03 Forms of Evil - Read "Whoever fights monsters", "The...

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Read “Whoever fights monsters”, “The Body in Pain”, “Origins of Terrorism”, “Forgiveness and Resentment”, and “At the Mind’s Limits” and then read 68-115 in Glover on War and another Xerox on slavery. Forms of Evil I. Torture The word torture comes from the word “torque” meaning to twist - Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain describes torture as an act of savagery and stupidity that have a certain structure. Torture is always political, she says. It’s hardly ever the case that the torturer really wants an answer. In Torture, what happens is that a reality is conferred on the torturer in which the government is weak but the political cause is put forth. The interrogation proceeds with a feigned or pretended urgency for each answer, when really the answers are unneeded. The torturer uses this feigned urgency for the gathering of information in order to negate the victim’s pain for himself – to conceal his own brutality. Thus there is self-deception involved right away. The name of the torture/interrogation room in many places has something to do pretending; it’s often named after shows or displays. In Vietnam, “the Cinema room” and the “Production room” in the Philippines and “The Blue-Lit Stage” in another place. When the victim is in agony, the question and the outside world both lose their significance, and the contents of consciousness are slowly reduced and obliterated (you cannot picture your mother to yourself; you cannot picture a good meal; your body takes over and is in command – the victim’s world contracts). Scarry introduces Sartre and his short story entitled “The Wall” – one Pablo Ibbieta has been captured and emprisoned by Fascists in Spain and is told he will be executed. The way Sartre describes in 1 st person Pablo’s consciousness is in terms of contraction and he begins dying. Torture is mock-execution, and has a close affinity to dying and death. Pablo’s body becomes a vermin, a nasty, fleshy thing – a huge colossus that is being squished or pierced or sliced. Objects that have a certain reality in everyday life begin to lose their reality, they appear as wreaths or outlines. Walls, light fixtures and people are like images on film. The body becomes the object of attention; the body swells up and the world contracts. In torture, you become and are flesh. Nobody is coming to help you. Eight Characteristics of the pain of torture according to Scarry (pp 53-56)
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This note was uploaded on 02/21/2008 for the course PHI 151H taught by Professor Dearmey during the Spring '08 term at University Of Southern Mississippi .

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03 Forms of Evil - Read "Whoever fights monsters", "The...

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