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There were 143 results from your search for keyword(s): 'Politics & Novels'.
- "A series of outrages," Mr. Vladimir continued calmly, "executed here in this country; not only planned here -- that would not do -- they would not mind. Your friends could set half the Continent on fire without influencing the public opinion here in favour of a universal repressive legislation. They will not look outside their backyard here."
Source: The Secret Agent, p. 21
- "But what is one to say to an act of destructive ferocity so absurd as to be incomprehensible, inexplicable, almost unthinkable; in fact, mad? Madness alone is truly terrifying, inasmuch as you cannot placate it either by threats, persuasion, or bribes...The attack must have all the shocking senselessness of gratuitous blasphemy. Since bombs are your means of expression, it would be really telling if one could throw a bomb into pure mathematics. But that is impossible."
Source: The Secret Agent, p. 23
- "England must be brought into line...I suppose you agree that the middle classes are stupid?...They have no imagination. They are blinded by an idiotic vanity. What they want just now is a jolly good scare. This is the psychological moment to set your friends to work. I have had you called here to develop to you my idea."
Source: The Secret Agent, p. 20
- "Everything that ever gets done in this world is done by madmen," Mr Scogan went on... "People are quite ready to listen to the philosophers for a little amusement, just as they would listen to a fiddler or a mountebank. But as to acting on the advice of the men of reason -- never. Wherever the choice has had to be made between the man of reason and the madman, the world has unhesitatingly followed the madman."
Source: Crome Yellow, p. 122
- "I am waiting for you to prosecute me!" I shout. "When are you going to do it? When are you going to bring me to trial? When am I going to have a chance to defend myself?" I am in a fury. None of the speechlessness I felt in front of the crowd afflicts me. If I were to confront these men now, in public, in a fair trial, I would find the words to shame them. It is a matter of health and strength: I feel my hot words swell in my breast. But they will never bring a man to trial while he is healthy and strong enough to confound them. They will shut me away in the dark till I am a muttering idiot, a ghost of myself; then they will haul me before a closed court and in five minutes dispose of the legalities they find so tiresome.
Source: Waiting for the Barbarians, p. 113
- "I mean to say, first, that there's but poor comfort in being able to declare that any given act of violence -- damaging property or destroying life -- is not the work of anarchism at all, but of something else altogether -- some species of authorized scoundrelism. This, I fancy, is much more frequent than we suppose...[T]he existence of these spies amongst the revolutionary groups which we are reproached for harboring here, does away with all certitude."
Source: The Secret Agent, p. 93
- "I should like," Huddleberry was saying, "I should like to write a detective story -- a mystery story...But one in which no one should know what crime had been committed -- nor who had committed it..."
"That's true of all crimes, isn't it, rather?" asked Charles and watched himself inject a careless laugh, like a hypodermic, into the man's mind. But:
"No one...There should be a dream quality about it all..." His eye lighted; a rising enthusiasm informed his customarily level tones and he waved his long thin hands in wider gestures -- "A dream quality, yes; a brooding sense of Something -- no one quite knowing what -- but Something dread, and menacing, and terrible. A Something that sets all the boasted power of civilization at naught --," he raised his hand as Charles gave evidence of being about to speak, "--at naught, and mocks the puny strength of men..."
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 142
- "Men are very difficult to understand," said Carmella. "Let's hope they all freeze to death. I am sure it would be very pleasant and healthy for human beings to have no authority whatever. They would have to think for themselves, instead of always being told what to do and think by advertisements, cinemas, policemen and parliaments."
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 126
- "Men, women, statesmen, courtesans, plotters...and yet, in the mind of each the dread questions are constantly impending -- 'What is it that threatens?' -- 'And for whom?' -- 'If Death, then who shall be the victim?' -- 'Who the murderer?' -- 'Where the scene of the tragedy?' -- 'Shall it be I who will strike the fatal blow?' -- 'Or shall I receive it?' ..."
He paused again, staring dramatically at the corner of the ceiling. "And the end -- dramatic, inevitable, but veiled in mystery....'Was there a murder?' -- 'Who was the victim?' -- they shall ask, my characters. And as each sinks shudderingly to sleep -- 'Was it I who killed, last night as I thought I slept?' -- 'Am I, even now, am I dead?'... Ah! Yes! It shall be my greatest work, that. It would go well in the American Mercury, don't you think?"
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 144-145
- "Now let us see what the next one says. See, there is only a single character. It is the barbarian character war, but it has other senses too. It can stand for vengeance, and if you turn it upside down like this, it can be made to read justice. There is no knowing which sense is intended. That is part of barbarian cunning.
"It is the same with the rest of these slips." I plunge my good hand into the chest and stir. "They form an allegory. They can be read in many orders. Further, each single slip can be read in many ways. Together they can be read as a domestic journal, or they can be read as a plan of war, or they can be turned on their sides and read as a history of the last years of the Empire -- the old Empire, I mean. There is no agreement among scholars about how to interpret these relics of the ancient barbarians. Allegorical sets like this one can be found buried all over the desert...It is recommended that you simply dig at random: perhaps at the very spot where you stand you will come upon scraps, shards, reminders of the dead. Also the air: the air is full of sighs and cries. These are never lost: if you listen carefully, with a sympathetic ear, you can hear them echoing forever within the second sphere. The night is best: sometimes when you have difficulty in falling asleep it is because your ears have been reached by the cries of the dead which, like their writings, are open to many interpretations.
Source: Waiting for the Barbarians, p. 112
- "Politics in a work of literature," wrote Stendhal, "is like a pistol-shot in the middle of a concert, something loud and vulgar, and yet a thing to which it is not possible to refuse one's attention."
The remark is very shrewd, though one wishes that Stendhal, all of whose concerts are interrupted by bursts of gunfire, had troubled to say a little more. Once the pistol is fired, what happens to the music? Can the noise of the interruption ever become part of the performance? When is the interruption welcome and when is it resented?
Source: Politics and the Novel, p. 15
- "The novel...is no longer only a way of telling a story but has become an investigation, a continual discovery...Balzac stands at the limit of the literature of imagination and of the literature of exactitude. He has books in which the spirit of inquiry is rigorous, like Eugénie Grandet or César Birotteau; others in which the unreal is blended with the real, like La Femme de trente ans; and still others, like Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu, composed of elements drawn from a variety of jeux d'esprit." Pierre Hamp, "La Littérature, image de la société," Encyclopédie française, vol. 16, Arts et liftératters dans la sockété contemporaine, 1, p.64. [d13,4]
Source: The Arcades Project, p. 769
- "The vigilance of the police -- and the severity of the magistrates. The general leniency of the judicial procedure here, and the utter absence of all repressive measures, are a scandal to Europe. What is wished for just now is the accentuation of the unrest..."
Source: The Secret Agent, p. 12
- "There's a curious knot that binds novelists and terrorists. In the West we become famous effigies as our books lose the power to shape and influence...Years ago I used to think it was possible for a novelist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory. They make raids on human consciousness. What writers used to do before we were all incorporated."
Source: Mao II, p. 41
- "Wait here till I get the morning editions," said the stranger. They were full of all the details about the Nine Prominent Critics Die By X-Ray Bullet, and it went on to relate how reason shuddered when the city waked up today to find that such men as Harry Hansen, William Soskin, Heywood Broun, Bruce Gould, Waldo Frank, Henry Seidl Canby, Asa Huddleberry and James Thurber and George Jean Nathan were made the victims of a dastardly attack late last night and the police were hopelessly at sea because no motive could be imagined for the murders unless by the Communists from Moscow. The stranger looked worried. Then his brow cleared.
Source: The Eater of Darkness, p. 165-166
- "What is desired," said the man of papers, "is the occurrence of something definite which should stimulate their vigilance. That is within your province -- is it not so?"
Source: The Secret Agent, p. 12
- "What terrorists gain, novelists lose. The degree to which they influence mass consciousness is the extent of our decline as shapers of sensibility and thought. The danger they represent equals our own failure to be dangerous...Beckett is the last writer to shape the way we think and see. After him, the major work involves midair explosions and crumbled buildings. This is the new tragic narrative.
Source: Mao II, p. 157
- "What we want is to administer a tonic to the Conference in Milan," he said airily. "Its deliberations upon international action for the suppression of political crime don't seem to get anywhere. England lags. This country is absurd with its sentimental regard for individual liberty."
Source: The Secret Agent, p. 20
- "When Eugène Sue, following upon...Les Mystères de Londres (by Paul Féval),...conceived the project of writing Les Mystères de Paris, he did not at all propose to arouse the interest of the reader with a description of society's underworld. He began by characterizing his novel as an histoire fantastique....It was a newspaper article that decided his future. La Phalange praised the beginning of the novel and opened the author's eyes: 'M. Sue has just set out on the most penetrating critique of society....Let us congratulate him for having recounted...the frightful sufferings of the working class and the cruel indifference of society.' The author of this article...received a visit from Sue; they talked -- and that is how the novel already underway was pointed in a new direction....Eugène Sue convinced himself: he took part in the electoral battle and was elected ...(1848)...The tendencies and the far-reaching effects of Sue's novels were such that M. Alfred Nettement could see in them one of the determining causes of the Revolution of 1848." Edmond Benoit-Lévy, "Les Misérables" de Victor Hugo (Paris, 1929), pp. 18-19. [d6a,2]
Source: The Arcades Project, p. 720
- "You have been treasonously consorting with the enemy," he says.
So it is out. "Treasonously consorting": a phrase out of a book.
"We are at peace here," I say, "we have no enemies." There is silence. "Unless I make a mistake," I say. "Unless we are the enemy."
Source: Waiting for the Barbarians, p. 77
- 'Elstree.' Harvey said it as if there was a third party listening -- as if to draw the attention of this third party to that definite word, Elstree, and whatever connotations it might breed.
Source: The Only Problem, p. 335
- 'In the dream I’d be going about a normal day's business and suddenly, with no warning, there'd be the sign. We were a member of the National Automobile Dealer's Association. NADA. Just this creaking metal sign that said nada, nada, against the blue sky. I used to wake up hollering.'
