Lasse Heerten’s brilliant book on Biafra is Spectacles of Suffering. He remarks on the double meaning of the word spectacles in the concluding paragraph. When conflicts or disasters are transformed into global media events, they become spectacles. But it is also a synonym for eyeglasses – the spectacles of suffering are the lenses themselves, through which, in this case, Western observers see distant suffering. A central focus of Heerten’s book is how, for a brief few months in the summer of
Chapter Seven THE ART OF SUFFERING Wrestlers ‘T HERE ARE PEOPLE who think that wrestling is an ignoble sport,’ wrote Roland Barthes in his 1957 collection, Mythologies. ‘Wrestling is not a sport, it is a spectacle, and it is no more ignoble to attend a wrestled performance of Suffering than a performance of the sorrows of Arnolphe or Andromaque.’ It is this ‘Exhibition of Suffering’, he concludes, ‘which is the very aim of the fight’. Sixty-two years later, Alex Mann positions my phone on a Melbourne pub table, hits record and leans forwards. I press a
disorientation engendered, above all, by the perpetual televisual looping of images of distant suffering. Selected and packaged for convenient and compliant consumption, these images tend to install in the western viewer little more than a pervasive sense of guilt and a permanent ‘mauvaise conscience’ (see, for example, Haneke 2005a ). Haneke’s aversion to such processes of mediation and concomitant faith in cinema as a site of
This book argues for greater openness in the ways we approach human rights and international rights promotion, and in so doing brings some new understanding to old debates. Starting with the realities of abuse rather than the liberal architecture of rights, it casts human rights as a language for probing the political dimensions of suffering. Seen in this context, the predominant Western models of right generate a substantial but also problematic and not always emancipatory array of practices. These models are far from answering the questions about the nature of political community that are raised by the systemic infliction of suffering. Rather than a simple message from ‘us’ to ‘them’, then, rights promotion is a long and difficult conversation about the relationship between political organisations and suffering. Three case studies are explored: the Tiananmen Square massacre, East Timor's violent modern history and the circumstances of indigenous Australians. The purpose of these discussions is not to elaborate on a new theory of rights, but to work towards rights practices that are more responsive to the spectrum of injury that we inflict and endure.
‘Writing Pain’ argues that Anna Seward‘s Letters (1811) and Mary Robinson‘s letters (1800) create alternative models of sensibility from the suffering poet of Charlotte Smith‘s Elegiac Sonnets. Immensely popular, Smith‘s sonnets made feminine suffering a source of poetic agency by aestheticizing and privatizing it. However, despite their sincerity, her sonnets effaced the physical, nervous body of sensibility on which Seward‘s and Robinsons early poetic reputations had depended and for which they had been mocked. The popularity of Smith‘s model made it an important model for women poets, but, by the end of the eighteenth century, sensibility was also associated with sickness and artifice. For Seward and Robinson, who wanted to build their literary reputations but were living with disabled bodies, Smiths example needed to be reimagined to account for the reciprocity of body and mind as they struggled to write through pain.
through a set of doors filmed in fixed angle. The camera recedes slightly and starts a long panning shot from right to left, the only circular camera movement in the film. Amidst the anonymous crowd appears a paraplegic who makes his way through the hall on an archaic construction on wheels, a figure of suffering who taints the image with a dark mood. The camera follows the man, eventually overtakes him and completes its 360
Socialism, suffering, and religious mystery 9 •• Socialism, suffering, and religious mystery: Margaret Harkness and Olive Schreiner Angharad Eyre In 1888, in To-day, Margaret Harkness published an allegory, ‘The Gospel of Getting On’, which suggested that socialists were the only true nineteenth-century Christians. She dedicated the allegory to Olive Schreiner, the South African author famous for The Story of An African Farm (1883), whom she had met during the 1880s in London. Harkness encountered Schreiner’s writing within a wider context of a society that
forms of global paternalism. This paternalism has its roots in a confluence of developments in medicine, government and media technologies, a focus in law on universal humanity, and the growth of a scholarly interest in the ‘suffering subject’. Through these, the displaced person has become a ubiquitous character in media imagery and global policy and scholarly debates. This is evident in humanitarians’ approach to displaced people in urban areas. Rather than reconsider their approach, such engagements follow a familiar pattern of ‘visibilising
from Autun at Easter 675. 43 These events the author discussed as if they and the local people in them were well known to his audience. The impression that the events were controversial is confirmed by another of the sources translated here, the Passio Praejecti ( The Suffering of St Praejectus ), for Praejectus, bishop of Clermont, was also involved in them. 44 According
clues about what may have motivated such flexibility, and why a remote community such as that based on Clermont did not decline into disorder or reject the authority of its distant overlord. Passio Praejecti (The Suffering of Praejectus) HERE BEGINS THE PROLOGUE TO THE STORY OF THE MARTYRDOM OF SAINT PRAEJECTUS, BISHOP AND MARTYR Guided