I really enjoyed reading Chapter Nine of Every Twelve Seconds because Timothy Pachirat does a very nice job of bringing up and discussing a few topics we have tried to touch on the entire semester. The first one discussing the “politics of sight” and how sight is often knowledge that society hides from or is forbidden to see. Pachirat believes sight can have a very powerful effect on people and “the impulse to link sight and political transformation is strong” (p. 242). Slaughterhouses are designed so very few eyes actually see the killing that takes place, both inside and outside the slaughterhouse. The public would never be able to pick a slaughterhouse out from a series of buildings. They do not have a special kind of look and they are secured and protected enough to not attract any outsiders. However, the surveillance of sight does not stop with the public. There are people who actually work in the slaughterhouse who will never see an animal get killed. Pachirat says, “The divisions of labor and space inside the slaughterhouse walls revealed by this insider perspective exemplified not only how distance and concealment segregate the slaughterhouse from society as a whole but also how surveillance and concealment sequester the participants form the work of killing within the walls of the slaughterhouse itself” (p. 236). This idea of surveillance and protection that is a common theme in this book and has become very important to our lives has stopped us from seeing the dark side of society. What if we did see the bad?? Pachirat brings this idea up by asking us to imagine a work “in which distance and concealment failed to operate, in which walls and checkpoints did not block sight, in which those who benefited from dirty, dangerous, and demeaning work had a visceral engagement with it, a world in which words explained rather than hid” (p. 240). What if we did have a world like the one he proposes where we saw first hand where our food, clothing, and any other luxury item we owned came from. Would we still eat the same food we do, buy the same clothing we do, and splurge with our fancy belongings?? I do not know the answer to that question because I would like to think we would be affected by something so traumatic and horrible but then again maybe we would experience something like Sontag brought up earlier in the semester, the CNN affect and how we would all just become knumb to the tragedy and continue living our lives as we had before.
The other point I wanted to bring up and discuss was this idea of privilege. We have talked a lot about privilege and privileged people in our society. We have had many debates to whether the privileged people can help change all the suffering and darkness in the world. Oddly enough I believed they could until I read this book. I have this idea that education brings knowledge and knowledge brings change. However, that is not the case. I think it is safe to say that everyone that goes to this university is privileged. No matter what background or economic class they come from, everyone who can attend such an elite university has automatically been given an education and experience that not many other people can say they have experienced. It has always been my understanding that with this education Colgate has given us, myself and my fellow classmates are going to go out into the world and provide some kind of change. However, after reading this book I have come to realize privilege and education is not associated with change, it is associated with protection. The same people who are informed and educated about the sweatshops, slaughterhouses, war, torture, and all other darkness in the world are the same people being protected from such things. Even worse, they are usually the ones owning the means of production to run such torture chambers. The people who are actually affected by these horrific situations are the uneducated, less privileged people in society. So what exactly will it take to institute change in our culture?? As Pachirat explains the privileged ones are going to have to see the tortures of the world. They are going to have to open their eyes and expose themselves. Michael Foucault says, " It was the dream of a transparent society, visible and legible in each of its parts, the dream of there no longer existing any zones of darkness, zones established by the privileges of royal power or the prerogatives of some corporation, zones of disorder. It was the dream that each individual, whatever position he occupied, might be able to see the whole society" (p. 242). Maybe he is right, maybe it is just a dream but maybe that dream could become reality. If it did, would it work??