- Author : Ned O'Gorman
- Publisher : University of Chicago Press
- Release Date : 2015-11-10
- Genre: History
- Pages : 251
- ISBN 10 : 9780226310237
The Iconoclastic Imagination Excerpt :
Bloody and fiery spectacles in American public life, from the 1960s to the present, have given us moments of catastrophe that easily answer to the question of where-were-you-when, events that shape our ways of seeing the Cold War and after. Three such iconic catastrophes are the John F. Kennedy assassination, the response by Ronald Reagan to the Challenger disaster, and 9/11. Why are these spectacles so packed with meaning? They are images of destruction, raising the questions for us of where their power comes from, what sort of history might they construct, what sort of world do they destroy. O Gorman approaches each one as an icon of iconoclasm, as an exemplar of fiery demise that gives us a distinct way to imagine social existence in American life. Here is his argument: in the 50 years since the Kennedy assassination, a period that witnessed the rise of neoliberalism, the most powerful way for publics to see America was in the destruction of its representative symbols, or icons, because in such catastrophes we grasp the impossibility of any image adequate to representing America. If neoliberalism the emergence of free market economics in social philosophy and public policy is linked with iconoclasm, that is, if neoliberalism promotes and benefits from the destruction of icons, we are led to reconsider events that seem to rupture a given world (catastrophes), or are beyond representation (the economy). Market ideology moves to a transcendent realm of invisible principles that can escape accountability and command sacrifice. The core arguments are challenging (indeed, iconoclastic), but this book will put a whole new kind of spotlight on neoliberalism and on the status of the image (and visual representation) in American political culture. The results are stunning: richly interwoven philosophical, theological, and rhetorical traditions turn out to be a basis for a complex and innovative approach to Cold War America, political theory, and visual culture studies."