The stories one tells about pain are profound ones. Nothing is more legible than these stories. But something is left out of them. If there were no stories, there might be a moment of innocence. A moment before the burden of the stories and their perceived causes and consequences. For Anna, the narrator of Beautiful Work, there were moments when it was not accurate to say in relation to pain "because of this‚" or "leading to that." They were lucid moments. And so she began to hunger for storylessness. In order to understand the nature of pain, Anna undertakes a meditation practice. We tend to think of pain as self-absorbing and exclusively our own ("my pain," "I am in pain"). In distinction, Sharon Cameron’s Anna comes to explore pain as common property, and as the basis for a radically reconceived selfhood. Resisting the limitations of memoir, Beautiful Work speaks from experience and simultaneously releases it from the closed shell of personal ownership. Outside of the not quite inevitable stories we tell about it, experience is less protected, less compromised, and more vivid than could be supposed. Beautiful Work brings to bear the same interest in consciousness and intersubjectivity that characterizes Cameron’s other work.
Images of suffering male bodies permeate Western culture, from Francis Bacon’s paintings and Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs to the battered heroes of action movies. Drawing on perspectives from a range of disciplines—including religious studies, gender and queer studies, psychoanalysis, art history, and film theory—Ecce Homo explores the complex, ambiguous meanings of the enduring figure of the male-body-in-pain.
Acknowledging that representations of men confronting violence and pain can reinforce ideas of manly tenacity, Kent L. Brintnall also argues that they reveal the vulnerability of men’s bodies and open them up to eroticization. Locating the roots of our cultural fascination with male pain in the crucifixion, he analyzes the way narratives of Christ’s death and resurrection both support and subvert cultural fantasies of masculine power and privilege. Through stimulating readings of works by Georges Bataille, Kaja Silverman, and more, Brintnall delineates the redemptive power of representations of male suffering and violence.
More than six million Americans—most of them women—have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), a disorder that produces musculo-skeletal pain and fatigue. In the absence of visible evidence, a well-understood cause, or effective treatment, many have questioned whether FMS is a "real" illness. Amidst the controversy, millions of women live with their very real symptoms.Rather than taking sides in the heated debate, Kristin Barker explains how FMS represents an awkward union between the practices of modern medicine and the complexity of women's pain. Using interviews with sufferers, Barker focuses on how the idea of FMS gives meaning and order to women beset by troubling symptoms, self-doubt, and public skepticism.This book offers a fresh look at a controversial diagnosis; Barker avoids overly simplistic explanations and empathizes with sufferers without losing sight of the social construction of disease and its relation to modern medical practice.
Democratic government is about making choices. Sometimes those choices involve the distribution of benefits. At other times they involve the imposition of some type of loss—a program cut, increased taxes, or new regulatory standards. Citizens will resist such impositions if they can, or will try to punish governments at election time. The dynamics of loss imposition are therefore a universal—if unpleasant—element of democratic governance. The Government Taketh Away examines the repercussions of unpopular government decisions in Canada and the United States, the two great democratic nations of North America.
Pal, Weaver, and their contributors compare the capacities of the U.S. presidential system and the Canadian Westminster system to impose different types of losses: symbolic losses (gun control and abortion), geographically concentrated losses (military base closings and nuclear waste disposal), geographically dispersed losses (cuts to pensions and to health care), and losses imposed on business (telecommunications deregulation and tobacco control). Theory holds that Westminster-style systems should, all things being equal, have a comparative advantage in loss imposition because they concentrate power and authority, though this can make it easier to pin blame on politicians too. The empirical findings of the cases in this book paint a more complex picture. Westminster systems do appear to have some robust abilities to impose losses, and US institutions provide more opportunities for loss-avoiders to resist government policy in some sectors. But in most sectors, outcomes in the two countries are strikingly similar.
The Government Taketh Away is essential for the scholar and students of public policy or comparative policy. It is also an important book for the average citizen who wants to know more about the complexities of living in a democratic society where the government can give-but how it can also, sometimes painfully, "taketh away."
Laurence Gonzales began his successful publishing career in 1989 with the publication of The Still Point and later The Hero’s Apprentice (1994), both with the University of Arkansas Press. From these collections of essays he went on to write for renowned magazines in addition to publishing several books, including the best selling Deep Survival. His journalism garnered two National Magazine Awards, and his latest nonfiction book, Surviving Survival, was named by Kirkus as one of the best books of 2012.
