Sunday, August 10, 2008

tsk . . . semantics.

i'm no expert on international affairs, but i do worry the reportage thereof.

there was the "lovely" moment when the NBC commentators described one passage in the opening ceremonies of The 2008 Olympic Games (©?) -- lovely though it was, still, a disturbing political/propaganda spectacle -- where a group of superhappy Chinese children handed over the flag to black-clad soldiers who then goosestepped their way toward a sort of flag altar, and so but Brian or Matt or Bob told us (thanks, guys!) that "see, here, the children metaphorically hand themselves over to the care of the state . . . " as if we were superlucky to witness a "live cinema" (Bob's refrain) version of the happy ending to an enchanting bedtime story.

there is so much to say about the visual rhetoric at play in the opening ceremonies. i couldn't possibly know where to begin. i long to be able to say that it was simply lovely, but the images, especially coupled with the commentators' scripted banter that served to scaffold the propaganda . . . well. i'm not sure i have the energy to take it all on.

and why the head-exploding repetition of "8/8/08"? . . . we get it. it's magical. The Olympics is happening on a date in which a number repeats THREE TIMES! must be a Christian Olympics, after all! seriously. just go to YouTube to see the tortured interpretations and predictions (some, based on "the prophecies of Nostradamus") [long, heavy sigh].

what prompts me to write, which is to say, what prompts the evolution of these tangents on media reporting, rhetoric, ethics trance-inducing numbness of mind, spirit, and will (all just so much, too much, and so you rarely see me take any of this on; i leave it to the good, smart writers at the blogora) is the headline over at the New York Times, "Georgia and Russia Nearing All-Out War."

huh. now it's a "war." damn.

but so, when do we call a war a war? i hate to sound na├»ve (and maybe someone will correct me with a matrix of linguistic markers that create a spectrum maybe starting with taunting and moving on to the use of something more overtly damaging). but so while it's not the first time that worries of this kind have surfaced in/for me, i am especially sensitized following my decision to watch the taped opening ceremonies of The 2008 Olympic Games (©?) (see above). but so, as for the rhetoric of "nearing war," when does the hurling of bombs at and use of weaponry against one another not constitute war? the opening paragraph of the piece, written by Anne Barnard, explains that

The conflict between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia moved toward full-scale war on Saturday, as Russia sent warships to land ground troops in the disputed territory of Abkhazia and broadened its bombing campaign across Georgia. (Barnard)

so maybe the entrance of "warships" confers upon the tussle the far more emphatic terms? and sure, the descriptive terms "full-scale" and even (in the title) "all-out" serve to qualify "war," as though perhaps war is already in effect, but i can't help seeing the language as just a little bit kinked.

maybe i get it. people need to care, and perhaps the news on the "conflict" to date has not sufficiently outraged the people. still.

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