Saturday, February 20, 2010

Iron Mountain

Initial thoughts?


  1. I'm only a little more than a half-way through, but I'm confident enough to say that Iron Mountain makes a similar rhetorical move found in Polanyi, that is to say, to offer anthropological evidence so as to "de-nautralize" a social practice or insitution. In the case of Iron Mountain, the institution of the "war system" is isolated and its functions, both visible and invisible, are delineated. As a result, it makes possible for a re-imagining of our current, so called "natural," pratices and institutions.

    It follows then that peace is not a mere dream never to be actualized but a permanent possibility, made possible by our capacity to re-imagine our social practices.

  2. I would have to agree, although Iron Mountain is much easier to get through than Polanyi. However, I feel a bit uneasy about the lack of specific contextualization within Iron Mountain, and with how often in the actual report the author writes "obvious." Too many ideas are projected as "obvious" and clearly logical, and the empty assumptions, especially about the functions of war definitely set off some red flags for me. But then again, as a satire such moves are fitting and rhetorically revealing. In some instances, I felt like I was watching Fox News..

  3. I was really compelled by the articles written in the appendix, for what they reveal about the way this book was taken up. In the works thus far, I feel we've had a clear idea of the author's ideology, and in most cases have been able to reasonably assume his or her intentions. The ambiguous authorship for the book seems reflected in the multitude of ways it has been taken up. It's interesting for me to think about how the truth claims made in a book operate when the author avowedly asserts that the book itself is entirely false. I'm wondering why people didn't want to believe that it is satire; is it that they see truth in the arguments within it? It strikes me that this text (and I don't know if Lewin intended this) is most useful for those who wish to mobilize against it. Perhaps that's why (I think Dale mentioned this a few classes ago) it has faded from popularity.
    This piece also makes me take notice of the way I associate ideas with their authors. Its arguments feel like they're in a kind of ideological suspension - I think Lewin sought to make a dis-embodied argument precisely because it would afford him the space to make such ridiculous self-evidenced claims.

  4. Yes, I want you all to think more about what it means that this piece is circulating as satire, and even as a once notorious hoax -- but also what it means that the text you read contains a number of frames from different moments in its publication that may domesticate that satirical force (and at least a couple that may exacerbate it, too).


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