over-richly stocked zoos of large European cities seem like forms of decadence: more than two elephants, two giraffes, one hippopotamus, are a bad sign. Nor can any good come of Hagenbeck's layout, with trenches instead of cages, betraying the Ark by simulating the rescue that only Ararat can promise. They deny the animals' freedom only the more completely by keeping the boundaries invisible, the sight of which would inflame the longing for open spaces. . . The more purely nature is preserved and transplanted by civilization, the more implacably it is dominated. We can now afford to encompass ever larger natural units, and leave them apparently intact within our grasp, whereas previously the selecting and taming of particular items bore witness to the difficulty we still had coping with nature. The tiger endlessly pacing back and forth in his cage reflects back negatively, through his bewilderment, something of humanity, but not the one frolicking behind the pit too wide to leap. -- Adorno, Minima Moralia, 75


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