Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Biopower's Limit

"You feel that force there on your hand? That's the world. The story of the world is the story of force. It's just some people are better at applying it than others." Torture brings Glen Duncan's protagonist to this realization. In A Day and a Night and a Day, torture amounts to a means of not only collapsing time, as I posed in my previous post, but to a means of collapsing the world in on itself for the tortured, to creating bare life. Torture, thus, amounts to the limit of biopower, the extreme form of enacting power upon a body. It takes voice, Elaine Scarry's point, and it makes one lose faith in the world, Jean Amery's famous words. It leaves the tortured with a single certainty, the body, and the simple realization that the world works by enacting power on the body. Duncan's text explores these ideas and asks what is left once one comes to that conclusion: memory, love, moments in time?

3 comments:

Monica said...

Do you really think that to be tortured equates to being reduced to bare life? Is it really the same thing? It seems almost worse than bare life to me, in some regards.

Drc said...

Being tortured does not always reduce somebody to bare life, but it seems to me that it is a means of enacting the same type of power that can create bare life, especially when enacted by the state. As for being worse than bare life, I guess that depends on what you mean by bare life. All I really wanted to say was, the text shows torture as the extreme form of biopower, quite literally the state enacting power on the body.

Danielle Moyer said...

The world does function by "enacting power on the body". In fact, many actions rely on reactions. If there is no reaction to an event then it makes that event unsuccessful. There is no degree to torture. I don't think someone can be tortured "a lot" because any amount of torture is still torture regardless to creating bare life. The state can enact any amount of torture and the response will still be harmful. In my eyes, torture holds a negative connotation. If someone is trying to torture another-they are expecting a harsh reaction not a "thank you".