Troubles grow behind the walls we set up. Rose's new book ''On Violence and On Violence Against Women,'' arrives at a moment marked by a ''visible increase'' in violence against women in countries like India, Brazil and South Africa.

The Covid lockdowns have also unleashed a ''shadow pandemic'' of domestic-violence and femicide, according to the United Nations. Rose asks how violence first takes root in the mind; what problems does it seem to solve?

Can we recognize it? Rose begins the book with a photograph. ''A group of identical looking white men in dark suits'' flanked by President Donald J. Trump as he signs an executive order; the ''Global Gag Rule,'' which banned American funding in any organization in the world offering abortion or abortion counseling.

The men look distracted, a bit bored. ''These men are killers,'' Rose writes. Their actions would increase illegal abortions by thousands. But their murderousness is invisible - to the world and to themselves.'' It is on this point that her book turns; how elaborately we conceal our violence from our selves; how efficiently violence flourishes in those blind spots.

On Violence and On Violence Against Women : by Jacqueline Rose : What a pair they made, Marcel Proust and his Papa.

Adrien Proust was the renowned epidemiologist who pioneered the use of the cordon sanitaire to sequester infectious disease - the 19th century version of social distancing. He was the man who boasted about how well he washed his hands.

His son, meanwhile became the laureate of licentious trespass [on the page, at least], the great interloper of consciousness. No other writer has dedicated himself so exuberantly to ''the porousness of boundaries between self and other, both as pleasure and as danger,'' the critic Jacqueline Rose has written.

Proust is totemic to Rose. See, too, her fondness for the words ''cobweb'' and ''tangle'' and her deep suspicion toward anything touted as ''natural or ''sanitized.'' Rose has written widely : on psychoanalysis, motherhood, the cult of celebrity, Sylvia plath, Israel and Peter Pan.

Everyone of her books could be subtitled ''In Praise of Shadows'' - cribbing from Junichiro Tanizaki, another writer important to her.

''Rather than the idea of light triumphing over darkness,'' Rose wrote in ''Women in dark Times,'' ''confronting dark with dark might be the more creative path.''

She champions a ''scandalous feminism,'' an embrace of all the shameful, derided aspects of our nature, a refusal to fear or shun our own thoughts. 

Without it, we will to continue to outsource our anxieties and aggression onto other people, onto entire other populations [today's chief targets, she argues, include mothers, migrants, transgender people, Palestinians].

For all that Rose reveals, her book might be intriguing in its strictures and refusals. Rose will not, for example, list examples of atrocities - ''feminism is not served by turning violence into a litany'' - or add to the spectacle.

She shies away from cheap pathos and struggles to avoid turning victims into figures of timeless suffering and ''raw pity,'' in that way obfuscating ''human agency, the historical choices and wilful political decisions.''

For all her unruliness, Rose's own sentences are cool, almost enameled in their polish and control. It's in the movement of her prose, the way she seizes and furiously unravels ideas from her previous books that we see the vigor and precision of her mind, the work of thinking, of forging new pathways that she holds up as rejoinder to the muteness of violence.

Despite drawing on Luxembourg's ''quiet conditions'' of violence, Rose primarily attends to individuals, not systems. It's a disposition that can invite charges of solipsism - thus sailing past her entire point.

Where Proust dedicated himself to ''the porousness of boundaries between self and other,'' Rose examines the porousness of the self and the state.

She points out that the French technical term for the forcible repatriation of migrants is ''refoulement'' - ''pushing back'' or ''repulsing'' the very word used for the concept of psychological repression.

''Reckoning with the violence of the heart and fighting violence in the world are inseparable,'' she writes. To read Rose is to understand that there is no border between us and the world; it is an invitation to a radical kind of responsibility.

 The World Students Society thanks author Parul Sehgal.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!