Friday, January 06, 2012

The Monolith and 9/11

The strategy of the Monolith, coined by Alexei Monroe, in Interrogation Machine, refers to the symbolic strategy of art/performace/music groups NSK and Laibach of provoking questions using controversial, yet indeterminate, symbols that not only do not indicate concrete answers, but don't even imply where those answers can be found. The very obscurity of the Monolith in "2001" provokes an evolutionary response. It can't be destroyed, is made of an unknown material, and has no markings on it. Monroe uses the black equal armed cross of Laibach as his protoypical example, an oppressive symbol not identified with any regime or ideology.

The events of 9/11, the literal felling of the monolithic towers by planes, provoked similar questions without concrete answers. Although Al-Qaeda eventually claimed responsibility, "Why do they hate us?", "Why did it happen?", and "Who is the enemy?" were asked over and over again by the American public. 9/11 was a collective, assertive, Rorschach test that could not be ignored, that demanded a response from our largely apathetic and non-political society. The response, was well, very oppressive, but over the next decade collective self-searching, both crass and enlightened, by American society provided much needed education and self-definition, as it still does today.

Media theorist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard came to many similar conclusions, without using the 2001 metaphor, in his highly recommended essay The Spirit of Terrorism.

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