This new collection of essays shows us the sometimes hair-raising, sometimes heart-wrenching writing that Gonzales has become known for. This “compelling and trustworthy guide” (Booklist) takes us from a maximum-security prison to a cancer ward, from a mental institution to the World Trade Center. Among the essays included is “Marion Prison,” a National Magazine Award finalist, with its intimate view inside the most maximum security prison in America. “House of Pain” takes the reader into the life of a brain surgeon at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, a grim world that few ever see. “Rites of Spring,” another National Magazine Award finalist, follows Gonzales and his wife on their journey through cancer, not once, but twice.
Other stories venture above the Arctic Circle, flying deep into the Alaskan wilderness among grizzly bears and trumpeter swans; explore aerobatics in high-performance aircraft; and eulogize Memphis and Miami as American cities that mourn their fates in uniquely different ways.
In Knowing the Suffering of Others, legal scholar Austin Sarat brings together essays that address suffering as it relates to the law, highlighting the ways law imagines suffering and how pain and suffering become jurisprudential facts.
From fetal imaging to end-of-life decisions, torts to international human rights, domestic violence to torture, and the law of war to victim impact statements, the law is awash in epistemological and ethical problems associated with knowing and imagining suffering. In each of these domains we might ask: How well do legal actors perceive and understand suffering in such varied domains of legal life? What problems of representation and interpretation bedevil efforts to grasp the suffering of others? What historical, political, literary, cultural, and/or theological resources can legal actors and citizens draw on to understand the suffering of others?
In Knowing the Suffering of Others, Austin Sarat presents legal scholarship that explores these questions and puts the problem of suffering at the center of thinking about law. The contributors to this volume do not regard pain and suffering as objective facts of a universe remote from law; rather they examine how both are discursively constructed in and by law. They examine how pain and suffering help construct and give meaning to the law as we know it. The authors attend to the various ways suffering appears in law as well as the different forms of suffering that require the law’s attention.
Throughout this book law is regarded as a domain in which the meanings of pain and suffering are contested, and constituted, as well as an instrument for inflicting suffering or for providing or refusing its relief. It challenges scholars, lawyers, students, and policymakers to ask how various legal actors and audiences understand the suffering of others.
Montré D. Carodine / Cathy Caruth / Alan L. Durham / Bryan K.Fair / Steven H. Hobbs / Gregory C. Keating
/ Linda Ross Meyer / Meredith M. Render / Jeannie Suk / John Fabian Witt
Compelling, timely, and essential reading for healthcare providers, Meaning in Suffering addresses the multiplicity of meanings suffering brings to all it touches: patients, families, health workers, and human science professionals. Examining suffering in writing that is both methodologically rigorous and accessible, the contributors preserve first-hand experiences using narrative ethnography, existential hermeneutics, hermeneutic phenomenology, and traditional ethnography. They offer nuanced insights into suffering as a human condition experienced by persons deserving of dignity, empathy, and understanding. Collectively, these essays demonstrate that understanding the suffering of the "other" reveals something vital about the moral courage required to heal—and stay humane—in the face of suffering.
Winner, Nursing Research Category, American Journal of Nursing
In the late medieval era, pain could be a symbol of holiness, disease, sin, or truth. It could be encouragement to lead a moral life, a punishment for wrong doing, or a method of healing. Exploring the varied depictions and descriptions of pain—from martyrdom narratives to practices of torture and surgery—The Modulated Scream attempts to decode this culture of suffering in the Middle Ages.
Esther Cohen brings to life the cacophony of howls emerging from the written record of physicians, torturers, theologians, and mystics. In considering how people understood suffering, explained it, and meted it out, Cohen discovers that pain was imbued with multiple meanings. While interpreting pain was the province only of the rarified elite, harnessing pain for religious, moral, legal, and social purposes was a practice that pervaded all classes of Medieval life. In the overlap of these contradicting attitudes about what pain was for—how it was to be understood and who should use it—Cohen reveals the distinct and often conflicting cultural traditions and practices of late medieval Europeans. Ambitious and wide-ranging, The Modulated Scream is intellectual history at its most acute.
