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May 7th, 2011


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01:07 pm - To the Bat Cave
Torture isn't a good source of information because it makes the victim repeat the fantasies of the torturer. We know this: the history of witch-torture was a continent-wide demonstration.

Here is part of an Adam Curtis documentary (the Power of Nightmares), which they have been discussing on Crooked Timber. That's a link to YouTube, move the timer to 20 mins 50 secs in.

Anyway, you don't have to watch it. It's Donald Rumsfeld describing what we 'know' about where Osama Bin Laden is hiding. Apparently he's in a secret underground bunker, and Rumsfeld shows a picture of it, done in cut-away, with arrowed captions. 'Bedrooms and offices on the top, here you can see the secret exits... and the main entrance here is wide enough to drive a tank in.'

This, as we may have suspected but now know for sure, was complete fantasy. The base did not exist. I do not know whether Rumsfeld derived this image from the testimony of tortured men, or if he and his friends just cynically made it up from nothing. Both seem awful and likely.

It's interesting though - what does this base resemble? It resembles Tracey Island, and Dr Evil's mountain lair and the hideout of the Fantastic Four and the Bat Cave.

I know torture is a serious issue, but it's also interesting to see the cultural subconscious which it externalises and reflects back at us. And we are so busy looking at this shadow that we have projected, that we don't see what is in plain sight.

(9 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:steepholm
Date:May 7th, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for that - a very interesting programme, which had entirely passed me by.
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From:communicator
Date:May 7th, 2011 05:02 pm (UTC)
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I should make more of an effort to look at his stuff. I have only caught bits of it, but I think it's right up my street.
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From:teadog1425
Date:May 7th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
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This is a fascinating point!! And beautifully made! ;)
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From:communicator
Date:May 8th, 2011 07:11 am (UTC)
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Thanks, it is rare that a piece of rubbish is absolutely and publicly disproved like that one has been, I think that gives a real window into what sort of cultural myths we generate when making things up out of nothing.
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From:espresso_addict
Date:May 7th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
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Or Hitler's bunker. I've been wondering what the mood on the streets of London would have been like if Hitler had not committed suicide but rather been gunned down.
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From:communicator
Date:May 8th, 2011 07:12 am (UTC)
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Yes, that's interesting. I don't know the answer. Would it have been hushed up I wonder?
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From:sheenaghpugh
Date:May 8th, 2011 08:45 am (UTC)
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And the fantasies of the torturer can be mighty odd, thinking with a shudder of Richard Topcliffe....
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From:communicator
Date:May 8th, 2011 09:10 am (UTC)
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I remember him played by Mr Barrowclough in the BBC series Elizabeth R, and I hated him at the time. I don't know much about him, but he sounds one of the worst people who have ever lived.
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From:sheenaghpugh
Date:May 8th, 2011 10:21 am (UTC)
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He indulged in weird sexual fantasies about Elizabeth I, aloud, while racking some unfortunate Jesuit who must have been convinced he was at the mercy of a nutcase. I doubt he would have lasted long had she known about it...

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