Source: The Crying of Lot 49, p. 110-111
- 'It is true,' he said, 'that you cannot commit a crime and that the right arm of the law cannot lay its finger on you irrespective of the degree of your criminality. Anything you do is a lie and nothing that happens to you is true.'
I nodded my agreement comfortably.
'For that reason alone,' said the Sergeant, 'we can take you and hang the life out of you and you are not hanged at all and there is no entry to be made in the death papers. The particular death you die is not even a death (which is an inferior phenomenon at the best) only an insanitary abstraction in the backyard, a piece of negative nullity neutralized and rendered void by asphyxiation and the fracture of the spinal string. If it is not a lie to say that you have been given the final hammer behind the barrack, equally it is true to say that nothing has happened to you.'
'You mean that because I have no name I cannot die and that you cannot be held answerable for death even if you kill me?'
'That is about the size of it,' said the Sergeant.
Source: The Third Policeman, p. 88
- How German Is It is certainly not a terrorist attack. What it does do is present an effective engagement with issues of postmodernism, history, and culture that are implicated in terrorism's impact. As Sadie Plant has argued, the postmodern writings of Baudrillard and Lyotard in particular are 'underwritten by situationist theory and the social and cultural agitations in which it is placed'. Moreover, Baudrillard, Lyotard, and Jameson all invoke terrorism when characterizing dominant tendencies of contemporary culture.
Source: Terrorism and Modern Literature, p. 233
- The Assignment repeatedly demonstrates a concern with the problematics, and especially with the political implications, of literary realism...[T]he critique of realism offered by neo-Marxist critics suggests its repressive potential as a "fantasy of surveillance" corresponding to nineteenth-century developments in psychiatry and urban sociology, a form of policing, enforcing social norms and denying aberrations. Yet in spite of the frequency with which recent critics cite Bakhtin's argument that the realistic novel's dialogism brings about "a destruction of any absolute bonding of ideological meaning to language, which is the defining factor of mythological and magical thought," the critique of realism as allied with official views of reality remains a key point in the postmodernist program (Bakhtin 369).
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 114-115
- The Good Terrorist is an exemplary novel about terrorism. Factually inaccurate or at least radically selective about its facts, despairing about public action, reactionary in its implied politics of quietism and complicity with power, the novel faithfully follows its more prestigious models -- Demons, The Secret Agent, The Princess Casamassima...Yet the novel's meaning does not really depend on its accuracy about the IRA or contemporary terrorism, about which it in fact seems to care very little. What attracts the novelist to her subject is a fascination with the inaudibility of personal voices, with the fragility of printed books in a world where the electronic media accent our speech and feed our violence.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 90-91
- The Good Terrorist [by Doris Lessing], in short, is an object lesson in the problematic relationship between realistic novels and terrorism, a relationship grounded in the author's anxiety about the efficacy, the power and clarity, of language. Terrorists, she implies, can teach us a great deal about the failures of novelists.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 75
- After the Second World War, the growing social and cultural differentiation and pluralization of British society makes an analysis of the interaction between taboo and transgression infinitely more difficult. The abolition of institutional censorship in 1968 is just one symptom of a new permissive society which seems to accept an ever-increasing amount of transgressive behavior and its depiction in literature, art, and film. The Holocaust seems to be one of the few remaining taboos which cannot be transgressed through denial or other forms of showing disrespect without provoking public outrage or legal consequences. In such a climate of almost general permissiveness the role of literature as taboo-breaking force seems to have faded away, literature seems like a dog that is still able to bark, but has lost its bite. In other words, literature may stage transgressions more overtly than ever, but without any noticeable effect.
From chapter: Lars Heiler, Against Censorship: Literature, Transgression, and Taboo from a Diachronic Perspective
Source: Taboo and Transgression in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 66
- All three, the Hausmeister, Max, the park attendant, were aware that Ulrich's father had worn a monocle, and that his name was Ulrich von Hargenau, and that he had died for his fatherland, another euphemism, and that Ulrich and his brother had dropped the von, a gesture that was universally regarded with suspicion and a quite irrational anger. As a rule, people did not drop their von. The Hausmeister, Max, and the park attendant also knew that Ulrich had been up to his neck in left-wing politics, and that as recently as nine months ago he had been involved in a long drawn-out trial in which his evidence had been used by the prosecution to build an airtight case, enabling them to lock up what everyone considered a bunch of ill-mannered agitators. In some quarters there was more outrage about their alleged bad manners than their left-wing rhetoric.
Source: How German Is It, p. 34
- Although Stone [in Damascus Gate] analyzes the psychology of the true believer, he seems much less interested in those traditional subjects of the realistic novel, middle-class people who live in families and go to work. As a result, the novel's politics are also skewed toward extremism...Stone's Israel itself seems more of an idea, or a system, than a country where real people live.
This derealization of so much of Israel makes it rather too easy for the novel to espouse a conspiratorial view of Israeli politics. In The Mandelbaum Gate, the discovery of a spy is still a major plot development; our inability, in Operation Shylock, to be sure of having penetrated the spy's last disguise, is still a source of mystery. But Damascus Gate starts out with the assumption that Mossad routinely encourages Palestinian terrorist factions; even Hamas is an Israeli operation that got out of control. It is an easy assumption that "Palestinians" beating up informers are really Israeli soldiers beating up their more effective opponents, or that the government encourages gunrunning and drug running in the Occupied Territories. On the political plane, distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate force are not just obscured -- they have ceased to exist. The novel suggests that believing in an apocalyptic cult or a revolutionary underground is quite understandable but hardly imagines anyone delusional enough to take electoral politics seriously.
Having lived with Watergate, the Iran-Contra scandal, and Monica Lewinsky, a contemporary American can hardly find this cynicism strange...
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 135
- An act of terrorism in the name of government; a work of destruction so expressive it is incomprehensible; an event so strategic that it appears to be insane. It is a matter of a phantom event. This paradoxical state of affairs is precisely what Privy Councillor Wurmt, the Chancelier d'Ambassade at the London embassy of a 'great power', invokes as a means of sorting out the affairs of state within England in his meeting with Adolf Verloc, agent provocateur: 'What is required at present is not writing, but the bringing to light of a distinct, a significant fact', in order to exacerbate national 'unrest'. The central terrorist action of [Joseph Conrad's] The Secret Agent (1907), based on the actual self-detonation of the Anarchist Martial Bourdin in Greenwich in 1894, is thus prefigured as state 'propagande par le fait' -- 'propaganda by deed', as it is translated in English, though it could equally be rendered 'propaganda by fact'. The term was officially introduced in 1876 at the Anarchist International to inaugurate a policy of political violence that would assert a radical materiality for overturning metaphysics and the state in one blow. Yet in The Secret Agent it is to be put to wholly different ends. Provocation is necessary, Verloc is told by Wurmt, because of the 'general leniency of the judicial procedure' in Britain, a point Mr Vladimir, the First Secretary of the embassy, reiterates: 'This country is absurd with its regard for individual liberty'.
Source: Terrorism and Modern Literature, p. 34
- Anarchism was a riddle as far as Western European public opinion at the time was concerned. The newspapers reported the existence of a mysterious society of ruthless men, who had as their watchword the murder of monarchs and the overthrow of governments. About the origin of these wild men there was, at best, speculation. Were they socialists or nihilists (whatever that meant), misguided idealists, criminals or madmen? Henry James could not make up his mind...Hyacinth is a mere fellow traveller, 'divided to the point of torture' by sympathies pulling him in different directions.
Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 176
- And isn't it the novelist, Bill, above all people, above all writers, who understands this rage, who knows in his soul what the terrorist thinks and feels? Through history it's the novelist who has felt affinity for the violent man who lives in the dark.
Source: Mao II, p. 130
- As Coates had suggested in his own novel of the 1920s, The Eater of Darkness, the limits and limitations of avant-gardism were already recognizable within the extremes of avant-garde experience itself. These limits were in fact essential to movements like Dada, whose adherents vehemently, if playfully, rejected the "religious" notions of artistic autonomy and escapism that Cowley describes as conditions of the movement's death. Movements like Dada -- or like the American little magazines that were aware of their own brief life spans -- were provisional rather than static; they died at the moment their adherents invested in them the kind of faith Cowley describes as the makings of a "personal refuge."...Coates and West understood this effect of discouragement as an imperative, rather than as a flaw or telos within avant-gardism. "To avoid the danger of being solemn," Cowley writes of West, "he used to stick pins into his dearest illusions" (Introduction ii). To do otherwise would signify a decadent adherence to false beliefs.
Source: Anti-Menckenism: Nathanael West, Robert M. Coates, and the provisional avant-garde, p. 526-527
- As heirs to the revolutionaries of 1776 and 1789 and 1848, terrorists retain their traditional affinity to writers. However, as a special case of the old alliance between romantic writer and revolutionary, the relation of writers with terrorists does not "go without saying"; it is no longer assumed, but contested. Since terrorist has negative connotations, to figure the writer as terrorist is quite different from figuring him or her as revolutionary. Far from being a ritual acknowledgment of originality and power, it is an imputation of violence or underhandedness. Thus within contemporary fiction, we find terrorists both as rivals and as doubles of the novelist.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 6
- At its best, the political novel generates such intense heat that the ideas it appropriates are melted into its movement and fused with the emotions of its characters.
Source: Politics and the Novel, p. 21
- Because it exposes the impersonal claims of ideology to the pressures of private emotion, the political novel must always be in a state of internal warfare, always on the verge of becoming something other than itself.
Source: Politics and the Novel, p. 22
- Because its representations are closest to a commonsense, consensus notion of reality, Dürrenmatt sees a realistic art as potentially dangerous...The dangerous illusions of realism have more specifically political implications. F.'s "total portrait...of our planet" would indeed be that kind of totalizing, totalitarian art that Lyotard deplores. In The Assignment, the political terrors of realism are seen at their simplest in North Africa when the police chief steals F.'s film of the execution of the Scandinavian prisoner and replaces it with an official "documentary," complete with shots of cheerful cadets at a police training academy, which might be equally convincing to a European audiences. Such documentaries seem to carry out the logical implications of nineteenth-century realism...Indeed film, while clearly an art form for F., often associates itself directly with the police and with surveillance in The Assignment.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 116-117
- Beirut is tragic but still breathing. London is the true rubble.