“When I was starting College Presidents for Gun Safety, one of the concerns I heard was the idea that there were just too many issues on which to articulate an opinion. Where would it stop? Where would we draw the line? . . . In light of this latest tragedy, on a college campus that could have been any of ours, I would say: ‘We are nowhere near the line yet.’” (Lawrence Schall, quoted in “Tragedy at Umpqua,” by Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, October 2, 2015)
In this short work, Elizabeth Boquet explores the line Lawrence Schall describes above, tracing the overlaps and intersections of a lifelong education around guns and violence, as a student, a teacher, a feminist, a daughter, a wife, a citizen and across the dislocations and relocations that are part of a life lived in and around school. Weaving narratives of family, the university classroom and administration, her husband’s work as a police officer, and her work with students and the Poetry for Peace effort that her writing center sponsors in the local schools, she recounts her efforts to respond to moments of violence with a pedagogy of peace. “Can we not acknowledge that our experiences with pain anywhere should render us more, not less, capable of responding to it everywhere?” she asks. “Compassion, it seems to me, is an infinitely renewable resource.”
Currently in medicine, theories of pain regard pain and suffering as one and the same. It is assumed that if pain ceases, suffering stops. These theories are not substantiated in clinical practice, where some patients report little pain and extreme suffering and other individuals have a lot of pain and virtually no suffering. Based on the results of a scientific questionnaire, as well as evidence from and conversations with hundreds of patients, Beverley M. Clarke argues convincingly that suffering is often separate from pain, has universal measurable characteristics, and requires suffering-specific treatments that are sensitive to the patient’s individual psychology and cultural background. According to Clarke, suffering occurs when individuals who have experienced a life change because of medical issues perceive a threat to their idea of self and personhood. This kind of suffering, based on a lost “dream of self,” affects every aspect of an individual’s life. Treating the patient as a whole person—an approach that Clarke strongly advocates—is an issue overlooked in the majority of chronic care and traumatic injury treatments, focused as they are on pain reduction. Clarke believes passionately that the management of suffering in medicine is the responsibility of all health care practitioners. Until they come to identify and understand suffering as distinct from pain, the entire health care system will continue to carry the financial and moral burden of incomplete diagnoses, inappropriate referrals for care, ineffective treatment interventions, and lost human potential.
Pain and Profits tells the story of how a common ailment—the headache—became the center of a multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry in the United States. Despite the increasing authority of the medical profession in the twentieth century, treatment of this condition has remained largely in the hands of the public. Using the headache as a case study, and advertising as a significant source of information, Jan McTavish traces the beginnings of the modern over-the-counter industry.
The American pharmaceutical industry developed from nineteenth-century suppliers of plant-derived drugs for both professional and home care. Two branches of the industry evolved over time—the ethical branch, which sold products only with prescriptions, and the nostrum branch, which was noted for its energetic marketing techniques. At the end of the century, they were joined by German companies that combined a strong commitment to science with aggressive salesmanship. Since German drugs were both highly effective in treating headaches and commonly available, sufferers wanting quick relief could easily obtain them. The result was a new kind of “legitimate” pharmaceutical industry that targeted consumers directly.
Historians of medicine as well as more general readers interested in the history of the headache will enjoy this fascinating account of the creation of the modern pharmaceutical industry.
Today, the Tower of London is a tourist site, home only to the crown jewels, but not long ago the imposing structure held traitors, political prisoners, and more, often on their way to the chopping block. Even outside of this famous building, prisons have changed radically since the Norman Conquest in 1066. In the first book on the history of prisons in Britain, former prison governor and professor of criminology David Wilson offers unrivaled insight into the penal system in England, Scotland, and Wales, charting the rise and fall of forms of punishments that take place behind their walls.
Pain and Retribution explores prisons as an institution and examines how they are designed, organized, and managed. Wilson reveals that prisons have to satisfy the demands of three interested parties: the public, from politicians and media commentators to everyday citizens; the prison staff; and the prisoners themselves. He shows how prevailing concerns and issues of the times allow one faction or another to have more power at varying points in history, and he considers how prisons are unable to satisfy all three at the same time—leading to the system being seen as a failure, despite rising numbers of prisoners and growing funds invested in keeping them incarcerated. With intriguing comparisons between the prisons of New York City and Britain and searching questions about the purposes of the current penal system, Pain and Retribution provides unparalleled access to prison landings, staffs, and the people behind the locked doors.
The first book to be written on the Judge Rotenberg Center and their use of aversives in treatment for children with disabilities.
