I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed By

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed

Postby admin » Fri Jun 10, 2016 3:04 am

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NRO —DRAGON

This is a program patch from the National Reconnaissance Office, the United States' "black" space agency whose existence was a secret until the early 1990s (the agency was formed in the early 1960s).

DRAGON is a code name within the BYEMAN information compartment for the infrared imaging capabilities on CRYSTAL (advanced KH-11) reconnaissance satellites.
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Re: I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed

Postby admin » Fri Jun 10, 2016 3:05 am

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SI EGO CERTIOREM FACIAM, MIHI TU DELENDUS ERIS

This patch was designed as a generic insignia for "black" projects conducted by the Navy's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four (VX-4) based at Point Mugu, California. It was reportedly used during the navy's involvement with the TSSAM program. It may still be worn by members of the VX-9 squadron formed from a merger of VX-4 and VX-5. VX-9's mission is to test strike aircraft, conventional weapons, electronic warfare equipment, and to develop tactics involving these weapons systems. The Latin phrase "Si Ego Certiorem Faciam ... Mihi Tu Delendus Eris" roughly translates into a cliche commonly heard in the vicinity of "black" programs: "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

But the phrasing here is unusual because it is written in the passive voice: a more accurate translation of the Latin would be "I could tell you, but then you would have to be destroyed by me." By employing the passive voice the patch's designer makes two references that don't exist in other phrasings. The first reference is to the Greek God of Chaos, Eris, about whom Homer wrote in Book Four of the Iliad:

"[Eris] whose wrath is relentless, she is the sister and companion of murderous Ares. She who is only a little thing at the first, but thereafter grows until she strides on the earth with her head striking heaven. She then hurled down bitterness equally between both sides as she walked through the onslaught making men's pain heavier."

The passive phrasing of the Latin also echoes the words of a Second century B.C. Roman senator named Cato the Elder, who roamed the Senate repeating the words "Carthago delenda est"—"Carthage must be destroyed." In 149 B.C., Cato got his wish and Rome attacked the city, which was located in North Africa near present-day Tunis. Three years after beginning their assault, the Roman army overran Carthage, tore down its walls, and sold its inhabitants into slavery. After the Roman Senate declared that no one would ever live where Carthage had stood, legend holds that Rome salted the earth around the city in order to ensure that Carthage would remain a wasteland for generations.
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Re: I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed

Postby admin » Fri Jun 10, 2016 3:05 am

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Although this book's title page bears the name of a single author, projects such as this are by their very nature collaborative endeavors. The book you're holding is no exception. Numerous people have given me generous access to their time, insight, and to their personal collections in order to realize this project. The majority of them, for obvious reasons, wish to remain anonymous. You know who you are. I thank you immensely. For the record, I'd like to acknowledge the contributions of Peter Merlin, Bugs Mitchell, T. Glen Larson, Rebecca Zorach, Iain Boal and the folks from Dreamland Resort for helping me find and understand the images that have gone into this collection.

I'd also like to thank my colleagues in academia and the arts for their consistent inspiration and support: Negar Azimi, Bidoun magazine, Colby Chamberlain, Cabinet magazine, Lauren Cornell, Beatriz da Costa, Apsara DiQuinzio, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, Lisa Far jam, Aaron Gach and CTM, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Ken Goldberg, Renee Green, Gillian Hart, IAA, Adriene Jenik, Thomas Keenan, Shiloh Krupar Laura Kurgan, Jean Lave, Simon Leung, Michael Light, Yates McKee, Julia Meltzer, Lize Mogel, Sina Najafi, Greg Niemeyer, Marisa Olson, Jack Paglen, Allan and Michele Pred, Rhizome.org, Ananya Roy, Rebecca Solnit, Liz Thomas, A. C. Thompson, Nato Thompson, David Thome, Anne Walsh, Michael Watts, and Benjamin Young. Praba Pilar belongs in a class of her own.

I'm eternally grateful to Becky Smith, Kristina Ernst, Greg Hopkins, Bellwether Gallery, and Ted Weinstein. They make this and other work possible. Above all, I'd like to thank Kelly Burdick and Melville House for their commitment to this rather unusual project.

BOOK DESIGN: CAROL HAYES / ISBN: 978-1-933633-32-9
FIRST MELVILLE HOUSE PRINTING: NOVEMBER 2007
© TREVOR PAGLEN; IMAGES ON PAGES 12, 14-15, 32-33, 104-105, AND 124-125
ARE BY TREVOR PAGLEN.
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