Source: Mao II, p. 129
- Better than any political analyst, Dürrenmatt draws us close to understanding the emotional and intellectual costs of living in the late twentieth century, when even terrorism cannot be counted on to correspond to our conceptions of it. Otto von Lambert's insight that "Auschwitz...was not the work of terrorists but of state employees" is well supported in this novel. Terrorists serve the need to believe that there are centers of resistance against a well-established order, yet as the novel amply demonstrates, the very notion of a center is illusory. The new physical terror of computerized bombing and the old one of rape correspond to a condition in which contemporary human beings live and move, their identity fragmented by new philosophical conceptions of memory and the self but also by new technologies that violate their privacy or reduce their importance in traditional roles, such as that of the warrior. Surveillance and observation, intended to reduce the likelihood of nuclear war or successful terrorist attacks, are oppressive but desired.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 119
- Between Plato's distrust of the artist as a liar and magician, a man who can paint the bed he could not build, and Baudrillard's distrust of the hyperreal, "the generation by models of a real without origin or reality," there is a clear line of descent. Seen through Brita Nilsson's eyes, a Warholish Russian painting called Gorby II illustrates the political implications of simulacra. It is a "maximum statement about the dissolubility of the artist and the exaltation of the public figure, about how it is possible to fuse images, Mikhail Gorbachev's and Marilyn Monroe's, and to steal auras, Gold Marilyn's and Dead-White Andy's". What is the connection between the artist who painted Gorby IIand a political world driven by such images? Between that artist and Karen, who conflates Korean messiahs with Khomeini and Mao, or between the artist and a magazine editor in Chile who published caricatures of General Pinochet and then is sent to jail for "assassinating the image of the general"?
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 29
- Both temporally and geographically, the phenomena of taboo and transgression can be considered omnipresent, that is existent in all societies or cultures and at all times. If the ubiquity of taboos and their influence on social structures is generally accepted with regard to the past, which a narcissistic and supposedly enlightened present all too often views with condescension if not outright derision, what is remarkable is the fact that taboos not only continue to exist but that they can actually be said to be flourishing. A brief reference to the recent debates on political correctness, to shibboleths in relation to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, or to the ongoing question of how to deal with topics such as the Holocaust, should suffice to make this point clear. Specifically with reference to the British literary scene, one could, of course, also mention the more than thirty years of censorship imposed on D.H. Lawrence's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, the uproar surrounding the staging of Howard Berton's The Romans in Britain and Edward Bond's Saved, or the outburst of violence following the publication of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, so brilliantly portrayed in Hanif Kureishi's novel The Black Album. Thus, even in modern or postmodern and supposedly enlightened Western societies, taboos are still pervasive, the controversies just mentioned being only the tip of the iceberg of an ongoing cultural struggle with, against and in favor of taboos; a struggle which, as the above examples demonstrate, is especially well reflected, documented and hard fought in literature and the arts.
From chapter: Stefan Horlacher, Taboo, Transgression, and Literature: An Introduction
Source: Taboo and Transgression in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 3
- But if all these points instinctively feel right to a professor of English [e.g. that Conrad's work is ironic and not a blueprint for terror], they may simply show how far we have accepted as fact what for James and Conrad was a nightmarish possibility, that the serious novel has no power in the social world. It is true that media stories about Timothy McVeigh and Theodore Kaczynski and their reading suggest that the romantic view of literature as dangerous remains alive in some attenuated form: the popular press is willing to pay that much tribute to art. The strange case of Conrad and the Unabomber, however, in giving us a rare opportunity to see network television reading a serious terrorist novel, points to their radical incompatibility...It is cold comfort, indeed, for those who care about serious fiction to realize that it can be said to have social influence only when it is seriously misunderstood.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 161
- But if the language of public discourse is debased, Lessing seems to find no consolation in the language of literature and political theory. True, Alice is the image of a person in part created by the mass media who will read nothing but newspapers because she cannot face the "risky equivocal" contents of books, fearing to be "lost without maps" (73). But Pat, who reads Nabokov's Laughter in the Dark and then joins the KGB, and Faye, who is "particularly well up on Althusser" and then dies because she mistimes a car bomb, are worse, not better, models (318). Perhaps the point is not that Althusser and Nabokov somehow breed terrorism, but that the small personal voice of printed books is drowned out by the loud impersonal voices of the mass media, with their affiliations to power and consumers' interest in violence.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 80
- But the quality of a writer's political engagements, [J.M. Coetzee, author of The Master of Petersburg] told an interviewer, should not be measured in the simple way Gordimer suggests [i.e., how direct it is]; a naive realism only reproduces the injustice it describes, licking wounds rather than offering a critical alternative to the mind-set that produced injustice in the first place. In place of such realism, Coetzee offers a more sophisticated, ironic narrative, one capable of "demythologizing history" (Attwell 15). Such narratives, he says, are not "supplementary" to history; that is, they cannot be checked against it, as a teacher might check a child's homework against the answer book; rather, they are a rival, sometimes even an enemy, discourse. Thus the point of an ironic narrative is not so much that it substitutes a more accurate version of history and politics for the received one as that it lays bare the unacknowledged assumptions that shape both stories.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 96
- But whatever else it does, The Possessed proves nothing of the kind that might be accessible to proof in "a mere pamphlet."...[T]he political novel is engaged in a task of persuasion which is not really its central or distinctive purpose. I find it hard to imagine, say, a serious socialist being dissuaded from his belief by a reading of The Possessed, though I should like equally to think that the quality and nuance of that belief can never be quite as they were before he read The Possessed.
Source: Politics and the Novel, p. 22
- But, above all, terrorism came into its own in mass literature. It had figured in popular novels from time to time even before 1970, but after that date it became a veritable avalanche. many hundreds of such books were written on every level of sophistication, from the quasi-highbrow psychology of a Le Carré to the primitive actions of the pulp novel. Indeed, so much was written about so little that in the early 1980s a certain decline could be observed. All the dramatic possibilities had been exhausted. The number of basic situations was limited; they could be counted, broadly speaking, on the fingers o two hands. most popular was the nuclear theme: a group of terrorists -- Arab, Israeli or other -- searching for the ultimate weapon, by theft (James Rowe) or frontal attack on a nuclear arsenal, or by abducting a scientist or a group of scientists who could build a weapon of this sort (Nicholas Freeling). Alternatively, the terrorists already have the weapon (twenty-four of them in Lawrence Delaney's case), and they are about to detonate it in London (G. Household, Anthony Trew) or in New York (Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, Ian Todd). Fortunately, it is only a question of time before they are caught, or until one of them feels some last-minute pangs of conscience...Frequently, the political intentions of the terrorists are sweeping but obscure, and in at least one case they want to kill all the world's leading statesmen (Ludlum's The Matarese Circle), but are prevented by the CIA and KGB who, for once, co-operate.
Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 199
- Dürrenmatt shares...a wish to expose the myths and explore the realities of terrorism. An experimental fiction, The Assignment points to the complex reality that lies behind the too-familiar story and suggests as well the actual experience of human beings caught up in terrorist activities. Fragmentation of identity in the novel's unstable world leads to a longing for order that asserts itself in totalitarian politics, fundamentalist religion, and documentary realism, all disciplines, in Foucault's sense, that depend on observation. Suggesting the difficulty of distinguishing between the victims and practitioners of terror, Dürrenmatt undermines the usual story of sinister Islamic terrorists...His manipulations of the myth present terror both as an understandable private response to the conditions of late-twentieth-century life and as a public practice that intensifies and conditions panic.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 110
- Dostoevsky, James, and Conrad pressure the commonsense distinction between writers and terrorists, between stories and violence, without entirely accepting some view, deconstructive avant la lettre, that they are indistinguishable. Their novels anticipate many of the questions about representing violence that late-twentieth-century theorists have pressed -- the alliance between storytelling and power, the tendency of art to convert violence into an enthralling spectacle, and even, in the case of Conrad's Peter Mikulin, the distortions of the victim's narrative-become-bestseller. They issue an invitation to see in insurgent terrorism an occasion for exploring the romantic idea of the writer as rebel and for questioning romanticism's optimism about literature's social power.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 10
- Fiction cannot offer a master key to the soul of the terrorist; the most one can hope for is to detect certain common patterns in the character and mental make-up of the dramatis personae, who acted as a group at a certain time and place. To accomplish even this modest task a great deal of empathy, psychological understanding and creative mastery is needed. Once this has been accepted a great deal can be learned about terrorism from contemporary fiction, provided these books, plays and films are not regarded as manuals for the study of terrorism, aspiring to photographic exactitude and universal applicability.
Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 195-196
- Fiction holds some promise for the understanding of the terrorist phenomenon but some words of caution are nevertheless called for. Terrorism has figured prominently in works of modern literature, but the novels, plays, poems and films are of unequal value in providing historical evidence and psychological explanation -- some are of no value at all, at least for our purpose.
It is easy to point to certain common patterns in the study of terrorism as practiced by political scientists, for there are only a few basic schools of thought, with only minor variations within each trend. The conclusions may not be true, but they are certainly stated in an orderly, unequivocal fashion as befitting a scientific discipline. With the transition from the sciences to the arts we move from the level of relative certainties to the realm of impression. To provide a coherent framework of orderly and lucid argument, to single out common patterns becomes well nigh impossible. It can be done, but only by singling out certain themes in certain books (or plays or films) at the expense of others. Literature as a source for the study of terrorism is still virtually terra incognita.
Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 174
- For both the writer and the reader, the political novel provides a particularly severe test: politics rakes our passions as nothing else, and whatever we may consent to overlook in reading a novel, we react with an almost demonic rapidity to a detested political opinion. For the writer the great test is, how much truth can he force through the sieve of his opinions? For the reader the great test is, how much of that truth can he accept though it jostle his opinions?