For more than twenty years, professionals in the field of disability studies have engaged in debates over the use of aversive interventions (such as electric shock) like the ones used at the Judge Rotenberg Center. Advocates and lawyers have filed complaints and lawsuits to both use them and ban them, scientists have written hundreds of articles for and against them, and people with disabilities have lost their lives and, some would say, lived their lives because of them. There are families who believe deeply in the need to use aversives to control their children’s behavior. There are others who believe the techniques used are torture. All of these families have children who have been excluded from numerous educational and treatment programs because of their behaviors. For most of the families, placement at the Judge Rotenberg Center is the last resort.
This book is a historical case study of the Judge Rotenberg Center, named after the judge who ruled in favor of keeping its doors open to use aversive interventions. It chronicles and analyzes the events and people involved for over forty years that contributed to the inability of the state of Massachusetts to stop the use of electric shock, and other severe forms of punishment on children and adults with disabilities. It is a long story, sad and tragic, complex, filled with intrigue and questions about society and its ability to protect and support its most vulnerable citizens.
In this brief but staggering two-act, playwright Norris demonstrates his skill at drawing out the dark truth that lurks beneath the surface of the “perfect” family. His crackling satire takes dead aim at the self-satisfied, left-leaning American upper-middle class and its many self-delusions.
On a winter afternoon, Kelly and Clay—an attractive, prosperous, seemingly happy couple with a four-year-old daughter and a newborn baby—must explain to a visitor the events of the previous Thanksgiving, on which, so it seems, someone or something had been gnawing at the avocados on their kitchen table. In the course of this holiday gathering—attended by Clay’s mother, a well-meaning but clueless first-grade teacher who spouts pointless liberal bromides; his brother, a plastic surgeon with a nihilistic streak and a taste for martinis; and his brother's girlfriend, a sexy Balkan immigrant with a love for all things American (racism included)—the recent past is unearthed along with revelations of failed marriages, fraternal hatred, infidelity and venereal disease, in the form of their daughter’s nasty genital infection. And it’s a comedy. As the story is gradually unfolded to their visitor, a Muslim cab driver, his relationship to the events becomes increasingly clear, as does the emptiness of the family’s supposed benevolence and sensitivity.
With its crashing emotion and cutting humor, this vicious dissection of the comfortable progressive life lays bare the lies that people use to feel righteous even as they veer off a genuinely ethical path.
Pain, Death, and the Law
Austin Sarat, Editor University of Michigan Press, 2001 Library of Congress KF9227.C2P35 2001 | Dewey Decimal 345.730773
This collection of essays examines the relationship between pain, death, and the law and addresses the question of how the law constructs pain and death as jurisprudential facts. The empirical focus of these essays enables the reader to delve into both the history and the theoretical complexities of the pain-death-law relationship. The combination of the theoretical and the empirical broadens the contribution this volume will undoubtedly make to debates in which the right to live or die is the core issue at hand.
This volume will be an important read for policy makers and legal practitioners and a valuable text for courses in law, the social sciences, and the humanities.
Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College.
How should we weigh the costs and benefits of scientific research on humans? Is it right that a small group of people should suffer in order that a larger number can live better, healthier lives? Or is an individual truly sovereign, unable to be plotted as part of such a calculation?
These are questions that have bedeviled scientists, doctors, and ethicists for decades, and in Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good, Cathy Gere presents the gripping story of how we have addressed them over time. Today, we are horrified at the idea that a medical experiment could be performed on someone without consent. But, as Gere shows, that represents a relatively recent shift: for more than two centuries, from the birth of utilitarianism in the eighteenth century, the doctrine of the greater good held sway. If a researcher believed his work would benefit humanity, then inflicting pain, or even death, on unwitting or captive subjects was considered ethically acceptable. It was only in the wake of World War II, and the revelations of Nazi medical atrocities, that public and medical opinion began to change, culminating in the National Research Act of 1974, which mandated informed consent. Showing that utilitarianism is based in the idea that humans are motivated only by pain and pleasure, Gere cautions that that greater good thinking is on the upswing again today and that the lesson of history is in imminent danger of being lost.
Rooted in the experiences of real people, and with major consequences for how we think about ourselves and our rights, Pain, Pleasure, and the Greater Good is a dazzling, ambitious history.
