curated by Katharina Swoboda and Mare van Koningsveld
War is “framed” in the media so as to prevent us from recognising the people who are to be killed as living fully “grievable” lives, like ours. That is the thesis pursued in the book Frames of War by Judith Butler (1956) of reprinted talks and essays written since 2004.
The book is a text about the framing of Non-Western people in war times and how these frames can also be changed. This theory about how existing perceptions of ‘the other’ are confirmed but can also be changed, has not lost its urgency in these times of the refugee crisis, post-truth politics and right-wing political sentiments.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is an ancient attempt to describe the psychology of perception. A group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives are facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality. In Plato’s allegory Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners.