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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The idea of violence undergoes a similar recurrence , insofar as what was a
deeply felt issue for sociologists and New Left radicals has become an obsessive
textual concern today . In 1969 the British Marxist E . J . Hobsbawm pointed out
The nature of the witness to violence is , of course , a primary issue here , for the
witness to violence is her - or himself only indirectly violated , if at all , and the
varied manipulations of and responses to what Herbert Blau calls the fiction of
In 1968 Kenneth Keniston wrote , sweepingly , “ the issue of violence is to this
generation what the issue of sex was to the Victorian world ” ( 248 ) . 2 At the
same time , as the antiwar movement gained momentum , the problem of “ direct