238 pages | 15 B/W Illus.
A new collection of essays by the internationally recognized cultural critic and intellectual historian Martin Jay that revolves around the themes of violence and visuality, with essays on the Holocaust and virtual reality, religious violence, the art world, and the Unicorn Killer, among a wide range of other topics.
"Refractions of Violence is a work of incidental greatness. Setting out to write a series of occasional pieces largely centering on issues of visuality and visual culture, Jay has produced almost as a side-effect a sustained and penetrating inquiry into the 'finite economy' of violence in the contemporary world. As a further, unexpected bonus, he has given us an intimate, witty, nuanced, and altogether memorable account of the conditions of intellectual life in a culture of extremity. All the many virtues of Jay's remarkable oeuvre are in evidence here, but in a form at once accessible and deeply serious, informal and fully engaged." -- Geoffrey Galt Harpham, National Humanities Center
"Well known for his histories of comprehensive scope and conceptual drive, such as Marxism and Totality and Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought, Martin Jay is also one of most astute analysts of contemporary culture. Refractions of Violence shows him at his best, developing lucid insights into the new force of violence today, exploring its strange symbiosis with visual culture, tracking its unpredictable effects in political debate, delivering his critical assessments with characteristic curiosity, sensitivity, and generosity." -- Hal Foster, Townsend Martin Professor of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University
"The 20th century has been called the age of extremes. The 21st may well become known as the age of violence. In this broad-ranging series of essays -- for the most part scholarly but at times striking a personal note -- Martin Jay skillfully traces the multiple intersecting rays cast by violence and its representations in both elite and popular culture. This excellent book should be of great interest not only to historians but to anyone wanting greater insight into a troubled present as it is shaped by a turbulent past." -- Dominick LaCapra, Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor of Humanistic Studies, Cornell University
Introduction 1. Against Consolation: Walter Benjamin and the Refusal to Mourn 2. Peace in Our Time 3. Fathers and Sons: Jan Philipp Reemtsma and the Frankfurt School 4. The Ungrateful Dead 5. When Did the Holocaust End? Reflections on Historical Objectivity 6. The Conversion of the Rose 7. Pen Pals with the Unicorn Killer 8. Kwangju: From Massacre to Biennale 9. Must Justice Be Blind? The Challenge of Images to the Law 10. Diving into the Wreck: Aesthetic Spectatorship at the Turn of the Millennium 11. Astronomical Hindsight: The Speed of Light and Virtual Reality 12. Returning the Gaze: The American Response to the French Critique of Occularcentrism 13. Lafayette’s Children: The American Reception of French Liberalism 14. Somaesthetics and Democracy: John Dewey and Contemporary Body Art 15. The Paradoxes of Religious Violence 16. Fearful Symmetries: 9/11 and the Agonies of the Left