Source: Politics and the Novel, p. 24
- For in modern society ideas raise enormous charges of emotion, they involve us in our most feverish commitments and lead us to our most fearful betrayals. The political novelist may therefore have to take greater risks than most others, as must any artist who uses large quantities of "impure" matter; but his potential reward is accordingly all the greater.
Source: Politics and the Novel, p. 20
- For really two distinct, yet oddly complementary, features of contemporary life worked against The Satanic Verses: the resurgence of religious fundamentalism and the explosion of the electronic media. On the one hand, we note the extreme literalism of Rushdie's opponents, their unwillingness to accept "the fictionality of fiction" (Rushdie, IH 393). The "death of the author," in the West a philosophical proposition, became in Iranian hands a large cash incentive, and a promise of paradise, for the assassination of a Booker Prize winner. Yet in a sense the literalism of the British Muslims who burned the book in the streets of Bradford was a tribute to the printed page that is rare indeed in the West; they did not regard the novel as an inconsequential imaginative exercise but as a powerful expression of ideas deeply engaged with reality.
On the other hand, the familiar enemy of the printed text, the electronic media, arouses Baudrillardian anxieties. As Daniel Pipes points out, the 14 February fatwa has all the marks of a media event; had the ayatollah simply wanted Rushdie dead he could have dispatched a hit squad months earlier, when British Muslims began their protests. "Broadcasting his intentions allowed Rushdie to take cover, so Khomeini's real goal must...have been...something quite different". An apocalyptic vision of all solid ground disappearing, to be replaced by a vertiginous mass of images, attaches itself to the phenomenon of the writer who disappears into the spy fiction world of safe houses and Secret Service protection. Surely the text of The Satanic Verses also seems to disappear, in spite of phenomenal sales, into televised images created by angry men who pride themselves on not having read it. Surely, too, the claims of political fiction to act on the world seem overwhelmed by the world's evident ability, especially when kept instantly up-to-date by satellite, to act on novel and novelist.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 24
- Foucault's work...allows us to formulate, and ultimately challenge, one deeply held tenet of literary romanticism, the alliance between the writer and the revolutionary. Traces of this alliance, which writers such as Byron, Hugo, Thoreau, and Lamartine exemplified for the nineteenth century, are still visible today. We find them in the very phrase "creative writing," in our tolerance, even encouragement, of eccentric or self-destructive behavior in writers; every story of a poet locked up or executed in Nigeria or Iraq confirms our sense that writers are enemies of tyranny. Yet the idea of the writer as revolutionary implies an extraordinary faith in that writer's power to act in the social world. The unacknowledged legislator of mankind must articulate a vision of a better world and set it down in unambiguous language, must persuade many readers to accept that vision as authoritative, and, moreover, must motivate them to act in ways that ensure change.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 4
- From ancient times the witches had danced in the cavern through wars and persecutions; many a time when I was pursued I would hide with the witches, and was always received with courtesy and kindness. As you are no doubt aware, my mission through the ages has been to carry uncensored news to the people, without consideration of either rank or status. This has made me unpopular with the authorities all over this planet. My object is to help human beings to realize their state of slavery and exploitation by power-seeking beings.
Source: The Hearing Trumpet, p. 145
- From the courtroom to the executioner they will drag me kicking and weeping, bewildered as the day I was born, clinging to the end to the faith that no harm can come to the guiltless. "You are living in a dream!" I say to myself: I pronounce the words aloud, stare at them, try to grasp their significance: "You must wake up!"...I truly believe I am not afraid of death. What I shrink from, I believe, is the shame of dying as stupid and befuddled as I am.
Source: Waiting for the Barbarians, p. 94
- Germany in [How German Is It] is not simply a 'human invention', then, nor is it reducible to terrors of the past or present. Similarly, the terrorism depicted in [the novel] cannot simply be reduced to a media construction, or a state fabrication, or the detonation of a bomb by a group of radicals, for all these things are implicated in a more general topography. Inhabiting an ironic space in this topography of everyday life, Abish has stated that he endeavours to stake out a utopic field of resistance in his fiction.
Source: Terrorism and Modern Literature, p. 231-232
- He felt over-protected. How can you deal with the problem of suffering if everybody conspires to estrange you from suffering?
Source: The Only Problem, p. 378
- He turns away, but with a slow claw-like hand I manage to catch his arm. "No, listen!" I say. "Do not misunderstand me, I am not blaming you or accusing you, I am long past that. Remember, I too have devoted a life to the law, I know its processes, I know that the workings of justice are often obscure. I am only trying to understand. I am trying to understand the zone in which you live. I am trying to imagine how you breathe and eat and live from day to day. But I cannot! That is what troubles me! If I were he, I say to myself, my hands would feel so dirty that it would choke me -- "
He wrenches himself free and hits me so hard in the chest that I gasp and stumble backwards. "You bastard!" he shouts. "You fucking old lunatic! Get out! Go and die somewhere!"
"When are you going to put me on trial?" I shout at his retreating back. He pays no need.
Source: Waiting for the Barbarians, p. 126
- Henry James and Joseph Conrad were attracted by certain specific facets of terrorism, the most dramatic, grotesque or fascinating ones for the student of the human soul They also used it, as did Dostoevski, to juxtapose destructive terrorism and their own philosophy. Among the most dramatic (and politically most interesting) aspects of terrorism is of course the Judas motive...Betrayal is the main motive in Joseph Conrad's Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes and countless other novels. It is of course true that few, if any, terrorist groups escaped defectors and traitors in their ranks. However, the heavy emphasis on treason to the detriment of other motives is bound to distort the general picture. It may result in a brilliant work of fiction, but then the novelist is preoccupied with the fate of the individual, whereas the historian pays more attention to social and political movements. Robert Louis Stevenson and G.K. Chesterton were attracted by the grotesque element in terrorism...Mr Conrad clearly did not love Russians; nor did he like anarchists, who, without exception, are depicted as degenerates of ludicrous physique or madmen like the 'Professor' in The Secret Agent, who always left home with a bomb in his pocket so that at a moment's notice he could blow himself up as well as the policeman trying to arrest him.
Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 175-176
- I can see that weeks of hard work await the farmers. And at any moment their work can be brought to nothing by a few men armed with spades! How can we win such a war? What is the use of textbook military operations, sweeps and punitive raids into the enemy's heartland, when we can be bled to death at home?
Source: Waiting for the Barbarians, p. 100
- I see both writers and terrorists in these novels as remnants of a romantic belief in the power of marginalized persons to transform history...such fictions elucidate the process that allows militants, journalists, and politicians to construct terrorism as a political reality.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 2
- I should never have allowed the gates of the town to be opened to people who assert that there are higher considerations than those of decency.
Source: Waiting for the Barbarians, p. 81
- I would like to pursue another hypothesis: namely, that Chesterton in 1908 as well as in 1936 wants his definite reading of his own book to mean that the path of definiteness can only be arrived at through double or multiple ambiguous and equivocal meanings, which are the necessary detour whereby a sure direction or aim, and a certain belief, are discovered and achieved. A hierarchy is intended: the means to certainty is equivocal, but only equivocation can clear a path for certainty, which then subordinates equivocation...It is necessary to be lost in order to be found might be another formula for this process.
Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 153-154
- If anything, the text [in Volodine] increasingly persuades the reader of the futility of resistance, of its identity with that which it opposes: the revolutionary's identification with the state, the writer's with the police. The text finally fails not because it is too readable or because it is unreadable or subject to misreading, but because it cannot occupy an uncontaminated pure space from which to offer a critique of power. Writer and critic, terrorist and police officer, are not only at the last margins of Europe but also at the last margins of the printed text, in a novel that suggests that a revolutionary impulse that has driven Western art and politics for two centuries has, at last, perished.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 153-154
- If mere words, the language of public discourse, are debased, the writer may well wish to turn to more intuitive models of communication, the discourse of private symbolism and even madness.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 81
- In a sense, the greatest masterpiece, Helen's beloved Vermeer Girl, corrupts this terrorist and sways him from the purity of his design. He falls in love with it, as the Palestinian Ahmed says, "like a bride," spending hours staring at it obsessively. And when Henk produces his reasonable argument for negotiating with the government, Jeroen chooses to blow himself up with the painting in a classic murder-suicide that Ahmed calls "le geste sublime d'un grand révolutionnaire" (358); although he does not mean to, he also kills ten other people.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 73
- In combining issues of terrorism, Holocaust memory, and narrative, Abish's How German Is It certainly educes the salient antagonisms of the period. Yet I would argue that it also engages directly in the entwining of discourse and violence, memory and performance, that I have been discussing to produce its own image of fiction's potential for intervention. Towards the end of the fourth and penultimate part of the novel, 'Sweet truth', the narrator raises the question: 'Can only revolutions undermine the tyranny of the familiar day-to-day events?'
Source: Terrorism and Modern Literature, p. 222-223
- In his paper, "Fearing Fictions," Kendall Walton proposes the notion of "quasi-fear" for that fright experienced when contemplating on a movie or TV screen agents (such as a terrible green slime or the creature from the Black Lagoon) that the viewer knows for certain are only fictional. Then there is the fear of a person afraid of a nonexistent ghost or burglar who are nonetheless "real" since the person believes that they are present. Fear of terrorism is never solely fictional, as in the first case, but is rather of the second type. Still, faced with the extraordinary fact that during one single month 10 million Americans decided to stay at home rather than take an airplane reportedly because of a terrorist threat issued several thousands miles away by a beleaguered dictator, one questions whether they were dissuaded by real feelings of terror or were engaging in some sort of make-believe in which they acted "as if" the threats posed real danger to their lives...
Terrorism discourse is characterized by the confusion of sign and context provoked by the deadly atrocity of apparently random acts, the impossibility of discriminating reality from make-believe, and text from reader. These strange processes and their mix make terrorism a queer phenomenon. Emptying the sign of its deadly messages seem to be, following Barthes's advice, the best antidote to the experience of terror. And nothing appears to be more damaging to the ghosts and myths of terrorism (for audience and actors alike) than fictionalizing them further to the point that fear dissolves into "as-if" terror.