The Phenomenology of Pain
Saulius Geniusas Ohio University Press, 2020 Library of Congress BJ1409.G46 2020 | Dewey Decimal 128.4
The Phenomenology of Pain is the first book-length investigation of its topic to appear in English. Groundbreaking, systematic, and illuminating, it opens a dialogue between phenomenology and such disciplines as cognitive science and cultural anthropology to argue that science alone cannot clarify the nature of pain experience without incorporating a phenomenological approach. Building on this premise, Saulius Geniusas develops a novel conception of pain grounded in phenomenological principles: pain is an aversive bodily feeling with a distinct experiential quality, which can only be given in original first-hand experience, either as a feeling-sensation or as an emotion.
Geniusas crystallizes the fundamental methodological principles that underlie phenomenological research. On the basis of those principles, he offers a phenomenological clarification of the fundamental structures of pain experience and contests the common conflation of phenomenology with introspectionism. Geniusas analyzes numerous pain dissociation syndromes, brings into focus the de-personalizing and re-personalizing nature of chronic pain experience, and demonstrates what role somatization and psychologization play in pain experience. In the process, he advances Husserlian phenomenology in a direction that is not explicitly worked out in Husserl’s own writings.
“Living involves being exposed to pain every second—not necessarily as an insistent reality, but always as a possibility,” writes Arne Vetlesen in A Philosophy of Pain, a thought-provoking look at an inevitable and essential aspect of the human condition. Here, Vetlesen addresses pain in many forms, including the pain inflicted during torture; the pain suffered in disease; the pain accompanying anxiety, grief, and depression; and the pain brought by violence. He examines the dual nature of pain: how we attempt to avoid it as much as possible in our daily lives, and yet conversely, we obtain a thrill from seeking it.
Vetlesen’s analysis of pain is revealing, plumbing the very center of many of our most intense and complicated emotions. He looks at pain within different arenas of modern life such as family and work, and he specifically probes at a very common modern phenomenon, the idea of pushing oneself to the limit. Engaging throughout with the ideas of thinkers such as Søren Kierkegaard, Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Alice Miller, Susan Sontag, and Melanie Klein, A Philosophy of Pain asks which came first, thinking or feeling, and explores the concept and possibility of empathy.
Vetlesen offers an original and insightful perspective on something that all of us suffer and endure—from a sprained ankle to a broken heart. Although pain is in itself unpleasant, our ability to feel it reminds us that we are alive.
Chronic pain is a medical mystery, debilitating to patients and a source of frustration for practitioners. It often eludes both cause and cure and serves as a reminder of how much further we have to go in unlocking the secrets of the body. A new field of pain medicine has evolved from this landscape, one that intersects with dozens of disciplines and subspecialties ranging from psychology and physiology to anesthesia and chiropractic medicine. Over the past three decades, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners have struggled to define this complex and often contentious field as they work to establish standards while navigating some of the most challenging philosophical issues of Western science.
In The Politics of Pain Medicine: A Rhetorical-Ontological Inquiry, S. Scott Graham offers a rich and detailed exploration of the medical rhetoric surrounding pain medicine. Graham chronicles the work of interdisciplinary pain management specialists to found a new science of pain and a new approach to pain medicine grounded in a more comprehensive biospychosocial model. His insightful analysis demonstrates how these materials ultimately shape the healthcare community’s understanding of what pain medicine is, how the medicine should be practiced and regulated, and how practitioner-patient relationships are best managed. It is a fascinating, novel examination of one of the most vexing issues in contemporary medicine.
In Popular Trauma Culture, Anne Rothe argues that American Holocaust discourse has a particular plot structure—characterized by a melodramatic conflict between good and evil and embodied in the core characters of victim/survivor and perpetrator—and that it provides the paradigm for representing personal experiences of pain and suffering in the mass media. The book begins with an analysis of Holocaust clichés, including its political appropriation, the notion of vicarious victimhood, the so-called victim talk rhetoric, and the infusion of the composite survivor figure with Social Darwinism. Readers then explore the embodiment of popular trauma culture in two core mass media genres: daytime TV talk shows and misery memoirs.
Rothe conveys how victimhood and suffering are cast as trauma kitsch on talk shows like Oprah and as trauma camp on modern-day freak shows like Springer. The discussion also encompasses the first scholarly analysis of misery memoirs, the popular literary genre that has been widely critiqued in journalism as pornographic depictions of extreme violence. Currently considered the largest growth sector in book publishing worldwide, many of these works are also fabricated. And since forgeries reflect the cultural entities that are most revered, the book concludes with an examination of fake misery memoirs.
