Monday, June 2, 2008

Due Preps for Janette Turner Hospital

Janette Turner Hospital approaches fear from a different impulse in her prescient novel Due Preparations for the Plague. She situates terrorism and the fear it invokes as analogous to the plague, victims waiting for a vile death to take them indiscriminately from their lives. When she began writing the novel prior to the events of September 11, 2001, she could not have known how her ideas would resonate with the largest media event of our time and that the culture of fear would grow so pervasive as to make her critique all the more salient. After 9/11, she did not deny the impact of that day on finishing the text. In an interview with Eleanor Hall, Turner Hospital describes her reaction to the recorded voices of the victims experiencing the tragedy, “there was a sort of radiant calm to them and they wanted to tell the people they loved that they loved them, and I was unprepared for that, you know, and it altered very much the tone of the end of the novel.” Turner Hospital heard the opposite of fear in those voices, that impending death inside of a catastrophic event does not destroy the voice but empowers a final message of hope. Terrorism did not close off the voices of its victims; the voices rose up from the aftermath of the event to inspire and comfort n a time of uncertainty, especially for the families of victims, but also for those left wondering what would become of the world.

Janette Turner Hospital challenges readers to look at the culture of fear that persists in the face of terrorism in a new light. The text examines the importance of critical engagement to take us beyond recognizing the event and into a space where critical engagement can begin to take us beyond the spectacle of terrorism. Both are stories of foreclosure that show how voices are closed off by the fear mongering mechanisms of society, the media and the government, and demonstrate the impact of silencing the voices of individuals.

Turner Hospital takes a transnational view of terrorism, one that crosses borders and forges connections across impossible boundaries to show the global reach of terrorism while envisioning its impact on two people. She explores how government conspiracy functions in the same manner as the spectacle to foreclose lives and empower fear in the aftermath of terrorism.

For Turner Hospital, the text takes a realistic look at the way we prepare for terrorism by asking, “how do we ready ourselves for what might happen tomorrow? What possible preparations can be made?” (401). Each demonstrates how fear is the means through which the unknown becomes palpable in a time of uncertainty, and when societal forces capitalize on fear, art needs to go beyond the foreclosure of the media and the government to critically engage the spectacle of terrorism, bringing about an ethical discourse that allows subjects to live without perpetual fear.

8 comments:

Dillon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CAH said...

Guatanamo Bay from today's discussion--the state of exception--where these detainees found themselves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsgiYBfVisA
This is an interesting video. It helps us understand the movement against authority figures and discipline in general that is prevalent in society, in my opinion. I respect anyone who has concerns for human rights. However, everyone in the world does not think like the "Do Gooder Club" of which I am a member. But I am also a Realist. I know that we had to act to protect the American public.
1) I realize that if I were in another country and Americans attacked that country while I was there that my treatment would be "far, far, worse" beyond the shadow of any doubt.
2) I realize that if the Islam Extremists respected human rights that over 6000 American citizens and their children wouldn't have had their lives destroyed on 9/11.
3) The other alternative was as I suggested today. When we are still investigating and we feel compelled to detain these suspects, after a certain amount of time, we might consider an alternative form of detention. All those who consider themselves to be an enemy of America should remember one of our motos is "Dont' Tread on Me." War is insane, you started it.

callie grace said...

i find the video interesting and my gut reaction is to jump at the government for these seemingly unjustifiable actions and inhuman treatment. However, our perceptions of Guantanamo Bay are both limited and bias, just as is the information we receive of Guantanamo Bay from videos on youtube, newspapers, etc.

When are we ever able to have the whole story, based on the facts given and facts we retain? And if only the facts of a story like Guantanamo Bay are given, is that the whole story because then it is missing the human element of emotion and individual response to tragedy.

I'm rambling and it's early...

Dillon said...

Cah, Well your point number 2 seems fishy to me.

I think we should treat everyone like "Americans". There are some people in our own country that are just as evil as Islam extremists over seas. They are still given the right of a fair and fast trial.

What kind of country are we to have a double standard based on this separation issue of, us versus them idea? We are still all human. The implications of a fair trial will pay off in the end from a world view perspective. It doesn't mean we are sacrificing our security by being more humane.

So then I ask Callie, if Guantanamo Bay is subject to so much bias, then why keep it secret? Why not put it out in the open and have it open to close scrutiny rather than being placed in Cuba? This is a question of losing our control on what happens with our tax payer dollars. Do we even have control of the government when it makes these decisions in private, and perpetuating it with fear?

MacCollum said...

Well, dillon, I see it as a question of triage, as we discussed today. In a Utopia, everyone should have equal rights to a justice system, etc, but in war time, and in our very imperfect world, when a foreign citizen is suspected of being complicit in terrorist activity, they become the lowest priority for fair and speedy trial. They come last, after the national objective of achieving stability in a volatile, terrorist-sponsoring nation, and the security of American lives (military or civilian).

jtjohnson2009 said...

Guatanamo Bay isn't a secret I would say because it is common knowledge, however it is on a military base so they still have rules to adhere to. I don't think that it is just a rogue torture station on a secret island fortrees. It is a legitimate place to house suspected terrorists because honestly I'd rather have them kept there than on our actual soil.

JE said...

Callie, I must say that it is amazing what we see and hear about wars and even domestic issues, but we can not form any opinion on it because there may not be any truth behind it. It really bothers me how the government and sometimes others, can manipulate the media to create thier personal biases. I know this class has many focuses, but the media can not get away as a topic. There is so much that the media shows that creates an arousal with in, but it is all full of crap because we all rarely know what actually happened. I wish the govenment could go on trial for the lies that they have told.

JE said...

dillon, I agree as well with the point of equality. Even thought there are extremist that have no care in the world for others, i think that we are being the same if we do not insist on a fair trial and equality amongst all men. We need to be better than the rest, and we much take into consideration the lives that were lost. However, no man has the right to keep others from freedoms, even if they are the extremist.