History remixed: Over the weekend DJ Spooky (aka Paul Miller) performed his remixed version of D.W. Griffiths' racist film classic Birth of a Nation for 4,000 people at the Acropolis in Greece (apparently the first artist allowed to do such a thing). His project uses the DJ's toolbox--audio and video sampling, intercutting, film- and sound-collage--to rework a film that revolutionized montage as a film technique, while also reclaiming the twisted history depicted by Griffiths' Klansmen. Situated on a site of such rich history must've put Paul in a reflective mood. An excerpt from his email dispatch:
While I was in Greece, the TV showed so many things about America that the rest of the world sees as fundamental to how badly flawed our country has become - the debate on the Senate floor about Bush's controversial nominees, the whole sense of science ("stem cell research is immoral" Bush said on CNN). We're looking at a situation that's almost parallel to the Weimar Republic in the 1930's - a Republic (even Star Wars - got this in operatic form, with some of the characters saying lines from Bush's speeches over the course of the movie), based on participation requires some kind of common ground, some place where dialog can occur. Sadly, it seems more and more that in the U.S. entertainment, news, and even basic descriptions of scientific fact have become fatalities. Like Churchill said so long ago "in war, truth is the first casualty." Think about it: From gay male prostitutes in the White House Press Office, to a string of propaganda incidents like flushing the Koran down the toilet? A "heroes" death for a patriot football player who joined the Army and was killed by friendly fire - a fact covered up by the military because it didn't suit the news briefs?

It's a remix of Orwell meets the Keystone Cops with dashes of Pynchon thrown in... "A screaming comes across the sky" was what Pynchon wrote in his book "Gravity's Rainbow" - today, in the same vein, we can look at Rumsfelds' "known unknowns" and see it as an update of a shattered myth straight out of Homer or Aeschylus. In a press briefing in September 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted occasions during World War II when false information about US troop movements was leaked to confuse the enemy. He paraphrased Winston Churchill, saying: "Sometimes the truth is so precious it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies." Don't worry about torture, we can have Newsweek apologize for it. Don't worry about the falling value of the dollar (I get paid in Euros at this point), its just another "faith based initiative." Do the math... we all live in Orwell's Room 101 now. We're just beginning to realize it. The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and all of the other U.S. holding prisons are way past that simple observation. They exist without identity and without any sense of connection to the events around them. They are the quintessential "man without qualities" left out of the discourse of modern human rights because of "extraordinary rendition."
Earlier on Eyeteeth: DJ Spooky featured in the Adbusters essay " Making Another World Possible," on art and social change.

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