An Ugly Hypothesis

Tolstoy said that art is to be evaluated by the moral position it takes. This is wrong, and the sort of thing that makes otherwise decent people suspicious of morality. Or is it that we suspect that the moral hysteric isn’t really moral after all? These are not mutually exclusive hypotheses. In any event, my only purpose today was to promote the following defense of Zero Dark Thirty from Glenn Greenwald’s hamfisted, self-righteous response to it. I may want to add more after I see the film Friday, but I can think of nothing to add to this commentary on the “torture debate” about the film. As for Greenwald himself, and every other hysteric who called the film “propaganda” an ugly hypothesis occurs to me, a very “Nietzschean” hypothesis. Many people who have seen Zero Dark Thirty have said that it very disturbingly portrays torture without moral commentary, which I suspect is accurate, having seen Bigelow’s work before. Greenwald sees the film as celebrating torture, and then morally condemns that. In order to make that mistake, he would have to (1) observe the realist morally-neutral representation, (2) feel pleasure at the infliction of pain on helpless individuals, (3) feel guilty about feeling pleasure, and then (4) project all that outward. Which is puzzling: you wouldn’t think someone on the Left would harbor an unconscious desire for revenge and violence, would you?


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