File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 5

Date: Sat, 02 Jun 2001 01:45:35 -0400
Subject: Unreadable faces and end of century tribalism.


There are so many Americas here in the U.S.  In the recent Presidential
election, East and West Coasts voted mostly
for Democrats, Southern States and inland States west of the Mississippi
River voted mostly Republican.

Some have said "There's not a dime's worth of difference" between the two
parties since both depend on Corporate donations to maintain serial
incumbency in Congress, and wealthy corporations often donate to both to
insure access to the party in power.

Herewith, an item I sent to another List, responding to remarks of someone
in Europe.  It is also relevant to Eric's remarks on

The movie, "American Hollow", is a 1hr., 35 min. slice of the life of an
extended family of poor people  who live in in a tiny valley in eastern
Kentucky.  Some get small relief checks. They eke out a living with
vegetable gardens, small game, gathering and selling roots from the forested
hillsides.  There
seem to be no jobs or good schools in commuting distance.

They have assorted bad habits - wife-beating, drunkenness, drugs? are
perhaps the worst.

The film uses text and subtitles, not the preachy voice-overs so common in
our Public Television.

The film doesn't tell viewers, as our Religious Right would, how these
people should be moral and responsible, and lift  themselves by their
bootstraps and become part of mainstream America.  The Film  doesn't tell
viewers, as our Liberal Left would, that these people just need more help
from the Government.

So I there any comparable group of relatively isolated,
poverty-stricken people in your country, and if so, what are you supposed to
think about them?

Rory Kennedy is credited with making this movie.  It came out in 1999.  You
can find reviews on the Internet.  I used HotBot,
"Rory Kennedy AND American Hollow".

It's greatest technical achievement is probably that it seems so natural,

Perhaps the best that can be said for the people, is that those who leave,
get jobs and fail, wind up in jail, or whatever, are accepted back into the
community without rancor.  Most of those who leave, fail, and return to the

If I had not driven through that area twice the past 15 years, I would have
been more skeptical about the movie.


> Been in Dallas again ---- not a dissimilar experience to the first
> paragraph... It always strikes me when I'm in the USA that the greatest
> multi-cultural task that a post-modern European has is the multi-cultural
> relations that we have to establish and understand between the citizin of
> the USA and ourselves. It is easier to deal with inhabitants from any
> world, second or European state than it is with the US subject. Strange
> alarming by turns, and yet we appear to know so much about the US dominant
> culture....  Curious. The self and other relations are to similar and yet
> to strange, the unreadable  facial structures and expressions... and so on
> sdv
> Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:
> > steve:
> >
> > I remember a piece of antropological folklore which has it that in some
> > tribal societies, if a person commits a great crime, he or she is not
> > tortured, imprisoned or physically exiled.  The person simply no longer
> > exists for the tribe. They are no longer spoken to, their name is no
> > longer mentioned. They are ignored as if they were no longer present.
> > They walk alone amid the others as an invisible living ghost.
> >
> > Needless to say, such a penalty becomes a veritable death sentence.
> >
> > If we are retribalizing today through communication technologies into a
> > kind of global village, then the loss of a cell phone or laptop with
> > modem becomes the loss of an umbilical chord.  The loss of a connection
> > becomes a loss of the soul.
> >
> > Are we becoming ghosts in a planetary machine?
> >
> > Does anything really exist until it appears on television?


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