Shelves: Ugh. Tough one. Bigger picture: the book, from what I understand as always, Butler lost me at times , calls, among other things, for a reconceptualization of the left united in opposing and resisting interventionist military action and violence. This is probably one of the more important philosophical projects of our time. There is Ugh.

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London: Verso, Precariousness is presented as an obligation imposed upon us, and as such, it also serves to mark a series of conditions that allow us to apprehend a life. It is here she situates reflections upon the iteration and reiteration of norms that govern subjects, and, extendingGender Trouble, the ontology that governs the body.

Such a reading centralizes personhood and the shifting schemes of intelligibility. We are shown there is no life and also no death without a relation to some available frame. This is not to say one cannot live or die outside of frames, but, rather, that our apprehension of the precariousness of life is governed by them. That one cannot apprehend a life as livable or grievable if it were not first apprehended as living is both the crux of her argument and the function of framing, and it is supplied by the interrogation of being and recognizability.

Butler suggests that what underlies this apprehension is that which guides interpretation and recognition. Framing is presented here as both reflexive and visual; it is not simply a concept, but also a process. Specifically, she discusses the ways suffering is presented to us through mandated visual images and how such forms of presentation affect our recognition of suffering.

The visual and textual images read as signs of humanness or precariousness, and, as such, the suffering of those in the degrading and humiliating photographs require recognition.

Acts of recognition break and interrupt the grand narratives that surround war and represent victims. For The Netherlands, cultural and political modernity is represented by sexual freedom, which consequently forces those freedoms to compete against cultural anxieties propelled by the recent tide of Islamic immigration.

Integration and acceptance become contested symbols exploited by Right-wing politicians to bleed together dialogues of minority sexual rights rights granted to gays and lesbians and Muslim immigration in order to position attitudes against either. Cultural, political, and religious differences are central to Dutch politics, given the murders of the right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn and filmmaker Theo van Gogh in and respectively.

Sexual politics and secularism are deployed to tangle this debate by positioning such freedoms as beacons of modernity, and using incompatibilities to enforce exclusions. Butler effectively underscores how the framing of such issues, as well as the power of representation and ideology, are used to delimit legal recognition.

Cultural subjects and sexual subjects are used to show the limitations of the normative subject and how we can break free from notions of their incompatibilities. Critical practices of interrogation allow us to break free of frameworks used to create, maintain, and promote the subject as well as identities.

Here, many of the themes and concepts nascent in The Psychic Life of Power appear and evolve. Non-violence is not read as a principle but rather as a claim one makes to another or, recalling the work of Emmanuel Levinas, as an appeal. Our ability to respond to violence and the struggle with non-violence is found not in claims against individuals or groups, but rather in social ontology.

Frames of War offers fresh insight into ethical responsiveness and political interpretation within the context of contemporary warfare. Butler clearly and concisely expresses a common-sense approach to understanding some of the most topical issues today. The compelling arguments made offer fresh thinking on narrativized power relations but also how these relations are framed and structured in relation to critically reading visual imagery and visual culture.

This might be her most relevant work to date not only for her followers in the academe but also for those with interest in exploring the discourses of war that penetrate the everyday.


Judith Butler: Precariousness and Grievability—When Is Life Grievable?

We might think of war as dividing populations into those who are grievable and those who are not. An ungrievable life is one that cannot be mourned because it has never lived, that is, it has never counted as a life at all. We can see the division of the globe into grievable and ungrievable lives from the perspective of those who wage war in order to defend the lives of certain communities, and to defend them against the lives of others—even if it means taking those latter lives. Precariousness and Grievability We read about lives lost and are often given the numbers, but these stories are repeated every day, and the repetition appears endless, irremediable. And so, we have to ask, what would it take not only to apprehend the precarious character of lives lost in war, but to have that apprehension coincide with an ethical and political opposition to the losses war entails?


Frames Of War: When Is Life Grievable?



Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?


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