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Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on…
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Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent… (2004)

by William T. Vollmann

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» See also 30 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
highly recommended.
  theflyingbrick | Aug 25, 2011 |
i'm not spiteful about this book like i am about the others on this "bookshelf"
  tintinintibet | Apr 18, 2011 |
Pretentious, poorly-written bullshit. I had enough after about thirty pages. ( )
  _________jt_________ | Nov 17, 2010 |
I really could not get into this. Actually it seems to be a grab bag of ideas. ( )
  carterchristian1 | Aug 27, 2010 |
I almost never do this, but I am going to set this one aside without finishing it. It is a 700 page abbreviated version of a much longer work (which, believe it or not, was actually published) that sets out to use detailed case studies and inductive reasoning to develop a comprehensive moral calculus on the use of violence. It's an audacious idea, and the writer is very talented, but I decided about a hundred pages in that finishing it would just not be worth the effort. The first big hint that ...more I almost never do this, but I am going to set this one aside without finishing it. It is a 700 page abbreviated version of a much longer work (which, believe it or not, was actually published) that sets out to use detailed case studies and inductive reasoning to develop a comprehensive moral calculus on the use of violence. It's an audacious idea, and the writer is very talented, but I decided about a hundred pages in that finishing it would just not be worth the effort. The first big hint that such might be the case was an early example that he intended as an illustration that social context plays a big role in determining the impact of a given action -- a point I agree with, in general -- that amounted to him dismissing the trauma experienced by a female friend from an instance of sexual assault. Yuck. He has thought hard and read broadly, and he includes serious engagement with important figures from the left, but...well, he proclaims a project grounded in examples and attention to intent and respect for cotnext, but at least what I read before I set it aside did not feel like it tried to enact those things at all like I would. And there are ways where he includes himself very visibly and openly in the text, which I approve of, but more in a way that allows him to include lots of colourful (and well written) detail and texture than as an act of taking responsibility for one's place in social relations as one acts and makes judgments. The very act of trying to construct a comprehensive moral calculus of violence is an indulgence in a kind of liberal-democratic hubris, a kind of unilateral declaration of how "I" relates to all the rest of humanity, a kind of claim that certain kinds of judgment can ultimately be reduced to reason alone provided a sufficiently clever and hardworking privileged man makes the effort. So, yeah...no thanks
  scott.neigh | Jun 5, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
The author says he spent nearly 20 years writing ''Rising Up and Rising Down.'' It is the product of a restless spirit that is driven -- for reasons that never become clear, that the text itself never really reflects upon -- to put the body in harm's way. All the threads ultimately converge on the ''Moral Calculus,'' which consists of a set of numbered propositions. With its intricately layered structure and its internal cross-references, it seems an attempt to find or impose some stability on a world that the rest of the book suggests may be hopelessly insane.

....

While his convoluted philosophizing suggests a deep ambivalence about the legitimacy of violence, the prose itself suggests that Vollmann's effort to create a moral system is actually a pretext for exploring his fascination with the aesthetic dimensions of carnage and its instruments. Either form of contemplation (moral or aesthetic) renders weapons and corpses into emblems of ultimate truth. ''The real aim of violence,'' he writes, ''is to conquer, direct, instruct, mark, warn, punish, injure, suppress, reduce, destroy or obliterate the consciousness within the body.'' He describes the uncanny fascination of gazing upon a corpse -- ''something with my form and shape'' but with ''no volition to give it buoyancy.''
 
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Please distinguish among this authorized, abridged edition, Rising Up and Rising Down (2004), and William Vollmann's 3,000-page, seven volume Work of the same title (2003). Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060548185, Hardcover)

The authorized, abridged edition of the 3,000-page, seven-volume magnum opus, which was nominated for the US National Book Critic's Circle Award. The LA Times has said of Vollmann: 'He has an uncompromising intelligence that will change the way you think about all of history.' In this book, a labour of twenty-three years, Vollmann will change the way you think about violence. Vollmann brings to this subject compelling logic, knowledge, research and authentic experience. His research is legendary. He has immersed himself in the hazardous worlds he covers and has put himself in harms way. He has been burned by skinheads, nearly frozen to death on the Arctic tundra, and almost blown to pieces by a mine in Bosnia which killed two of his friends. The history of the world is a history of violence. Vollmann looks at violence through the prism of ethics, and honestly addresses both its value and waste. Rising Up, Rising Down is Vollmann's meditation on the age-old conundrum: when is violence justified? Vollmann writes: 'My own aim in beginning this book was to create a simple and practical moral calculus which would make it clear when it was acceptable to kill, how many could be killed and so forth.' Vollmann has consulted hundreds of sources, scrutinizing the thinking of philosophers, theologians, tyrants, warlords, military strategists, activists and pacifists. He has visited more than a dozen countries and war zones to witness violence firsthand - sometimes barely escaping with his life. The result is a deeply personal book, full of insight, that is a major publishing event, hailed by Zembla magazine as possibly 'the most ambitious literary project ever'.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:45 -0400)

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