Popular conspiracy theories are important instances of image culture today. My contention is that Agamben’s work provides a useful basis for (re)examining what is at stake in conspiracy theory, specifically in relation to popular expressions such as the internet film, Loose Change 2nd Edition. In what amounts to a crunching of gears, where philosophy meets popular culture, my aim is to draw links between this expressive form and Agamben’s concerns with sovereignty and state power. I take up the central notion that conspiracy theory conventionally rationalises its activity as ‘speaking truth to power’, and seeks to reverse, rightly or wrongly, the history as cause formula. I want to suggest that this rationalising process is a crucial part of the popular appeal of conspiracy theory. However, despite the effort to claim the space of reasonableness the film never manages to escape its mediality. This is because conspiracy theory faces a major problem. Conspiracies cannot be directly represented; they take place in hidden spaces and even if there is a visible expression of conspiracy the truth of this expression tends to be locked away in a hidden code. By way of example, Loose Change 2nd Edition is best understood as a distorted mirror image of the state of exception. Conspiracy theory can thus be understood as a kind of popular countermovement working to disarticulate the fictional blurring of law and life.
The Loose Change series and truth-telling in the state of exception
University of Otago
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© borderlands ejournal 2011