This introductory essay locates the question of the banalization of war in relation to the suppression of the link between violence and civility in modernity. It thereby identifies banality and spectacle as two axes of a shared political condition of appearance. This condition of appearance is explored through Hannah Arendt’s account of action as the space of appearance and its basis in plurality in The Human Condition (1958). The essay argues that Arendt’s more historically engaged philosophical work—including The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963), and her interviews about the Eichmann trial—rearticulates this abstract account through a historically informed conception of “social texture” which requires care for “what the world looks like,” for the Mitsein of Dasein. This care for what the world looks like is identified in the poetry of Iraqi American poet Dunya Mikhail, and is shown to provide a critical framework for addressing contemporary war culture through Arendt’s concepts of “banality” and “functioning.”


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pp. 3-21
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