C. Fred Alford interviewed working people, prisoners, and college students in order to discover how people experience evil-in themselves, in others, and in the world. What people meant by evil, he found, was a profound, inchoate feeling of dread so overwhelming that they tried to inflict it on others to be rid of it themselves. A leather-jacketed emergency medical technician, for example, one of the many young people for whom vampires are oddly seductive icons of evil, said he would "give anything to be a vampire."Drawing on psychoanalytic theory, Alford argues that the primary experience of evil is not moral but existential. The problems of evil are complicated by the terror it evokes, a threat to the self so profound it tends to be isolated deep in the mind. Alford suggests an alternative to this bleak vision. The exercise of imagination-in particular, imagination that takes the form of a shared narrative-offers an active and practical alternative to the contemporary experience of evil. Our society suffers from a paucity of shared narratives and the creative imagination they inspire.
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(229mm x 140mm x 5mm)
Cornell University Press
Publisher: Cornell University Press
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Author Biography - C. Fred Alford
C. Fred Alford is Professor of Government and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland. He is the author of Think No Evil: Korean Values in the Age of Globalization and What Evil Means to Us, both from Cornell, as well asTrauma, Culture, and PTSD,Trauma and Forgiveness: Consequences and Community, and many other books.