What defense against the apprehension of loss is at work in the blithe way in which we accept deaths caused by military means with a shrug or with self-righteousness or with clear vindictiveness? To what extent have Arab peoples, predominantly practitioners of Islam, fallen outside the "human" as it has been naturalized in its "Western" mold by the contemporary workings of humanism? ... After all, if someone is lost, and that person is not someone, then what and where is the loss, and how does mourning take place?
... If violence is done to those who are unreal, then, from the perspective of violence, it fails to injure or negate those lives since those lives are already negated. But they have a strange way of remaining animated and so must be negated again (and again). ...Violence renews itself in the face of the apparent inexhaustibility of its object.
Judith Butler, Precarious Life 32-33
Today being the day it is I decided that rather than participate in the public spectacle we seem intent on creating out of our inability to mourn whatever it was that we in the US think we lost ten years ago--although we may well have never had it to begin with --rather than go along with the ruse of our fallen, long-mythologized invulnerability to attack or even decay, that I was going to re-read Judith's Precarious Life, since in it she addresses violence and mourning in direct response to the war that we imagine only began in 2001. I wanted to try to understand what it was exactly in our fetishization of the images of destruction that I find so frustrating to deal with, beyond even practical and political concerns over the extent to which we seem to be willing to give up every last shred of dignity and "freedom" (were we "free" before?), if it will help us to reestablish our illusion of security and safety from political violence.
( in which we get carried awayCollapse )