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July 6, 2004

Precarious Life

Interesting Salon review of Judith Butler's latest book, Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence, a collection of five political essays on the post-9/11 world. The reviewer, Astra Taylor, introduces the oft-repeated argument that theory is dead (long live theory), but instead of participating in theory's burial, Taylor argues that Butler's latest book actually makes a powerful case for why we need theory more than ever. According to Taylor, Butler's essays address a range of serious contemporary concerns:

Our government's response to Sept. 11, the charge of anti-Semitism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Guantánamo detainees.
Not much to add here because I haven't read the book yet, but Butler's concept of a "hierarchy of grief" seems particularly relevant in thinking about the US response to the September 11 attacks, and I'm intrigued by Butler's attempt to define an alternative response, besides violence, to the very deep grief many of us felt in the aftermath of 9/11.

Posted by chuck at July 6, 2004 12:45 AM

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What the face communicates, which is different from what any face may speak, is the precariousness of life. In some of what he [Levinas] writes, the face is said to communicate the sound of agony, and though the face is a visual phenomenon, it... [Read More]

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