Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Manufacturing Consent

I watched 'Manufacturing Consent', a 1992 documentary on Noam Chomsky tonight (I'd been doing a little reading on narratology earlier this afternoon, so I was in the mood). It's exhaustive in covering a lot of Chomsky topics, but necessarily brief in how it covers them (though I'm hardly ignorant of any of this stuff anyway). Given that it was made prior to the huge growth of the Internet, I really should find out a bit more about how he feels it's aided his 'intellectual self-defence' agenda. That is actually where the film succeeds best, that is in whetting your appetite and making you want to find out more. Having said that, what I found most interesting was a conversation between Foucault and Chomsky, a conversation expanded in the extras. Chomsky, for all his radicalism, has an inviolable faith in a universal 'human nature', a faith the post-structuralists simply don't have (for most of them human nature is as much a construct of the dominant ideology as any other social product). This gives him an idealism that the more cynical/realistic Foucault has to tease. In contemplating a future Utopia, Foucault raises the reasonable point that any concept of such a distant goal will be formed by the forces that make us now, and that includes the very forces we might criticise and battle now. Chomsky, paradoxically a dreamer and a pragmatist, argues that this shouldn't stop us dreaming as without a goal we have nothing to work towards. Seldom has the difference between the European and the American academic traditions been so clearly defined.



Post a Comment

<< Home