The Future of Memory 9781845458478

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Table of contents :
Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgements
I. THE FUTURE OF MEMORY
The Future of Memory: Introduction
1 Beyond the Mnemosyne Institute: The Future of Memory after the Age of Commemoration
2 Rwanda’s Bones
3 The Imperial War Museum North: A Twenty-First Century Museum?
4 Memory and the Monument after 9/11
5 The Edge of Memory: Literary Innovation and Childhood Trauma
II. THE FUTURE OF TESTIMONY
The Future of Testimony: Introduction
6 Reading Perpetrator Testimony
7 Reading beyond the False Memory Syndrome Debates
8 False Testimony
9 Reading Holocaust Poetry: Genre, Authority and Identification
III. THE FUTURE OF TRAUMA
The Future of Trauma: Introduction
10 The Trauma Knot
11 Trauma, Justice, and the Political Unconscious: Arendt and Felman’s Journey to Jerusalem
12 Trauma and Resistance in Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers
13 Facing Losses/Losing Guarantees: A Meditation on Openings to Traumatic Ignorance as a Constitutive Demand
14 Activist Memories: The Politics of Trauma and the Pleasures of Politics
Bibliography
Notes on Contributors
Index
Recommend Papers

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The Future of Memory

The Future of Memory

Edited by Richard Crownshaw, Jane Kilby and Antony Rowland

Berghahn Books New York • Oxford

Published in 2010 by Berghahn Books www.berghahnbooks.com

©2010 Richard Crownshaw, Jane Kilby and Antony Rowland

All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes of criticism and review, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission of the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging–in–Publication Data The future of memory / edited by Richard Crownshaw, Jane Kilby, and Antony Rowland. – 1st ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-84545-693-1 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Collective memory–Political aspects. 2. Memorialization–Social aspects. 3. War memorials–Social aspects. 4. Terrorism–Social aspects. 5. Political violence–Social aspects. 6. Genocide–Social aspects. 7. War and society. I. Crownshaw, Richard. II. Kilby, Jane ( Jane Elizabeth) III. Rowland, Antony. D862.F88 2010 394'.4–dc22 2010019552 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Printed in the United States on acid–free paper. ISBN: 978-1-84545-693-1 (hardback)

Contents List of Illustrations

vii

Preface

ix

Acknowledgements

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I. The Future of Memory The Future of Memory: Introduction Rick Crownshaw 1. Beyond the Mnemosyne Institute: The Future of Memory after the Age of Commemoration Dan Stone 2. Rwanda’s Bones Sara Guyer 3. The Imperial War Museum North: A Twenty-First Century Museum? Gaynor Bagnall and Antony Rowland 4. Memory and the Monument after 9/11 James E. Young 5. The Edge of Memory: Literary Innovation and Childhood Trauma Susan Rubin Suleiman

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17 37

51 77

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II. The Future of Testimony The Future of Testimony: Introduction Antony Rowland

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6. Reading Perpetrator Testimony Robert Eaglestone

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7. Reading beyond the False Memory Syndrome Debates Jane Kilby

135

8. False Testimony Sue Vice

155

9. Reading Holocaust Poetry: Genre, Authority and Identification Matthew Boswell

165

III. The Future of Trauma The Future of Trauma: Introduction Jane Kilby

181

10. The Trauma Knot Roger Luckhurst

191

11. Trauma, Justice, and the Political Unconscious: Arendt and Felman’s Journey to Jerusalem Cathy Caruth

207

12. Trauma and Resistance in Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers Anne Whitehead

233

13. Facing Losses/Losing Guarantees: A Meditation on Openings to Traumatic Ignorance as a Constitutive Demand Sharon Rosenberg

245

14. Activist Memories: The Politics of Trauma and the Pleasures of Politics Carrie Hamilton

265

Bibliography

279

Notes on Contributors

299

Index

303

List of Illustrations

3.1: The ‘Impressions of War’ silo

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3.2: Vietnam footage in the Impressions silo

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3.3: Exterior of The Imperial War Museum North (canal side)

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3.4: Sign for the IWMN (canal side)

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3.5: The Imperial War Museum (London)

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3.6: Sign outside the IWMN

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3.7: Trabant exhibit in the IWMN

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3.8: The Great Court in The British Museum

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3.9 and 3.10: The Holocaust Cabinet in the IWMN

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3.11: The Table of Statistics

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3.12, 3.13 and 3.14: Darren Almond’s Auschwitz ‘stills’

70–71

Preface

What will be the future of memory in terms of production, reproduction and reception, within and beyond academe? Is its futurity guaranteed, since we (in the academy) are anxious about its fragility, interpretation, textualisation, commodification, cultural history and institutionalisation? Will it be guaranteed now that we are open to a multi-disciplinarity, allowing it potentially infinite form, the nature of which we might only ever be able to read in the future? There are, of course, no guarantees, for no matter how the future transpires, and no matter how open we might be to the infinite content of memory, the question of memory’s futurity will always remain a question of whose memory lasts, how it lasts and how to make it last indefinitely. The answers are always partial, partisan, provisional and protean. The future of memory will be inevitably political, in other words, and for this reason no different than the past: no matter how much the future signifies a break from the past, holding potential for change and the possibility for difference, some memories will no more count as memories than they counted as experiences. Memory is an achievement that escapes some peoples, some communities, and some events, and as such the question of its future is already a redundancy, lest we forget. Of course, the question of the politics has always been central to the development of memory, Holocaust and trauma studies, with critics turning to memory in order to reflect on the relatively recent achievements of identitarian politics (such as the civil rights movement of the 1960s); to ask, for example, the question of the Holocaust in relation to the longer history of genocide, modernity and the Israel–Palestine conflict; to understand the place of Vienna and Vietnam in the furore over the meaning of trauma, heightened since the psychiatric establishment of PTSD in 1980; to explore the meaning of slavery in contemporary U.S. race politics; to assess queer sexuality and African culture in the light of mourning loss through AIDS; and finally to evaluate the status of all memory given the triumph of neoliberal capitalism, such that we can talk of an economic boom in memory, evidenced by the rise of ‘misery literature’ and testamentary autobiography, to name but one example. In that evaluation, memory

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studies needs to ask itself not just whether it has informed a commodification of trauma, but whether its own rise has ultimately de-politicized the very memories it once politicized. Has the fixation on the past, inside and outside of the academy, become compensation for the political failures (of utopian thought) in imagining a better future? Outside academe, but nonetheless conversant with academic concerns, a recent turn to memory is evidenced in increased visitors to museums and memorials (such as the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester and The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, both of which are discussed in this volume); attempts through genealogy to retain a sense of identity in an increasingly technological, migratory and (potentially) socially-mobile age; and the continuing popularity of community workshops, such as the Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers in the U.K. The future of memory (or, as Anne Whitehead argues, perhaps, more accurately, memories)1 will be again no different to the past with memory continuing to play a powerfully salient role in collective life and personal, everyday practices. Except perhaps, given the importance of memory in negotiating identity, the question of (the politics of) the ethics of remembering and critique looks set to dominate debate. What a concern with ethics will mean is impossible to predict, although minimally it will require us to ‘petition the future always in relation to the Other’.2 If an ethical orientation does prevail, however, the future promise of memory studies might be found in the push for a ‘new humanism’. The possibility of a new language of humanism is raised by Judith Butler when discussing the question of violence, mourning and politics in wake of 9/11. Admittedly Butler is not keen to be read as ‘positing a new basis for humanism’, when insisting on a ‘common’ corporeal vulnerability,3 (‘it might be true’, she says, but ‘I am prone to consider this differently’4). But a negation always works to admit the possibility it denies, so a renewed language of the human remains. If memory is one of the things that makes us human, if memory is always inherently social and intersubjective, then memory studies will have to address the question of what constitutes human life and its future. Put differently, the future of memory studies will require a return to the question that has consistently animated its trajectory: man’s inhumanity. If man’s inhumanity is the question future scholars must address, then scholars will need to turn to the question of perpetrator memory, testimony and trauma. Indeed, this engagement with the perpetrator might prove easier since memory studies has often struggled with its relation with the victim: not in terms of a facile colonization of victims’ memories and identities through an act of vicarious witnessing, but with an anxious selfreflexiveness at the possibility of over-identification at the expense of recognizing common ground shared with the perpetrator.5 This will be an obviously controversial direction for memory studies, demanding a

