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Violence (Big Ideas/Small Books)

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  • Posted July 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    SOS- who can stop the violence

    In a thought provoking intro he relates an old story- ". . . a worker suspected of stealing every eveining as he leaves the factory, the wheelbarrow he wheels in front of him is carefully inspected. The guards can find nothing. It is always empty. Finally the penny drops: what the worker is stealing is the wheelbarrows themselves. . ."

    Such it is with violence- the most obvious forms are not what interests Zizek- for him the wheelbarrow is the objective and systemic forms that need illumination. I found his discussion of the "other" particularly thought provoking especially when the other is the enemy. He defines enemy as "a person whose story you have not heard." For instance he uses Mary Shelly as she took us inside Frankenstein's monster and revealed feelings and passions and why he feels to be misrepresented by society. Of course this has much greater implications as it is easier for violence to be perpetrated on the "other" we do not know. That is not to say that to know someone is to love them. One need only consider Stalin and Hitler as examples of the "other" no amount of exposure to their reality would take them from enemy to "neighbor".

    Language and form are other types of objective violence. Words and images often are either violent in structure or in intent or both. Zizek uses Muslim violence in reaction to Danish cartoons that depicted Mohamed and the unrest that ensued as his prototype for this violence. Words and pictures themselves are "violent" as is the context of how the "other" receives and processes them.

    Interesting discussions on the violence of doing nothing or doing the wrong thing are trumped by an ill-conceived final essay on "divine violence" that is not well defined where he seemed more intent of cleverness than clarity.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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