Terror-Dot-Gov (2005)

As in his two previous ‘docufiction’ collections, False Positive and 15 Serial Killers, Harold Jaffe selects then ‘treats’ his texts such that the reader is incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction. That ambiguity permits Jaffe to cunningly tease out the contradictions and subtexts of official ‘news’ or ‘information’ and torque it into what it so often is fundamentally: jingoism, xenophobia and propaganda.

Jaffe’s subject in Terror-Dot-Gov is not the everywhere-represented ‘illicit’ terrorism so much as ‘licit,’ institutionalized terrorism, and he assaults his subject from multiple angles: razor-sharp satire, precisely cadenced rhetoric, faux-reportage, and ‘unsituated’ dialogues (Jaffe’s term, referring to his trademark talking heads with perfect pitch). The result is virtuosic and paradoxical: a prodigious display of firepower — in the cause of peace.

The newest collection of fiction from author Harold Jaffe includes:

Additionally, Locus Novus recently reprinted Things To Do During Time of War in “a synthesis of text and motion, image, and sound.”

“As Terror-Dot-Gov vividly demonstrates, we are spiritually imperiled by illusions masked as ‘news.’ Omissions, slants, pallid editorials all testifying to servitude to a slavish, enslaving text. Harold Jaffe knows this by heart and has it right. He isolates the self-justifying words that demonize the enemy while cleansing the ongoing crime, the ‘preventive strike.’ He encourages organized terror (our very own) to emerge white as new-fallen snow. White as leprosy. Everywhere in Terror-Dot-Gov is exemplary skill, faultless tonality. And courage, don’t forget courage. In order to be healed, our illness must worsen. Thank you, Harold Jaffe.”
— Daniel Berrigan, SJ

“Language is necessary, but frequently, Jaffe seems to be saying, it is used to obfuscate rather than illuminate. The media culture evoked by Jaffe in his remarkable series of “docufictions” is shown to be using linguistic confusion in order to dominate and subjugate through intimidation. The best defense we have as the objects of confusion is to familiarize ourselves with equivocations and other tricks that are used to make us comply with the dominant culture’s methodologies. Remember the 1970s slogan meant to trick 18-year-olds into voting: ‘You have the right to vote, so do what is right and vote.’ This sort of use of equivocation fools the marginally literate, which most of the nation has become through the elimination of the teaching of logic and nonlinear thought. Simple linear thinkers fall for equivocation and enthymemes. Anyone trained in logic immediately recognizes the equivocation of the term ‘right’ and the fact that just because we have a legal privilege to do something (‘right’ in the first sense) does not mean we have an ethical obligation to do it (‘right’ in the second sense). We have, for example, the right to have our bothersome elders committed to institutions when those elders become problematic, but is that always the ethical thing to do? Of course not. It is the heavy-handed use of language by the dominant society that Jaffe is challenging. And he is examining it as text, as writing. It’s good to see that someone is there sitting at the right hand of writing.”
— Recto and Sub-Verso

“Harold Jaffe’s Terror-Dot-Gov is innovative and timely; his commentary on topics seen often in daily news reports will resonate with readers whose senses have glazed over, reading and hearing the same spin from the same talking heads, over and over again.”
— The Absinthe Literary Review


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