The discourse's victory, then, derives from imposing a literal frame of "this is real war," "this is global threat," "this is total terror." Its defeat derives from writing "this is an as-if war," "this is an as-if global threat," "this is make-believe total terror."
Source: Terror and Taboo, p. 28-29
- In such fashion there is blurring of the line between fact and fiction in ostensibly objective journalistic reporting, particularly since it is the very nature of covert operations and intergovernmental confidentiality to place a premium more upon "deniability" -- a fancy expression for mendacity -- than upon veracity. Hence the novel's plot of intrigue and the journalist's political discourse collapse into the monolithic frame that we have labeled contemporary terrorism discourse.
This blurring of genres is further exacerbated by the propensity of some journalists and counterterrorism specialists to author terrorism novels (e.g., Robert Moss, Arnaud de Borchgrave, William Buckley Jr., Brian Crozier). Thus, at terrorism conferences it is not uncommon for the experts to discuss their next fiction project!
Source: Terror and Taboo, p. 48
- Instead of reading on and on about the tenuousness, ambiguity, or uncertainty of someone's feelings, she preferred to question the meaning of a thing or the meaning of a thought, preferably raising the question in German, a foreign or at any rate adopted language that enabled her to reduce these crucial questions to pure signs, since in German the word thing and the word thought did not immediately evoke in her brain the multitudinous response it did in English, where the words, those everyday words, conjured up an entire panorama of familiar associations that blunted the preciseness needed in order to bring her philosophical investigation to a satisfactory conclusion. Could this be the reason why she had come to Germany? To think in German, to question herself in a foreign language?
Source: How German Is It, p. 36
- Ironical: "What a happy thought on the part of M. de Balzac -- to predict a peasant revolt and demand the reestablishment of feudalism! What is so surprising in that? It is his idea of socialism. Mme. Sand has another, and M. Sue likewise. To each novelist his own." Paulin Limayrac, "Du Roman actual et de now romancers," Revue des deux mondes, 11, no. 3 (Paris, 1845), pp. 955-956. [d1,5]
Source: The Arcades Project, p. 745
- It would be easy to slip into a mistake here, precisely the mistake that many American novelists make: the notion that abstract ideas invariably contaminate a work of art and should be kept at a safe distance from it. No doubt, when the armored columns of ideology troop in en masse, they do imperil a novel's life and liveliness, but ideas, be they in free isolation or hooped into formal systems, are indispensable to the serious novel.
Source: Politics and the Novel, p. 20
- Job's problem was partly a lack of knowledge. He was without access to any system of study which would point to the reason for his afflictions. He said specifically, "I desire to reason with God," and expected God to come out like a man and state his case...Everybody talked but nobody told him anything about the reason for his sufferings. Not even God when he appeared. Our limitations of knowledge make us puzzle over the cause of suffering, maybe it is the cause of suffering itself...As I say, we are plonked here in the world and nobody but our own kind can tell us anything. It isn't enough. As for the rest, God doesn't tell.'
Source: The Only Problem, p. 418-419
- Literary texts explore the limits of language and playfully engage with the border to forbidden territories beyond the empire of the Symbolic Order.
From chapter: Anna-Margaretha Horatschek, 'Logicized' Taboo: Abjection in George Eliot's Daniel Deronda
Source: Taboo and Transgression in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 194
- Lyotard's theory goes some way toward explaining the significance of the paired themes of terrorism and literary realism in The Assignment. The holes in Dürrenmatt's plot, the unanswered questions about unnamed characters, the fragmentary glimpses of landscapes, interiors, motives, and political contexts are as so many refusals of "the transparent and communicable." The effect is perhaps not so anti-mimetic as it might seem; refusing transcendent illusions, the novelist suggests an elusive dimension of personality or experience that withers under the harsh floodlights of documentary realism.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 115
- Modernism tends to stand for the cultivation of equivocal and multiple meanings, not for 'double-writing'. If modernism rightly stands for a cultural breakthrough of a new emphasis on indefiniteness...then Chesterton's double-writing is outside modernism. But I have found myself wondering, thanks to Chesterton, if modernism is not also outside of itself....Chesterton wouldn't be an outsider at all, if the supposition were tenable. To be tenable, we should have to discover two sides or simultaneous structures in notable modernist works: a side that is multiple and ambiguous in meaning, and a side in which there is a contrasting unequivocal resolution of multiplicity and ambiguity. I think the more we look for these simultaneously present structures the more we will find them; we tend not to find them, I suggest, because we insist that one side is modernist, and the other is outside modernism. In modern narratives about anarchist-terrorism these two sides are most prominent; indeed, this particular political thematics, I suggest, magnetizes narrative artists because it makes vivid the tense conflict and collaboration of ambiguous meaning and disambiguating resolution.
Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 155
- Most literary texts dealing with taboos only make a topic of violating taboos -- they are not violating taboos themselves. In the process of narrativization, as Schaffers (25) argues, the event is processed for the cultural archives. As this transformation assimilates taboos to the discourse of the Symbolic Order and thereby domesticates them, the question arises: How do we recognize taboos, especially if they are unconscious to a large degree? For Kristeva [Julia Kristen, essay "Powers of Horror"], feelings of horror, fear or dread, disgust, revulsion, and nausea or physical reactions like vomiting, fainting, or trembling signal that the individual is confronted with the tabooed limits of those aspects of reality which his or her culture has circumscribed as 'normal', 'real', or 'true', and which are included in the semantic field of a cultural reality.
From chapter: Anna-Margaretha Horatschek, 'Logicized' Taboo: Abjection in George Eliot's Daniel Deronda
Source: Taboo and Transgression in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 195-196
- Nettement on the digressions in Les Misérables: "These bits of philosophy, of history, of social economy are like cold-water taps that douse the frozen and discouraged reader. It is hydrotherapy applied to literature." Alfred Nettement, Le Roman contemporain (Paris, 1864), p. 364. [d7a,2]
Source: The Arcades Project, p. 759
- News of disaster is the only narrative people need. The darker the news, the grander the narrative.
Source: Mao II, p. 42
- Rushdie's political aim is familiar: through modestly experimental devices -- multiple narrators, time shifts, the violation of realistic decorum by improbable coincidences, magical events -- to liberate the reader from the tyranny of an inerrant text. As in DeLillo's Libra, Robert Coover's Public Burning, or J.G. Farrell's Empire trilogy, storytelling in The Satanic Verses is meant to act on a world already saturated by narratives, urging the reader to consider an alternative perspective, hoping to free up some space in the real world for another interpretation of the patriotic myth, the official version, the sacred text....The Rushdie affair has become the exemplary instance of the postmodernist political novel encountering actual politics, actual violence.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 21
- Saussure's emphasis, then, is on the constructedness of meaning. Linguistic structures determine our perception of reality so that meaning cannot exist independently of language. Stendhal's description of the novel as a mirror walking down the road is insight of this, in adequate because it assumes that "ready-made ideas exist before words" (Saussure 1915: 65). Instead, structuralists argue, "our knowledge of things is insensibly structured by the systems of code and convention which alone enable us to classify and organize the chaotic flow of experience" (Norris 1982: 4). Literature in structuralist terms can no longer be seen as a natural emanation from a mysteriously inspired, moral mind. Indeed, the gain of structuralist theory is the demystification of literature as an especially privileged discourse since structures, codes, and conventions are found just as much in literature as in Literature (see Eagleton 1983: 106-7).
Source: Realism and Power: Postmodern British Fiction, p. 21
- Since taboos are normally not the topic of open discussions but largely internalized, any form of critical questioning is realized, if at all, only through massive outside influence. Given literature's ability to constitute a discursive field in which even marginalized, aberrant voices can articulate themselves, to give voice to something which could be called 'the collective unconscious' and to transcend its time of origin, literature becomes an extraordinarily privileged medium for the depiction and analysis of phenomena such as taboo and transgression...From this in turn it follows that an approach that conceives of taboos only as social phenomena misses the point, that textual analyses need to pay attention to the strategies and the contents of symbolizations, and that aesthetic traditions need to be taken into consideration, such as, to give but one example, the modernist aesthetic of innovation which often depends on rupture and on violating taboos.
From chapter: Stefan Horlacher, Taboo, Transgression, and Literature: An Introduction
Source: Taboo and Transgression in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 16
- Still, writers are not terribly reliable as witnesses for either the defense or the prosecution. They are also not to be relied upon as lovers. They lack patience. They seem to have a certain difficulty in taking pleasure from what they are doing. Like chess players, they are inwardly preparing themselves for the inevitable end game.
Source: How German Is It, p. 28
- Terrorism insists that everyday randomness shall be transformed, shall be made to express overwhelming political certainty: the personal is the political, terrorism declares with a vengeance. The insistence makes everything which is casual and random, everything which is indefinite, speak the univocal definiteness of political conviction, or religious conviction too. Like writing that uses multiple meanings to disclose a new single determination of thought or reality, terrorism's disruption of what is quotidian insists that we grasp reality in the shocking light of a novel all-unifying determination.
Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 157
- Terrorism [in Mary McCarthy's Cannibals and Missionaries] is a pretext for the exploration of the relationship of artists and intellectuals to violence...[with] grave reservations about the competence of writers and intellectuals to understand and act in public history.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 60
- The bomb-maker [in Lessing's The Good Terrorist], Jocelyn, imitates the IRA gunrunners' Irish accents so perfectly that Alice judges that she may actually be Irish: "Does it matter? Here is another of us with a false voice!" (416)
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 79
- The books on the Russian terrorists of 1905 were the first to raise some of the issues that were to recur ever after. They showed how difficult it was to separate real heroism and the lust for adventure, steadfastness and routine, how in certain conditions the borderline between loyalty to the cause and betrayal becomes almost invisible. They showed that most terrorists were bound to ask themselves sooner or later whether the game was worth the candle, and not merely because of the many losses in their ranks. Above all, they raised the moral question of the right to kill.
Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 194
- The criteria for evaluating a political novel must finally be the same as those for any other novel: how much of our life does it illuminate? how ample a moral vision does it suggest? -- but these questions occur to us in a special context, in that atmosphere of political struggle which dominates modern life.
