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Thursday, May 29, 2003

Hyperreal

To me, the most important person in America right now is Jessica Lynch. Because she is a demonstration of the truth of postmodernism. There, I said it. Pomo won. It's no longer simply an intellectual exercise.

I say this now because Lynch has made it obvious. She's important. But she's not real. Or rather, her reality is irrelevant. The body she has, the thoughts she has, they make the real her. But they don't seem to matter. Where she starts to matter is the perception of her. First perception: she is the symbol of the "Support Our Troops" campaign. Look how brave our boys in Iraq are! One of our soldiers gets captured, and they make a daring raid, well outside of military necessity, and fetch another brave soldier from the jaws of evvvvil! But, it gets better. Not only was her rescue demonstration of our troops' ability, morality, and courage, but she herself was. She was fighting bravely against the hordes of evil, preferring death to capture. Only her gun running out of ammo, and her grevious wounds, we are told, caused her to be captured. She is a modern Rambo. In short, Jessica Lynch became a symbol of the goodness of the war.

This perception can lead to a more deeper analysis. As I understand it, for a few days, Jessica Lynch was bigger than the war as a whole. I remember one essayist complaining that Jessica was symptomatic of the disregard of America for the Iraqi people. If the mission is called "Operation Iraqi Freedom" then why had it become "Operation One American's Freedom?" Better yet is the analysis of why Jessica because such a strong symbol of "supporting our troops." Our troops did such a magnificent job of rescuing her. They went out of their way to save the damsel in distress from the evil, torturing brown men. She happened to white. And quite attractive at that. Meanwhile, a minority member of her unit because the first woman killed in Iraq, to no fanfare. In short, Jessica Lynch became a symbol of the racist, sexist, and maybe even classist nature of the war.

But it gets even better. As I hope most of you know, many foreign news outlets, and even a few American ones, are saying that the whole thing was staged. She wasn't heavily wounded. She was receiving the medical care above and beyond what others could have expected. The Iraqi doctors even attempted to bring her back to American troops the night before the daring rescue. And the rescue itself? Launched against a defenseless hospital, using blanks, like something straight out of Hollywood, said one of the doctors. The edited tape of this rescue (edited by whom? Jerry Bruckenheimer?) was released by the Pentagon. The unedited version has not been. In short, Jessica Lynch became a symbol of government lies, of propaganda and sleight-of-hand that disguised the true facts of the "war."

If there's one person who could set the record reasonably straight, it would be Jessica Lynch herself. The real, non-symbolic Jessica Lynch. But most every article I've seen about her finishes with the ominous line "Doctors say she has no recollection of the events, and likely never will." Now her family seems to be saying otherwise.
Her father is not supposed to talk about it? Who orders family to "not talk about" things? Then he says he wasn't told not to talk about it? But he does strongly imply that her memory is the same as ever. This just gets weirder.

The real Jessica Lynch has morphed from symbol to symbol. First it was represntative of good, then evil, then represented only a lie. She could be a primer for Baudrillard's Simulation and Simulacra. Reality had disappeared, according to the doctors. Only the symbols remain.

See? PoMo wins. Reality has been replaced by hyperreality.

- Rowan Kaiser, 5:10 PM
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