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Book: God/Terror

Chapter: 4. The Powerlessness of Images

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42526


The second section exposes the readers with the vulnerability of paintings and novels that deal with the consequences of terrorism by individuals and the state. The Baader- Meinhof cycle of Gerhard Richter enters a dialog with the wood-prints of the South Korean artist Hong Song-Dam that deal with the Kwangju massacre. The novels of Uwe Timm and Hwang Sok-Yong are read contrapuntally (Edward Said). These German-Korean passions are confronted with works of the South African artists Sue Williamson and Paul Stopforth that address the murder of Steve Biko. As literature Antjie Krog’s opus magnum “Country of my Skull” gets heard.

The apocalypse did not take place, as is concluded already in the first chapter. Yet how do we deal with guilt in societal processes of transformation? Five themes that regularly reoccur can be identified: resistance against forgetting, the wish to understand what has happened, the expectation that the perpetrators show repentance, the question whether amnesty or mercy should be granted and the necessity of material reparation. Put in theological language this can lead to a conflict with God. The victims bring their laments in front of God. They even charge God. How can God allow their suffering? At the same time especially, the victims show an unbelievable readiness for forgiveness. They imitate in a certain sense the unconditional grace of God. The perpetrators are disturbed in their relationship with God and rely on the grace of God and the willingness of the victims to reconcile.

Chapter Contributors

  • Volker Küster ( - vkuster) 'Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz'