Sunday, February 12, 2006

The humanizing of Jack Bauer

Physchoanalyst and In These Times contributor Slavoj Žižek (author of Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?, which the lead Amazon review calls "incomprehensible") has a piece on the ethics of "24":
In spite of this thoroughly ruthless attitude of self-instrumentalization, the CTU agents, especially Jack, remain “warm human beings,” caught in the usual emotional dilemmas of “normal” people. They love their wives and children, they suffer jealousy—but at a moment’s notice they are ready to sacrifice their loved ones for their mission. They are something like the psychological equivalent of decaffeinated coffee, doing all the horrible things the situation necessitates, yet without paying the subjective price for it.
In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt provided a precise description of how the Nazi executioners endured the horrible acts they performed. Most of them were not simply evil; they were well aware that their actions brought humiliation, suffering and death to their victims. Their way out of this predicament was that, “instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!”
[Eichmann's] answer was found in the Bhagavad-Gita, a special leather-bound edition of which he always kept in his pocket. There, Krishna tells Arjuna that he should carry out his acts with an inner distance and never get fully involved in them.
The reader comments on the page include this from "opeluboy":
Next we’ll probably get a comedy based on a klutzy Mossad agent who constantly screws up his assassination assignments on Palestinians while at the same time dealing with a teenage son who wants to move back to Brooklyn and a daughter who wants to be a singer in a far-right Israeli rap band.

I can’t wait.

Um, I would totally watch that.