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necessary caution so that the perpetrator is not given the final word. In other words, it will be necessary to read between victim and perpetrator testimony, assuming that neither has the definitive memory of an event. There are ways in which perpetrator testimony can shed light on the intelligibility of victim memory, testimony and trauma, and vice versa. A process of cross-examination will be important; indeed for future reference scholars might well note that the figure of the witness shifts dramatically throughout the readings provided by Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub in their undeniably inaugurative Testimony. Beginning as the literary critic and the practicing psychoanalyst, passing through the figure of the novelist, poet, and pedagogue, returning as the doctor to then become increasingly figured as a combative, interrogative figure in the form of the lawyer and documentarist, the witness is not always the reluctant speaking survivor. Remembering and forgetting are, of course, dialectically enmeshed processes: to remember might be a stage on the way to forgetting in relation to perpetrator testimony. For some, the question of the future direction of memory studies is already fated, with memory studies a mere infringement on the clinical discourses surrounding the scientific study of memory function in the brain; a hysterical symptom of millennial fever in the arena of cultural studies; an example of the perennial sense that history ends with the current generation; a dangerously melancholic form of reflective ethnicity; or an example of the demise of critical enquiry replaced by, as one critic put it, ‘trauma envy’, a desire on the part of academics to share in the spoils of victimization such as moral superiority. We argue instead that its advent and continuing future allows for a rich, diverse yet critically engaged field of enquiry into the multifaceted nature of cultural and personal memory, which has only recently been made possible since the breaching of formerly rigid disciplinary boundaries. While the breaching has undoubtedly proved fruitful, scholars will need to exercise some caution when looking to import insights from other disciplines, especially from neuroscience as E. Ann Kaplan recommends. Indeed according to Kaplan recent brain research ‘might resolve some of the controversies in humanities trauma research, and aid in developing a more complex model’.6 Whether this proves either necessary or desirable is an open question, but Kaplan cannot ask us to adopt the insights of neuroscience without also accepting that the discipline has limits, the nature of which we will also have to learn to understand. Whatever science might have to offer memory studies, it cannot assume a master status, for as science studies scholars have long since argued science is not even a master in its own house. Memory studies must remain as dynamic as memory itself, as past events are recalled and represented across and between a number of forms, media and contexts, rather than confined to discrete objects and realms of remembrance. The study of the

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memorative, testimonial, and traumatic therefore by necessity brings together a variety of disciplinary approaches in order to understand the essential dynamism of the remembrance of past events. Of course and for better, memory studies is itself not a happily ordered house and nor will it be in the future as this volume makes clear. Split into three sections, this volume explores the future of memory, testimony and trauma as substantive topics in their own right. There is continuity with the Holocaust figuring in each section, but the question of the Holocaust does not dominate as other equally important areas of research and questions are developed with a view to producing new fields of enquiry. The first section on memory is introduced by Rick Crownshaw, who, by way of situating its chapters, explores the problematic theoretical territory of memory’s transmission in literature, museums and memorials. Crownshaw considers the limits of transference in and via these sites of remembrance (illuminated by various theoretical regimes), and how the specificity of historical events and their direct and secondary witness are reconfigured in considerations of the affective dimension of collective memory. In sum, Crownshaw considers the fraught theoretical relationship between the individual and the collective. The second section is introduced by Antony Rowland and focuses on the phenomenon of testimony. Rather than retaining (by now) well-worn notions of the sublime, aporetic and unknowable, Rowland argues that the future study of testimony should engage with the readerly pleasures of the genre, and the dangers of perpetrator testimony. Finally, in the last section Jane Kilby introduces the question of the future of trauma and looks at the challenges posed by the global and everyday status of trauma, as well as exploring the continuing challenge of writing about trauma. Key also to her introduction is the question of politics and violence and the ways in which trauma studies can rework our understanding of politics and violence. Overall, this volume of essays by some of the leading academics in memory studies – such as James Young, Cathy Caruth and Susan Suleiman – does not intend to present (as a misreading of the title might suggest) a dogmatic vision of the field, where future directions are clearly mapped, and ideologically inscribed. Rather – and rather than just passively map the recent memory of memory studies – we present a range of possible future directions for the field, conjoined with the necessarily cautious ethics of unsettlement, and always resistant to the complacency of the certain. Rick Crownshaw, Jane Kilby and Antony Rowland 2010

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Notes 1. A. Whitehead. 2009. Memory, London and New York: Routledge, 9. 2. J. Butler. 2004. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, London and New York: Verso, 44. 3. J. Butler, Precarious Life, 42. 4. J. Butler, Precarious Life, 42–3. 5. For variations on this difficult identification, see S. Radstone. 2001. ‘Social Bonds and Psychical Order: Testimonies’, Cultural Values, 5. 1, 59–78, and G. Rose. 1996. Mourning Becomes the Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 6. E. Ann Kaplan. 2005. Trauma Culture: The Politics of Terror and Loss in Media and Literature, New Brunswick, New Jersey and London: Rutgers University Press, 37.

Acknowledgements

The editors of this volume gratefully acknowledge the following permissions. Chapter Two was originally published as ‘Rwanda’s Bones’, in boundary 2, 35(3), pp. 155–75. Copyright 2008, Duke University Press. Chapter Five is adapted and reprinted by permission of the publishers from ‘The Edge of Memory: Experimental Writing and the 1.5 Generation’ in Crises of Memory and the Second World War by Susan Rubin Suleiman, pp. 178–218, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press). Copyright 2006, Susan Rubin Suleiman. Chapter Seven was originally published in Violence and the Cultural Politics of Trauma by Jane Kilby, pp. 17–41, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007). Chapter Eleven is adapted from its original publication as ‘Trauma, Justice, and the Political Unconscious: Arendt and Felman's Journey to Jerusalem’, in The Claims of Literature: A Shoshana Felman Reader edited by Emily Sun, Eyal Peretz and Ulrich Baer, pp. 349–422, (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007).

In memoriam Sharon Michelle Rosenberg (1964–2010)

I. THE FUTURE OF MEMORY

The Future of Memory: Introduction Rick Crownshaw In response to the avalanche of memory discourses that have become the stuff of Western public spheres and informed academic enquiry in the late twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries, Andreas Huyssen rejects the idea that this ‘hypertrophy’ of memory can only be met by a Nietzschean forgetting.1 What, after all, are the differences between active forgetting and selective remembrance? Instead, Huyssen argues that the remembrance of the past must be accompanied by the remembrance of the future.2 Not only has modern utopian thought been replaced by an obsession with the past, he argues, but the future has been reconfigured along the lines of neoliberal fantasies of globalisation. It is these fantasies that then threaten to become part of the archive (when the future becomes the past), and the catastrophes of the twentieth century, informed as they are by variants of the very capitalism and technology that fuel globalisation, are effectively forgotten.3 Nevertheless: We need both past and future to articulate our political, social, and cultural dissatisfactions with the present state of the world. And while the hypertrophy of memory can lead to self-indulgence, melancholy fixations, and a problematic privileging of the traumatic dimension of life with no exit in sight, memory discourses are absolutely essential to imagine the future and to regain a strong temporal and spatial grounding of life and the imagination in a media and consumer society that increasingly voids temporality and collapses space.4 Put another way, the future of memory studies entails remembering what a better future might look like; that is, different from the remembered catastrophes of the past and their legacies in the present. A remembrance of what the future should look like allows a critical distance on the present and its historicisation. Memory and memory studies must be future-orientated.

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The opening up of memory to the future means that memory studies must be less certain of what it will find in the past (as Jane Kilby argues later in this volume in relation to engagements with trauma in particular) and of what it will prescribe in the future. As Dan Stone remarks in this volume, the methodologies of memory studies have often given rise to a teleological apprehension of past events. In such schema, memory work is in effect already given to the past because its course has been decided, and so the future of memory has already happened and been perfected. If memory studies is not to dictate the past and the future, much then depends on its methodologies and how they relate to and inform acts of remembrance. Otherwise, as Stone argues (cautiously following Paul Ricoeur), memory studies aligns itself with the commemorative rather than the memorative. Commemoration results from the divorce of history from memory, the disarticulation of their interdependence, the unmooring of history from the particularities of witnessing and testimony. It is these particularities that obstruct commemoration’s desire to conclude upon past events. Sara Guyer’s contribution to this volume finds that the Nyamata, Nyarubuye and Murambi memorials to victims of the genocide of Tutsis (April 1994) are commemorative. On the one hand, the memorials cannot remember the victims outside of the logic of genocide – victims are objectified by the process of memorialisation in a way that parallels their objectification by the processes of mass murder – and, on the other, they cannot specify acts of genocide. These memorials’ failure to individualize death and return proper names to the dead can only collectivise the victims as did the perpetrators: genocide is commemorated as genocide. At these memorial sites, bones and bodies are left to speak for themselves – death is impersonal, victims are unnamed – suggesting not that genocide resists meaning but in this case that genocide is historically meaningless. What remains at these sites, or rather the orchestration of what remains at these sites, Guyer argues, imparts a ‘radical non-difference’ between what might be called historical and natural death. The impersonality of genocide is collapsed into the impersonality of death itself. When only ‘bones remain, the demand for absent testimony also remains’. What remains, then, is commemoration. That artefacts are left to speak for themselves might provoke (leave them vulnerable to) memory work that is appropriative. Indeed current theories of collective memory risk transforming sites of remembrance into realms of over–identification, as in, for example, Alison Landsberg’s conception of ‘prosthetic memory’. A theory and methodology of memory studies is needed that will historicise the act of recall and take into consideration the possibility of traumatic affect. Alison Landsberg’s conception of ‘prosthetic memory’ is promising. Prosthetic memories are enabled by the modern technologies of mass cultural communication and by the way that mass culture is commodified; they are remembered in spaces or ‘experiential sites’

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produced by commodification and the use of technology, such as the museum and cinema.5 The interface with historical narratives made possible at these sites generates in the consumers memories of events not directly experienced and which are ‘not “socially constructed” in that they do not emerge as the result of living or being raised in particular social frameworks’.6 In other words, these are memories that do not ‘traditionally’ belong to the consumer’s group or identity – defined in terms of the particularities of race, gender, ethnicity, class, sexuality, nation, and so on – but which may be acquired in spite of those particularities. Made available by their mass distribution and circulation, memory is freed from the biological or essentialist claims of particular individuals or groups and may be claimed but not owned by others.7 The itinerant and liminal nature of prosthetic memory, argues Landsberg, means that the alterity of the ‘other’ remains intact, and that ‘other’ is not the subject of over-identification.8 Prosthetic memory builds on Benedict Anderson’s concept of ‘imagined communities’9 that were enabled by mass cultural technologies of the nineteenth century, as well as on Maurice Halbwachs’s theorisation that social frameworks are the instruments by which collective memory is formed and expressed.10 Anderson and Halbwachs describe the way that collective memory of events not experienced is used to shore up group or national identity; Landsberg describes a model of memory that is centrifugal in its dispersal of memory beyond group ownership or heritage.11 Landsberg positions prosthetic memory between the individual and the collective: memories … ‘speak’ to the individual in a personal way as if they were actually memories of lived events …. Prosthetic memories are neither purely individual nor entirely collective but emerge at the interface of individual and collective experience. They are privately felt public memories that develop after an encounter with a mass cultural representation of the past, when new images and ideas come into contact with a person’s own archive of experience.12 Arguably, the in–between–ness of prosthetic memory frees it from the mediations of the collective, the individual, and the experiential or transferential site. Take, for example, Landsberg’s reading of the exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) of shoes from the Majdanek death camp: A visitor’s ability to have a prosthetic relationship to those objects, I would argue is predicated on the object’s indexicality — on its ‘realness’ and materiality – but it is also predicated on each visitor’s sense of who he or she is. There is a simultaneous negotiation of the object (and the other that

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it represents) and with a person’s archive of experiences. At the same moment that we experience the shoes as their shoes – which could very well be our shoes – we feel our own shoes on our feet. The disinvestment that the objects represent can be traumatic only if we feel all the while ourselves.13 Transference in such sites is the converse of the clinical scenario, the dynamic of which is externalizing.14 In the museum, ‘we take on prosthetic memories … incorporate these symptoms … simultaneously giving over our bodies to these mute objects. We take on their memories and become their prostheses’.15 Given the symptomology, the assumption is one of traumatisation, whatever the archive of ‘personal experience’ to which these objects are related.16 Questions notwithstanding of whether such a display can actually traumatise (or provoke traumatising memories in its viewer), Landsberg’s prescription of transference and its symptoms overrides a consideration of the way the museum orchestrates the affectiveness of this exhibit (what might be called the exhibitionary mis-en-scène), the way in which the exhibit contributes to and draws from an iconology of Holocaust representation. The potential variety of subject positions and how they might speak for such mute objects is not considered by Landsberg. Subjectivity here is shorn of its particularities. Prosthetic memory is also unmediated by the institution itself, the transferential site. While the act of recall is site-specific, Landsberg does not consider the discourses that structure the site, beyond, in this case, a general sense of the commodification of memory. What of the Americanisation of Holocaust remembrance, and attendant politics of memory, for which the Washington museum in particular has been indicted? Can prosthetic memory really transcend the politics and commodification of memory, which have enabled it in the first place, to constitute a counterhegemonic public sphere? Then again, Landsberg argues that ‘Prosthetic Memory … is less interested in large-scale social implications and dialectics than in the experiential quality of prosthetic memory and its ramifications of those memories for individual subjectivity and political consciousness’. By ‘large-scale social implications’,17 Landsberg has in mind the dialectic of remembering and forgetting in contemporary memorial culture, or, put another way, the way that monuments and museums shape the past, producing a politics of memory. Prosthetic memory, then, presumes to transcend the discourses, institutions and ideologies that structure transferential sites and mediate remembrance in them: all in the name of the formation of an abstract, individual, political consciousness for the future and the nebulous collective memory it informs. In this volume, Gaynor Bagnall and Antony Rowland’s examination of the Imperial War Museum North’s (IWMN’s) foregrounding of the aestheticisation (and narrativisation) of artefactual objects provides a contrary reading of such would-be prostheses. Bagnall and Rowland attend

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to the mediation of artefacts where Landsberg’s theoretical regime might strip them of mediation. They argue that the IWMN offers a metacommentary on museum practice in which exhibitionary narratives are naturalised by their presentation of artefacts as direct extensions of the past events for which they stand. The denaturalization of artefactual objects is ‘discombobulating’, but discombobulation works in other ways elsewhere in the museum. In the IWMN’s ‘Holocaust cabinet’ the provenance of particular artefacts is unclear: photographs of victims, a prisoner’s clogs from Birkenau, and a uniform from Majdanek are displayed without the names of their previous owners, which are presumably unknown. The lack of provenance calls attention to the limits of display in that exibitionary presence cannot compensate for loss. These limits invoke the possibility of secondary witnessing (‘imaginative projections are thereby sometimes the only way of making any (inevitably compromised) sense out of absence’). This is not the same thing as prosthesis; the display evokes an unsettling relation to the traumatic referent but does not convey trauma itself. Discombobulation never, though, frees artefactual meaning from the mediations of the museum: ‘we would argue that the Holocaust cabinet highlights the impossibility of reversing the process of reification when it is not obvious what the objects refer to even before they enter the museum’. For Amy Hungerford, the desire in academic theory to share the witness’s experience, perceived to be directly transmissible via certain types of literary, historiographical, psychoanalytical, and philosophical language and textuality, or artefact, leads to what she describes as the personification of texts.18 In other words, the text is understood to have embodied the witness’s experience, which can be accessed by reading (or viewing) and then re–embodied by the reader (viewer). In short, this is the memorisation of someone else’s memory.19 We might extend personification to the artefacts in the Washington museum, where they would be imagined to ‘have the capacity to embody experience’, and ‘to be conscious’.20 Where it has been argued that prosthetic memory is actually an abstraction of the identities of those who remember and those who are remembered, Hungerford argues a similar despecification: ‘conflation of texts and persons impoverishes our ideas … of persons, since it renders the fact of embodiment irrelevant, when embodiment is exactly what situates us in history and makes us vulnerable to oppression’.21 The prosthetic relation between visitor and the museum artefact/text, which embodies the victim, strips both original and secondary witness of their particularity. Whereas Landbserg sees prosthetic memory as transformative in the way it might shape our political consciousness and actions in the future, Hungerford sees personification as overly prescriptive.22 By reducing bodies to texts and cancelling the differences between them, the existence of those remembered (victims) and those remembering vicariously is scripted.23 The insistence on experiential over historical knowledge of the Holocaust prescribes no other identity in the present

