Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Fog Of War: Myth and Battle: LA

By Mr. VI

So, this weekend, the blockbuster Battle:Los Angeles comes to cinemas. Supposedly a tale about the military in the face of alien invasion in an urban city, its roots are embedded in an actual historical event - as all the best stories are.

They receive nutrients from their connexion to actuality - the best lies contain the truth. Consider the way rumour spreads; the harder something is to believe, the more effort must be expended to keep it in mind and not simply dismissed, but if something is likely then it endures more easily; circumstance and past history provide a bulwark -there is a body of experience which must be put aside for reasonable doubt to mushroom into disbelief.

War movies are so popular because they are phantasmal versions of actualities, ghostly offspring and things that could be possible. They are primal things; ordinary people in extreme circumstances and threats.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it is this extremity that crosses boundaries and connects the audience, playing on the natural human ability to empathise.

And the actual event was just that: The Battle of Los Angeles, or the Great Los Angeles Air Raid on the 24-25 Februrary 1942. More detail is available here, but suffice to say it was believed that LA was under attack by hostile forces and artillery responded for over an hour.

According to the new movie, the objects which were retaliated against were an alien scouting mission, and the film concerns what exactly happens when the main body of the alien invasion fleet arrives.

Outside of the blockbuster movie, the 'raid' has been explained by the military variously as weather balloons, 'war nerves' and a 'psychological operation involving commercial aircraft.' Yet, in both cases the fear comes from the lack of surety, the perceptual ambiguity and nebulousness of the situation.

In high stress situations, things are rarely clear-cut. Often an external pressure limits movement or activity – the city was blacked out and the US as a whole was at war. While there may be multiple targets, in fact they are merely faces or masks for an unseen monolithic Enemy/Other. When confronted with something so immeasurable, the psychological strain begins to tell.

As I write in an essay for Immanence of Myth:

The war machine is really an assemblage – a multiplicity that is a singularity. It exists beyond the event horizon, in that all that is seen of it is a silhouette, a figure which cannot be fully resolved. In fact it may be seen only by observing the results of its affect. This is distinctly different from any effect it may bring about. A black hole, that most well known of singularities, cannot be observed. Its existence must be deduced from the effects it has on its local area. Beyond that event horizon, observation is occluded. The war machine operates under a so-called Fog of War. Its passage disrupts normalized structures, destabilizing traditional narratives – perception is unbound and information becomes meaningless by contagion. Looming out of the fog, emerging from the darkness, rumour and misinformation increase paranoia, leading to self-mutilation masquerading as reconfiguration in the face of the enemy. The stresses induced tear apart the victim from the inside out – it is if they are under attack by an invisible alien enemy with horrific inhuman powers. Such demonization rebounds - jitters and friendly fire increase. Myriad narratives form around the singularity, transforming all those who come into contact with them into vectors of war.

Whether that enemy be extra-terrestrial or otherwise, the less comprehensible the situation, the more narratives and potential explanations emerge.

Consider that, the next time someone claims the privilege of eye-witness authority; all narratives are attempts to explain or influence. The eyewitness positions themselves as closest to the actuality, but in fact, can we ever be sure?

Perhaps instead, we should admit that certain things will always be born of the fog and misty fens, lurking shapes only perceived out of the corners of our eyes, interacting with our primal fears?

Be seeing you
Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...