Central and East European
Society for Phenomenology

Conference | Paper

The Imagistic Experience of Violence and the Phenomenology of Body

Cristian Ciocan

Thursday 2 December 2021

15:40 - 16:20

Zoom 1-3

In this talk, my aim is to analyze the multifarious modifications of the embodied experience in relation to imagistic violence. The way, in which the embodied subject lives the imagistic experience of violence, is to be contrasted with the real experience of violence, engaging not only one’s own body, but also the givenness of the body of the other. I will argue that, in order to understand this topic, one should consider two distinct “shifts” in the experience of embodiment. On the one hand, there is already a primary shift from the “normal” bodily lived experience (in one’s own “I can”) to the peculiar experience of one’s own bodily involvement in a violent situation. The modification from a non-violent to a violent situation is, therefore, to be questioned specifically in respect to the embodied dimensions of the experience, considering the plurality of subjective instances belonging to the phenomenon of violence: either as the agent of violence (bodily self-empowerment, weaponizing one’s own body, aimed as invulnerable and impenetrable) or, contrariwise, as the subject enduring violence, for which one’s own body is lived as exposure, vulnerability, and fragility. In each of these cases, the otherness of the other, understood as adversity, receives specific particularities: the body of the other is given either in its weakness, with the aim of dominating the other’s own “I can,” or as a malignant otherness, overwhelming the subject with its insuperable materiality. On the other hand, with the secondary “shift” from the actual experience of violence to its imagistic experience, these bodily markers undergo additional major modifications. My intention is to explore in detail how each of these ways of living one’s own body (in relation to the body of the other) involves peculiar variations when the experience of violence is switched from the actual and real event “given in the flesh” to the imagistic givenness.