Terror as Terror
The return of fear and horror?
This article surveys contemporary conceptualizations of terror, arguing that we are witnessing a return of terror’s original meaning as basically inexplicable, silent violence, perceived as attacking us without warning and without reason. Situating this conceptual and perceptual change in its historical context, the article explores what it does with our comprehension of violence when one of its defining features becomes its incomprehensibility. I argue that violence in modernity had been supposed to have voice and to give reasons. It was understood as horrible but not as inexplicable, pure horror. It was basically understandable, even if we agreed with neither the reasons nor the actions. Now, a new conceptualization of violence seems to be emerging, one that is defined in opposition to voice and reason, and whose defining feature is its silence.
University of Aarhus Denmark
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© borderlands ejournal 2011