Essays in French Literature, Thought and Visual Culture
Edited By Georgina Evans and Adam Kay
GEORGINA EVANS AND ADAM KAY Introduction 1
Georgina Evans and Adam Kay Introduction The notion of threat is an elusive one. Superficially, it might be considered roughly synonymous with danger, yet in examining the distinctions between the two terms, we find threat opening into something more intriguing. While a threat may be very real, the idea equally encompasses the mere subjective perception of danger. Whatever the actual probability of the threatened event, it is the belief that something bad is likely to happen, rather than the event itself, which consumes the threatened subject and colours his vision and actions. Threat itself is visible only in the ripples formed around it, as the subject braces himself for an imagined future. At the moment the threat is realised, and the intimated becomes incident, threat instantly dis- solves, transformed by its fulfilment into something more substantial and more readily quantifiable. Whether or not this moment ever comes, the formless shadow which portended it has a power uniquely its own. In this volume, we focus on the nebulous figure of threat and the way it operates on us irrespective of the outcome of the situation in which it is felt. This work had its genesis in 2004, when governments and commenta- tors were preoccupied with gauging the level of threat under which various groups and nations were deemed to be living. In these attempts to rationalise our defensive instincts, it is evident that threat is a powerful influence on the individual or collective psyche, but also that it sometimes needs to...
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