A Local An-aesthetic, please

by zunguzungu

Elitist swine that I am, I found these photos tremendously amusing. There’s something wonderful about the idea of comparing one “doing” of local news to another, as if localness is a variable content that slots into a universally applicable form, as if localness (or “culture,” if you prefer) is something you fill in a box on a form, rather than the thing you do instead of filling out a form at all. It is, of course; Insert Culture Here. Like a giant catalog of culture; “Honey, we need some culture. Shall we buy the maasai beads or the brass C&O canal lock works?”

And of course, I managed to get my shadow into the picture as I took it, which offers that piquant sauce of post-structural deconstruction of the fiction of impartial representation that makes the dish taste so sweet. Or, if you will, it’s the rug that ties the room together; this photo is no mirror held up to reality, remember, it’s a trick of perspective produced by a point of view.

The picture comes from a newspaper box, as it happens, for the Daily American, another use of the English language that makes me coo with pleasure. Though my father also pointed out that the “Daily American” appears to have the full title of Daily American Tribune-Review, a name that probably winks at a somber history of consolidation and corporatizing, all subsumed under a veil of patriotism. Somerset county, I learned from their tourist brochure, is “America’s county,” and not merely because the 9/11 flight that didn’t hit its target crashed there. It’s also “America’s County” because America “looks like” what Somerset county wants to believe itself to be: local. And underneath all of this, what do we have? What is the local news which the Daily American, the best local news on sale in the nation, has to offer? Why it’s that 12 million people (Somerset residents all?) are suffering locally from food allergies, for what are undoubtedly local causes, but for which global parallels will (I imagine) remain persistently and doggedly unmade.