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than that of the vicarious victim chained to its historical counterpart. Hungerford advocates that victims be consigned to history rather than recovered in the present by the act of imagining what they suffered, that loss be conceded as irreversible. Death, then, makes imaginable ‘the absolute otherness one is not’. Otherwise, the future of memory would be an ‘unfreedom’.24 At issue here is the relation between affect and the futurity of memory. Hungerford finds that personification, in collapsing the distinctions between the remembering self and the remembered other, issues prescriptions for that future. For Landsberg, the future-orientated nature of prosthetic remembrance – in the name of a political consciousness – is cause enough to move further away from historical specificity. On the grounds that ‘real’ and prosthetic memories are both reconstructions of the past, Landsberg sees the differences between them as unimportant, when the ‘generation of possible courses of action in the present’ is at stake.25 It is not just the historical specificity of the witness’s experience that has been relegated. On the grounds that both history and memory subject the past to interpretation and narrative, history has no more privileged access to the real than memory, let alone prosthetic memory, making history replaceable by (prosthetic) memory.26 Besides, for Landsberg a ‘cognitive’ apprehension of the Holocaust is ‘inadequate’, necessitating its supplementation by ‘experiential’ or prosthetic memory.27 As Andrew Gross and Michael Hoffman have argued, the logic of Landsberg’s theory, representative of a wider tendency in memory and trauma studies, is that the limits of witness testimony in the face of the Holocaust call all historical narrative into doubt. If the witnesses did not fully understand what was happening to them, why should subsequent generations?28 The past understood in terms of cause and effect, then, has been subsumed by cause and affect.29 The question remains as to how to factor trauma into the transmission of memory, if at all. Marianne Hirsch’s seminal conception of ‘postmemory’ might be useful. Postmemory typically describes ‘the relationship of children of survivors of cultural or collective trauma to the experiences of their parents, experiences that they ‘remember’ only as the narratives and images with which they grew up, but that are so powerful, so monumental, as to constitute memories in their own right’.30 Having defined the concept of postmemory in terms of ‘familial inheritance’, Hirsch has broadened its application to a more general, cultural inheritance that can transcend ethnic or national boundaries.31 Postmemory therefore is ‘defined through an identification with the victim or witness of trauma, modulated by an unbridgeable distance that separates the participant from the one born after …. Postmemory would thus be retrospective witnessing by adoption. It is a question of adopting the traumatic experiences – and thus also the memories – of others as experiences one might oneself have had, and of inscribing them into one’s own life story’.32 It is the belated nature of traumatic memory that

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fuels its transmission and adoption. If the traumatic nature of the event defies its own witnessing, cognition and remembrance, then, for Hirsch, it makes sense that the next generation is in a position to work through traumatic experience and its symptoms, narratives and images bequeathed but not fully remembered or known by the previous one.33 Gary Weissman has remarked relatively recently that the notion of ‘monumental’ memories is ‘murky’.34 ‘No degree of monumentality can transform one person’s lived memories into another’s.’35 Weissman finds that Hirsch’s differentiation between survivor memory and postmemory rests on the matter of temporal distance rather than the substance of memory itself. 36 Weissman’s suspicion of terms such as ‘vicarious’, ‘secondary’, or ‘post’ memory and witnessing – terms which he argues rest on an over-extension of the concepts of memory, trauma, witnessing, and testimony – leads him to deploy the term ‘nonwitness’ in their stead.37 Weissman’s critique of trends in the theory and practice of Holocaust memory, particularly but not only in North American culture, identifies what he terms ‘fantasies’ of witnessing. Such fantasies are partly driven by the desire for academic integrity in the confrontation with the Holocaust, in which the capacity to be traumatised by things and events not directly witnessed demonstrates a moral stamina, and a desire to make those events more real than in their mass mediation by Holocaust memory industries.38 However, Weissman’s rightfully placed critical anxiety over the fantasy of witnessing in memory studies, and in the practice of cultural memory, prevents him from fully considering the possibility that trauma (of a kind) might be transmitted: that trauma might inform the remembrance of events not directly witnessed, and the relationship of witness to ‘nonwitness’ might be more proximate than he allows. To the contrary, Weissman argues that the Holocaust was not the rupture or paradigm-shifting event it was conceived to be, and has actually been absorbed and regulated by, in particular, American culture.39 The fact that the Holocaust is all too representable and therefore mediated feeds back into charges (to which Rowland returns in the ‘The Future of Testimony’ in this volume) that the event is unrepresentable and that prior representation has been inauthentic.40 The fantasies of witnessing that posit the event as transcendent have less to do with secondary traumatisation but are a retrospective attempt to instil a sense of rupture and to compensate for the lack of an adequate moral reaction to the Holocaust in the cultural imaginary.41 Although Weissman’s intention is to examine the paradoxical desire to experience the horrors of the Holocaust that are at the same time conceptualised, indeed, idealized, as sublime, his critical framing of these fantasies is not sufficiently contextualized, beyond an identification of a general and retrospective culture desire for authenticity and appropriately ethical response. How then to theorise the remembrance of things not witnessed (particularly traumatic memory), avoiding the pitfalls of prosthesis,

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personification, and fantasy? This question could be asked other ways: how can historicity be returned to memory? How then to put the history back into memory and memory studies? Susannah Radstone has argued that memory studies has been informed by postmodern approaches to historical representation that sought to deconstruct the hierarchies that governed historical thinking in which social and the public experience is validated over the individual and private.42 The turn to memory is part of a broader, postmodern movement that saw the problematisation of the idea of the grand narrative, of ‘History’ and its claims to universality, totality and objectivity, and its substitution by lived experience – the local, subjective and partial — embodied by memory.43 The turn to memory has not only reinscribed a binary opposition in which memory is validated over history, it has eclipsed history altogether. (Rowland returns to this problem in ‘The Future of Testimony’, where he discusses critics who dismiss historical narratives as inherently and simplistically positivistic.) The ‘inner world and its very processes has become predominant, and has been taken as “the” world’.44 Under this academic regime, the memory in memory studies can become over-personalised at the expense of a wider historical context, and, without historical specificity, any object, discourse or practice can be taken as memory.45 In a critique along related lines, which recalls what Landsberg finds in the museum, Kerwin Lee Klein has added that, given its new-found authority, and indeed autonomy, memory seems to have a life, or agency, of its own, freed from historical context, specificity and anchorage.46 Memory, then, is understood to be a sole mediating force in that memory texts, be they memoirs or monuments, are read as direct reflections of the way that memory shapes the past.47 While textual production may be historically specified – for example, as post-traumatic – what is often not considered are the specifics of the text (how its textual, formal and generic properties may mediate the past, along with the discourses that attend textual practice),48 as well as how that text may be authorized. Memory studies needs also to attend to the specifics of the text’s authorization and mediation as memory text, ‘the ‘mediation of the already-mediated memory discourses, images, texts and representations by the institutions and discourses of the wider public sphere: institutions and discourses that may not be specifically ‘memorial’ themselves, but through which memory may be articulated’.49 Critiques of memory studies have found that the overpersonalisation of memory is dehistoricising. Overpersonalisation has often been seen in the application to collectives of individual psychological and psychoanalytical definitions of experience. Radstone argues that the concept of trauma travels too easily in bridging the gap between the personal and the social and between ‘diverse cultural phenomena’.50 Huyssen is sceptical about the transposition of psychoanalytical categories of trauma onto the public, historical sphere where remembrance takes place. Such a move remembers

