Clouds: On a possible relation of terror and terrorism to aesthetics

Samuel Weber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Throughout history, clouds have both defined and dislocated the borders separating earth from sky, this world from the next. But in so doing, they have also cast their shadows-for they are almost always singularly plural, to use Jean-Luc Nancy's formulation-upon the earth and obscured the heavens that they appear to protect and to dissimulate. In the twentieth century, as the immanentizing of the transcendent approaches a cataclysmic culmination, this ambivalent signification of clouds reaches new heights-and depths. This essay retraces two such emergences: the clouds through which Hitler's plane flies at the beginning of Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will and the clouds of rubble that cover the streets of lower Manhattan upon the collapse of the Twin Towers in visual images that continue to circulate in the media. In a larger study under way, a subsequent text will discuss an obvious missing link between these two groups of clouds: the mushroom clouds rising above Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-362
Number of pages24
JournalGermanic Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013


  • 9/11
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Carl Schmitt
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Leni Riefenstahl
  • National Socialism
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Thomas Hoepker
  • isolation
  • screen memory
  • terror

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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