Chapter

“Torture Was the Essence of National Socialism”: Reading Jean Améry Today

Elisabeth Weber

in Speaking about Torture

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242245
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242283 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823242245.003.0006
“Torture Was the Essence of National Socialism”: Reading Jean Améry Today

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Linguistic creations by the Bush administration such as “ghost detainee” and “ghosting,” while intended to refer to the victims’ invisibility from public witnessing or tiny, contain an unintended but revealing proposition about torture that is central to Jean Améry’s reflection on torture. For Améry, torture submits the victim to an erience of death while still alive. Part alive, part dead, neither dead, nor alive, the torture victim occupies a zone in-between in which torture never ends. This close reading xplores how Améry’s text traces the connection not between torture and destruction but between torture and a heightened form of destruction: annihilation. With the help of selected passages from Ariel Dorfman, Jacques Lacan and George Bataille, the chapter shows how the torturer’s perversion of language confirms and derscores the apocalyptic totality of annihilation.

Keywords: Jean Améry; Georges Bataille; National-Socialism; Destruction; Annihilation; Flesh; Animal; Jacques Lacan; Gilles Deleuze

Chapter.  6827 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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