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all of modernity as traumatic and victimizing, and all moderns as victims, condemning victimised groups to repetitive cycles of victimhood. For Huyssen, the idea of a traumatic collective memory rearticulates ‘Freudian phylogenetic fantasies’.51 The question remains as to how the individual and collective can be related. Similarly sceptical about the overgeneralisation of trauma, Wulf Kansteiner argues that while models of collective memory often take into consideration social and institutional entities – the museum, the nation – that are mistakenly ascribed personal, psychological attributes, the issue of reception is neglected. ‘Collective memories originate from shared communications about the meaning of the past that are anchored in the life-worlds of individuals who partake in the communal life of the respective collective. As such, collective memories are based in a society and its inventory of signs and symbols’52, and subject to reception. Memory texts may be authorised by the institutions and discourses of the public sphere, but there is often a discrepancy between the intentionality of the authorizing agents, the intentions of that text (of its author or authors), the text itself, and its reception or consumption. (As Radstone has argued there is often an inclination in memory studies to render texts transparent). As Kansteiner reminds us, texts can be read against their authorizing agents’ and authors’ intentions, or not consumed at all as significant memory texts whatever the intention, and the medium of the text can refract or dislocate those intentions. Therefore, memory studies needs to pay increasing attention to the hermeneutical triangle of object, maker and consumer.53 Scrutinies of memory studies (Stone’s, Klein’s, Kansteiner’s, Radstone’s) have questioned the tendencies of theories of memory to homogenize collective recollection. Like Alon Confino and Peter Fritzsche, Stone argues in this volume that a methodological rigour is needed that conceptualizes collective memory and its processes as ‘embedded in social networks’54 – a conceptualization critical of explaining the collective via resort to models of individual memory. Nevertheless, Kansteiner’s relation of the individual to the collective, particularly via the notion of reception, prevents the latter from displacing the former altogether, and usefully frames the way James Young in this volume resists the homogenization of the collective, by distinguishing between ‘collected’ and ‘collective’ memory. The latter is an essentialising concept; the former is best reflected by the counter- or antiredemptive monument – self-destructive or impermanent, unable to prescribe (the future of) memory to those who visit it, the meanings of which are authored by those visitors – which is able to frame competing versions of the past. Michael Arad and Peter Walker’s ‘Reflecting Absence’, the winning design of the World Trade Centre Memorial Competition, resists, in countermonumental style, the redemption of catastrophe and gives form to a heteroglossic public culture for which it offers a focal point. As Young

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argues, both ‘Reflecting Absence’ and the proximate Freedom Tower, as part of the fabric of the urban community, give form to an evolving matrix of ‘memory and commerce, life and loss. In this vein, public memory of 9/11 remains an animated process, by which the stages of memory follow each other, from generation to generation to generation’. While Kansteiner’s methodological suggestions bridge the individual and the collective, but trauma is not fully addressed. Dominick LaCapra, on the other hand, notes the universalisation of trauma in many versions of memory studies, but cautiously admits its transference and transmission. LaCapra’s concern with the universalisation of trauma via its representation is that it engenders endless mourning, or melancholia. The object of memory is transvalued from a negative – something that defies representation – into a positive sublime, which becomes the basis (cathection) of individual and group identity.55 It is the conflation of texts and experience – ‘personification’ in Hungerford’s terms, or ‘fantasy’ in Weissman’s – that leads to an obsession over the aporia that structure the representation of traumatic memory. Those disruptions are detached from their specific historical referents to the extent that structural absences or traumas subsume historically specific losses or traumas.56 The universalisation of loss ‘makes of existence a fundamentally traumatic scene’ affecting all relations.57 The basis of identity is then foundation-less (without historical specificity), which means the collapse of any measure of the relation between identities and their traumas: the ‘relation between differentiated experiences of agents and subjects in the past and the differentiated experiences of observers or secondary witnesses’.58 What is needed is a ‘middle voice’ by which the cultural producer can articulate historical experience in a mode that remains, through incomplete and disrupted representation, faithful to the witness’s perspective, without confusing structural for historical trauma, absence for loss. Modulated as such, the middle voice is thereby able to differentiate (or articulate the differences between) subject positions – primarily between perpetrator and victim, but also between direct and secondary witness – that would otherwise remain confused in a generalised scene of trauma: an ‘undifferentiated scene of horror and negative sublimity, a scene beneath or beyond ethical considerations’, which author and reader experience and in doing so lose their specific relation to the past.59 As a focal point of collective remembrance, the middle voice registers that collective memory may be in part constituted by transference, illuminating the variegation of the collective and the different subject positions that inhabit it. The middle voice registers degrees of transference (or the lack of it), determined by subject position and the historical relationship and distance between those who remember and events/victims remembered, where other forms of historical representation may disguise, distort, disavow or homogenize the affect of

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past events, if positionalities and historical relationships have not already been universalised by the confusion of structural and historical trauma.60 What then does the middle voice sound like or, when transcribed, look like, and just how is it articulated? LaCapra does not suggest that there is a stylistic formula61 but that an adequate voice (or form of historical representation) illuminates one’s pre-existing implication in transferential relations. It is the aporetic nature of the middle voice that opens up a space in which the addressers’ and addressees’, authors’ and recipients’, pre-existing relationship to trauma can be provoked and explored. The middle voice is an index to trauma; it is not inherently traumatic. This is fundamentally different from the idea of the text actually transmitting or directly reflecting trauma, of the conflation of representation/language and experience. It is in this space that a differential relationship to the traumatic event can be established, perpetrators can be distinguished from victims, witnesses from secondary witnesses, the universalisation of trauma and its victims stemmed, and relationships to the traumatic event illuminated rather than just claimed. LaCapra, then, admits the reverberations of the traumatic, but calls for a more modulated representation of affect. If the middle voice entails ‘an often disconcerting exploration of disorientation, its symptomatic dimensions, and possible ways of responding to them’, then the ‘crucial issue is how one responds to or comes to terms with that initial positionality – and here one confronts the issue of how to deploy various modalities of acting out, working over, and working through’.62 If the middle voice foregrounds one’s subject position, it allows a thinking through of the ethical ramifications of the perspectives that emanate from that position: although, as Hungerford might put it (contra Landsberg), identity here is not prescribed. Although the middle voice is not inherently traumatic – trauma does not inhere in language and discourse – it provides an index to traumatisation, and in doing so it allows engagement with, critical distance on and self–reflexivity towards transferential relations rather than their disavowal. In sum, the future of memory studies might be wise to draw on La Capra’s concept of the middle voice, which generates a sense of ‘empathetic unsettlement’ in relation to (rather than over-identification with) past victims.63 In this volume Susan Suleiman’s discussion of the work of Georges Perec and Raymond Federman identifies a literary strategy that LaCapra might describe as the ‘middle voice’. Federman’s novel Double or Nothing is understood as an ‘elaborate structure of saying and unsaying’ the murder of his mother, father, and two sisters: a ‘simultaneous denial and affirmation’ of reality that Suleiman theorises as fetishism. Moving beyond familiar arguments about the failure of language (derided by Weissman above), the structure of fetishism becomes a motor for Holocaust representation: ‘to keep repeating the same thing, but always as if for the first time, in other words differently’. The fetishism of Federman’s writing does not collapse experience and language – here

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structural absence is not the same as historical loss (LaCapra); the text does not personify experience (Hungerford) – but it does offer fidelity to his experience of traumatic loss staging both the acting out of that loss (repression) and its working through. Therefore literature and the identity it produces are not prescribed by past experience but future orientated.

