restricted access Epilogue: Against Emotional Violence
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211 Epilogue: Against Emotional Violence Appadurai locates the reasons for the increase in global violence in the spread of specific emotional conditions. In Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger, he argues that the ethnic cleansings of the early 1990s in eastern Europe, Rwanda, and India, as well as the terror that has come to dominate the beginning of the new millennium, are the effects of a “geography of anger.” By this he means that global, regional, national, and local spaces are interwoven to replicate hatreds that are fueled by “social uncertainties” and ideological fears, such as the “anxiety of incompleteness” (Appadurai 2006, 8–10). Understandably, Appadurai doesn’t make it his job to thoroughly theorize the emotional conditions that he features so prominently in the title of his illuminating book, namely fear and anger. But the recent wealth of political analysis, such as his, that takes emotion, affect, or feeling into account while investigating specific political issues, makes a thorough theory of emotional phenomena all the more necessary. Reemtsma argues as part of his wide-ranging critique of why modernity ’s excesses of violence have not destroyed modern faith in modern institutions that the civilized taboo on violence makes us more sensitive and more susceptible to trauma (Reemtsma 2008, 136). In response to Reemtsma’s diagnosis, one might want to propose homeopathic doses of violence to raise the threshold for trauma again. It was perhaps in this spirit of remedying easy bourgeois traumatization that Fisher has made his case for what he calls the “vehement passions.” And it seems to me that much of modernity’s characteristic cultivation of sexual passion has been serving exactly this function of a homeopathic cure against epidemic trauma. But Reemtsma has a more mediated form of homeopathy in mind when he argues that the social and personal fragmentations so typical of modernity are the kind of violence that also provides the mechanisms to cope with trauma. Modern rationality—in the form of social and mental operations that distinguish, separate, and even split off parts of the self—can protect the person from being seized completely and broken irremediably by violence (Reemtsma 2008, 137). I 212 E P I L O G U E have shown throughout this book, and in particular in the last chapter (“Broken”), that such anti-totalizing gestures and self-differentiating mechanisms do not exclusively, and not even primarily, belong to rationality but are, rather, the domain of emotionality. I subsume rationality under emotionality—in counter-distinction to cognitivist accounts of emotion, where emotions are shown to serve rational processes. I do so in the hope that a better awareness of the workings of emotionality will change what we accept as rationality, or, to put it more concisely, that emotionality will affect logic. I thus pursue a strategy slightly different from those accounts of affect that demand a radical separation of affect and cognition (because they want to foreground the values of emotion as irreducible to those of reason). In this conclusion, I will address two representatives of the separatist anti-cognitivist camp in emotion theory: one I disagree with—that is Fisher’sThe Vehement Passions —and one I have a lot of affinities with, Altieri’s The Particulars of Rapture. Their book titles already indicate that they both favor emotional figures of complete seizure (passion for Fisher and rapture for Altieri). But one reinforces the bluntness of such seizure by insisting on vehemence while the other implies internal differentiation by promising the particulars. My argument for the self-differentiating force of emotionality brings me into almost complete disagreement with Fisher’s case for premodern passion. Fisher wants to rehabilitate the passions that have been ostracized, as it were, by a long history of civilization. Beginning with Stoicism and continuing with the Enlightenment and the establishment of modern bourgeois society, Western culture has spent enormous disciplining energy to moderate and privatize passionate experiences. Fisher is interested in the passions over and against modern “emotions” or “moods,” not because the term “passion” vacillates fruitfully between passivity and activity (or because the term is tied to a rhetorical culture of affectation and self-affectation), but—quite to the contrary—because passion, in his view, propels to “immediate action” (Fisher 2002, 14). He identifies two strands in the history of the discourse on the passions : one that models all passions on fear (the strand inaugurated by Stoicism) and one that describes their characteristics using the template of anger. Fisher...


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