Source: Politics and the Novel, p. 24
- The father of Surrealism was Dada; its mother was an arcade. Dada, when the two first met, was already old. At the end of 1919, Aragon and Breton, out of antipathy to Montparnasse and Montmartre, transferred the site of their meeting with friends to a café in the Passage de l'Opéra. Construction of the Boulevard Haussmann brought about the demise of the Passage de l'Opéra. Louis Aragon devoted 135 pages to this arcade; in the sum of these three digits hides the number nine -- the number of muses who presided as midwives at the birth of Surrealism. These stalwart muses are named Ballhorn, Lenin, Luna, Freud, Mors, Marlitt, and Citroen. A provident reader will make way for them all, as discreetly as possible, wherever they are encountered in the course of these lines. In Paysan de Paris, Aragon conducts as touching a requiem for this arcade as any man has ever conducted for the mother of his son. It is there to be read, but here one should expect no more than a physiology and, to be blunt, an autopsy of these parts of the capital city of Europe, parts that could not be more mysterious or more dead. (See C1,3.) [h°,1]
Source: The Arcades Project, p. 883
- The fifth act, entirely an anticlimax, is taken up by the bloodbath Gennaro visits on the court of Squamuglia. Every mode of violent death available to Renaissance man, including a lye pit, land mines, a trained falcon with envenom'd talons, is employed. It plays, as Metzger remarked later, like a Road Runner cartoon in blank verse. At the end of it about the only character left alive in a stage dense with corpses is the colourless administrator, Gennaro.
Source: The Crying of Lot 49, p. 55
- The novels of George Sand led to an increase in the number of divorces, nearly all of which were initiated by the wife. The author carried on a large correspondence in which she functioned as an adviser to women. [d6a,7]
Source: The Arcades Project, p. 758
- The Rushdie affair put a whole complex of Western assumptions about the politics of postmodern art, about the nature of reading and of satire, up against traditional Muslim assumptions about, among other matters, the nature of representation and the obligation to revealed truth, and found them, if not wanting, at least not universal.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 36
- The supposition that modernism as we have known it is inside out, so that we haven't known it much; that it has the two-sided structure just proposed gains in credibility once the proposal is brought to bear on literary history. Terrorism (which Chesterton conflates, rightly or wrongly, with anarchism) is a central formal inspiration and a central thematics of Anglo-American and international fiction, throughout the century. Ignorance of the continuity has helped create another outside to modernism, our so-called postmodernism; but the continuity and the impact of anarchist terrorism on literary culture suggests that we have only various modernisms to contemplate, and not a divide between one modernism and another, of course, because Chesterton identifies, as the original terrorist, the god who blows up Job, Chesterton thinks there is more to modernism than modernity.
Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 155-156
- The taboos that Gulliver's Travels breaks traverse whole areas of early eighteenth-century English society: the novel assails guiding principles of Enlightenment philosophy, absurdities of scientific progress, the rise of capitalism, Walpole's Whig government, party politics in general, religion, and the travel books that were fashionable at the time, but it does so in such oblique ways that eighteenth-century censors and modern critics alike are at a loss when trying to pin down the exact targets of the novel's satirical attacks. This is a quality that Gulliver's Travels shares with all good satires and results mainly from the fact that 'satire' does not constitute a fixed literary genre, but is able to occupy any genre parasitically and use these genres as hosts which it eats up from within. Therefore, modern satire theory has recognized the futility of trying to establish the generic boundaries of satire, but views satire as a "mode" (Connery and Combe 9) of writing, a "frame of mind" (Knight 7) and "an 'open' form" (Griffin 186).
From chapter: Lars Heiler, Against Censorship: Literature, Transgression, and Taboo from a Diachronic Perspective
Source: Taboo and Transgression in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 55-56
- The terrorist despairs of "mere words" in an age of mass journalism, arguing that speech can only be heard when it is supplemented with dynamite. More literary figures rejected ordinary language, the socially agreed-upon links between words and things, in large part because it had become the language of journalism. Stéphone Mallarmé, claims Jean-Paul Sartre, practices a "terrorism of politeness": "Since man cannot create, but does have the power to destroy...the poem will be a work of destruction"...[T]o a realistic novelist these experiments are, precisely, a work of destruction, exploding assumptions about the power of language to appeal to a large audience, to speak with anything like directness about a shared public life. One can argue that the fascination of so many serious realists with terrorism lies precisely in their too vivid understanding of -- and need to defend themselves against -- the absolute disillusion with language that terrorists embody.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 77-78
- The theoretical conception of my topic -- that terrorism is both actual killing and a fictional construct, that fiction embodies an acute critique of the power of discourse as opposed to the power of the individual's self-assertion -- owes a great deal to deconstruction and neo-Marxism and will be familiar to readers with a grounding in the New Historicism and cultural studies.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 2
- The vision of the writer as revolutionary, Byron in Greece or Lamartine on the barricades in 1848, is too compelling to be abandoned easily, even or especially when it is accompanied by the expectation that the writer in old age will be a hoary sage, a Victor Hugo living in the comfort a grateful nation bestows on its benefactors. Such grand and hopeful views of the writer's authority are the lighted backdrop that accentuates the dark outlines of terrorist fiction, that most pessimistic of genres, and supplies it with its deeper ironies. From James to Coetzee, novelists who imagine a bond between terrorist and writer assume that both are isolated and marginal, incapable of gaining a hearing in the ordinary language of civic life.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 155
- The writers in the Aesthete: 1925 group themselves shared Mencken's scorn for "messianic" radicalism; yet they nonetheless maintained that the function of the critic was, as Burke put it, to "refine the propensities of his age, formulating their aesthetic equivalent, translating them into terms of excellence". They advocated for the significance of provisional groups, little magazines, and collective pursuits as a means for arbitrating artistic responsibility and for galvanizing the dialogism and critical spirit that would upend closed, utopian thinking.
Source: Anti-Menckenism: Nathanael West, Robert M. Coates, and the provisional avant-garde, p. 254
- Then what is up the lane?
I cannot say. If he said that eternity was up the lane and left it at that, I would not kick so hard. But when we are told that we are coming back from there in a lift -- well, I, begin to think that he is confusing night-clubs with heaven. A lift!
Surely, I argued, if we concede that eternity is up the lane, the question of the lift is a minor matter. That is a case for swallowing a horse and cart and straining at a flea.
No. I bar the lift.
Source: The Third Policeman, p. 109
- There is a problem that I have only hinted at in all of the accounts of the atrocities of the Putumayo rubber boom. While the immensity of the cruelty is beyond question, most of the evidence comes through stories. The meticulous historian would seize upon this fact as a challenge to winnow out truth from exaggeration or understatement. But the more basic implication, it seems to me, is that the narratives are in themselves evidence of the process whereby a culture of terror was created and sustained.
Source: Culture of Terror/Space of Death, p. 482
- There's the life and there's the consumer event. Everything around us tends to channel our lives toward some final reality in print or on film. Two lovers quarrel in the back of a taxi and a question becomes implicit in the event. Who will write the book and who will play the lovers in the movie? Everything seeks its own heightened version. Or put it this way. Nothing happens until it's consumed.
Source: Mao II, p. 44
- This idea, that a postmodern fiction offers an effective form of political resistance because it undermines categories through which we experience official views of reality as reality itself, is but the most recent expression of the old romantic idea of writer as rebel. It is one obviously close to Volodine, who in his 1991 novel Alto Solo describes a writer suspiciously like himself, a man whose anguish over the real world leads him to write about alternative societies, even though he longs to denounce the dominant ideology directly...Certainly Lisbonne dernière marge takes the political claims of postmodernism seriously, yet in the end they too prove dubious...The powerful, Volodine suggests, are likely to remain the fabricators of reality, and a difficult experimental form quickly degenerates into aesthetic game-playing.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 147-148
- This literary ethics, in other words, posited reform as a project toward which art could aim -- but which it could not in itself fulfill. The anti-Menckenists refused the grandiose claims about cultural unity and cohesion presented in the work of writers such as T.S. Eliot and Frank, while also opposing Mencken's own lingering (if frustrated) progressivism in presuming that America could only be improved through the acerbic vigor of Nietzschean supermen-critics. The anti-Menckenists, I contend, distanced themselves from the "religious" presumption that the right kind of critical or artistic voice might bear redemptive wisdom within it: the presumption that language could, in fact, convey truth. Dramatizing the failure -- and even violence -- of such beliefs, the anti-Menckenists instead viewed writing as a means for establishing the terms and conditions of public engagement and introduced the possibility that writing could rhetorically call into being the provisional institutions the writers themselves formed as critics, correspondents, and friends.
Source: Anti-Menckenism: Nathanael West, Robert M. Coates, and the provisional avant-garde, p. 523
- Throughout the twentieth century, most terrorist fiction, even that critical of popular beliefs about terrorism, continued to follow the conventions of nineteenth-century realism For their part, government officials and the press still construct terrorism much as popular fiction does, and terrorists continue to stage their spectacles with an eye to what is now a global stage. Recognizing how often revolutionaries, politicians, and journalists draw on the familiar terrorist story inevitably leads to wondering how it might be disrupted, and Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Assignment offers an extended response to that question. In this 1986 novella, Dürrenmatt links the inadequacy of familiar representations to the limitations of realism itself, blending an absurdist critique of contemporary politics with a postmodern conception of terrorism.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 108
- Throughout this study, we have noted variations on the terrorist as the writer's rival, double, and secret sharer, tracing their origins from the romantic conviction of the writer's originality and power through a century of political, social, and technological developments that undermine that belief. But it seems safe to say that Antoine Volodine's Lisbonne dernière marge takes this theme to its logical extreme. In this 1990 novel, the terrorist is a novelist. Volodine reconstructs the whole romantic literary scene as a scene of subversion against a violent state and then deconstructs it, suggesting that not only the novel, but more fundamentally the revolutionary impulse, might be dead.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 139
- To the degree that he is really a novelist, a man seized by the passion to represent and to give order to experience, he must drive the politics of or behind his novel into a complex relation with the kinds of experience that resist reduction to formula -- and this once done, supreme difficulty though it is, transforms his ideas astonishingly.