Notes 1. A. Huyssen. 2003. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 6. 2. A. Huyssen, Present Pasts, 6. 3. A. Huyssen, Present Pasts, 6. 4. A. Huyssen, Present Pasts, 6. 5. A. Landsberg. 2004. Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture, New York: Columbia University Press, 2. 6. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 19. 7. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 2–3 8. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 135. 9. B. Anderson. 1983. Imagined Communities, London: Verso. 10. Maurice Halbwachs. 1992. Lewis A. Coser (ed. and trans), On Collective Memory, Chicago, University of Chicago Press. 11. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 7–8. 12. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 19. 13. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 135. 14. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 135. 15. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 136. 16. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memoryy, 135–36. 17. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 20. 18. A. Hungerford. 2003. The Holocaust of Texts: Genocide, Literature, and Personification, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 19. A. Hungerford, The Holocaust of Texts, 119. 20. A. Hungerford, The Holocaust of Texts, 119. 21. A. Hungerford, The Holocaust of Texts, 21. 22. A. Hungerford, The Holocaust of Texts, 151. 23. A. Hungerford, The Holocaust of Texts, 155. 24. A. Hungerford, The Holocaust of Texts, 151. 25. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 45. 26. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 47. 27. A. Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory, 131. 28. A. Gross, and M.J. Hoffman. 2004. ‘Memory, Authority and Identity: Holocaust Studies in Light of the Wilkomirski Debate’, Biography 27(1), 40. 29. A. Gross, and M.J. Hoffman, ‘Memory, Authority and Identity’, 38. 30. M. Hirsch. 2001. ‘Surviving Images: Holocaust Photographs and the Work of Postmemory’, The Yale Journal of Criticism, 14(1), 9.

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31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54.

55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63.

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See also, M. Hirsch. 1997. Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory, Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Press. M. Hirsch, ‘Surviving Images’, 9–10. M. Hirsch, ‘Surviving Images’, 10. M. Hirsch, ‘Surviving Images’, 12 G. Weissman. 2004. Fantasies of Witnessing: Postwar Efforts to Experience the Holocaust, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 16–17. G. Weissman, Fantasies of Witnessing, 17. G. Weissman, Fantasies of Witnessing, 17. G. Weissman, Fantasies of Witnessing, 20. G. Weissman, Fantasies of Witnessing, 21–22, 24. G. Weissman, Fantasies of Witnessing, 188–89. G. Weissman, Fantasies of Witnessing, 209. G. Weissman, Fantasies of Witnessing, 209. S. Radstone. 2005. ‘Reconceiving Binaries: The Limits of Memory’, History Workshop Journal, 59, 140. S. Radstone. 2000. ‘Screening Trauma: For rest Gump, Film and Memory’, in S. Radstone (ed..), Memory and Methodology, Oxford and New York, 84. S. Radstone. 2005. ‘Reconceiving Binaries’, 140. S. Radstone, ‘Reconceiving Binaries’, 140. K.L. Klein. 2000. ‘On the Emergence of Memory in Historical Discourse’, Representations, 69, 136. S. Radstone, ‘Reconceiving Binaries’, 135. S. Radstone. 2008. ‘Memory Studies: For and Against’, Memory Studies 1(1), 30–39. S. Radstone, ‘Reconceiving Binaries’, 137. S. Radstone, ‘Memory Studies: For and Against’, 35. Huyssen, Presents Pasts, 8–9. W. Kansteiner. 2002. ‘Finding Meaning in Memory: A Methodological Critique of Memory Studies’, History and Theory, 41, 188. Kansteiner, ‘Finding Meaning in Memory: A Methodological Critique of Memory Studies’, 197. A. Confino and P. Fritzsche (eds.). 2002. The Work of Memory: New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. D. LaCapra. 2001. Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 23 D. LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma, 23. D. LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma, 23–24. D. LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma, 37. D. LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma, 26–27. D. LaCapra, 1996. Representing the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma. London: Cornell University Press, 46. D. LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma, 14. D. LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma, 189, 36. D. LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma, 27–28, 30, n31, 35.

1 Beyond the Mnemosyne Institute: The Future of Memory after the Age of Commemoration Dan Stone

‘History can expand, complete, correct, even refute the testimony of memory regarding the past; it cannot abolish it.’1 The ‘Mnemosyne Institute’ of my title refers to a story by Saul Bellow, ‘The Bellarosa Connection’.2 The narrator, whose name we do not find out, is the founder of the Mnemosyne Institute in Philadelphia, and after forty years of successfully training ‘executives, politicians, and members of the defence establishment’ in what would be known to the Greeks as mnemotechnia or the Romans as ars memoriae, he retires, wishing to ‘forget about remembering’. This aspiration, as he immediately acknowledges, is ‘an Alice-in-Wonderland proposition’ (35): as Paul Ricoeur notes, in order to succeed, forgetting would have to outsmart its own vigilance and, as it were, forget itself.3 And whilst he will no longer train professionals in the use of their faculties, he will instead recall his own life. After all, his ‘main investment was in memory’ (37) and he could not simply forget it. He already knew that he was, like Funes, burdened with ‘so much useless information’ (52). In his retirement he tries, after an unexpected telephone enquiry, to track down old friends, the Fonsteins, with whom he has not been in contact for thirty years, only to discover that they are dead. In a conversation with a young man claiming to be a house-sitting friend of the Fonsteins’ son Gilbert, our narrator is stung by the youth’s snide comments about his ‘timing’ being ‘off’ (88). The story ends with the narrator’s angry reflections that ‘modern mental structures’ such as exhibited by this boy cannot be dismantled, and that such people can never understand ‘the roots of memory in feeling’ (89).

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What is striking about this story – among other things that are less directly relevant here, such as the relation of memory to Jewish history – is that the narrator seems to lack awareness, despite his distrust of modern ways, that his Mnemosyne Institute is itself a typically modern phenomenon. Perhaps its existence confirms Pierre Nora’s claim from the introduction to Les lieux de mémoire of 1984 that ‘we’ are so obsessed by memory and the need to recall because we no longer ‘live in memory’.4 Or, less nostalgically, it could prove Andreas Huyssen’s point that the turn to memory is a reflection of our ever-accelerating present and our loss of historical consciousness.5 Memory in this reading not only anchors us in a supposedly stable past, granting us a feeling of continuity, but also becomes one of the tools of modern, technocratic, managerial efficiency, as in the training of professional personnel. Thus, the Mnemosyne Institute, whilst it connects its students to tradition, is also a symptom of modernity, it is an icon of an age overburdened with memory, and torn between a duty to remember the past, particularly its more terrible aspects, and a desire to break with tradition and celebrate the onward march of (technological) progress. An age, ours, which simultaneously does not know what to remember and what to forget, or how, and, as a consequence, is obsessed with commemoration. It is no surprise that between the publication of the first volume of Les lieux de mémoire and the third in 1992, Nora’s argument changed so that he now argued that his book had itself become emblematic of the shift towards an attempt to recover ‘national memory’, and thus provided further evidence of the fact that western societies now live in an ‘age of commemoration’. This argument suggests that the age of obsessive commemoration in which we live is, in both Ricoeur’s and Tzvetan Todorov’s words, an ‘abuse of memory’. It is, in other words, a kind of phoney memory, one not ‘rooted in feeling’. The same, by implication, applies to the surging phenomenon of ‘memory studies’ that has been the scholarly equivalent of and contribution to this general cultural trend. Although the scholarly study of memory is not synonymous either with the contemporary obsession with commemoration or with the heritage industry and its ‘history spin’, nevertheless I will here run them together to some extent in the interest of provoking discussion. In this chapter I wish to ask: what will be the future of memory and ‘memory studies’ after the age of commemoration? *** We have over the last few years become familiar with the wisdom of George Bush. As Governor of Texas he reportedly once said that ‘The future will be brighter tomorrow’ and on another occasion that ‘I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future’. He was of course indicating to those in the know his careful reading of Derrida, whose

