What else is there to say this week other than that Osama bin Laden, perhaps in reality, is dead and that a number of New Yorkers are super psyched to hear that this particular Public Enemy no. 1 is finally no more. Unfortunately, this is not the last we will hear from this “man.”
Perhaps Osama bin Laden was a real person, flesh and blood, chilling out in Pakistan meditating on the earliest suras in the Qur’an. However, none of us, not you nor I, ever met the man, and so our experience of him (not the results of his actions) is entirely symbolic. He’s an image, a representation of something supposedly “other” that exists “out there” waiting to get us.
But, you can not kill images. Images do not die. Yes, they morph and transform, taking on new shapes with every projected reality, but they do not disappear forever. No matter the type of burial. No matter the capture or kill. Osama bin Laden, the symbol, is here to stay.
And who gave this symbolic “him” all that power? What system imbibed Osama bin Laden with a most attractive cat-and-mouse narrative that spoke so directly to people’s psyche? Bin Laden himself couldn’t have done it. He released only a handful of videos, most of which were censored from the US public. No, another entity made this man’s image more diabolical, more sinister, more Hollywood than “he” ever could. Who could that have been?
As the above picture suggests, if this is the end, there is only one face that remains. Who’s really building those sand castles?