Monday, September 24, 2007

Freeway Blogger/"How to Reach 100,000 People for Under $1.00"

Yesterday, and in my book, I mentioned Freeway Blogger as an activist who was bringing pithy language into the public sphere. Since 9/11, he has been active placing signs on freeway overpasses and other very public spaces that attempt to cut through the spin of mainstream media coverage. As you might imagine, many the images and text tend to be blunt to the point of oversimplification and provocation.

But some, such as the one posted above--"if this was our policy/[image of Abu Ghraib man]/then we're losing/a hell of a lot/more than just/a war"--invite a longer look. I love the line breaks, and the colloquial language suddenly weighted with symbolic resonances. "A hell of a lot" means "alot" but it also evokes the hell that torture induces, a "lot" which we condemn ourselves by opening us up to future blowback and attacks. "More than just" both invokes and revokes the notion that torture can somehow be justified--the "just" evoking "not only," but also "justice" itself. What kind of "just war" can be invoked when "this" [torture] becomes part of the policy.

Yet it seems to me that even such language acts as a sign that reads "IMPEACH", however reductive or inflammatory, constitute an essential parallel intervention into the public conversation about this war. Though such signs may not necessarily succeed in "converting the unconverted," they nonetheless act as potential sites of encouragement for those whose voices have been left out of the discussion of this war...nearly all of us.

The short video demo, "How to Reach 100,000 People for Under $1.00," shows him at work.

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