Contents List of Illustrations vii Acknowledgments ix Introduction: Medialogies 1 Part 1 Inflationary Media 1 Editing Reality 9 2 A New Perspective 17 3 Theatricality 27 4 Commodity-Spectacles 35 5 How to Turn Things into Copies, and Copies into Things 43 Part 2 Fundamentals 6 Ineffable Me 59 7 Foundations 65 8 Freedom for Sale 73 9 Crime Shows 79 10 Political Theater 91 11 Monumental Screens 99 12 The New Fundamentals 111 Part 3 Exclusions 13 Terrifying Vistas of Reality 121 14 Dreamboat Vampires and Zombie Capitalists 127 15 The Global Undead 141 16 Dark Mirrors 149 17 Apocalypse Then and Now 155.
List of Illustrations 2.1 Albrecht Dürer, self-portrait with a pillow, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons 20 2.2 Hans Holbein, The ambassadors, 1553, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons 21 9.1 Frontispiece to Sebastián de Covarrubias, Emblemas morales (Madrid, 1610); courtesy of the George Peabody Library, Sheridan Libraries, the Johns Hopkins University 84 9.2 Covarrubias, p. 34; courtesy of the George Peabody Library, Sheridan Libraries, the Johns Hopkins University 85 9.3 Covarrubias, p. 204; courtesy of the George Peabody Library, Sheridan Libraries, the Johns Hopkins University 86 9.4 Francisco de la Torre, Luces de la aurora (Valencia, 1665), pp. 562–563; courtesy of the George Peabody Library, Sheridan Libraries, the Johns Hopkins University 87 9.5 Covarrubias, p. 237; courtesy of the George Peabody Library, Sheridan Libraries, the Johns Hopkins University 88 9.6 From Covarrubias, p. 21 recto; courtesy of the George Peabody Library, Sheridan Libraries, the Johns Hopkins University 89 10.1 Fiestas dela santa iglesia de Sevilla al culto nuevamente concedido al Señor Rei San Fernando III de Castilla i Leon (Seville, 1671); courtesy of the George Peabody Library, Sheridan Libraries, the Johns Hopkins University 94 10.2 Covarrubias, p. 297; courtesy of the George Peabody Library, Sheridan Libraries, the Johns Hopkins University 96 11.1 Frontispiece to Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651, etching by Abraham Bosse, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons 102 11.2 Photograph by authors 107.
Acknowledgments Parts of the discussion of Disneyworld in Chapter 4 was published as David Castillo, “Baroque Landscapes: The Spectacle of America,” in America Scapes: Americans in/and Their Diverse Sceneries, eds. Ewelina Bánka, Mateusz Liwinski and Kamil Rusitowicz. Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 2013. The Arguments in Chapter 7 were originally put forward in chapter 4 of Castillo’s Baroque Horrors. Part of Chapter 11 was published as David Castillo, “Monumental Landscapes in the Society of the Spectacle: From Fuenteovejuna to New York,” Spectacle and Topophilia: Reading Early Modern and Postmodern Cultures, eds. David Castillo and Bradley Nelson. Hispanic Issues, Vol. 38. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2012. Chapters 9 and 10 were originally published as William Egginton, “Crime Shows—CSI: Hapsburg Madrid,” in Peter Goodrich and Valerie Hayaert, eds., Genealogies of Legal Vision, London: Routledge, 2015, 243–58. An earlier version of Chapter 21 was originally published as Egginton, “Staging the Event: The Theatrical Ground of Metaphysical Framing,” in Michael Marder and Santiago Zabala, eds. Being Shaken, Palgrave, 2014, 177–85. Some sections of Chapters 14, 15, and 16 were published as David Castillo, “Monsters for the Age of the Post-Human,” Writing Monsters: Essays on Iberian and Latin American Cultures, eds. Adriana Gordillo and Nicholas Spadaccini, Hispanic Issues on Line, Vol. 15, Spring 2014, and Castillo et al. Zombie Talk: Culture, History, Politics, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. We are grateful to all these publishers for permission to reuse these materials here.
Introduction: Medialogies We are living in a time of inflationary media. While technological change has periodically altered and advanced the ways humans process and transmit knowledge, for the last 100 years the media with which we produce, communicate, and record ideas have multiplied in kind, speed, and power. This revolution has gone so far as to inspire many commentators to argue that our saturation in media is provoking a crisis in how we perceive and understand reality. From telegrams to tweets, the twentieth-century media revolution would seem to be a unique development in history; but the magnitude of the revolution is not unprecedented, and the crisis it has provoked recalls a prior one. Another period of inflationary media preceded ours by about 400 years, and coincided with the dawn of modern Europe and what Immanuel Wallerstein has called the world system.
