I spent my Saturday in the best possible way: catching up on Brooklyn nine-nine, and reading the volume one of Joe Sacco’s Bumf. Characteristic of Sacco’s fiction, Bumf toes the line between pointed and extreme political commentary. I found parts of it uncomfortable, but no less powerful or effective for being so.
Sacco’s commentary is aimed, in this instance, at the current USA and its structures for local and global management of bodies. The President, stated to be Barack Obama, but exactly reminiscent of Nixon, begins obssessivly executing people across the globe with video game technology enabled drones at the same time that he begins referring to Americans as citizen-suspects. Sacco is a master storyteller: the novel progresses through a series of shorts that seem to be loosely, or perhaps not at all connected, until the last third of the book, when every bizarre detail comes together to form a single, complex narrative.
I don’t know if this is a stage – of – dissertation thing, but lately I’ve been finding traces of my research in basically all media that I consume. Bumf is no exception. In fact, I’m 100% certain that Sacco wrote it while reading Agamben’s Homo Sacer and Judith Butler’s Frames of War. Sacco not only calls himself “Joe ‘Homo Sacer’ Sacco” (a man that can be killed but not murdered or sacrificed), but also writes himself into the text as the writer of the text. The latter is the lynchpin for me: Sacco is undeniably aware of the power of images to not only represent, but interpret the nation, and so makes it easy for his readers to understand his text as an interpretation of the state of America.
Anyway, I’m also selfishly super excited- the text makes overt connections between the steadily deteriorating situation in the US and 9/11 and subsequent actions taken in the name of the “war on terror,” which is basically the thesis of an article I’m trying to find a publisher for. So.
In Sum: I’m pumped to read later installments, and you should totally read it (but be prepared to be made uncomfortable).