The Temporality of Violence: Destruction, Dissolution and the Construction of Sense

  • Felix Ó MurchadhaEmail author


Violence tends to the destruction of meaningful entities and of that through which such entities are meaningful. Not all violence is annihilating in its effects, but violence aims towards a nothingness which discloses a certain fragility of meaning. The obliteration of the singular, the reduction of organic and structural unity to charred flesh and rubble, is not simply an event within a world, but an event that threatens worldly sense. The constitution of such worldly sense is dependent on time, on the interweaving of temporal tendencies, or orientations, in Husserlian terms: retention and protention. But this interweaving of temporal orientations requires a minimal order of continuity whereby retention, both near and far, and near and far protention allow for a sense of temporal stretch which has a unity and a sense. This is true even though every now may be new, temporal relations being of self-differentiation. Annihilating violence—whether of the individual raped and tortured or the community left bereft through war, colonization or natural disaster—has a traumatizing effect which results in a disconnection from the past and derealization of that which profoundly modifies the retentional and protentional orientations. The vulnerability of temporal constitution, which violence discloses, reveals a fundamental absence at the core of time itself and a nothingness threatening the stability of normalized meaningful entities and spaces while revealing a groundless space of the emergence of meaning.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NUI GalwayGalwayIreland

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