A Sensate Critique: Vulnerability and the Image in Judith Butler’s Frames of War


Here I propose to adopt elements of Diamond’s discussion as offering a series of clues for reading Judith Butler’s recent work on vulnerability and “frames of war.” These frames, I suggest, share aspects of the occlusion of the “difficulty of reality” identified by Diamond. Diamond’s way of approaching this topic allows me to foreground aspects of the practice of framing that flow not only from the disavowal of vulnerability (which Drichel, in her introduction to this volume, rightly highlights as being key to Butler’s thought), but bound to that, a disavowal of the “impossible” that potentially disturbs us in such images as the one in Hughes’s poem. I would contend that it is this “impossible,” that is most ethically and politically salient in Butler’s thinking on vulnerability; and especially so because the “impossible”—which emerges in relation to a rule or law of experience—is also the zone of a space and time that is excised from the autonomous powers of reason.

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