4 Books on Violence – Camus, Arendt, Fanon & Zizek

Matthew Blackman

4168NrZuyNL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_1.The Rebel – Albert Camus

Camus’s The Rebel (L’Homme Révolté) was famously panned by Sartre and his friends in the periodical Le Temps Moderne.  In the published exchanges that ensued Camus was, it is often said, defeated in the rhetorical joust.  Even Tony Judt, a great admirer of Camus, said: ‘In L’Homme Révolté (1951) Camus offered some important observations about the dangers of lyrical revolutionary illusions; but Raymond Aron said much the same thing to vastly more devastating effect in L’Opium des Intellectuels, while Camus’s naive, almost autodidactic philosophical speculations exposed him to a cruel and painful riposte from Sartre that severely damaged his credibility with the bien-pensant intellectual Left and permanently undermined his public self-confidence.’

Camus was, partly as a result of this and partly his stance on Algeria, to withdraw into a paralyzing silence.  But the book itself is not without its merits…

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THE TOUGHEST JOB YOU’LL EVER LOVE

The English Professor at Large

This is Peace Corps week and time to remember and honor the two years and three months I served as a Volunteer in Slovakia. It was 1994, and I was sixty-seven years old, part of a group of much younger, wonderful women and men. For our first three months, we went to training school to prepare for what the Peace Corps calls “The toughest job you’ll ever love.”
To help the process, we were farmed out to Slovak families who had volunteered to house us. Now, this was a gutsy move on their part. They had been raised during the Nazi and Soviet regimes, and Americans were always the enemy, and, suddenly, there we were….right in their living rooms. My family consisted of three women in their 40s, none of whom spoke a word of English. They were kind to me, and one of them, Ema, became a good friend…

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