Affect, Mediality, and Abu Ghraib



As I detailed in the previous chapter one of the predominant aspects of premediation in the past decade, deployed in particular by the US news media in the wake of 9/11, concerned the desire to premediate the geopolitical future so thoroughly that the American public would be protected from experiencing a catastrophic shock or surprise like that produced by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Of course medial desire is not always fulfilled, and the strategies of pre-mediation are not always successful. In this chapter I take up an instance in which shock broke through the protective barrier of premediation — the public outrage produced by the release of torture photographs from Abu Ghraib. Jean Baudrillard links these photos to the images that proliferated on 9/11: “Before both a worldwide violent reaction: in the first case a feeling of wonder, in the second, a feeling of abjection.” “These images,” Baudrillard maintains, “are as murderous for America as those of the World Trade Center in flames” (Baudrillard, 2005, p. 1).1


Media Practice Affective Response Bush Administration Geneva Convention Affective Intensity 
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© Richard Grusin 2010

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