By proving oneself to be equal or superior to pain, one gains access to power. As the experience of Kyle 5 shows, the body accepts these painful interventions as responses to its longing for pleasure and for a sense of security. Further, relevant here is the work of German sociologist Theweleit, more specifically his book entitled Male Fantasies that engages in a complex study of the fascist warrior psychology.
The soldier, by withstanding repetitive painful interventions, developed a hard protective shell that provided a sense of safe existence Theweleit, , p. In this context, warfare became an important event, which was experienced as the fulfillment of both longing for fusion with the military dispositif and the explosion, in the moment of battle, of long-stored tensions Theweleit, , p.
Masculinity and the Wounds of the First World War: A Centenary Reflection
Fight, rape, war, pillage, burn. Filmic images of death and carnage are pornography for the military man; with film you are stroking his cock, tickling his balls with the pink feather of history, getting him ready for his real First Fuck. Swofford, , p.
The association of sexuality with the military dispositif , of the fascist one in this case, is the focus of the previously mentioned work authored by Theweleit He highlights the fact that a crucial element of fascism is indeed its explicit sexual language. The fascist symbolization creates a particular psychic economy that places sexuality in the service of destruction. What Theweleit interestingly observes is that despite its sexual charged politics, fascism is anti-eros as it celebrates pain, renunciation and asceticism. As the war in Iraq is rendered through a quick-paced, disorienting cinematography and tough dialog in The Hurt Locker Beck, , p.
This is primarily accomplished through the way the film contrasts the lives of the Iraqis, who are shown living on the margins of the militarized space. Their relative calm and slow tempo, as they stare back, from balconies and from the shops along the streets, or try to connect through civilities and gestures unrecognized by the military etiquette, threatens the order imposed by the military dispositif.
In both The Hurt Locker and American Sniper , war is depicted as producing an acceleration of speed that interrupts the life rhythm necessary to create a sense of flow and continuity essential for routinized human life. Through these two film, we have the sense of entering what Virilio calls a speed space, a new temporality effected through electronic transmission and high-tech weapon machines.
War and the Body Exhibition
In this modality of time, humans are present, Virilio argues, not in their usual physical sense but via programming. Chronoscopic time signals an intense compression. The extensive time of history, chronology and narrative sequence implodes into a concern and fixation with the real-time instant Purser, , p. Linear, narrative time, through which we gain a sense of past, present and possible futures are all compressed into instantaneity Hassan, , p. The accelerated speed allows the new weapons to create immense psychic disruption to human bodies familiar habitus.
In The Hurt Locker the row of cereals. He arbitrarily grabs a box, throws it into his empty cart and heads off, expressing his irritation by taking a couple of swipes with his fist at a the cereal boxes. He seems to react to being trapped in a boring, domestic task. In sharp contrast with his experience in the Iraq war, there is no danger to which he must be alert. In the next scene, he is back in the family kitchen, telling his wife about a moment when a fellow soldier passes out free candy to Iraqi kids. His wife washes mushrooms and pays no attention to what he says.
He utters another line about a fellow soldier who died, and all the camera shows is her peeling carrots.
He says something else, and she responds with something irrelevant, as if she has not heard a single word he says. These scenes are quite static, albeit highlighted with zoom and framing shots, which sharply contrast the frenetic panning and tracking shots in the Iraq scenes. A similar incompatibility in life rhythms is present in American Sniper , for example, in a scene showing Navy Seal Kyle after he has recently returned home from the war in Iraq. At a family party in a backyard, his wife Taya talks to him about their two children. Kyle, however, is inappropriately tense. He carefully surveys the yard, crowded with people and children.
At a certain point a dog wrestles with a boy, becomes rougher and pushes the boy on the grass. Kyle thinks that the dog is attacking: He runs over, pins the dog with his hand, pulls off his belt and prepares to hit the dog with his fist. Taya calls out his name and makes Kyle aware of the inappropriate nature of his overreaction.
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This scene shows to what extent Kyle had his senses militarized and reframed in terms of issues of life and death Hockey, Both in American Sniper and in The Hurt Locker , the viewer thus must make sense of a venue organized according to a different logic, belonging to a different mode of experience that is incompatible with the one back home. The clash between war and everyday life is strongly stressed in the third film analyzed, Good Kill The cinematic story emphasizes the disruption of habitus generated by the two incompatible rhythms of life.
It focuses on how enjoyment derived from a life mediated through military technology, when taken to an extreme, undermines its own grip on the subject. As such, the freedom the subject has to give up while engaging with the military machine becomes visible as a stubborn sense of lack, boredom and impotence.