1 Editing Reality In a memorable moment from Wes Craven’s 1996 camp horror classic Scream, Randy, a movie-obsessed teenager, explains to a friend in reference to a recent murder, “It’s the millennium. Motives are incidental.” This line, along with many others from the movie, entered the media mainstream in part because it seemed to encapsulate an understanding of late twentieth-century realities shared by popular culture and intellectuals alike. According to this view, U.S. culture specifically but also western culture in general had entered a period in which its media saturation had reached a kind of critical threshold, beyond which the reality underlying media representations no longer seemed that real. In the political realm, this sentiment was most trenchantly captured in a conversation the journalist Ron Suskind had with an unnamed aide to President George W. Bush (later identified as Karl Rove), whom he cited in a 2004 New York Times Magazine article as saying “that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.”1 These examples from film and politics seem to buttress the theses of numerous academics and journalists who have written frantically for the last few decades of the loss of reality attributable to the rise and intensity of our new media culture and its ever-increasing saturation of our daily lives.
2 A New Perspective Writers, thinkers, and artists prior to the first age of inflationary media most often conceived of themselves and others as seamlessly embedded in the cosmos; accordingly, they did not see the cosmos as existing independently of its observers or inhabitants. By the end of the sixteenth century, they began to develop an entirely different notion of the individual, and in early modern works of literature as well as in painting and architecture the individual’s perspective began to be a central concern.1 Simultaneously once Copernicus and after him Kepler had clarified that the earth was not at the center of the cosmos and that the planets followed elliptical orbits, natural philosophers such as Giordano Bruno were free to imagine the cosmos as an infinite expanse of space without necessarily granting the earth or its inhabitants a privileged place within it.
3 Theatricality As participants in a visual culture that uses “reality bleeds” to great effect in movies like The Truman Show (1998), The Ring (2002) (and the original Ringu, 1998), Vanilla Sky (2001) and its predecessor Abre los ojos (1997), Inception (2010), The Matrix saga, and so on, present-day spectators could ponder whether this type of seemingly postmodern gamesmanship and the epistemological questions that it raises were even conceivable in baroque culture. But when it comes to such reality bleeds there is no reason to think that today’s filmmakers hold some kind of historical advantage over baroque artists and playwrights. In fact, it could be argued that we have much to learn from the baroque experiments of Diego de Velázquez and such playwrights as Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, and Miguel de Cervantes.
4 Commodity-Spectacles In an article aptly titled “Disney’s Secret Garden,” newspaper columnist Scott Powers describes Disney’s ongoing biotech program as the partial realization of Walt Disney’s ambitious dream to engineer an experimental community. The following passage is especially pertinent to the present discussion: Deep inside the laboratories of Epcot’s The Land pavilion—beyond the world-record tomato tree or the Mickey Mouse-shaped pumpkins—a tiny part of one of Walt Disney’s dreams is being kept alive in Petri dishes. Visitors’ only brush with science there might involve Epcot’s programs to grow lettuce in water or to shape vegetables like Mickey Mouse. Yet more complex, far less-known, potentially more practical and possibly controversial work has been going on side by side with those show projects for years. In some of those tiny dishes, within microbiology laboratories walled off from the public, one of Epcot’s primary missions is being cultivated specimen by specimen, cell by cell, gene by gene […] One of Walt Disney’s original plans for Epcot—which didn’t open until 16 years after his death—was that it would be a center of cutting-edge science and technology. Walt Disney’s vision was to build a full-fledged city, called the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT for short.1 The article is accompanied by two photographs: the first image shows a series of carts crowded with people making their way through the vegetable gardens of the Epcot’s Land pavilion. The second picture provides a close-up of different varieties of squash that are been artificially molded in the shape of the iconic head of Mickey Mouse. The spectacle of artificially molded pumpkins encased in transparent containers with tubes coming out of them brings to mind grotesque images of sci-fi horrors in movies like The Matrix in which human beings take the place of the colorful squash within .
5 How to Turn Things into Copies, and Copies into Things Among the many vulgar displays of megalomania that pundits assumed, incorrectly, would sink his 2015 presidential campaign before it even began, particularly memorable was Donald Trump’s brazen pride in having slept with “the top women in the world.”1 While it would be easy to simply dismiss this claim as being nothing more than the expected misogyny of powerful men, in fact it may deserve deeper analysis. To be sure, by attempting to increase his stature by numbering and rating the women he supposedly had intercourse with, Trump was treating women as mere objects to be accumulated and displayed. But he was also revealing a nexus that men of greater tact tend to at least pretend to keep under wraps: that between wealth, power, and sex.