Words like "terrorism" and "war" no longer encompass the scope of contemporary violence. With this explosive book, Adriana Cavarero, one of the world's most provocative feminist theorists and political philosophers, effectively renders such terms obsolete. She introduces a new word"horrorism"to capture the experience of violence.
Unlike terror, horrorism is a form of violation grounded in the offense of disfiguration and massacre. Numerous outbursts of violence fall within Cavarero's category of horrorism, especially when the phenomenology of violence is considered from the perspective of the victim rather than that of the warrior. Cavarero locates horrorism in the philosophical, political, literary, and artistic representations of defenseless and vulnerable victims. She considers both terror and horror on the battlefields of the Iliad, in the decapitation of Medusa, and in the murder of Medea's children. In the modern arena, she forges a link between horror, extermination, and massacre, especially the Nazi death camps, and revisits the work of Primo Levi, Hannah Arendt's thesis on totalitarianism, and Arendt's debate with Georges Bataille on the estheticization of violence and cruelty.
In applying the horroristic paradigm to the current phenomena of suicide bombers, torturers, and hypertechnological warfare, Cavarero integrates Susan Sontag's views on photography and the eroticization of horror, as well as ideas on violence and the state advanced by Thomas Hobbes and Carl Schmitt. Through her searing analysis, Caverero proves that violence against the helpless claims a specific vocabulary, one that has been known for millennia, and not just to the Western tradition. Where common language fails to form a picture of atrocity, horrorism paints a brilliant portrait of its vivid reality.
About the Author
Table of Contents
1 - Etymologies: "Terror"; or, On Surviving
2 - Etymologies: "Horror"; or On Dismembering
3 - On War
4 - The Howl of Medusa
5 - The Vulnerability of the Helpless
6 - The Crime of Medea
7 - Horrorism; or, On Violence Against the Helpless
8 - Those Who Have Seen the Gorgon
9 - Auschwitz; or, On Extreme Horror
10 - Erotic Carnages
11 - So Mutilated that It Might Be the Body of the Pig
12 - The Warrior's Pleasure
13 - Worldwide Aggressiveness
14 - For a History of Terror
15 - Suicidal Horrorism
16 - When the Bomb is a Woman's Body
17 - Female Torturers Grinning at the Camera
Appendix: The Horror! The Horror! Rereading Conrad
What People are Saying About This
A highly welcome and intelligent philosophical reflection on contemporary forms of violence and our attempts to name themand thereby unflinchingly come to grips with them.
This moving and humane book never stops delivering, from small details such as Adriana Cavarero's insightful dissection of the term 'casualty' and her analysis of the leers on the faces of the photographed women torturers at Abu Ghraib, to large claimsthat horror is the real aim of terrorism and that its worst offense is an ontological crime: that of erasing the singularity of persons and transforming all humans into mere insignificant body matter. By contrast, even Medea, Cavarero notes in one of this book's many breathtaking moments, knew the sons she killed by name and 'loved them in their unrepeatable singularity.'
Adriana Cavarero has the courage and intellectual force to compel us to place horror and terror back within the ambit of humanist inquiry and philological scrutiny. In shying away from theories of speechlessness or the speechlessness of theory, she insists on the autonomy of the experience of horrorfor our growing global archive of victimsfrom the intentionalities of terror. In so doing, Cavarero makes us think again about war, force, victimization, politics, and innocence. A remarkable meditation on the macabre world of modern political violence that will appeal to a wide range of readers.