Michael Ondaatje and the Aesthetics of Violence

Jim Morrison, an American poet and singer, once said that human beings fear violence less than their own feelings because ‘personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict’. If we are to dig deeper into this matter, I believe Morrison brought to the fore a really persuasive argument concerning the nature of violence. From a terminological point of view, violence has often been defined as an act of aggression which usually occurs in the presence of resistance, in the context of trespassing predetermined rules or laws. Still, bearing in mind Morrison’s words, there is something which escapes this definition of violence. Phenomenologically, violence is related to the phenomenon of suddenness, its boundaries are always confined to a delimited span of time and space. Its occurrence is acute but short, and that is why ‘solitary pain’ is much stronger than the one inflicted by somebody else, because private pain extends the limits of violence, it makes it unpredictable, with no end in sight. However, from the point of view of a literary aestheticism…read more.