6/06/2005

"Goliath Lost" billboards

I saw them on 2002 on Florida, on the run up to the Iraq war. It hit me as very strange.. Like something Osama would say to the US behemoth lusting after revenge and another nation's riches... I could never forget those outdoors. Finally today I found someone who wondered the same -- law



Pindeldyboz: Moonlight Maitra More Than Ever: The Story of Now

It seems strange that a company, in the winter of 2002, would create a billboard which read "Goliath Lost" and place it in America. I asked myself, "more than ever, why Now?" For every story, since 9/11, since the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11 or actually when you first realized that they had hit and you sat in front of your television or stood on top of your building and watched, or ran frantically down the stairs and away from the falling debris, or hysterically attempted to call your loved ones, is a story of Now.

For Now is a story of David and Goliath. And lest anyone think other wise, America is the Goliath- the ultimate Goliath suspended over a universe of Davids- the lone superpower standing at the end of history, the chief informant of an ubiquitous substructure and formless global hegemony. Goliath2.

Why would a new corporation, in this case Miniusa, remind us that Goliath lost on a billboard some ten miles from ground zero. I saw the sign on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway as I passed through Jackson Heights on my way home. The next morning I drove over to the neighborhood and took pictures of it. It was March 10, six months (minus 1 day) after the attack. Do they believe Americans forgot? Do they believe that Now is over? Sometimes it almost seems like it has ended and we are entering a new now, but we probably won't be able to tell until we can think about today in retrospect, or someone, if we are not here, can look back not in anger at these moments. Maybe as the billboard suggests, Now represented the final stages of the American period, of the modern and postmodern epoch.

... Would not a billboard which read "David, Feel My Pain" or "Maybe Goliath had his Revenge" be a better sign for the times? Enron could use a sign like that, possibly posted on Interstate 45 South, just a few miles north of Houston- a message that could capture the sentiments of the American public. It would be the tale of David and Goliath told from the other perspective- every perspective must be heard- even tales of the big man's revenge, his attempt to maintain his dominance, after he was effectively sublimated by the little guy. It is a tale of Goliath, after the fall, because the big guy has feelings too. He too experiences pain and his pain is real and meaningful.

Americans probably would not like to call this a tale of David and Goliath, because we are a nation that loves the underdog, a nation that perpetually views itself as the authoritative underdog... Does this explain the rejoicing that occurred in many parts of the world after the tragedy of 9/11? It does not justify the acts which killed so many. But it may help us to understand the consciousness which inspired both the terrorist actions and the joyous reactions to the tragedy. Americans should understand because it is grounded in the hope of the little guy, of all little guys- a hope Americans know so well. It is cheering for David (it the most general sense) over Goliath.

But Americans still are cheering for the underdog, still rooting for David... Is it possible for any American to be an underdog? While it does seem strange the we, the members of the last great superpower, can still envision ourselves as an underdog, many Americans do not feel the power and potency of their role as Goliath. We too have fantasies of defeating the giant, but fail to recognize that we are inside the monster. Just like with the fall of Enron- we sat mesmerized by the fall of the giant- it was more than the pleasure of spectacle- it felt like vindication. Riding the bomb... Yahoo Yahoo.

We feel outside of the Goliath, but we are not. It is a disembodied experience of watching ourself, wanting to destroy it, because it does not feel like us- we do not recognize it as such. Thus we, the components of the lone superpower, feel like the underdog under the force of our own hegemonic load, whose identity remains mysterious to us. And although we live and possess agency, we feel powerless, vulnerable, and incapable. Helpful these illusions are, in such times of struggle and subjugation.

There are those Americans who recognize their power and hate it- they try to make a "difference" but refuse to use their muscle. Instead they forfeit it, or at least try to. They recycle and act in ways agreeable with our postmodern pluralism. They read the Times or listen to NPR in their fuel-efficient cars (calumniating over arrangements between the oil and car companies) and even refrain from eating the endangered and delicious Chilean Sea Bass. But there has come a time in many of our lives when the endless flow of trash and poison so overcomes us, as it saturates the planet and the rest of humankind, that we recognize these self-depriving and deprecating acts as merely an attempt to hide our power from ourselves and others (the world). But just as the world is not fooled, nor is our collective or individual selves. We are left with a guilt that results not from pleasure, but denial. Our asceticism has no effects, makes no noticeable dent or detour in the path to final destruction. It is a self-righteous path on which those who travel it are enabled to feel virtuous, yet never feel content nor transcend our ubiquitous sensations of guilt. They never realize that all action is based in self-interest- no matter what distortions humans' reflective and rational processes suggest their motivations to be.

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