I can’t keep my eyes off the war body, even though in the repeated seeing of it I feel nauseous: implicated in, and affected by, its painful coming into being. In this age of the War on Terror, wherever I look, wherever I am directed to look by the all-seeing “vision machines” that “illuminate” our identities (Virilio 1994, 70), the body of the soldier, terrorist, hostage, and victim come into troubling view. These war bodies are real in the ontological and phenomenological sense; they are also metaphoric, simulated, and discursive. In this chapter I will define and explore the complex ways in which these three articulating axis—war, in its militaristic and ideological sense; the screen, in all its multifaceted forms and contexts; and the body, individual and social—conjoin and synthesize, disintegrate and dislocate, in a phantasmagoric but simultaneously desperately real collision of power, desire, and control. My main contention will be that the war body on screen is a “sickening” creation that we have desired into being, so that we may feel, better understand, and be taken over by its terror. This terror of living ultimately helps ensure our docility, a docility required by the late capitalist nation-state; it also reconnect us to our bodies in profoundly moving and potentially challenging ways.
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