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The Suicide Bomber; and her gift of death

2010

Paperback, 290 pages

ISBN 098253096X

ISBN-13 9780982530962

This book is an attempt to defend the undefendable: the suicide bomber as a figure of thinking, a figure that foregrounds the singularity of each event; and it is this un-understandability-which is part of understanding itself-that the suicide bomber never lets us forget. For, the suicide bomber is the poet par excellence, reminding us of the possibility of an event; not because of the effects of her actions, but due to the gift of her life, and more importantly the unknowability that is her death. And like with poetry, all analysis only makes it worse. In this manner, (s)he remains an unending question for us; a question that even questions itself as a question. And if one maintains the question, one is always already other to everything, other even to one's self. In this way, the gap between the self and the other is maintained such that this space is never taken hostage. For, the moment this space of negotiation is gone, we are in the realm of terror.

"Jeremy Fernando's The Suicide-Bomber; and her gift of death calls for the ability to respond to intentional death. It is a brilliant study about the blank spot within the becoming of teleology, and the game of 'finitude'." -- Hubertus von Amelunxen

Jeremy Fernando is the Jean Baudrillard Fellow at the European Graduate School. He works in the intersections of literature, philosophy, and the media; and is the author of Reflections on (T)error, and Reading Blindly. He is also a Research Fellow at the Centre for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Customer Reviews:

  • Mind Your Step

    At the heart of Jeremy Fernando's The Suicide Bomber is our solitude. Plato's soul is in its cage, the vagaries of its crying out analysed with relentless logic. All is projection, the human condition based on contract, even our date with death. Contemporary philosophy looms large, and is explained with the clarity of genuine understanding and sympathy--Baudrillard, Zizek, Bataille, a bit of Derrida and Lacan--but Fernando is never tendentious. Bakhtin hovers in the background, without a need for even a single mention. Fernando takes Austin and Searle to their extremes, laying bare real truths by facing various felicity conditions, including that of the suicide bomber, the kamikaze pilot, Karol Wojtyla's suicide into becoming pope, and the final reconciliation of the Pope hurtled back into mortality with his death. Fernando draws correspondences with the touch of a mage, or a magician, sometimes as cloaked as any hermetic philosopher has ever been, most often downright sensible. For a lover of modern wisdom, he has his feet firmly grounded on the soil of Aristotelian substance. The Suicide Bomber is more than philosophy: it is also insightful literary criticism. What was most startling for me was how much of this book I had been proclaiming for years--the way in which all our lives are projections, based on fiction, and how that has been exploited in modern literature, 'mirror on mirror mirror'd [being] all the show'. This is a work of genius, a real classic for any philosopher or critic. Fernando's style is idiosyncratic (style being personality deliberately adopted)--he entertains and refuses to lose his reader. At the heart of this book is his heart.
    source: Amazon, by user: A38UKMD747Y255
  • The possibility of understanding

    Jeremey Fernando picks up a thread from Jean Baudrillard's analysis of terrorism---the act of terrorism, the gift of death, as an impossible exchange, an irreversible challenge which the counterpart, the system, cannot reciprocate, and which hence undermines it---and folds it back from the comforting horizon of the social onto the singularity - the individual - at its core. For the stuctural analysis of symbolic exchange breaks down at the threshold of death.n
    n
    Understanding is in need of understanding, Werner Hamacher suggests, and Fernando follows the thread deep into this labyrinth which, we fear, offers no exit, yet at the centre of which, we sense, a monster dwells -- a monster that is in all of us. How does one gain access to the mind of a person at the very moment of her death, of her giving death? How does one even begin to understand what is radically undecidable, radically unknowable? Perhaps the only possibilty we have is to begin to understand ourselves...n
    n
    Jeremey Fernando's personal and thoughtful book marks a courageous attempt to explore the liminal space at the threshold of death, to seek to understand, and perhaps even to live with, infinite opacity.
    source: Amazon, by user: A1RGCF5LF9QPI2
  • A way to alternative thinking.

