On dit souvent que, dans les oeuvres de M. Duras, il ne se passe rien, ou que tout s'est passé avant l'avènement du texte … L'univers apparemment ouaté qui s'y construit est sillonné d'une extrême violence.(Najet Limam-Tnani)
Violence, whether individual or collective, is one of the major problems of our time. And not only of our time if, as Wolfgang Sofsky has recently shown, ‘the taste for blood goes through the ages. Men delight in the destruction of their fellow human beings. Cruelty is endless’. It is also increasingly argued that there is a connection between actual violence and its representations. This connection can take two forms. First of all, there is what Daniel Sibony, echoing perhaps the Surrealists, sees as the violence of art itself, the ‘violence of beauty’: ‘Skirting or crossing these instances of violence is that of beauty: it leaves us without recourse when it appears, abandoning us in our desire to attain it while snatching mute cries and reducing us to its silence’. Secondly, there is the violence which seems to be exacerbated, if not induced, by its representations. Thus, according to Olivier Mongin, the production of images on the small and large screen is part of the recycling of violence in our societies, and, in a telling video entitled ‘The Killing Screens’, George Gerbner addresses the psychological, political, social and developmental impacts of growing up and living within a cultural environment of persuasive, ritualized violent representation.
It can be seen from these remarks that a recurrent preoccupation of research into violence and representation is the potential effect of repeated violent action, such as murder, torture and warfare, on the vulnerable in society, and on those who represent the future of that society: its children. In concentrating on the cumulative impact of violent action on the young, whether in cartoons or films like Robocop, George Gerbner reflects Lee Edelman's contention that ‘the child has come to embody for us the telos of the social order and been enshrined as the figure for whom that order must be held in perpetual trust’.