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Silence and the Silenced

Interdisciplinary Perspectives


Edited By Leslie Boldt, Corrado Federici and Ernesto Virgulti

Silence and the Silenced: Interdisciplinary Perspectives comprises a collection of essays from North American and European scholars who examine the various ways in which the theme of silence is developed in literary narratives as well as in such visual media as photography, film, painting, and architecture. The questions of silence and the presence or absence of voice are also explored in the arena of performance, with examples relating to pantomime and live installations. As the book title indicates, two fundamental aspects of silence are investigated: silence freely chosen as a means to deepen meditation and inner reflection and silence that is imposed by external agents through various forms of political repression and censorship or, conversely, by the self in an attempt to express revolt or to camouflage shame. The approaches to these questions range from the philosophical and the psychological to the rhetorical and the linguistic. Together, these insightful reflections reveal the complexity and profundity that surround the function of silence and voice in an aesthetic and social context.


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Part IV. Fascination with the Void


Part IV . Fascination with the Void 10. The Image of the Falling Man Revisited Sandra Singer The words helped her locate the pic- tures. She needed the captions to fill the space. The pictures could overwhelm her without the little lines of type. —Dom DeLillo, Mao II Introduction This chapter concerning terror, trauma, anxiety, and social paranoia config- ures the victims of terrorism through the image of the euphemistically called 9/11 ‘jumpers’ from the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and ex- plores the social anxiety caused by witnessing the jumpers’ action—taken in the face of certain death. The image of the jumpers was immediately re- pressed, following the same impulse in the aftermath of the attack as control- ling the distribution of the image of the planes flying into the towers, espe- cially of the second plane that confirmed a terrorist attack in the mind of viewers. This repression created a silenced space, architecturally similar to an empty void, in public discourse. Nonetheless, in conventional trauma fashion, pre-linguistic memory stored as image recurs; in the decade since 9/11, after being immediately suppressed in news media, the image of the jumpers was increasingly probed through fiction1 and more recently televi- sion and film. Initial discomfort with processing the impact of 9/11 through witnessing the jumpers may be explained using Freud’s insights into the death drive in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Rejecting the experience of death by burning or suffocation in the North Tower, their final leaps or falling...

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