Treme thus far

Having watched the first three episodes of Treme, it seems to me that its relationship to The Wire is similar to that between “normal” neoliberalism and what Naomi Klein has called “disaster capitalism” — the excruciating yet cold violence of managerialism has been replaced with outright looting and brutality. It’s suitable, then, that the framing device is no longer the police, who must hold out some hope for maintaining order, but the city’s musicians. In a moment when New Orleans has become essentially an object of pity, looting, or both (as in the “Katrina tour” with which the third episode ends), the musicians and particularly the “Indians” are all concerned to maintain the continuity of New Orleans as a unique place — even as they struggle against the touristic way of doing that, which in its own way reduces New Orleans to no place at all.

An undeveloped final thought: For the first time, I’m starting to feel like I understand Mallarmé’s enigmatic line, “Rien n’aura eu lieu que le lieu” (nothing will have taken place but the place) — and I wonder if here we might contrast the idea of “place” with that of “space.” The musicians are trying to maintain New Orleans as a place where other people see it as a space: a space to clear to make way for developers, for example. (Think also of the weird HGTV jargon that designates every house as a “space.”)

5 thoughts on “Treme thus far

  1. Good note–The Wire seems to be populated with a series of public groups who have power, and who only view Baltimore as space. I’d even include the police in that, at least in their official capacities. In the home lives of McNulty and Bunk, et al, they don’t exercise power as such, instead acting as those who don’t have power.

    where is that Mallarme from?

  2. sorry–didn’t finish my thought above:

    Insofar as the police become “private citizens”, they seem to be operating out of Baltimore-as-place, the locus of flourishing. But in public, the police succumb to the stats-driven mentality of Baltimore-as-space, an opportunity for contested narratives.

  3. Un Coup de Dés


    of the memorable crisis
    or might
    the event

    have been accomplished in view of all results null


    an ordinary elevation pours out absence


    some splashing below of water as if to disperse the empty act
    abruptly which otherwise
    by its falsehood
    would have foundered

    in these latitudes

    of indeterminate
    in which all reality dissolves

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