From Publishers Weekly
The dehumanizing rhetoric of war, especially the Iraq War, is examined but not illuminated in this turgid study. Berkeley literature professor Butler (Gender Trouble
) asks why the lives of Muslims and Iraqis are treated by the U.S. government and media as less important—less grievable—than those of Americans, and develops an obscure theory of the precariousness of life as a rationale for opposing this bias, and state violence in general. She applies murky linguistic and aesthetic analyses to a hodgepodge of topics, including the notorious Abu Ghraib photographs, and claims that Islamic sexual puritanism poses a threat to gays and lesbians, a notion she contests at length. Butler's famously impenetrable, jargon-clotted style conveys no fresh thinking. The state works on the field of perception and, more generally, the field of representability, in order to control affect—in anticipation of the way affect is not only structured by interpretation, but structures interpretation as well, reads her laborious statement of the commonplace observation that the government tries to suppress upsetting photos that might provoke opposition to the war. The sludginess of Butler's prose and the banality of her ideas make the book virtually unreadable. (June)
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“Judith Butler is the most creative and courageous social theorist writing today. Frames of War
is an intellectual masterpiece that weds a new understanding of being, immersed in history, to a novel Left politics that focuses on State violence, war and resistance.”—Cornel West