Rache als Narrativ des Terrors. Kleists Michael Kohlhaas und die Logik der Gewalt

Tobias Heinrich


In his response to the attacks of 09/11, Baudrillard underlines that terrorism, erratic though it may seem, follows a logic of symbolic exchange. Terrorism, according to Baudrillard, is concerned with restoring the balance of good and evil renounced by Enlightenment thought. Narratives of revenge and retaliation serve as legitimations for acts of terror and amok. They thus evoke an affectively regulated sense of justice and voice a pre- or extra-juridical discourse. Such narratives negotiate constructions of violence, masculinity, and autonomy according to a logic of exchange. In this context, Kleist’s Michael Kohlhaas remains timeless, particularly in its attention to the discursive framing of the feud campaign. Reading Kleist’s text in view of current discourses on terrorism and amok reveals that the narrative pattern of revenge not only serves to legitimize acts of violence but also contributes essentially to constituting the very phenomena of terror and amok. (TH; in German)

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