Wonder women, G.I. Janes, and vampire slayers increasingly populate the American cultural landscape. What do these figures mean in the American cultural imagination? What can they tell us about the female body in action or in pain? Reel Vulnerability explores the way American popular culture thinks about vulnerability, arguing that our culture and our scholarship remain stubbornly invested in the myth of the helplessness of the female body.
The book examines the shifting constructions of vulnerability in the wake of the cultural upheavals of World War II, the Cold War, and 9/11, placing defenseless male bodies onscreen alongside representations of the female body in the military, in the interrogation room, and on the margins. Sarah Hagelin challenges the ways film theory and cultural studies confuse vulnerability and femaleness. Such films as G.I. Jane and Saving Private Ryan, as well as such post-9/11 television shows as Battlestar Galactica and Deadwood, present vulnerable men who demand our sympathy, abused women who don’t want our pity, and images of the body in pain that do not portray weakness.
Hagelin’s intent is to help scholarship catch up to the new iconographies emerging in theaters and in living rooms—images that offer viewers reactions to the suffering body beyond pity, identification with the bleeding body beyond masochism, and feminist images of the female body where we least expect to find them.
It’s right there in the Book of Job: “Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Suffering is an inescapable part of the human condition—which leads to a question that has proved just as inescapable throughout the centuries: Why? Why do we suffer? Why do people die young? Is there any point to our pain, physical or emotional? Do horrors like hurricanes have meaning?
In Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering, Scott Samuelson tackles that hardest question of all. To do so, he travels through the history of philosophy and religion, but he also attends closely to the real world we live in. While always taking the question of suffering seriously, Samuelson is just as likely to draw lessons from Bugs Bunny as from Confucius, from his time teaching philosophy to prisoners as from Hannah Arendt’s attempts to come to terms with the Holocaust. He guides us through the arguments people have offered to answer this fundamental question, explores the many ways that we have tried to minimize or eliminate suffering, and examines people’s attempts to find ways to live with pointless suffering. Ultimately, Samuelson shows, to be fully human means to acknowledge a mysterious paradox: we must simultaneously accept suffering and oppose it. And understanding that is itself a step towards acceptance.
Wholly accessible, and thoroughly thought-provoking, Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering is a masterpiece of philosophy, returning the field to its roots—helping us see new ways to understand, explain, and live in our world, fully alive to both its light and its darkness.
The antagonists—oiled, shaved, pierced, and tattooed; the glaring lights; the pounding music; the shouting crowd: professional wrestling is at once spectacle, sport, and business. Steel Chair to the Head provides a multifaceted look at the popular phenomenon of pro wrestling. The contributors combine critical rigor with a deep appreciation of wrestling as a unique cultural form, the latest in a long line of popular performance genres. They examine wrestling as it happens in the ring, is experienced in the stands, is portrayed on television, and is discussed in online chat rooms. In the process, they reveal wrestling as an expression of the contradictions and struggles that shape American culture.
The essayists include scholars in anthropology, psychology, film studies, communication studies, and sociology, one of whom used to wrestle professionally. Classic studies of wrestling by Roland Barthes, Carlos Monsiváis, Sharon Mazer, and Henry Jenkins appear alongside original essays. Whether exploring how pro wrestling inflects race, masculinity, and ideas of reality and authenticity; how female fans express their enthusiasm for male wrestlers; or how lucha libre provides insights into Mexican social and political life, Steel Chair to the Head gives due respect to pro wrestling by treating it with the same thorough attention usually reserved for more conventional forms of cultural expression.
Contributors. Roland Barthes, Douglas L. Battema, Susan Clerc, Laurence de Garis, Henry Jenkins III, Henry Jenkins IV, Heather Levi, Sharon Mazer, Carlos Monsiváis, Lucia Rahilly, Catherine Salmon, Nicholas Sammond, Phillip Serrat, Philip Sewell
When Marsellus in the film PulpFiction asserts, "I'm gonna git medieval on your ass," we know that he is about to bring down a fierce and exacting punishment. Yet is the violence of the Middle Ages that far removed from our modern society? Suspended Animation argues that not only is the stereotype of uncontrolled violence in the Middle Ages historically misleading, the gulf between modern society and the medieval era is not as immense as we might think. In fact, both medievals and moderns live within a social tension of "suspended animation" engendered by images and acts of violence.
