For this session we are reading two texts that address forms of public or collective affect in connection to the media, violence and mourning. We are reading a selection of short chapters from Susan Sontag’s book Regarding the Pain of Others (2003, the last book published during her lifetime). It is about the constant confrontation with media images, and how images of pain, war and violence move us, or don’t move us.
We will also read a chapter from Judith Butler’s book Precarious Life (2004), which is written as a response to the reactions of fear and mourning following 9/11. Butler discusses how such affects have served as justifications for war, violence and rigorous political policies, rather than inspiring sympathy and solidarity amongst people. We will be reading chapter 2, ‘Violence, Mourning, Politics’, in which Butler finds that while loss and grief connects people to each other, not everybody’s loss is given the same value.