This essay situates the critical work of William V. Spanos in relation to the liminal event of anthropocentric planetary climate change—specifically the manner in which this event is being subordinated to military ends by the US national security state in particular and the global security society in general. In recent years, Spanos has emphasized the importance of Giorgio Agamben’s meditations on the “state of exception,” particularly in relation to the suspension of the political (in Jacques Rancière’s sense of the term) after 9/11. Emphasizing Agamben’s Heideggerian lineage has led Spanos most recently to reconsider the sublime and its symptomatic supplementation by the American political imperative and public ardor for “shock and awe.” This supplanting of the sublime with the spectacle of immense power has begun to extend beyond its initial orchestration (the George W. Bush administration’s adoption of preemptive war and normalization of exceptional forms of security) to the site of the ecological predicament of global warming. This extension involves the annulment of the de-structive potentials of the sublime through the strategic deployment and normalization of anxiety-producing spectacles that unhinge both the beautiful and the sublime from their respective categorical and noncategorical conceptualizations. This contradictory unhinged space is an asphyxiating existence that replaces the possibility of radical transcendence with increasing and supposedly natural cascading forms of security—what this article refers to as “environmentality.” The essay examines how this suspended state has begun to seek a logical justification for its existence within the “natural” world in the new discipline of “natural security”—a field that transforms the exceptional “necessity” of the “War on Terror” into the organic truth of life itself.
Rethinking the Society of the Spectacle: Natural Security, the Coming Ecologies of War, and the Critical Inquiry of William V. Spanos
Robert P. Marzec; Rethinking the Society of the Spectacle: Natural Security, the Coming Ecologies of War, and the Critical Inquiry of William V. Spanos. boundary 2 1 February 2015; 42 (1): 195–215. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2828375
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