Source: Politics and the Novel, p. 21
- To those familiar with postmodern art, [The Satanic Verse's] subsequent juxtapositions of Othello allusions with advertising jingles, or of fantasies about medieval Arabia with quasi-journalistic exposés of police brutality in contemporary England, scarcely seem surprising. Blurring history and fiction to make the historical appear fantastic is the stock in trade of such books. The 1983 Hawkes Bay incident, for example, in which a Pakistani woman, Naseem Fatima, led thirty-eight Shiah pilgrims to their deaths in the sea out of the mistaken belief that it would part to allow them to pass safely to the holy city of Kerbala, needs little fictional transformation to fit into the phantasmagoric world of Gibreel Farishta's unwelcome dreams.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 20
- Transgression...is concerned with moving beyond a state where identities and concepts (i.e., race, class, gender, religion, nationality) are stabilized, well-defined, and petrified, toward a fluidity which serves as the basis for an implicitly ethical approach fusing aesthetic, epistemological, and practical aspects.
From chapter: Stefan Glomb, Revaluating Transgression in Ulysses.
Source: Taboo and Transgression in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 212
- We don't need the novel. Quoting Bill. We don't even need catastrophes, necessarily. We only need the reports and predictions and warnings.
Source: Mao II, p. 72
- What goes into the newspaper is what most people will accept as the chronicle of their public life; the mass newspaper normalizes certain behaviors and stigmatizes others; even its silences...signify. While some nineteenth-century novelists served an apprenticeship in popular journalism, most saw it as a competitor, a threat to their own sales, cheapening language and shortening the reader's attention span. Revolutionaries, on the other hand, gradually learned how to use the mass media to disseminate their message.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 4-5
- What has made it impossible for us to live in time like fish in water, like birds in air, like children? It is the fault of Empire! Empire has created the time of history. Empire has located its existence not in the smooth recurrent spinning time of the cycle of the seasons but in the hagged time of rise and fall, of beginning and end, of catastrophe. Empire dooms itself to live in history and plot against history. one thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of Empire: how not to end, how not to die., how to prolong its era. By day it pursues its enemies. It is cunning and ruthless, it sends its bloodhounds everywhere. By night it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of cities, the rape of populations, pyramids of bones, acres of desolation. A mad vision yet a virulent one: I, wading in the ooze, am no less infected with it than the faithful Colonel Joll as he tracks the enemies of Empire through the boundless desert, sword unsheathed to cut down barbarian after barbarian...
Source: Waiting for the Barbarians, p. 133
- What Syme sees now [in Chesterton's Thursday] is not indeterminacy, but new certainty. The anarchist and the ruler are alike, not because they are each other's doubles, but because each of them separately doubles a third -- and very surprising -- figure: the figure of a besieged but fierce and also generous justice, itself the product of obedience to law. Justice is the law-serving energy, the passion and force which we miseries by the names anarchism and terrorism. We are wrong to think terrorism is the opposite of justice. The character of the latter is for Chesterton -- and for Syme in his moment of 'seeing' -- unambiguously the same as the character of the former. But the 'one burst of blazing light', the ultimate revelation (digging deeper and blowing higher) -- that this is what there is to see, that justice too is terror -- arrives only thanks to the proliferation of double or multiple meanings...the product of strayed meanings is new meaning.
Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 162
- When you inflict punishment on someone who is not guilty, when you fill rooms with innocent victims, you begin to empty the world of meaning and erect a separate mental state, the mind consuming what's outside itself, replacing real things with plots and fictions. One fiction taking the world narrowly into itself, the other fiction pushing out toward the social order, trying to unfold into it.
Source: Mao II, p. 200
- While experience and factual knowledge is not necessarily a precondition for a great work of art, terrorists who are the product of a fertile imagination alone are of greater interest to the student of literature than to the student of terrorism. Böll dealt primarily neither with the Meinhofs and Baaders nor with the innocent bystanders, but with the vague sympathizers, those affected by the anti-terrorist backlash, brutal police practices and a yellow press operating without inhibitions and conscience.
Source: The Age of Terrorism, p. 196-197
- Yes, said Ulrich. Is the young American woman on the floor above mine a radical? I can easily find out for you, said the chief of police, smiling, feeling proud of the Hargenaus. Old, old family with a castle somewhere in Westphalia. Pity they decided to drop the von.
Source: How German Is It, p. 38
- Yet you do not have to be a former papist or ex-Oxbridge don to appreciate the oddness of a situation in which teachers and students of literature habitually use words like literature, fiction, poetry, narrative and so on without being at all well equipped to embark on a discussion of what they mean. Literary theorists are those who find this as strange, if not quite as alarming, as encountering medics who can recognise a pancreas when they see one but would be incapable of explaining its functioning.
Source: The Event of Literature, p. xi-xii
- [A] multiracial thicket of travelers all busily photographing and filming each other and forming an unreal contrast to the secret life inside the compound of the police ministry, like two interlocking realities, one of them cruel and demonic, the other as banal as tourism itself...
Source: The Assignment, p. 48
- [A] very suitable definition of contemporary man might be that he is man under observation -- observed by the state, for one, with more and more sophisticated methods while man makes more and more desperate attempts to escape being observed, which in turn renders man increasingly suspect in the eyes of the state and the state even more suspect in the eyes of man...
Source: The Assignment, p. 16
- [Conversation between Bill Gray and his friend Charlie]
"You have a twisted sense of the writer's place in society. You think the writer belongs at the far margin, doing dangerous things. In Central America, writers carry guns. They have to. And this has always been your idea of the way it ought to be. The state should want to kill all writers. Every government, every group that holds power or aspires to power should feel so threatened by writers that they hunt them down, everywhere."
"I've done no dangerous things."
"No. But you've lived out the vision anyway."
"So my life is a kind of simulation."
Source: Mao II, p. 97
- [Following fascism and Communism] Now it is terrorists who lurk in every shadow, images of terrorist attacks that fill our television screens, and fears of new varieties -- nuclear, biological, cyber-terrorism -- that drive calls for increased surveillance and larger defense budgets. If such Orwellian transformations in the identity of the enemy do not make us skeptical, an element of construction in political and journalistic rhetoric about terrorism, even in terrorist acts themselves, seems inescapable. Bombings and hijackings begin with a few people plotting violence for maximum exposure, come to us on television, where distinctions between news and entertainment are ever more tortuous, and quickly pass into the popular imagination, into blockbuster movies and paperback thrillers.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 1
- [From an end-of-chapter footnote #14] Literary texts are understood as being a central part of that "larger symbolic order by which a culture imagines its relation to the conditions of its existence" (Matus 5) and as a space "in which shared anxieties and tensions are articulated and symbolically addressed" (ibid. 7). Moreover, through active reader participation, literature renders imagination 'livable' -- the fictional world can actually be experienced and can therefore be 'tested' and criticized -- so that the literary text becomes a privileged space of simulation where the work on a cultural imaginary can take place (cf. Fluck).
From chapter: Stefan Horlacher, Taboo, Transgression, and Literature: An Introduction
Source: Taboo and Transgression in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 19
- [Holzpuke] "No, but I have a few more questions for you -- about your friends. What you were saying just now -- that pride, that stubbornness, that being excluded -- or sense of being excluded -- those conclusions -- those ideas -- how big do you suppose it is, the group you have defined in this way?"
[Rolf] "You could figure that out very easily from your own files and those of other authorities working with you: we are all listed, aren't we -- it's not that we have a list of ourselves -- we don't know how many we are, but you should know, just take a look at this army, this phantom army -- review it -- let those hundreds of thousands of young women and men and their children parade before you, if only in your mind's eye, and ask yourself whether all their education, their potential intelligence, their strength and glory, exist merely to be kept under surveillance."
Source: The Safety Net, p. 239-240
- [H]e had read von Lambert's book on terrorism, there were two pages devoted to the Arab resistance movement, von Lambert refused to call them terrorists, which didn't preclude, and he had emphasized this, that nonterrorists were also capable of atrocities, Auschwitz, for instance, was not the work of terrorists but of state employees...
Source: The Assignment, p. 58
- [H]e...would have to conclude that other people suffered as much from not being observed as he did, that they, too, felt meaningless unless they were being observed, and that this was the reason why they all observed and took snapshots and movies of each other, for fear of experiencing the meaninglessness of their existence in the face of a dispersing universe with billions of Milky Ways like our own...
Source: The Assignment, p. 19
- [In Dürrenmatt's The Assignment] Horribly brain damaged in the war, Achilles is locked in a VA hospital, from which he occasionally escapes to rape and murder women, and since it is the only pleasure he is able to feel, Polypheme feels obliged to procure it for him after he liberates his friend and installs him at the observation center. In his case, "terror as usual" takes the form suggested by Robin Morgan, who argues for a direct link between the old classical heroes and modern terrorism, the "sexuality of violence," the capture and rape of women that is, in fact, taken for granted in the Iliad. By suggesting that terrorism has affinity with beautiful and durable monuments of Western, not Islamic, culture, Dürrenmatt reminds us of Walter Benjamin's famous observation that there is "no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism".
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 119
- [I]t seems that the erosion of traditional norms has not shaped a society which is free from taboos, but one that has rather erected new taboos and orthodoxies which are linked with concepts such as female and gay emancipation, multiculturality, religious tolerance, and political correctness (which has itself developed into a form of moral censorship). The power of these taboos can be gauged by the euphemisms, careful phrasing, and self-censorship that (democratic) politicians revert to when they talk about the issues in question, which represent discursive minefields for anyone who openly challenges their validity. Transgressions of these new cultural taboos are usually performed by reactionary, anti-democratic, or anti-emancipatory social forces which oppose one or more of the values established by an open society and sometimes propagate authoritarian and totalitarian views of the world and of social interaction. Admittedly, the functions of literature in such a complex cultural force field are difficult to pin down.
