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Trust and ViolenceAn Essay on a Modern Relationship$
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Jan Philipp Reemtsma

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691142968

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691142968.001.0001

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Introduction: The Mystery

Introduction: The Mystery

(p.1) Introduction: The Mystery
Trust and Violence

Jan Philipp Reemtsma

, Dominic Bonfiglio
Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter reflects on the question often uttered by people when they hear of people doing reprehensible things, “How one earth….” It argues that we have always known that humans are capable of committing atrocities that leave us speechless. The real question, the one behind the screen, is: how is it possible that murderers became our “ordinary” fathers? The question is tortuous because it necessitates in us an excruciating ambivalence while confronting us with a set of unresolved moral issues. And it continues to do so despite the many real and fictionalized revolutions of 1968 and the innumerable attempts at literary reckoning with our fathers and grandfathers. The chapter also argues that the form of life we have taken to calling modernity not only ought not to have been compatible with the occurrence of violent excess in the twentieth century; once it did occur modernity at least ought to have perished as a result. Our persistent trust in modernity despite our knowledge that it is other than we presumed is the subject of this book.

Keywords:   violence, human beings, modernity, atrocities

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