A thing is its own best mask…

The title of my post is taken from Slavoj Zizek’s book The Parallax View and is used (on page 28) to describe the escape of Cavallo, the Argentinian economy minister, during protests against the government in Buenos Aires in 2001. He apparently made his way through the crowds disguised in a mask of his own face – being sold so that people could mock him.

There is a clip from Louis Theroux’s interview with Jimmy Savile, which I will not include here but do wish to comment upon. It now seems blatant in its revelatory quality.

Bearing in mind that a thing is its own best mask, recently on Have I got news for you? there was a similar comment made about Savile’s disguise, i.e. that he made a smokescreen of himself. This is of course the ultimate insignia of power – to see without being seen – which is the retrospective implication of Theroux’s interview.

My second point is that Savile appears in the interview as twice the ghost; the figure on the screen is the ‘ghost’ of Savile, who is now dead, but he is also the ghost of a ghost because the interview was shot prior to what has only recently been recognised. There is just the trace of a mask that once fooled.

I write this post as a counteraction to the hysteria following the Savile scandal, which is certainly ‘vile’ and especially so for remaining hidden in plain sight – but what has happened in response cannot be taken for transparency. Plus, it bears an elliptical gait because the problem of Savile’s death prevents social or legal ‘conclusion’.

And there is no certain way to deal with abuse, either on a personal or societal level, despite all the media’s attempts at reduction to a single answer. We can only read carefully what has happened, listen and reflect. This means that the only ethical path remains to live without conclusions.

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About ejpollard

I was awarded my PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University, UK in December 2013. My thesis explored the notions of origin and ellipsis in the writing of contemporary British novelist Hilary Mantel. I want this blog to express the ideas I have in and around my academic writing. View all posts by ejpollard

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