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October 08, 2006



I agree with your conclusions, but do they follow from the image? IOW, do only authoritarians use this technology?


What we need, apparently, is a president more like this:


Same event, different angle. I'd hesitate to make any conclusions based on a single photograph.


Thomas - you are exactly right about not making judgments based on one photograph. That is precisely my point in much of my scholarship. Unfortunately, that goes against the popular tide, where so many people are persuaded more by images than by anything else (be they jurors, judges, voters, etc.).

And hhend219 - anyone who wants to persuade would and does use this technology. The point is not that the technology is inherently authoritarian but that it is easily used toward authoritarian ends. As Thomas makes clear, a diversity of images abounds, which I think is a good thing. I found it interesting although not surprising that The Boston Globe ran the picture it did (were they being critical or fueling the persuasive force of the Commander in Chief?). Who ran the picture that Thomas linked to?

My colleague Andy Perlman has this to say about The Boston Globe's image. http://legalethicsforum.typepad.com/blog/2006/10/bush_image.html

John Kang

Well, there is a vague, if qualified, correspondence to the magnificent frontispiece of Hobbes's Leviathan. But in saying this, I don't mean to critique the president (or anyone else who has a gigantic image of themselves on a screen before a semi-captive audience). There are Democrats who show themselves on the screen in exactly the same manner. But it's interesting: the homunculi that is the president's body. Does this suggest that the political audience in modernity is becoming more passive, more--how shall I say this?--"absorbed" into the sovereign's corpus, rather than individual members conscientiously assessing the state? If so, that would be an interesting rejoinder to those who think that modernity is ravaged by self-interested actors who care nothing for community.

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This is not an image of a leader who seeks to persuade through rational discourse or democratic dialogue. It is an image of a leader who lords over the crowd and says "follow me, because I say so.

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