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Break – history as paranoia? Don DeLillo’s Libra, storytelling, plots and lies Marcin Sarnek Instytut Kultur i Literatur Anglojęzycznych, UŚ

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Presentation on theme: "Break – history as paranoia? Don DeLillo’s Libra, storytelling, plots and lies Marcin Sarnek Instytut Kultur i Literatur Anglojęzycznych, UŚ"— Presentation transcript:

1 Break – history as paranoia? Don DeLillo’s Libra, storytelling, plots and lies Marcin Sarnek Instytut Kultur i Literatur Anglojęzycznych, UŚ

2 Political violence in the USA  "curses"  conspiracy theories  Political violence Abraham Lincoln James Garfield William McKinley Joseph Smith Jr. John Fitzgerald Kennedy Robert Francis Kennedy Harvey Milk Geroge Moscone Leo Ryan Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X Edgar Meyers

3 Political violence in the USA - continued  internal terrorism / militia movements Unabomber ( ) Oklahoma Bombing (1995)  religious radicalism - cults People's Temple - Jim Jones (1978) Davidian Branch - David Koresh (1993)  "school massacres" Bath Massacre (1927) University of Texas massacre (1966) Columbine High shootings (1999) Virginia Tech massacre (2007)

4 "Tecumseh curse"  Tecumseh Tecumseh's war Tenskwatawa The Battle of Tippecanoe (1811)  William Harrison (+1841)  Abraham Lincoln (+1865)  James Garfield (+1881)  1900 – William McKinley (+1901)  Warren G. Harding (+1923)  1933 (1940) - Franklin D. Roosevelt (+1945)  John F. Kennedy (+1963)  Ronald Reagan (attempted assassination in 1981)  George W. Bush Jr. (at least two more serious assassination attemtpts)

5 The Kennedys  Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.  Rose Elisabeth Fitzgerald Joseph P., Jr. John Ftizgerald Rosemary Kathleen Eunice Patricia Robert Francis Jean Edward

6 The Kennedy Curse  1941 – Rosemary Kennedy, lobotmomised  12 August 1944 – Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., dies in Operation Aphrodite  13 May 1948 – Kathleen Cavendish, Marrquess of Hartinton, dies in an airplane crach  23 August 1956 –J. F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's, daughter, Arabella Kennedy, is stillborn  9 August 1963 – J. F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, dies two days after delivery  22 November 1963 –John F. Kennedy assassinated in Dallas  19 June 1964 –Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, seriously ionjured in a plane crash  6 June 1968 – Senator Robert F. Kennedy assassinated in Los Angeles  18 July 1969 –Chappaquiddick incident: Jo Kopechne, late Robert F. Kennedy's assisstant, dies in a car crash. The car's driver - Ted Kennedy – withdraws from the presidential campaign in result/  17 November 1973 – Edward M. Kennedy, Jr., Teda Kennedy's son, loses his leg (bone cancer) at the age of 12  25 April 1984 – David Anthony Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy's son, dies after drug overdose  31 December 1997 – Michael LeMoyne Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy's son, dies in a skiing accident in Aspen  16 June 1999 – John F. Kennedy, Jr., Johna F. Kennedy's eldest son, dies in a plane crach with his wife and sister-in- law.

7 John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (JFK) (1917 – 1963)  the family "clown"  poor health  PT-109 WW II duty – war hero  Representative (1947 – 1953)  USA Senator (Massachussets 1953 – 1960)  35. President of the USA (1960 – 1963)  Assassination, 22 Nov. 1963

8 John Fitzgerald Kennedy –foreign policy  Cuba Castro revolution Operation Mangoose Bay of Pigs Invasion Cuban Missile Crisis  June 1963 – Speech at the American Univesrity no "Pax Americana"  June Berlin "Ich bin ein Berliner"  Growing involvment in Vietnam

9 Dealey Plaza, Dallas, TX, USA 22.Nov.1963, 1225 P.M.

10 Map  If we are to think seriously about the world we live in and act in it effectively, we need a simplified map of the reality, a theory, concept, model, or paradigm. Without such intellectual constructs we would be left with, as William James put it, "a colorful and noisy confusion."  To be considered a paradigm a theory has to be better than its rivals, but it does not have to explain all facts which it may be confronted with. As a matter of fact, it never does so.  As John Lewis Gaddis put it, "to find our ways in a territory that is foreign to us, we need a map. Cartography, just like study, is a necessary simplification, which allows us to gather knowledge of where we are and where we are possibly going." Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and Remaking of the World Order

11 Map - A conventionalized simplification?

12 Map - Mercator Projection Direction / angle: appropriate Shape: appropriate Size / distance: DISTORTED

13 Map - Mercator Projection  Alaska is presented as being similar in size to Brazil, when Brazil's area is actually more than 5 times that of Alaska  Greenland is presented as being as large as Africa, when Africa's area is approx. 14 times larger

14 Map - Gnomonic Projection  Great Circles (Meridians and the Equator) presented as straight lines  The shortest route between two locations in reality corresponds to that on the map.  Sizes / distances: appropriate  Directions / Angles: DISTORTED

15 Map Every model or map is a certain abstraction; for certain purposes it will be more useful than for others. A road map shows how to get from point A to point B, but it will not be much help if we pilot a plane. [...] Yet not having any map we for sure will get lost. […] The more detailed the map is the more exactly it reflects the reality. Still, a map with too many details should prove useless for many purposes.[...]In brief, we need a map that both renders the reality and simplifies it in a way that serves our purposes best. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations

16 Map recquires  Convention  Edition  Coherence Is history just like that, too?

17 History of Poland  966 – Baptism of Poland  1000 – Congress of Gniezno  1025 – Coronation of Bolesław Chrobry ? ? Pomerania conquest, Eastern conquests, Battle of Cedynia, Congress of Kwedlinburg, wars with Otto II, alliance with Sweded, wars with Denmark, War with the Czechs, Dagome Iudex, Lesser Poland conquest, St. Wojciech missions... Wars with the Czechs, annexation of Moravy, wars with the Germans, Treaty of Budziszyn, Kiev expedition, annexation of Red Ruthenia, Moravy lost...

