on 10 April 2012
I was looking forward to reading this exposition on the 'new military urbanism' on the recommendation of a friend, but what I found was disappointing to say the least. The first half of this book was an excruciating plough through a veritable swamp of post-post-modern verbiage, repetition, unforgivable errors and grammatical nonsense (Is proof-reading a dead art?). I would have thought, given the author's political leanings, that he would have aimed at as wide an audience as possible rather than burying any useful information under the inaccessible rubble of pointless academic theory, specious jargon and Americanisms worthy of G.W.Bush himself. For example,I have never heard the word 'carcerality' in my entire life, and frankly, I never hope to again. Apart from this pearl of gibberish, there is the question of the, seemingly unending, over-use of theoretical terms such as 'Othering', 'archipelago' and 'Bordering' (like the author was looking to score some points in the multiple use of conceptual terminology). I have rarely encountered a book so impossibly, and nigh-on impenetrably, written as this, almost as if he set out to sabotage his own work as he wrote, because his writing style seemed designed to put the reader off.
Concepts were lumped together in shopping list-type sentence structures over and over again, breaking any narrative flow that had been built up, jarring the reader with their frequency and their consequent annoyance factor. Such as-
'The second trend is the unprecedented extent to which the new military urbanism fuses and blurs civilian and military applications of the technologies for control, surveillance, communications, simulation and targeting'
'Among these threats are mobile pathogens, malign computer codes, financial crashes, 'illegal' migration, transnational terrorism, state infrastructural warfare, and the environmental extremes triggered by climate change'
'Technologies such as the internet, virtual reality, jet travel, data mining, closed-circuit TV, rocketry, remotecontrol, microwaves, radar, global positioning, networked computers, wireless communications, satellite surveillance, containerization and logistics-...'
This happens over and over and over again- straining the readers patience, not unlike certain forms of 'water-torture'...
Then there is the small matter of mentioning, or referring to, subjects of seemingly great import to the main thrust of the book, which are simply not expanded upon. They are just 'dropped in' and then simply left behind. I got the feeling the author was more interested in sounding 'clever' rather than delivering any actual, factual information to his reader. The core facts of this book, (and there are, without doubt, some incredible nuggets of information), remain buried beneath theory and cultural blather- and the reader really has to persist to dig them out- and they really should be widely known!
I almost gave up reading this weighty tome, with its miniscule typeface, but I persisted, because I wanted to know of the disgusting, sinister, anti-democratic and planet destroying future the Pentagon and the corporations are planning for us...I made it to the end, and I do not share the author's conclusions that 'faith in Obama' (lol) or the power of a handful of 'artist-activists' can avert what is plainly a nightmarish, cybernetic 'iron cage' being built for humanity. Only open revolt, and a truly 'Full Spectrum Resistance' has a chance in defeating the future hell now being designed and tested by the lunatics who have taken over the asylum...