    I think Jeremy Fernando's approach to suicide bombers is both interesting and necessary in our times. Like his earlier work on terrorism (Reflections on (T)error), this book shows his ability to provide alternative ways to approach extremes. Since there are two sides to every story, it is important that we try to find a middle ground from which to scrutinize what may seem insurmountable differences. It is very brave of the author to put his integrity on the line in order to deal with an issue that many have strong views about. Well done!
    source: Amazon, by user: AZF3D886W23IH
  • the violence of reading

    This book suggests that there is a difference between thinking and knowing; between thinking as a question, an opening of possibilities, and answering the question. More importantly, it raises the spectre of the all important question of whether it is possible to think without a terroristic gesture--terror being the gesture towards closing, exclusion, effacement.n

    Even if we allow for the possibility of an answer we would quite possibly not know if that answer itself arrived. By turning to the enigmatic figure of the suicide bomber, the author reminds us of the ecology that is at the centre of reading writing and knowing: that the suicide bomber exposes the limits of the transactions between those three gestures -- and what we arrive at is only the knowledge of these limits in themselves, and that the ecology as such is in actuality an economy of speculation.n

    Nonetheless, this is not a pessimistic perspective -- the author argues for the inherent vitality of these limits and challenges our pursuit right past the threshold of acceptability, and suggests that the detonative gesture of unpacking meaning, through reading, writing, knowing and understanding opens up all manner of 
    A page-turner.
    source: Amazon, by user: ABY3YBFI3265Z
  • On thinking the unthinkable; on death

    In death, Levinas reminds us, "we arrive at something that European philosophy has not thought."n
    "The Suicide Bomber; and her gift of death" attempts to think such an unthinkable: "For can one even begin to own death, make a claim on death?" (142) And, going even further, can one begin to approach the phenomenon of suicide?n
    Suicide, approaching but not owning death, eludes its comprehension; even more so does the suicide bomber, who, as Jeremy Fernando claims, remains an unending question for us: "[H]ow can one even begin to deal with a phenomenon that not only escapes one's comprehension, but that is beyond understanding itself." (139)n
    Unlike most contributions within the current debate on suicide bombings, Fernando does not claim to understand. On the contrary, he dares to refuse all too simple answers and is, therefore, able to approach death as such- as the ultimate Other within oneself, that is. n
    Thus, this brilliant and excellently-written treatise makes us think (about) that which cannot be thought; it thinks what has to be thought, now more than ever.n
    n
    source: Amazon, by user: A2IOEEZU47DJJL
  • Excerpt from the International Association of Transdisciplinary Psychology Vol. 2 Issue 1

    Though we can read a grasping of technology inn
    the bomb the residue of design in this case isn
    not a luck we can properly judge nor a propern
    subject of the future, rather, the non position ofn
    "perhaps" of both Friedrich Nietzsche andn
    Jacques Derrida who reign supreme in this text.n
    The explosion could speak more about then
    artist's impact on the structure of society asn
    purely a production of negation either emergingn
    or shrinking back from the atomic age andn
    apocalyptical thematics.n
    n
    Fernando does offer a bridge in this textn
    between politics and philosophy, that is, an
    meditation of "I" in contrast to the splitn
    androgyne featured in one of the moren
    successful vignettes. Tracing back then
    bifurcated one and third position of the bodyn
    (if we read it politically or sympathetically,) wen
    gain a moment to understand life at its limit,n
    reaching toward living. How one understandsn
    the suicide bomber requires meditation on then
    validity of the subject in relation to technologies,n
    its models in late capitalism long dominated byn
    outmoded post-colonial studies and then
    programmatic identity politics of diversity. Then
    question emerges: Could we finally abandon then
    dogmatic fixity of political identity as merelyn
    individual?
    source: Amazon, by user: A3HI1RKCNK24DM
  • With all first readings, comes the trauma of virginal encounters. After being thoroughly traumatized by Jeremy Fernando’s The Suicide Bomber; and her gift of death, I proceed to mull on this “structure” that has formed–my reading of the reading in hindsight. I look up: the same manicured grass imported from Indonesia, the same going up and going down of cranes and pounders, the same Starbuck’s plastic coffee, the same humid, tropical, concrete jungle permanently stuck in the state of its own se

    by Yanyun Chen, link to source
  • Do not judge a book by its cover! However, what covers a book if not a title? Thus, by virtue of its appellation The Suicide Bomber; and her gift of death, recently published by Atropos Press, promises much by calling judgment right to the front of thinking. Yet this work goes deeper than mere provocation. Fernando appeals to configurations of the suicide bomber not by the final judgment, nor the terrorist per se, rather, a gift of death by its pedagogical task one is called to engage within

    by Adam Staley Groves, link to source
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