Luke Niebler

Mall Madness.

Luke Niebler

Can you take your parrot to the national mall?

 It depends on your parrot’s feelings about her position within the nation-state. As an “animal,” your parrot lacks recognition as a conscious being within the national project, and has been effectively Othered, pushed to the fringe of society and kept totally dependent on you for support. We can see that the animal/human binary is a false construct by looking at the way that homo sapiens are systematically disenfranchised (ie, Foucault’s analysis of the invention of “madness,” as well as the treatment of graduate students), as well as instances of “humanized” animals (ie, Clay Henry III, a beer drinking donkey elected mayor of Lajitas, TX). As such, it would be reasonable that your parrot would not enjoy participating in a phallic representation of an exclusionary state project at the national mall.

However, we could read your parrot as occupying a privileged position that decenters the logic of national imagination. She can speak, but simply as an uncomprehending repetition—“parroting”—of the words of those around her. This reveals that language itself is an infinitely referential system of signs that lacks essential truth. Indeed, aren’t we all merely parroting words, ideas, and identities that lack any true meaning? Isn’t the project of “democracy” merely an infinite repetition of an imagined ideal in the hopes that the repetition will make it real?

Teach your parrot popular political slogans and unleash her at the national mall. She will spend the rest of her days as a perpetual, mobile reminder of the emptiness at the heart of the national project.

(Courtesy of Yahoo! Answers)