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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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Book Details

ISBN: 9780801434303
ISBN-10: 0801434300
Format: Hardback
(229mm x 140mm x 5mm)
Pages: 200
Imprint: Cornell University Press
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publish Date: 4-Sep-1997
Country of Publication: United States


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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.

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