Humans of the advanced world are the most violent beings of all times. This violence is evident in the conditions of perpetual warfare and the accumulation of the most powerful and destructive arsenal ever known to humankind. It is also evident in the devastating impact of advanced world economy and cultural practices which have led to ecological devastation and the current era of mass species extinction. —one of only six mass extinction events in planetary history and the only one caused by the actions of a single species, humans. This violence is manifest in our interpersonal relationships, and the ways in which we organize ourselves through hierarchical systems that ensure the wealth and privilege of some, against the penury and misery of others.
In this new and highly original book, Jeff Lewis argues that violence is deeply inscribed in human culture, thinking and expressive systems (media). Lewis contends that violence is not an inescapable feature of an aggressive human nature. Rather, violence is laced through our desires and dispositions to communalism and expressive interaction. From the near extinction of all Homo sapiens, around 74,000 years ago, the invention of culture and media enabled humans to imagine and articulate particular choices and pleasures. Organized intergroup violence or warfare emerged through the exercise of these choices and their expression through larger and increasingly complex human societies. This agitation of amplified desire, hierarchical social organization and mediated knowledge systems has created a cultural volition of violent complexity which continues into the present.
Media, Culture and Human Violence examines the current conditions of conflict and harm as an expression of our violent complexity.
Dedication / Acknowledgements / Introduction / 1. The Cultural Animal / 2. Savage Lovers: Language, Communalism and Violent Simplicity / 3. Symbolic Revolutions: Agriculture, Climate Change and the Beginnings of War / 4. Violent Complexity: Writing, God and the Ancient Enlightenment / 5. What is Enlightenment? Liberalism, Rom antic Science and the First Mass Media / 6. In the Age of Agitation: Modern Media, Violent Consumers and Imaginings of State / 7. Web of Worlds: Nature, Love and the Internet / Conclusion / Bibliography / Index
Expertly guiding readers through difficult transdisciplinary terrain, Jeff Lewis illuminates the deep cultural roots of human violence in a deeply erudite and compassionate way. Most importantly, he leaves us with the hope for the possibility of those fundamental social transformations that are the necessary for the further evolution of our species. This book is essential reading in the age of the anthropocene!
Jeff Lewis is Professor and Co-director of the Human Security and Disasters Research Program at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. He is author of Language Wars, Bali’s Silent Crisis, Cultural Studies, Crisis in the Global Mediasphere and Global Media Apocalypse.