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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As Reynold Humphries ( 1988 ) writes , Conrad fantasizes a unity that has
everywhere slipped away from the world he lives in as a stronghold against those
corrosions that are fantastically isolated and bottled up in the tidy threat of the
The contagious threat represented by the woman ( or Jew ) must be met and
contained by the scapegoating and sacrificial violence of “ law and order ” ( even
if it must be exercised without state sanction ) . The unruliness of the other must
... taken as a threat . I am not suggesting that threats of violence are not fully real ,
only that we cannot speak of reality without considering our corporate sponsors .
And a threat — this is what defines it as a peculiarly inflexible speech act — can ...