The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning

The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning

by Maggie Nelson


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Today both reality and entertainment crowd our fields of vision with brutal imagery. The pervasiveness of images of torture, horror, and war has all but demolished the twentieth-century hope that such imagery might shock us into a less alienated state, or aid in the creation of a just social order. What to do now? When to look, when to turn away?

Genre-busting author Maggie Nelson brilliantly navigates this contemporary predicament, with an eye to the question of whether or not focusing on representations of cruelty makes us cruel. In a journey through high and low culture (Kafka to reality TV), the visual to the verbal (Paul McCarthy to Brian Evenson), and the apolitical to the political (Francis Bacon to Kara Walker), Nelson offers a model of how one might balance strong ethical convictions with an equally strong appreciation for work that tests the limits of taste, taboo, and permissibility.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393072150
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 07/11/2011
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Maggie Nelson is the author of several books, including Bluets and The Art of Cruelty. She teaches at and lives in Los Angeles, California.

Table of Contents

Styles of Imprisonment 3

Theaters of Cruelty 15

Great to Watch 31

Captivity, Catharsis 53

Everything is Nice 66

They're Only Dolls 91

The Golden Rule 105

Nobody Said No 119

The Brutality of Fact 131

Who We Are 162

A Situation of Meat 175

Precariousness 191

Inflicted 205

Face 227

Rings of Action 239

Rarer and Better Things 262

Acknowledgments 271

Bibliography 273

Index 279

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