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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I do not mean to reduce violence to a textual operation when I insist on its
elusiveness , nor do I intend to de - emphasize its historically omnipresent reality
on the battlefields and in the streets and in the schools and homes . The former is
[ I ] n her extreme childhood her father , his gun in hand , had fallen in the blood -
stained streets of Paris on a barricade ; but on the other side it took an English
aristocrat to account for him , though a poor specimen apparently had to suffice ...
And Wideman , who “ escapes ” the streets , who controls his impulse to punch
this kid and will take up the arms of the professional writer , is denied access to
his own and his culture ' s history and consequently folds the felt violence of ...