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The Unwanted and the Unwonted

In the commentary on the Abu Ghraib outrages, the question has been addressed whether what transpired was isolated or systemic.

The two notions are opposed in the obvious sense of contrasting what occurs according to top-down policy/plans, vs. that which happens in spite of - sc., in defiance of - established norms of conduct.

But maybe the notions are complementary to the extent that there was a weak structure of expectation and enforcement - an enervated esprit de corps. Then the sadism would paradoxically reflect "the system," to the extent that the latter was corrupted by a kind of anarchy. The system would be riddled with isolated exceptions, unwonted and unwanted, exemplifying an inner tension akin to plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose .

But then, is that even a "system"?

May 10, 2004 | Permalink


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That's a good start on a zen koan. I will now meditate on the concept of the systemless system.

Posted by: Aaron at May 14, 2004 11:45:00 AM