Definition of Terror

Recently I was researching the life of Herta Muller, the winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature. Inspired by the excerpt below,  I have put her books at the top of my long reading list.

Though I was not a direct target of terror in Darfur, I felt, usually in retrospect (our minds do protect us when we focus on work) that I had been drenched in and shaken by the suffering and grief around me. I am reminded  that the struggle against state terror needs as many faces and voices as are able to muster. We can never be complacent, not here in our cradle of privilege, and especially not about the catastrophic rule of terror in Sudan.

“There is a Romantic misconception that terror has always to be impressive, fierce and appropriately Luciferian – in other words, that terror is nothing if it is not spectacular. However, that’s rarely the case in real life. As Czeslaw Milosz excellently put it in The Native Realm, “Terror is not … monumental; it is abject, it has a furtive glance, it destroys the fabric of human society and changes the relationships of millions of individuals into channels for blackmail.” Terror can be mediocre, even idiotic, yet omnipresent. Terror can be terribly banal, utterly un-Romantic, but never-ending. Terror is when the secret police persuade your best friend to inform on you; when objects start moving around your room in your absence; when the secret police interrogator tells you, right before you leave his office after a day-long interrogation, that “accidents do happen,” or when your friends start committing (poorly) staged suicides.”

FROM  The evil of banality  Reviewed by COSTICA BRADATAN


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