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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More generally , Scarry asserts , any suffering is at bottom incommunicable ,
though she has something more in mind than the cliché that violence marks the
limits of the expressible . Pain , though a gray area — there are degrees of pain ...
Flesh is subject to war , torture , and everyday brutality , and it is clear , as Scarry
argues , that language cannot do justice to the extreme suffering of bodies . Yet it
is equally clear , indeed urgent , that a language beyond suffering must be ...
So too is violence simply another grand illusion , which does not , however ,
make suffering obsolete . Suffering is replete , rather , even among the waves
and radiation of the anarchic social landscape . The novel concludes on a note of