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deconstruction led David Farrell Krell to proclaim, perhaps in a different context from Bush’s (who does not, one may surmise, get the double meaning) that ‘the future will have been perfect’.6 In a sense, we have here a clear statement of the problem facing us: memory has become too bright, too perfect. No wonder that Charles Maier argued already in 1993 that: ‘As a historian I want a decent public awareness of the past and careful reasoning about it. As a historian I want past suffering to be acknowledged and repaired so far as possible by precluding reversions to violence and repression. But I do not crave a wallowing in bathetic memory’. He ended his talk with the ‘hope that the future of memory is not bright’.7 Although in a more recent talk he distinguished between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ memory, with reference to the memories of Nazism and Stalinism respectively, in a fairly uncritical way suggesting that he has come to terms with the vocabulary of ‘memory’,8 Maier’s earlier argument – which reminds us that Derrida’s ‘perfect’ means both faultless and already given to the past – still should give us pause for thought. In academia it will be no surprise to hear (again) that we have become obsessed by memory. In Holocaust Studies, where this phenomenon has perhaps been most fully developed – although one should state explicitly that ‘memory studies’ is by no means a sub-branch of Holocaust studies or of the study of catastrophe in general – it is easy to find oneself ‘at the edge of memory’ ( James Young), ‘preserving memory’ (Edward Linenthal) or ‘committed to memory’ (Oren Baruch Stier), examining the ‘vectors of memory’ (Nancy Wood) or ‘remembering to forget’ (Barbie Zelizer). One can all too easily find oneself in ‘bondage to the dead’ (Michael Steinlauf) or wandering through ‘a ruined garden’ ( Jack Kugelmass and Jonathan Boyarin). I am guilty of this myself.9 No better example of the problem that Nora, Todorov and Ricoeur, among many others (including Andreas Huyssen, Geoffrey Hartman, Nancy Wood, Peter Gray and Kendrick Oliver, Avishai Margalit, Eviatar Zerubavel, and Jan Assmann) have identified can be found than the various obsessive commemorations that have recently punctuated the ever-fuller commemorative calendar that began around the time of the end of the Cold War with the bicentenary of the French revolution in 1989 and the now seemingly more insignificant celebration in the GDR of Berlin’s 750th birthday. We might mention, most recently, the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain and across the EU, the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005 (note the thoroughly unappealing nature of the ‘celebrations’, whose fireworks display, according to one excited BBC reporter, were ‘even bigger than at Olympic Games in Athens’),10 and the sixtieth anniversary of VE (Victory over Europe) day, among many others we could easily add. We see here the truth of Paul Connerton’s point that social memory is constructed through performative

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commemorative ceremonies, and thus we need always to ask questions relating to control, power and audience with respect to such ceremonies.11 However, this memory obsession is of recent vintage and will not last forever. As late as 1990, Vera Schwarcz could complain that ‘Post-Cartesian Western thought’ has a ‘marked preference for amnesia, purging itself repeatedly of what Confucius called ‘love for the ancients’ in the name of scientific rationality and cultural enlightenment’, and she claimed, in a way that would be unthinkable just a few years later that ‘we moderns face the world with a much impoverished vocabulary for remembering: so diminished, in fact that the most varied use of memory words is now found not in the realm of Mnemosyne’s daughter, history, but in computer science. We are in danger of abdicating memorial powers to machines of our own creation’.12 (It should, however, be noted that even at the time Schwarcz was writing, other commentators were already talking of a ‘memory movement’ that might be setting the world ‘on the track of peace and survival’.13) No wonder then that there are critiques and that their number is mounting. First, there are attacks on memory studies in general. Among these Norman Finkelstein’s polemic against the so-called ‘Holocaust industry’ is probably the best known: ‘currently all the rage in the ivory tower, “memory” is surely the most impoverished concept to come down the academic pike in a long time’.14 Indeed, Finkelstein’s ‘Holocaust industry’ could be seen as a subset of a wider ‘memory industry’ (Klein’s term). Others have questioned the very use of the term ‘collective memory’, suggesting it is nothing more than a fashionable term for ‘myth’.15 A wide consensus seems to exist that memory studies is academically sexy but politically quiescent. Even Dominick LaCapra, hardly an enemy of ‘memory discourse’, has spoken of a ‘fixation’ on memory.16 Most recently, Tony Judt has articulated the emerging consensus among historians that reconfirms Nietzsche’s claims from the second ‘untimely meditation’: arguing that post–1989 Europe ‘has been constructed … upon a compensatory surplus of memory’ that cannot possibly endure. Judt suggests that ‘Some measure of neglect and even forgetting are the necessary condition for civic health’.17 Second, there are careful critiques of the methodology and underlying, often unspoken assumptions of memory studies. It is to these that I wish to turn here. Kerwin Lee Klein presents a fierce, compelling critique of the premises of memory studies that links its rise to the emergence of identity politics and a postmodern sensibility that distrusts the determinism of totalising historical narratives: memory as ‘re-enchantment’, as ‘projecting immediacy’; as ‘projecting “psychoneurotic jargon” onto the memory of various national or (more often) ethno-racial groups’; as a quest for the authentic in an age that distrusts history; as nostalgic, sacralizing, negative theology; as clinical, therapeutic.18 The danger, according to Klein, is that the approach that he calls ‘structural memory’ – examining the creation of

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collective memory through ‘practices or material artefacts’ (135) – elevates memory ‘to the status of a historical agent, and we enter a new age in which archives remember and statues forget’ (136). This ‘memory as reenchantment’ (136) argument which sees the rise of memory discourse as tied intimately to identity politics in the U.S.A. in the 1960s is perhaps the most powerful challenge to scholars of collective memory. Klein’s arguments are to some extent replicated in another fine article, this one by Wulf Kansteiner. Kansteiner argues that collective memory is a meaningful term, but that memory studies thus far have not done enough to explain why. The scholarship, in his opinion, needs to delineate more clearly the distinctions between individual and collective memory; needs to think more about reception than about representation; and would benefit from adopting some of the vocabulary and methodology of media studies, with the result that collective memory would be understood as the result of the interaction of three ‘types of historical factors: the intellectual and cultural traditions that frame all our representations of the past, the memory makers who selectively adopt and manipulate these traditions, and the memory consumers who use, ignore, or transform such artefacts according to their own interests’.19 Like Klein, Kansteiner argues that ‘memory is valorised where identity is problematised’, thus connecting memory studies to identity politics, and he claims that ‘Memory studies presuppose a rarely acknowledged but not particularly surprising desire for cultural homogeneity, consistency, and predictability’.20 Memory studies, although not in this reading as contemptible as in Klein’s, certainly needs to put its methodological house in order. Similar points have recently been made by Peter Gray and Kendrick Oliver in their introduction to The Memory of Catastrophe: ‘It is the attribution of qualities of spiritual or cultural transcendence to “memory” which most effectively limits the capacity of the critical method to gain purchase upon its historical operations’.21 However, these critiques can be rather exaggerated, as in this example: The utility, and the potentially unintended political consequences, of much of the recent literature concerning the ‘contemporary fascination’ (Ram) with collective memory needs to be challenged. ‘Memory’, it appears, has today assumed the role of a meta-theoretical trope and also, perhaps, a sentimental yearning; as the idea of an Archimedean Truth has slowly and painfully withered under the assault of various anti-foundational epistemologies, memory seems to have claimed Truth’s valorised position as a site of authenticity, as a point of anchorage – albeit an unsteady one – in a turbulent world stripped much of its previous meaning.22 This surely sets up memory as far more significant than most of those who study it presume it to be.23 Not every academic who works on ‘memory’ is

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secretly in league with Roy Strong, who in 1978, in a notable adumbration of the cultural politics of Thatcherism, wrote that: It is in times of danger, either from without or from within, that we become deeply conscious of our heritage … within this world there mingle varied and passionate streams of ancient pride and patriotism, of a heroism in times past, of a nostalgia too for what we think of as a happier world which we have lost. In the 1940s we felt all this deeply because of the danger from without. In the 1970s we sense it because of the dangers from within. We are all aware of problems and troubles, of changes within the structure of society, of the dissolution of old values and standards. For the lucky few this may be exhilarating, even exciting, but for the majority it is confusing, threatening, and dispiriting. The heritage represents some form of security, a refuge perhaps, something visible and tangible which, within a topsy-turvy world, seems stable and unchanged. Our environmental heritage … is therefore a deeply satisfying and unifying element within our society.24 The same is true of the literature on trauma. Trauma studies has become something of an interdisciplinary discipline in its own right, largely thanks to the achievements of Cathy Caruth. But once again, as with memory studies, we hear talk of the ‘passing of a genre’. Again, Kansteiner is perhaps the main critic here: his essay in Rethinking History is trenchant and combative, and Dominick LaCapra has also contributed to the attack in a chapter of his book, History in Transit (2004). But others have also argued, as does Ido de Haan, that the notion of ‘trauma’ is inapplicable to societies since it not only inappropriately medicalises them but, more troubling, flattens out widely different experiences under a standard psychological explanation.25 Perhaps the one piece that stands out as a challenge to the ‘discipline’ of ‘trauma studies’ is Kansteiner’s.26 It should be noted, however, that by contrast Ricoeur argues quite unequivocally that ‘We can speak not only in an analogical sense but in terms of a direct analysis of collective traumatisms, of wounds to collective memory’. He gives the example of mourning behaviours, especially the ‘great funeral celebrations around which an entire people is assembled’ to back up his claim.27 There is not enough space here to decide whether he is right, but it is certainly a powerful response to the ‘commonsense’ assertion that groups cannot have memory and thus cannot be traumatised as a group. Many of these points relate to scholarly procedures and methods. But academic work does not take place in a vacuum, and this blooming of memory studies is a faithful replication of developments in wider society. These have been summed up well, if polemically, by the Romanian–Jewish author Norman Manea, a survivor of the horrors of the Romanian Holocaust in Transnistria who now lives in the U.S.A. In his autobiography, The

