Friday, August 11, 2006

"The liquid weapon subterfuge"         [topical sonnet]

Mace might seem a no-brainer
but nitroglycerine's handy
in an Oil of Olay container
for a shot of explosive brandy
the Evian water ain't water
the shampoo won't do for your coif
if the plotline's wayward daughter
had been covertly cogent enough...
but the liquid weapon subterfuge
lands with premature renown
now be wary applying the rouge
to the face of the naive clown
hello! let's go? one surmises
a future of fluid surprises


vide e.g.:
New York Times
August 11, 2006
Liquid as Weapon? For Many, a Scary Thought

The dread was in the details.

The scheme, the authorities reported, was to transform ordinary things — like energy drink bottles and medicine jars and MP3 players — into the weaponry of mass death. No one had to learn to fly a giant airplane, and just about everyone owns something that could hold a liquid or deliver a small but cataclysmic electrical charge.

With so many foiled plots fading into a blur of alarms, this one penetrated, people said in interviews across the country.

The familiar had become sinister, just as when a man boarded an airplane with explosives hidden in his shoe five years ago.

“I thought, oh, my God, people can carry cans of what appears to be soda and blow up a plane,” said Marcy Scott Lynn, 34, a recent business school graduate in San Francisco. “Who doesn’t walk onto an airplane with a bottle of water? . . .

After posting this poem to a group poetry blog (at cafe' cafe'), I added, as an afterthought, the following rumination:
I find (if one may so comment about one's own coinages) the phrase "the plotline's wayward daughter" interesting. As I try to analyze it or figure it out, one explanation would be: the ideas associated with the successful performance event of 9/11/2001, if considered a "first generation" of creative terrorist conceptual art, in that case, the ideas associated with the carry-on liquid weaponry suicide mission story [subject of the present poem] can be deemed "second generational." Here, the plotline has drifted, evolved or proliferated to new channels (hence, is a "wayward daughter" of the 9/11 plotline: where the word "plotline" has the dual sense of a Hollywoodesque storyline, and the through-line of a nefarious plot). It has become (in its waywardness of derivative astonishments) still more devious and insinuating. It has managed to translate or explode the "terror of mundane objects and commonplace situations" to a more kalaidescopic (and far-reaching) level of development.

From the first astonishment (that a hijacked airplane can be made into a weapon), we have new splinter-astonishments (that a bottle of Evian water can prove to be nitroglycerine [or a componant thereof]). And we have this further waywardness: that while crashing airplanes into buildings may work as a homerun strategy, merely blowing up a dozen planes midair may serve like a series of amazing bunts achieved in tandem. Inherent in my discussion here, is a postulation of certain contemporary terrorists as wayward performance artists and conceptual artists -- converting the discourse of mass destruction into a kind of symbolist argot, whose medium is the news media and the globalized buzz, as much as it is the hazarded lives of participants and bystanders, planes and buildings. (More songs about food and buildings. Or Evian and the Atlantic.)

The conceptual movement here under study (as might be true of the second genrational level for many art historical movements -- think of post-minimalism, post-impressionism, neo-classicism, post-avant, post-anything) has taken the original motif or gist and given it a new twist (and thereby, presumably a new lease on life. For every esthetic movement must fight against forces of attrition to stay vital and viable.) Artistic success would not suffice itself with mere replication. Some thematic development is expected. Though the basics of adjustment to the changing needs of changing challenges, is a through-line, and the daughter shows in her visage familiar genetic traits of the forebear.

A further note about these lines (the 2nd of which I've now slightly revised -- which revision occasions the further rumination) --
if the plotline's wayward daughter
had been covertly cogent enough...
Originally the line read (rather more banally) "had been cleverly covert enough." To be covert is an obvious need. But to be cogent (convincing, or effective as discourse) is also a need. In this case, though, the practical challenges of a plot are treated as the manifestations of rhetorical challenges; and their solution in practice is the equivalent of a solution in thought. This is true of art in general, and the art of terrorism in particular.


It need hardlby be added that I do not in fact, on a literal level, wish to conflate these two arts (or two sorts of art). Yet they might well and usefully be conflated rhetorically (albeit transiently) in the manner of a thought-exercise. For although the sphere of art's operation (even conceptual art) ultimately differs in obvious ways from the sphere of operation of the violent political operative (and of the thinkers behind his actions), there are perhaps curious aspects of their metaphorical likeness (or, let's say, of their analogic similarity) that might at times oddly illuminate facets of the respective language (or strategic symbolism) explored by each.


Blogger The Wizard of Odd said...

"the rouge/to the face of the innocent clown"

poignant touch-- and yes, the possibilities are scary.

Well done :)

Fri Aug 11, 10:47:00 AM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

thanks; (I a bit wondered if this rough/clown thing wasn't rather a stretch). One wonders how Kafkan air travel may become.

Fri Aug 11, 10:57:00 AM PDT  

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