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John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
Matt Greenfield
Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

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Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Friday, August 18, 2006

A Pre-reading of “Snakes on a Plane”

Posted by Amardeep Singh on 08/18/06 at 02:31 PM

Note: the following is a parody.

Though I myself haven’t seen the film, it is almost impossible not to think that Lacan had watched Snakes on a Plane, because his conception of alterity is so closely aligned with the film’s revolutionary mise en scene. Indeed, my reading below is deeply invested in resisting the tired old “grand narrative” of “actually watching the film,” which essentializes “experience,” and delegitimates the kinds of liberatory theoretical praxis I have memorably justified elsewhere. 

The eponymous “snakes” here are clearly the wild slithering irruption of the Real, while the “plane” is the Phallus that operates in the angular, metallic register of the Symbolic. The film thematizes the rebellion of the Real (the resisting third world subaltern, who also represents the death-drive) over the tyrannical, inscribed authority of the Industrial-Aviational Master. Note that the deadliest of the snakes on this particular cinematic plane is the “Monocled Cobra," mainly found in India, which despite its Cyclopean insignia strongly suggests the film be read as a subaltern allegory of “Multitudes,” arrayed in a heterogeneous composite Coalition of the Venomous against the complacent bourgeois “passengers” (nearly all of whom are fated to die), who have sanctioned the postmodernist military adventurism of President George W. Bush. The Snakes therefore represent the unthinkable limit in the neo-colonial discourse of the War on Terror, the exotic, “illegal” cargo that will, inevitably, bring down the brittle American frame that is the body politic in this era of the cybernetic gaze. Samuel L. Jackson is portrayed as the heroic African American man (the phallogocentric “actor,” whose agency is always-already scripted), who ostensibly represents the forces of the Airplane against the Snakes, but it’s clear that his true sympathies are in fact with the Snakes. Note that he insisted on leaving the word “snakes” in the title of the film, and opposed Pacific Air Flight 121, the vanilla title preferred by the studio, suggestive of nothing other than the institutionalized discourse of Air Traffic Control

Moreover, Agamdeep Darshi, as “Ipod Girl," lies between the Phallic Plane and Counter-Phallic Snakes, and deconstructs the binary between them; her holy feminine/maternal/musical energies pacify the wild terror of the Snakes that are colonized by the white hetero-patriarchial gaze, which ethno-objectifies her in the production of the discourse of cinematic pleasure. The snakes will reveal themselves to be not a counter-Phallus, but rather an expression of the rage of the Medusa, the radical queer postcolonial feminine. What is at stake here is not a battle between “snakes” and the “plane,” but rather the contest between transgressive Oedipalized subjectivity (memorably described by Jackson’s line, “there’s motherf---- snakes on the motherf---- plane") and the anti-Oedipal, serpentine, body-machine complex. The plane, in short, is a snake that will eat itself.


Comments

It was worth it for the Oedipus line.

By Adam Kotsko on 08/18/06 at 05:53 PM | Permanent link to this comment

<CENTER>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMKerHLL6yc TARGET=casting</CENTER>

Take your pick.

I won’t even go to YouTube. But you can.

By Bill Benzon on 08/18/06 at 07:21 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I’m somewhat disappointed you didn’t pick up the semantic similarities of “Monocled Cobra” and “One-Eyed Snake.” Otherwise, well done.

By on 08/26/06 at 08:16 AM | Permanent link to this comment

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