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Surveillance Cinema$
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Catherine Zimmer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479864379

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479864379.001.0001

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date: 14 December 2017

Temporality and Surveillance I

Temporality and Surveillance I

Terrorism Narratives and the Melancholic Security State

(p.157) 4 Temporality and Surveillance I
Surveillance Cinema

Catherine Zimmer

NYU Press

This chapter shows how narrative structure, surveillance practice, and rhetorics of national security have become co-immersed in a construction of historical time as subject to the laws of desire and disavowal that characterized the political melancholia of the post-9/11 era in the United States. Films from this era that focus on a fictionalized version of a traumatic terror attack tend to become narrative explorations of the melancholic logic of surveillance and counterterrorism, in primarily symptomatic forms. Déjà vu and Vantage Point organize their narratives around the prevention of a terrorist attack that has already happened, exhibiting a formulation of surveillance methodology and technology as both retroactive and pathologically circular. The chapter argues that the production of such temporal systems is central to the surveillance and surveillance cinema explored in earlier chapters, but also goes on to examine how such films—and the politics they reflect—contain the seeds of their own critique within them. Source Code, which at first glance seems to repeat the exact narrative formation of other cinematic fantasies of preempting terrorist attacks, instead highlights that retroactive-preemptive security practice and counterterrorist fantasies are built upon a scaffolding of necropolitics.

Keywords:   counterterrorism, narrative structure, national security, necropolitics, political melancholia, preemption, retroaction, Source Code, temporality, terrorism

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