The World Trade Center: the electric shock to power, the humiliation inflicted on power – but from the outside. With the Baghdad prison images it is worse. This is the humiliation, just as lethal symbolically, which world power – in the form of the Americans, as it happens – inflicts on itself. The electric shock of shame and bad conscience. This is how the two events are linked.

To the two events, a violent reaction throughout the world: in the first instance, a sense of momentousness, in the second, a sense of abjection.

In the case of 9/11, the thrilling images of a major event; in the other, the shaming images of something that is the opposite of an event, a non-event of obscene banality, the atrocious but banal degradation not merely of the victims but also of the amateur stage managers of this parody of violence. For the worst...

You do not currently have access to this content.