Chapter

Introduction Hiding in Plain Sight

in The War Complex

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780226808550
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226808796 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226808796.003.0001
Introduction Hiding in Plain Sight

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This chapter explains “the war complex”—how it begins, how it influences events, how it might end. It aims to introduce some principles of the book with respect to the cultural memory of World War II, which takes selective glances at the evolving memory of 9/11. Picking up on a speculation Freud makes in 1915, it wants to claim that the altered state of consciousness produced by large-scale war can last beyond the end of hostilities. For World War II, it persisted after 1945 through the Cold War, and (with lapses during periods of Soviet–U.S. détente and especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall) remained ready to be reanimated on 9/11. Individuals and the collectivities they form feel a restless, disjointed feeling, the feeling of never quite being at home or even worthy of being there, disillusionment or hopeless passivity, and a heightening of an already uneasy attitude toward death. Under such conditions, war memory intensifies patterns found in memory-work more generally. It highlights some facts but distorts others and allows still others to exist in limbo.

Keywords: war complex; cultural memory; World War II; 9/11; Cold War; war memory

Chapter.  8246 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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