The death penalty’s appropriation of the concept of a painless instant is compared with the absolute possession of a simultaneity of crime and (self)-punishment by the suicide bomber, who robs the state of the capacity to impose a punishment. Being outside the law in this way, suicide terrorist action nevertheless reflects the simple logic of a punishment to fit the crime that motivates capital punishment advocates. This chapter’s examination of those ideas begins with a series of suicide effects that persist in the operation of the death penalty; it then works through Malraux’s Condition humaine and a history of terrorism tied to the French Revolution’s reign of Terror and Blanchot’s analysis of that absolute revolutionary moment, which is put into contrast with his Instant of My Death.
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