18 Dealey Plaza, Dallas, TX, USA 22.Nov.1963, 1225 P.M.

19 JFK assassination  the shooting – 4.8 to 10 seconds  JFK Killed  Gov. Conelly wounded  Witness James Tague lightly wounded from debris  The assumed assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, shot to death by Jack Ruby, 24. Nov. 1963

20 JFK assassination – official explanations  1964 – Warren Commission Report: assassination the work of a ‘lone assassin’ – Lee Harvey Oswald, shooting at JFK three times from Texas Schoolbook Depository Building; the final shot lethal.  1979 – US House Select Committee on Assassinations: assassination probably the result of unknown conspiracy;  L.H. Oswald key

21 JFK assassination – key inconsistencies  Witnessess seing and hearing gun fire from locations different than TSBD  Zapruder Film  Magic Bullet Theory  Lee Harvey Oswald’s story  Jack Ruby’s story  Many others…

22 The archive  at least 32 still and movie photographers on Dealey Plaza – altogether over 500 photographs taken  Efforts made to identify every single person in the Plaza  Warren Report – 888 pages  Warren Commission Records – 26 volumes  Governmental documents pertaining to JFK assassination: approx pages plus estimated pages of classified documents plus an estimated court and Congress record of pages

23 The Newman Family

24 The archive - continued  As of 1979 – approx books and articles on JFK assassination  As for 1991 (release of JFK by Oliver Stone) – approx books and articles

25 Lee Harvey Oswald...  Shitbird, Ozzie Rabbit, Oswaldskovich, also spelled Oswaldkovitch, Oswaldskowich, and Oswaldovich.  Harvey Lee Oswald, Harvey Lee, Lee Harvey, Lee Henry Oswald, Harvey Oswald Lee, Harvey Oswald, Leon Oswald, O.H. Lee, H.O. Lee, Leslie Oswald,  Aleksei Oswald, Alik,  Hidell, A. Hidell, A.J. Hidell, Alek J. Hidell, Robert Hidell, Alek James Hidell, Dr. A.J. Hideel, Albert Alexander Osborne, and Howard Osborne.  William Bobo

26 Lee Harvey Oswald  A scar on Oswald's jaw noted on his Marine Corps physical was not mentioned in his autopsy report.  Oswald was left-handed according to his mother, right-handed according to his brother.  Oswald knew and did not know how to drive a car.  Oswald did and did not have homosexual relationships.  Oswald was "disheveled, unkempt and dirty" and "neat in appearance and dress.”  Oswald briefly had a beard but also had too little facial hair to grow a beard.  Oswald gave public speeches both supporting and opposing the Soviet Union.  Oswald read, spoke, and wrote flawless English and Russian; yet he suffered from dyslexia.  Oswald's eyes were grey, blue, and brown.

27 Lee Harvey Oswald  Oswald was 5', 5'3", 5'7", 5'8", 5'9", 5'10", 5'11", 6'1", and 6'2".

28 Zapruder Film  Taken by Abraham Zapruder on 8mm camera  Sold to Life Magazine, copies made by the FBI  Life Magazine accidentely damages THREE frames of the Z- Film when copying – conspiracy theories emerge  1975 – The Zapruder film shown to the public for the first time  1991 – used as footage in JFK by Oliver Stone – first time available to large audiences  1997 – Z-Film digitally restored

29 ‘Break’  Breaking narratives of authorities: Discontinuities Inconsisitencies Mutually exclusive evidence DISORDER

30 ‘Break’  Jacques Lacan  Frederic Jameson... the breakdown of the relationships of signifiers between themselves, of the "signifying chain" formed by experience/common sense.

31 ‘Break’ How do I know it is the same ship... ? if nobody was watching... ?

32 ‘Break’  Jacques Lacan  Frederic Jameson Schizophrenia is defined as the breakdown of the relationships of signifiers between themselves, of the "signifying chain" formed by experience/common sense.

33 JFK assassination in American fiction  Winter Kills, Richard Condon  American Tabloid, James Ellroy  The Cold Six Thousand, James Ellroy  Libra, Don Delillo  Illuminatus! The Trilogy, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson  Idle Warriors, Kerry Thornley

34 Don DeLillo  Americana (1971)  End Zone (1972)  Great Jones Street (1973)  Ratner's Star (1976)  Players (1977)  Running Dog (1978)  Amazons (1980) (under pseudonym "Cleo Birdwell")  The Names (1982)  White Noise (1985)  Libra (1988)  Mao II (1991)  Underworld (1997)  The Body Artist (2001)  Cosmopolis (2003)  Falling Man (2007)  Point Omega (2010)

35 Don DeLillo, Libra  Plots  Oswald’s story  Everett’s story  Branch’s story  Libra’s story

36 Oswald’s story  Man and history  Oswald is a writer  Historic Diary  Oswald is a creation

37 Everett’s story  Logic of plots  Everett is a writer  Oswald is a creation  Plot is a creation  Chance and history

38 Branch’s story  complete secret history of JFK assassination  the archive  stories within stories within stories  Branch is a writer  How to tell the story?

39 Libra’s story  Men sitting alone in rooms, plotting, creating stories, writing  History / historiography  Historian / writer  Fact / fiction  Can history be told?


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