Ordinary Lifestyles: Popular Media, Consumption and Taste

By David Bell; Joanne Hollows | Go to book overview

16 The worst things in the world
Life events checklists in popular stress
management texts

Steven D. Brown


Preamble

In a notorious scene from the closing sections of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four, O'Brien explains to Winston Smith that there is no real purpose to his ‘interrogation’. The point of this practice, O' Brien states, is neither the extraction of information nor punishment, but simply the systematic destruction of Winston as rational individual – ‘the object of torture is torture’ (Orwell 1949: 212). Winston's pain is the object – there is no other point. Richard Rorty (1989) notes that this message has presented commentators with considerable difficulties. O'Brien is undoubtedly a monstrous creation, and the vision he offers of the future as ‘a boot stamping on a human face – for ever’ (Orwell 1949: 215) is as puzzling as it is repugnant. Yet O'Brien neither conceals nor avoids the true object of the practice. In Room 101, Winston will be forced to confront the worst thing in the world because it will destroy him, such that he will be ‘forced to realize that he has become incoherent, realize that he is no longer able to use a language or be a self’ (Rorty 1989: 179).

This description is based on Elaine Scarry's (1985) analysis of torture as ‘unmaking’. Scarry also argues, based on a wide variety of cases, that torture has no other object than the inflicting of pain. This is its sole truth, albeit one that is often obfuscated within the practice itself. However, Scarry points to the peculiar domesticity that often characterizes the inflicting of pain. The objects used are typically mundane, commonplace items – chairs, telephones, doors, baths. Scarry argues that the use of these items both narrows the ‘world’ of the victim and objectifies their pain in such a way that agency is dissolved, language is defeated. The sole reality is that of the overwhelming pain which is written large into every contour of the world.

What Scarry and Rorty describe is the structure of a mundane cultural logic and technical practice that robs the victim of the ability to meaningfully articulate their world or to grasp any agency therein. In confronting the worst thing in the world, the victim becomes incoherent to themselves and finds their ability to name and even describe their

-231-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Ordinary Lifestyles: Popular Media, Consumption and Taste
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 284

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.