fanon: towards the mystique of violence

…In 1956 the Algerian war, by then two years old, reached Blida and penetrated Fanon’s hospital. The police arrested some of his Algerian male nurses. Next came the turn of one of Fanon’s fellow doctors, a Frenchman who was tortured on suspicion of belonging to the FLN ( National Liberation Front). Fanon became imvolved in the nationalist cause as a doctor. His pronationalist assistants secretly brought wounded FLN soldiers to his ward. Those who needed hospitalization were listed as attempted suicides. The police never guessed that an entire ward of the Blida psychiatric hospital had been converted to the treatment of nationalist wounded.

---After independence from French colonial rule in 1962 a government-financed production system supported a film industry that aimed to formulate a new vision for an alternative cinema, and Algeria became a hub of Third World filmmaking. This New Algerian cinema reached its zenith with the Palme d’Or awarded to Chroniques des annés de braise/Chronicle of the Years of Fire (Mohamed Lakhdar Hamina, 1975). Hamina’s film traced “the development of the different Algerian resistance movements from the beginning of colonization until the insurrection in 1954”, through the eyes of “a peasant family [who] represent Algeria as a whole” (Spaas 136). A thriving Cinémathèque was built in Algiers that was deemed “the most important in Africa, preserving thousands of prints and showing five different films each day” ---Read More:http://www.mcc.sllf.qmul.ac.uk/?p=550

—After independence from French colonial rule in 1962 a government-financed production system supported a film industry that aimed to formulate a new vision for an alternative cinema, and Algeria became a hub of Third World filmmaking. This New Algerian cinema reached its zenith with the Palme d’Or awarded to Chroniques des annés de braise/Chronicle of the Years of Fire (Mohamed Lakhdar Hamina, 1975). Hamina’s film traced “the development of the different Algerian resistance movements from the beginning of colonization until the insurrection in 1954”, through the eyes of “a peasant family [who] represent Algeria as a whole” . A thriving Cinémathèque was built in Algiers that was deemed “the most important in Africa, preserving thousands of prints and showing five different films each day” —Read More:http://www.mcc.sllf.qmul.ac.uk/?p=550

The ward also changed the nature of his psychiatric work. His patients now were the torturers and the tortured: a French policeman who could not sleep because he heard imaginary screaming; an Algerian nationalist who became impotent when his wife was raped by the French; the survivor of a mass murder who developed homicidal impulses. At a time when French intellectuals were debating in their journals the existence of torture, Fanon dealt daily with its victims. It was this exposure to colonialist violence that made him decide to stop masquerading as a Frenchman. The psychiatrist became a political militant, the Frenchman became an Algerian.

---In Algiers, a mob of supporters cheer on a van that carries FLN officials through the city streets. Since the FLN assumed control of an independent Algeria in July 1962, they have wielded power throughout, paying only a lip service to democracy while cracking down brutally on likely avenues of dissent. The FLN may have been the architects of Algeria's freedom, but they are the major custodians of an authoritarianism that now defines the state. Read more: http://world.time.com/2012/07/05/50-years-of-algerian-independence-scenes-from-a-20th-century-war/photo/algeria-independence-1962/#ixzz2FJb7NSiN---

—In Algiers, a mob of supporters cheer on a van that carries FLN officials through the city streets. Since the FLN assumed control of an independent Algeria in July 1962, they have wielded power throughout, paying only a lip service to democracy while cracking down brutally on likely avenues of dissent. The FLN may have been the architects of Algeria’s freedom, but they are the major custodians of an authoritarianism that now defines the state.
Read more: http://world.time.com/2012/07/05/50-years-of-algerian-independence-scenes-from-a-20th-century-war/photo/algeria-independence-1962/#ixzz2FJb7NSiN—

At the end of 1956, Fanon wrote a letter of resignation to the Resident Minister. What was the point of practicing psychiatry, he asked, a medical technique seeking to restore man to a proper contact with his environment, in a country where the authorities were systematically repressing the population? What was the point of helping patients return to rational conduct only to release them into an irrational society. To remain in his post, said Fanon, was to collaborate with the increasing French terror in Algeria. ( to be continued)…

ADDENDUM:

(see link at end)…Walter Benjamin argued that violence is intrinsic to law: violence ‘alone’ guarantees law—being at once law making and law preserving. He demonstrated that the claim for justification of violence (or force, power, gewalt) in terms of its legitimate end overlooked the degree to which the state was always founded on a contract to which violence was foundational. For Benjamin, though not for Derrida, only language as ‘understanding’ remains ‘inaccessible to violence’. Benjamin’s argument that ‘violence … is the origin of law’ stakes out a significant revision, before its time, of Fanon’s opening chapter in The Wretched of the Earth. Benjamin, writing in 1921, assumes a state that has some semblance of legitimacy—even if beneath the law, you will find violence hidden. Fanon was to define violence, not ‘civilisation’, or ‘law’, as the constitutive condition of colonialism, for according to him colonial rule is merely the legitimation of an originary colonial violence. Sartre synthesized the two to argue in the first Critique that colonial violence is merely an after effect of the founding violence of the bourgeois metropolitan state, which continues to repeat through its remote anarchic offspring. All agree that, in different ways, violence is foundational. It thus, Benjamin argued, perpetuates itself and lives on, through time. It is a kind of writing. Violence renews itself and returns. Where violence has been, there it shall be, continue to play itself out, repeating those transformative effects, as Sartre argued, from generation to generation. Violence is part of a syntagmatic chain, through which it evolves as it repeats. Violence is not a single act, but like decolonisation, a three-dimensional historical process, with a past, a present and a future. Violence, as Blanchot puts it, is continually remembered forgetfully. Read More:http://thinkingafricarhodesuniversity.blogspot.ca/2011/11/violent-state.html

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