Representations of terrorism, in fiction and non-fiction, summon their readers and viewers to examine terrorism in any of at least four modes of temporality: the past, the past perfect, the continuous present, and the simple present. This essay explains those modalities and shows how they work with reference to novels, a film documentary, and contemporary American television, including the documentary Black September and the series NCIS. The modalities are ideological as well as narratological functions and are sometimes employed to occlude the historical and pragmatic dimensions of terrorist violence. Terrorism is always already aesthetic and “hyperreal,” in Jean Baudrillard’s sense of the word, but to contemplate the aesthetics of terrorism is to occupy a certain geopolitical and historical position with regard to it, in addition to a location in hyperreality.

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Aesthetics Commons



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