From chapter: Lars Heiler, Against Censorship: Literature, Transgression, and Taboo from a Diachronic Perspective
Source: Taboo and Transgression in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 66
- [I]ts principal source of revenue was a war with a neighboring country, a war for control of an area in the great sand desert that was uninhabited except for a few stray bedouins and desert fleas, where not even tourism had dared to set foot, a war that had been creeping along for ten years now and no longer served any purpose except to test the products of all the weapons-exporting countries, it wasn't just French, German, English, Italian, Swedish, Israeli, and Swiss tanks fighting against Russian and Czech tanks, but also Russian against Russian machinery, American against American, German against German, Swiss against Swiss, the desert was peppered with the wreckage of tank battles, the war effort was constantly seeking out new battlefields, quite logically, since the stability of the market depended on weapons exports, provided these weapons were truly competitive, real wars were constantly breaking out, like the one between Iran and Iraq, for instance, no need to mention others, where the testing of weapons came just a bit late, and that was the reason, he said, why the weapons industry was so committed to this insignificant war, which had long lost its political meaning, it was a make-believe war...its only meaning resided in the fact that it could be observed...
Source: The Assignment, p. 93-94
- [Mr Scogan speaking:] "If you want to get men to act reasonably, you must set about persuading them in a maniacal manner. The very sane precepts of the founders of religions are only made infectious by means of enthusiasms which to a sane man must appear deplorable. It is humiliating to find how impotent unadulterated sanity is. Sanity, for example, informs us that the only way in which we can preserve civilization is by behaving decently and intelligently. Sanity appeals and argues; our rulers persevere in their customary porkishness, while we acquiesce and obey. The only hope is a maniacal crusade; I am ready, when it comes, to beat a tambourine with the loudest, but at the same time I shall feel a little ashamed of myself."
Source: Crome Yellow, p. 123
- [M]an, in the final analysis, was a pedant who couldn't get by without meaning and was therefore willing to put up with anything except the freedom to not give a damn about meaning...
Source: The Assignment, p. 22
- [M]any, indeed most, people could not stand themselves if they were not observed by someone, and would flee either into the fantasy of a personal god or into an equally metaphysically conceived political party that (or who) would observe them, a condition from which they in turn would derive the right to observe whether the world was heeding the laws of the all-observing god or party -- except for the terrorists, their case was a bit more complex, their goal being not an observed but an unobserved child's paradise, but because they experienced the world in which they lived as a prison where they were not only unjustly locked up but were left unattended and unobserved in one of the dungeons, they desperately sought to force themselves on the attention of their guards and thus step out of their unobserved condition into the limelight of public notice, which, however, they could achieve only by, paradoxically, drawing back into unobserved obscurity again and again, from the dungeon into the dungeon, unable, ever, to come out and be free...
Source: The Assignment, p. 21-22
- [Offered in support of the notion of a continuous, central tradition around anarcho-terrorism from modernist to postmodernist literature], excerpted from postmodern remarks made to a novelist by a spokesman for terrorism...:
"The only possible heroes for our time...live willingly with death...Terror is the only meaningful act... Who do we take seriously? Only the lethal believer... Everything else is absorbed... Only the terrorist stands outside. The culture hasn't figured out how to assimilate him. It's confusing when [terrorists] kill the innocent. But this is...the language of being noticed, the only language the West understands... It's the novelist who understands the secret life, the rage that underlies obscurity and neglect. You're half murderers, most of you [novelists]."
These remarks from Don DeLillo's Mao II (1991) hark back to Chesterton's anarchist-terrorist poet Gregy, whose personal atmosphere is 'violent secrecy. The very empyrean [over his] head seemed to be a secret' , and who speaks on behalf of pairing 'the lawless of art and the art of lawlessness'. Chesterton calls what Gregy speaks up for as 'old cant' perhaps because in 1908 it was already a while since Alfred Jarry had taken to brandishing guns at literary banquets, where he put on an act as a terrorist.
Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 156
- [Regarding censorship-evading satire in Gulliver's Travels] Swift's masterstroke in order to negotiate between the Scylla of vague generalization and the Charybdis of blunt particularity was to merge both types of satire in such a way that they would both be constantly evoked by the text and that the reader would be unable to draw a neat line between them. Thus, Swift involves his readers in a satirical game of hide-and-seek in which they do not know exactly what to look for, or, if they have eventually found something are unable to tell if this was the object of their search in the first place. Equally, the censors were unable to tell if -- or where -- a transgression of taboos had happened.
From chapter: Lars Heiler, Against Censorship: Literature, Transgression, and Taboo from a Diachronic Perspective
Source: Taboo and Transgression in British Literature from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 56-57
- [S]he experienced with certainty that freedom was the trap into which she was expected to flee...
Source: The Assignment, p. 89
- [T]he camera alone was capable of capturing the space and time within which experience took place, while without a camera, experience slid off into nothingness, since the moment something was experienced it had already passed and was therefore just a memory and, like all memory, falsified, fictive, which was why it sometimes seemed to him that he was no longer human -- since being human required the illusion of being able to experience something directly...God was not subject to observation, God's freedom consisted in being a concealed, hidden god, while man's bondage consisted of being observed...
Source: The Assignment, p. 107-109
- [T]he enemy had become more and more abstract, a barely perceptible target for the marksman aiming through a telescopic sight, a subject of pure surmise for the artillery, and as a bomber pilot, he could, if pressed, indicate how many cities and villages he had bombarded, but not how many people he had killed, nor how he had killed and mangled and squashed and burned them, he didn't know...and after the attack he did not feel himself a hero but a coward, there was a dark suspicion in him sometimes that an SS henchman at Auschwitz had behaved more morally than he, because he had been confronted with his victims...
Source: The Assignment, p. 113-114
- [T]he intellect too, he said, was incapable of coming up with a persuasive illusion of meaning outside of man, for everything that could be thought or done, logic, metaphysics, mathematics, natural law, art, music, poetry, was given its meaning by man, and without man, it sank back into the realm of the unimagined and unconceived and hence into meaninglessness and a great deal of what was happening today became understandable if one pursued this line of reasoning, man was staggering along in the mad hope of somehow finding someone to be observed by somewhere...
Source: The Assignment, p. 20
- [T]here was no self, or rather, only a countless chain of selves emerging from the future...a process that seemed to imply a fiction of selfhood in which every person made up his own self, imagining himself playing a role for better or worse, which would make the possession of character mainly a matter of putting on a good act, and the more unconscious and unintentional the performance, the more genuine its effect...
Source: The Assignment, p. 24-25
- [With reference to Eoin McNamee's Resurrection Man] In 1971, William McGrath -- the figure on whom Billy McClure is loosely modeled -- was hired as a social worker at Kincora, where he molested "perhaps dozens of school-aged boys"; in spite of numerous complaints filed by the residents of the home, he was not arrested until 2 April 1980...
What has caused endless speculation about this all-too-familiar story of abuse, however, is that McGrath was also the founder of a right-wing Protestant organization called Tara, whose members saw themselves as a shadow government preparing to take over in the event of a "doomsday" scenario...More spectacular allegations followed: Chris Moore, author of a book on McGrath and Kincora, interviewed several intelligence agents and civil servants who claimed that McGrath had actively worked for MI5, the British Security Service, and that Tara had been conceived by British intelligence as a means of gathering information about, and then manipulating, Protestant extremists...Evidence that British intelligence, or at least what the Irish Times story characterizes as its "rogue right-wing agents," worked hand in hand with a Protestant extremist organization certainly confirms the worst fears of Northern Ireland's Catholics, who have often suspected the British Army and Unionist politicians of abetting Protestant violence.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 40-41
- [With reference to McNamee's Resurrection Man] Coppinger and Ryan feel "obsolete, abandoned on the perimeter of a sprawling technology of ruin"; print journalists in an electronic age, they must cope with a "new species of information" coming out of paramilitary organizations operating under cover names, or from politicians who condemn violence ambiguously, or from courts where unidentified witnesses give their evidence from behind screens...Television news already incorporates this understanding about the marginality of fact. Even Victor recognizes the "narrative devices" it uses...we easily assume that when their reports diverge from fact, they serve some obscure political interest..."Atrocity reports" eschew detail and "achieve the pure level of a chant. It was no longer about conveying information. It was about focusing the mind inwards, attending to the durable rhythms of violence".
When journalism is no longer about conveying information, journalists like Ryan and Coppinger disintegrate, and even the terrorists whose actions form the ostensible subject of media stories feel disoriented, experience a loss of self.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 48-49
- [With reference to Stone's Damascus Gate] For a long time, in politics and literature, it was plausible to believe in the rebel, the creative genius, the powerful individual imposing a personal vision on the collective. But when the terrorist plot is conceived in the government office, when the prophet is as useful to the bureaucrat as the soldier, we cannot be surprised that the writer's heroics lead only to the end of a maze where a bogus bomb goes up in chemical smoke.
Source: Plotting Terror, p. 138
- [With reference to The Eater of Darkness] As the narrative unfolds, as if to intermit and oppose the unambiguous certainty of knowledge and power encoded in the weapon and its artist-inventor, the form of the unfolding ambiguities the tale's elements. The identity of the terrorist and of the narrator both lose outline and coherence; the inventor is frustrated by the narrator, and the attempt to capture the inventor and to bring him to justice fissions into multiple indeterminate plots. But there is a final surprise, one that exhibits the way Coates's typically modernist experimentation resolves itself into a double-writing. The ambiguation of the narrative reverses itself. We become more and more certain that the narrator's involvement with the terrorist and his invention has displaced the narrator's aggressions towards the beloved woman he's left behind in Paris. The resolution of the displacement brings the narrative elements out of the realm of ambiguous and uncertain impressions. In this result the machine is destroyed. But in a sense it is re-built: as the new sureness of knowledge the narrator has reached concerning his desires, with which he now is directly in touch, and in which he now fully trusts. The machine was the wrong model of this certain knowledge, but it was and remains a model, nevertheless. The light of sure knowledge not surprisingly is an eater of darkness.
Source: G.K. Chesterton and the Terrorist God Outside Modernism, p. 167-168