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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If the evils from which society suffers are admitted to be structural rather than
personal , their exposure must rely on an unrelenting violence rather than a
diabolical and rhetorical promise that violence is indeed at work and guilt can be
their features and all the fiendlike stamped in , apes and tigers , anaemic
consumptives and great hairy beasts of burden , wan faces from which vampire
society had sucked the juice of life , bloated forms swollen with physical
grossness and ...
And then I thought that , one day , maybe , there ' ld be a human society in a
world which is beautiful , a society which wasn ' t just disgust ” ( 227 ) . Whatever
we might learn from the dreaming , whatever glimpses of a society that was not