Thursday, April 23, 2009
Battling The Hard Man: Notes on Addiction to the Pornography of Violence by Benjamin Demott
Benjamin Demott is one of my favorite American cultural critics and writers, and before his death a few years ago, he had been writing for Harper's since the 1960's and teaching at Amherst College for much of that time. Always a fastidious and delicately detailed writer and thinker, he occupied territories of critical analysis that, by their incisive manner, evade any disciplinary description that you might want to tack onto them. The most haunting and perceptive essay that he has ever written in my opinion, was written during a battle with an illness that ended his life in cardiac arrest. He worked on the essay "Battling the Hard Man," throughout the illness, and I continue to return to it when personally haunted by the rote, habitual ritualization of non-responses to suffering, death, and other evils which we encounter daily, as the growth of technology and an ocularcentric culture continue to dissolve the boundaries between reality and illusion, between mimesis and actuality.
Here is a PDF of Benajamin Demott's essay, "Battling The Hard Man: Notes on Addiction to the Pornography of Violence"