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Affect and History in Ninotchka Rosca’s

State of War


husband, Monola Montreal, is a physics professor and a political

dissident who attempts to counteract the corruption of the

government by collecting and exposing information about the

corporations centralized in the hands of the Commander and his

wife’s family.


Colonel Amor, nicknamed the Loved One,

captures Anna to extract information about her husband’s

whereabouts after her husband flees to join a guerrilla force in a

mountainous area. Amor’s name is not merely “an ironic inversion

of his identity,” or an indication of his love of power, as Myra

Mendible points out, but a true denotation of his love for

manipulating information and language through torturing the

bodies of the victims (2002: 33). The Loved One’s “enjoyment of

intimacy” with the tortured victims is not of a sadistic nature of

acquiring orgasm from another’s pain, nor is it a pleasure taken in

discovering the truth of information he desperately needs in order

to control the country. Rather, it is a fascination and obsession

with the scientific operation of the Pain Machine that features

Colonel Amor’s “love story.”

The Romance Room in which victims are tortured operates

under the tenets that pain will produce fear, and fear will induce

words, information, and truth. For Colonel Amor, power is

tangible and affective, and the body is the site on which power can

make itself felt and break open the body. Truth, therefore, is the

affective product of power: No pain, no gain. Another working

assumption of the machine is predicated upon the belief that all

people are withholding some knowledge from the authorities for

they are all rebels in disguise, and will always lie. A reversed logic

falls into place when one overemphasizes the affective capability of

totalizing power. For the Loved One believes any articulation

without the touch of power and its attendant pain is lie. Yet, two


As it turns out at the end of the novel, Molona is captured later by Colonel

Amor and is broken under torture, revealing information about the guerrilla

forces. He is coerced to help Amor conduct scientific tests to support his

military terrorism.