Just as in medieval times, Robert Mills argues, it is the threat of violence—not the reality—that continues to structure our lives. To illustrate this "aesthetics of suspense," Mills draws on extensive and disturbing examples from medieval iconography, contemporary philosophy, and even pornography, ranging from the vivid depictions of Hell in Tuscan frescoes to Billie Holiday's famously wrenching song "Strange Fruit". Mills reveals how these uncomfortable images and texts expose a modern self-deception, and he further explores how medieval images evoked a pleasure revealingly close to that found in modern depictions of sexuality. Suspended Animation also makes a fresh contribution to theoretical debates on pre-modern gender and sexuality. Mills's comprehensive analysis demonstrates that—as wartime prisoner abuse incidents at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay have recently indicated—our notions of ourselves as not-medieval (that is, civilized) not only fail to prepare us for modern torture and warfare but also lead us into complicity with self-proclaimed moral and civic leaders.
Whether considering a medieval painting of a Christian martyr or the immense popularity of grotesque historical tourist attractions such as the London Dungeons, Suspended Animation argues that images of death and violence are as pervasive today as they were in the Middle Ages, serving as potent reminders of the link between the modern and the medieval era.
At one time in Europe, there was a point to pain: physical suffering could be a path to redemption. This religious notion suggested that truth was lodged in the body and could be achieved through torture. In Tortured Subjects, Lisa Silverman tells the haunting story of how this idea became a fixed part of the French legal system during the early modern period.
Looking closely at the theory and practice of judicial torture in France from 1600 to 1788, the year in which it was formally abolished, Silverman revisits dossiers compiled in criminal cases, including transcripts of interrogations conducted under torture, as well as the writings of physicians and surgeons concerned with the problem of pain, records of religious confraternities, diaries and letters of witnesses to public executions, and the writings of torture's abolitionists and apologists. She contends that torture was at the center of an epistemological crisis that forced French jurists and intellectuals to reconsider the relationship between coercion and sincerity, or between free will and evidence. As the philosophical consensus on which torture rested broke down, and definitions of truth and pain shifted, so too did the foundation of torture, until by the eighteenth century, it became an indefensible practice.
How can science teach us that animals feel no pain when our common sense observations tell us otherwise?
Bernard Rollin offers welcome insight into questions like this in his ground-breaking account of the difficult and controversial issues surrounding the use of animals. He demonstrates that the denial of animal consciousness and animal suffering is not an essential feature of a scientific approach, but rather a contingent, historical aberration that can and must be changed if science is to be both coherent and morally responsible. Widely hailed by advocates of animal welfare and scientists alike on its first appearance, the book now includes an epilogue by the author describing what has changed, and what hasn’t, in this use of animals in scientific research and food production.
When Pain Strikes
Bill Burns, Cathy Busby, and Kim Sawchuk, Editors University of Minnesota Press, 1998 Library of Congress BF515.W45 1999 | Dewey Decimal 152.1824
When Pain Strikes was first published in 1998. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
When pain strikes, do you raid the medicine cabinet? Read a self-help manual? Hit the roof? How we in North America respond to pain-what we think about it, what we say, and what we do-is the subject of this collection of writings and images.
The book's five sections contain a myriad of complex reactions to the occurrence of pain: "Measure It" discusses biomedical responses; "Scream and Yell" explores therapeutic solutions; "Cut It Open" takes up surgical interventions; "Take a Pill" looks at pharmacology; and "Intensify It" examines positions that embrace pain. Each section comprises original artwork, scholarly analyses, poetic and literary texts, and discussions by activists. Hailing from the university, the gallery, and the community organization, the authors—as TV watchers, recreational drug users, recipients of medical attention, caregivers, midwives, or the HIV positive—inhabit and reconfigure our contemporary painscape, offering a new approach to the puzzle of pain.
Contributors: Charles R. Acland; Barbara McGill Balfour; Isabelle Brabant; Stephen Busby; Millie Chen; Michael Fernandes; Bob Flanagan; Thyrza Nichols Goodeve; Marie-Paule Macdonald; Ronald Melzack; Margaret Morse; Celeste Olalquiaga; John O'Neill; Gerard Päs; Elsie Petch; D. L. Pughe; Julia Scher; Cathy Sisler; Johanne Sloan; Jana Sterbak; Fred Tomaselli; Patrick D. Wall; Theodore Wan; Gregory Whitehead; Fred Wilson.
When Pain Strikes is published in collaboration with the Banff Centre for the Arts.