Monday, November 5, 2007

Response to Peter's Post - Thoughts and connections

There are a few things that your post makes me think of, Peter. First, I hadn't thought of the tourist/soldier dynamic in terms of today's recruitment, but I think that is a really interesting point. My friend's husband just decided to re-enlist with the air force after 4 years, even though he has had bad experiences being in Iraq and Qatar, in part because the military offered them the chance for travel - if they spend x number of years in Okinawa, Japan, they were told, they would get their choice of desirable international placements like Spain after that. This seems to intersect Keenan's ideas about the collapse of tourism and war, in that these zones are considered desirable precisely because they are not war zones, but soldiers are still placed there - partially, it seems, as a reward for braving real war zones.

The second thing that your post made me think of in its links to Keenan’s articles was the increasing practice of township tours in South Africa. In “Looking Like Flames, Falling Like Stars” Keenan looks at the belief that new media will allow information to get through and mobilize people – something which failed miserably in the highly covered war in Kosovo. Yet these tours seem to rely on the same ideology that direct information will mobilize action. This is maybe different than what Keenan describes, though, in that the township tours at least claim to be based on the idea that these areas are not getting covered by media, as opposed to the tourist destinations of war zones where “the television that should offer reality seems to provoke an ever stronger desire for it” (Back to the Front, 138). What would it mean for the representational and political issues Keenan brings up if people on township tours were asked not to take pictures, and were unable then to “cite it as one of the high points of their holiday,” as one agency advertises, because it could not be incorporated into the feeling of a holiday without the images? In “Looking Like Flames” Keenan pointed out that the black hole of silence from inside Kosovo “told us more eloquently than words or images or sounds” what was happening there (94). Obviously, neither coverage nor lack of coverage on its own brings change – that seems to be a major point for Keenan throughout the articles we read. And he doesn’t seem to think that we can really get out of the war of images, or that we should.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this – I can’t come up with a conclusion of any sort to the questions you raise. So I will just leave it with these connections and try to think further about this strange collapse.

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