Strangers, Gods and Monsters: Interpreting Otherness by Richard KearneyStrangers, Gods and Monsters is a fascinating look at how human identity is shaped by three powerful but enigmatic forces. Often overlooked in accounts of how we think about ourselves and others, Richard Kearney skilfully shows, with the help of vivid examples and illustrations, how the human outlook on the world is formed by the mysterious triumvirate of strangers, gods and monsters.
Throughout, Richard Kearney shows how Strangers, Gods and Monsters do not merely reside in myths or fantasies but constitute a central part of our cultural unconscious. Above all, he argues that until we understand better that the Other resides deep within ourselves, we can have little hope of understanding how our most basic fears and desires manifest themselves in the external world and how we can learn to live with them.
Strangers, Gods and Monsters
And, just as importantly, how is concern for others balanced by the need to heal our own fragmented lives? All of these topics are included in Strangers, Gods, and Monsters. The chapter reflecting on the attacks of September 11, , bears special mention for both its probity and its useful review of responses penned by noted cultural figures such as Jean Baudrillard, Noam Chomsky, and Ian McEwan. Reading Richard Kearney, one begins to doubt the claim that nobody since the nineteenth century has read all the books in the world; perhaps Richard has! In taking the question of otherness to be fundamental to a reflection on who we are, Kearney assumes the critique of the self-assertive, self-grounding autonomous subject of modern metaphysics. He analyzes this injustice as it is enacted in cultural practices of sacrifice and scapegoating, the projection of repressed instincts into the forms of demons and monsters, and the reduction of the other to the same in laws of immigration.