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Author Topic: The Iraqi MacGuffin
Babbler # 3980

posted 14 November 2003 04:28 PM      Profile for Courage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
A nice piece on the ideology/psychology of the Iraq war, the Palestine/Israel conflict and many things else by Slavoj Zizek. It's long, but worth your patience, I think.

The Iraqi MacGuffin

We all know what the Hitchcockian "MacGuffin" means: the empty pretext which just serves to set in motion the story, but has no value in itself; in order to illustrate it, Hitchcock often quoted the following story: "Two gentlemen meet on a train, and the one is struck by the extraordinary package being carried by the other. He asks his companion, 'What is in that unusual package you are carrying there?' The other man replies, 'That is a MacGuffin.' 'What is a MacGuffin?' asks the first. The second says, 'A MacGuffin is a device used for killing leopards in the Scottish highlands.' Naturally the first man says, 'But there are no leopards in the Scottish highlands.' 'Well,' says the second, 'then that's not a MacGuffin, is it?'"

Do the "Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" not fit perfectly the status of the MacGuffin? (Incidentally, one of the most famous Hitchcockian MacGuffins IS a potential weapon of mass destruction - the bottles with "radioactive diamonds" in Notorious!) Are they not also an elusive entity, never empirically specified - when, a couple of years ago, the UN inspectors were searching for them in Iraq, they were expected to be hidden in the most disparate and improbable places, from the (rather logical place of) desert to the (slightly irrational) cellars of the presidential palaces (so that, when the palace is bombed, they may poison Saddam and his entire entourage?), allegedly present in large quantities, yet magically moved around all the time by the hands of workers, and the more all-present and all-powerful in their threat, the more they are destroyed, as if the distraction of the greater part of them magically heightens the destructive power of the remainder? As such, they by definition cannot ever be found, and are therefore all the more dangerous... Now that none were found, we reached the last line of the story of MacGuffin: "'Well,' said President Bush in September 2003, 'then that's not a MacGuffin, is it?'"


[ 14 November 2003: Message edited by: Courage ]

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