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Original scientific paper

From Hellholes to Hell: On Political Agency in Purgatory

Zoran Kurelić ; Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Full text: english pdf 342 Kb

page 137-152

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In this essay the author creates and discusses an interplay of two incommensurable concepts of evil: Hannah Arendt’s radical evil from The Origins of Totalitarianism, and David Lynch’s evil presented artistically as “the bad electricity” in Ronnie Rocket. The first concept is related to Hell which Arendt uses in a few essays and in The Origins... In her opinion the first step towards the pure hell of Auschwitz was made in internment camps for stateless refugees. Giorgio Agamben revisits this idea and shows the link between statelessness and superfluousness. For Arendt the road which started with the inability to solve the refugee problem in Europe ended up in a Hell on Earth created in extermination camps. Agamben believes that spaces of extermination which reappeared on the European continent during the wars in former Yugoslavia demonstrate the grim possibility of recreating Hell in Europe. In his extraordinary script for the unmade film Ronnie Rocket, David Lynch creates a fictional hellhole of a city in which the rulers torture the population with bad electricity. The author discusses these two dramatically different visions of hell in order to show how Arendt’s radical evil when compared to “the bad electricity” can be understood as a production of Hell, and how Lynch’s switching from the bad to good electricity represents a revolutionary change which is simultaneously political and cosmological.


Hannah Arendt, David Lynch, Ronnie Rocket, Gestalt Switch, Radical Evil, Hell

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