Lacanian Review Online: Toxic Spillage

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When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender
This I could not do

(Leonard Cohen, The Partisan)
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13th January 2019

Under Pressure
Janet Haney

[…] In the TV drama Brexit, the Uncivil War, by James Graham[9], we see Benedict Cumberbatch playing Brexit strategist Dominic Cummings. Benedict is already famous for playing social misfits Sherlock Holmes and Alan Turing, but today’s misfit (Dominic Cummings) may be brilliant enough and bullish enough to cut through the bullshit of political inertia, but his cleverness, unlike that of Turing and Holmes, cannot save the world from toxic spillage, it can only add to it. The movie begins by telling us that Cummings’ father worked in the oil industry, and we see Dominic being disturbed by something he can hear but that no one else can. Dominic says ‘the earth is groaning’, and he says that it is the sound of Britain moaning; he frames and fans the flames of the underlying resentments to be found in the indigenous population of Middle England[10] thinking of it as a natural resource that is building up ‘beneath the surface’, and that can be tapped, extracted, exploited (but with what clever turbine? and through which grid will it be transmitted to warm the cockles of the country’s heart? this has not yet been invented). He interprets these noises as the sound of the fossils buried deep within the earth, moaning and shifting, and waiting to be tapped. He did just that on 23 June 2016, even while knowing perfectly well that the machinery of the UK referendum was the crudest kind. […]

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