Raids on Human Consciousness: Writing, Anarchism, and Violence
However one looks at violence -- as an instrument of bureaucracy or ideology; as a product of racial, gender, or class antagonisms; or as the inevitable result of power politics -- it is an integral part of every social system and is one of the most pressing problems of our tortured century.
In Raids on Human Consciousness Arthur Redding examines the contention that violence, be it the mass product of revolutionary uprising or a private sadomasochistic indulgence, may be taken to instill in those who commit it the capacity for radical change.
Conscious that mainstream theory considers violence deviant, a departure from the normal equilibrium of social and aesthetic structures, while other critiques take it to be integral to any dynamic system, Redding begins with the anarchist inquiry into the relationship of violence to the imaginary representation of modern communities. He explores the "public images" of anarchism in literature and popular culture and emphasizes the diverse strategies by which modern writers encounter, derive, deflect, and manipulate fantasies of political violence.
Redding recognizes that language fails when confronted with the extreme suffering of human bodies. Acknowledging that flesh is subject to war, torture, and everyday brutality -- violations to which language can never do justice -- he nonetheless finds it urgent to reclaim language on the far side of suffering.
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... attempted but , rather , that it falls short everywhere and not merely because of
political contingencies or counterrevolutionary retaliation ; change fails precisely
because it is the ideal and impossible reservoir of millenarian hopes : a dream .
On such stuff are the dreams of a random political violence made : the dream life
of political violence ceaselessly stages the effervescent incompletion of desire ,
even as it smashes the social , personal , or economic constraints that regulate ...
This dream , therefore , is itself action , reality , and an effective menace to all
established order ; it renders possible what it dreams about ” ( Logic of Sense 49
) . The collapse of the sign described by Jameson , then , predestines a newly ...