This particular cinematic text exposes the inconsistencies of the outwardly homogenous and coherent space of the military dispositif. Major Thomas Egan, formerly a pilot who flew F planes in Iraq, now fights the Taliban from a military station in Las Vegas, remotely by use of drones. After completing his work for the day, Tom usually returns to his family, to his wife Molly and to his two children. Tom identifies his target, a group of six terrorists, sends an order to the missile, and in 10 seconds the group of six people located miles away turn into dust.
For example, the audiovisual capacities of the drone allow for a kind of visual hallucination, one that strips Tom of his own everyday consciousness. This situation instead of empowerment creates for Tom a sense of alienation. His relationship with Molly falls apart and his trust in the validity of his uniform, status and military dispositif weathers down, creating confusion and psychological turmoil for Tom.
War and the body : militarisation, practice and experience
The military dispositif , as it is articulated in cinematic representations of the battle front, makes space appear homogenous, as uniform throughout, organized accordingly to an advanced technology that allows the dispositif to introduce its presence, control and surveillance into the most isolated corners Lefebvre et al, , p. There is an illusion of transparency that goes hand in hand with a view of space and the body as innocent, free of traps or secret places, where everything can be taken in by a single glance from the mental eye that illuminates whatever it contemplates Lefebvre, , p.
As we saw above, the sutured soldier comes to view the world through the lens of military technology and view ordinary citizens as dangerous enemies. This militarized gaze leads to various ruptures and disruption, which I would like to address in this section, through a focus on the returned gaze, and further show how it disrupts the asymmetry required by cohesive suturing. What is observed in The Hurt Locker with respect to the different soldier bodies is not a homogeneous suturing to the military dispositif. Throughout the film tensions develop, especially between Sergeant James, his immediate commander and others in his unit, primarily because of their reactions to gaze returned by Iraqis.
Owen Eldridge is unable to remain blind to the death and danger of war, while the military psychologist encourages him to see war as a unique opportunity that should be enjoyed. In American Sniper Mustafa returns the Gaze. As for the importance of the return of the gaze, Lacan reminds us that while one can see only from one point, the look back comes from all sides Lacan and Miller, , p. Lacan argues that seeing is a reciprocal process: as I look at someone or something, it looks back and our gazes cross each other. In Good Kill Tom stares at the sky.
Specifically, bringing concepts to bear, for example, interpassivity and suture as they pertain to the dynamics of subjectivity, in the films The Hurt Locker , American Sniper and Good Kill , the article contrasted an exhilarating cinematic depiction of the experience of war, which enables a heightened enjoyment with a depiction of war as boredom, degeneration and destruction of lives, bodies and minds.
The cinematic representation of military dispositif not only alters our understanding of the body and its appearance, but it also alters our experience and understanding of enjoyment. In these conditions, the subject is able to enjoy through a process called interpassivity. The body at war becomes trained to enjoy the enjoyment and the protection of the machine it has attached itself to, while becoming unable to readjust to the slower rhythm of civilian life from which it consequently becomes detached and alienated. While the first two of the films discussed showed soldiers able to embody the rupturing rhythms of wartime, thus finding civilian life strange and uncomfortable, still in the third film investigated, war was showed as disfiguring the life world.
Through this discussion of bodies assimilated by the military dispositif and ruptured, traumatized bodies and minds in war, this article illustrated the complexity of understanding the concept of embodiment. It explored embodiment by linking it to a variety of key concepts such as: phantasy, subjectivity, enjoyment and trauma.
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Given that there are anticipated continual changes in the military dispositif , which will continue to reposition bodies, there is a need for future research on the militarized body, both on the battlefield and in everyday life. For more information on this societal change, see McGowan Cinema, which Beller defines from the perspective of political economy, is the manner in which production generally becomes organized in such a way that one of its moments necessarily passes through the visual. More specifically it creates an image that is essential to the movement of economy Beller, , p.
Such are the elements of the apparatus. The apparatus itself is the network that can be established between these elements …. Fuck, I thought to myself, this is great. I fucking love this. Essentially, the instructors beat you down, then beat you down some more. You get the idea. I loved it. Hated it, loathed it, cursed it … but loved it. Skip to main content Skip to sections.
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Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. War, trauma and the militarized body. Original Article First Online: 24 March Introduction Two recent cinematic representations of war, The Hurt Locker and American Sniper , invite viewers to experience a unique, exhilarating kind of enjoyment generated by representations of the military dispositif. As discussed in the above-mentioned cinematic texts, the military dispositif is able to capture and redirect desire, and the experience of war through the human—weapon relationship is rendered with strong erotic undertones.
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