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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Still , I do not think that conservative “ containment ” of the forces of chaos and
change are the final lesson to be learned of the novel , even if sympathy ,
bemusement , and grace are all that James has to forestall the inevitability of
The repressed violence does return , inevitably , to the narrative , for it cannot be
held in check by good manners , taste , culture , or debate , none of which virtues
, as the narrative thrust of the novel admits , can come to grips with the violence ...
For instance , in 1950 W . M . Frohock characterized violence as “ epidemic ” in
the American novel , pointing out that the twentieth - century “ frustration and
despair ” compete with the felt pointlessness of an acute urgency in the ( male ) ...