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Hooligan’s Return, which movingly recounts the circumstances of his exile to the U.S.A. and his return trips to Romania since the ousting of Ceauşescu, Manea offers some provocative thoughts: ‘Public commemorations have transformed horrors into clichés, which have been worked over until they have become petrified, thus fulfilling their function, followed, of course, by fatigue and indifference’.28 Later he adds, with even greater invective: ‘The trivialisation of suffering … mankind’s endless enterprise. Only when it becomes a cliché does tragedy find a home in the collective memory. Memory must keep watch so that the horror is not repeated, we have been told over and over. We must hold on to identity, shared memory, race, ethnicity, religion, ideology. Having finally landed on the planet of pragmatism, you thought you might escape your past and your identity and become just a simple entity, as Gertrude Stein, the American in Paris, dreamed – only to find that Thursday’s atrocities have become grist for the mottoes on Friday’s T-shirts, an instantly marketable product for the collective memory’.29 The duty to remember and the need to commemorate are here seen as empty, complacent rituals that serve only to pacify the past, making it safe for the present to ignore. Certainly, scholars of collective memory have long known that it is as important to take cognisance of what is forgotten or ‘overlooked’ as of what is remembered when studying the changing nature of memory. Manea’s criticisms, however, remind us that this is not an antiquarian enterprise or a fruitless postmodern game, as Finkelstein would have us believe, but that the study of memory may itself contribute to the creation of an ‘age of commemoration’ in which all memories other than the celebratory and efficacious are smothered or occulted. All of these critiques are timely and pertinent and should give us pause for thought about the oft-exhibited tendency to use the vocabulary of memory studies in a rather thoughtless and self-explanatory way. But none of this should prevent us from either seeing the gains made by memory studies (more than a ‘conservative’ or reactionary replacement for studying power or class) or from recognising the fact that memory is the ‘bedrock of history’, a claim to which I will return later. In what remains I want to argue that talking of ‘collective memory’ remains valid, and to suggest that despite many of the cultural critics’ objections to the current memory craze there is life for memory beyond the Mnemosyne Institute. Academia, like the wider world, is subject to the pressures of fashion, and the attack on ‘memory studies’ is in that respect hardly surprising. But I do not want to put forward a ‘defence’ akin to those who defend history from the ‘irresponsible claims of postmodernists’. Rather, I will proceed on the basis that the attacks are to some extent justified, and will then propose why talking about memory remains not only valid, but a productive way of furthering scholarly research agendas. The critics, like Kansteiner and Klein, justifiably object to the solipsism of ‘confessional’ literature (the harder and more brutal the childhood the

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better) or autobiographies of underwhelming celebrities, which cry out for an old-school ‘culture industry’ critique (as in Andrew O’Hagan’s wonderful, withering critique30). The critics object too, quite understandably, to the culturally-homogenising and often nationalistic flavour of the increasing numbers of commemorative ceremonies that have become so visible a part of European life, as well as to hackneyed and honeyed narratives of all genres that peddle nostalgic visions of authenticity, what LaCapra wonderfully calls ‘junk-Proustian Schwärmerei’.31 Nevertheless, this is not the sum of memory studies, and whilst it is possible for us to contribute – whether wittingly or not – to these cultural trends, it is important that we do not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Many of these critical positions (especially that of Gedi and Elam) essentialise ‘memory’ and thus do not satisfactorily explain what scholars of memory have been doing in recent years. As Jonathan M. Hess writes of Pierre Nora, the claim (whether made positively, as by Nora, or critically, as by Klein and Kansteiner) that ‘memory’ is ‘authentic’ in contrast to sterile, homogeneous ‘history’, is ‘itself a product of a distinctly modern discourse, an elegiac view of the premodern world that marks Nora as the Romantic par excellence’. The result is that: Nora ignores the extent to which the nostalgic vision of the past that organizes his discourse has its origins in precisely that modern world he seeks to overcome. In this way, he presents a classic modernist master narrative that essentialises collective memory, one that equates memory with authenticity, continuity, and presence and history with discontinuity, mediation, and absence … In much contemporary discourse [by contrast], collective memory and history figure as interrelated and at times interdependent modes of constructing a community’s relation to its past, the difference between them being less a question of rigid opposition than one of differing sets of formal and disciplinary conventions.32 Thus, many of the critics of ‘memory studies’, whilst correctly identifying some of the less productive uses to which such study may be put, have as yet inadequately provided a counter-argument to Maurice Halbwachs, who holds the distinction of pointing out the obvious truth of the existence of collective memory. Prior to Halbwachs, memory had been held to be something possessed by individuals, and psychologists still find it difficult to jump from the individual to the collective.33 But psychologists, as scholars of individuals, did not at the time (and often still do not) grasp the Durkheimian manoeuvre (‘methodological holism’) of taking individual memory to be the problematic case (‘psychologism’) and collective memory as ontologically given, as Ricoeur notes.34 In more up to date terms, they do not consider what Eviatar Zerubavel calls ‘socio-mnemonic structures’. No one exists in a vacuum, and thus, as Zerubavel notes, ‘Being social presupposes the ability to

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experience things that happened to the groups to which we belong long before we even joined them as if they were part of our personal past … Indeed, language allows memories to actually pass from one person to another even when there is no direct contact between them’.35 This is not the same as saying that groups have ‘memories’ in the neurological sense, or that ‘memories’ are mysteriously passed on by osmosis, nor is it to subscribe to the view (implied in the pejorative undertones that accompany the term ‘methodological holism’) that individuals and individualism are unimportant. But it is saying something stronger than that collective memory is just a fashionable term for mythic narratives or ideologically-driven history. As Kansteiner allows, ‘although collective memories have no organic basis and do not exist in any literal sense, and though they involve individual agency, the term “collective memory” is not simply a metaphorical expression. Collective memories originate from shared communications about the meaning of the past that are anchored in the life-worlds of individuals who partake in the communal life of the respective collective’.36 Thus, collective memories are selective and are, almost invariably, ideologically-driven versions of history: but, then, what version of history is not? But it would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater simply to say that collective memory is indistinguishable from myth and therefore not worth studying. Doing so would miss an opportunity to discover how societies operate, in particular how narratives and stories about the past structure societies in the present. Barbie Zelizer notes that collective memories ‘allow for the fabrication, rearrangement, elaboration, and omission of details about the past, often pushing aside accuracy and authenticity so as to accommodate broader issues of identity formation, power, and authority, and political affiliation’. So far, so familiar a complaint. She suggests, though, that these are precisely the reasons why collective memory is worth studying: ‘Memories in this view become not only the simple act of recall but social, cultural, and political action at its broadest level’.37 The scholarly study of ‘collective memory’ may be a branch of critical historiography, but memory itself is something different, if inseparable from, history. Some (necessarily cursory) examples would be useful at this point in order to illustrate why ‘collective memory’ is not simply synonymous with ‘myth’ or with critical history, and thus why it remains an important source of understanding of the world around us. 1) Kendrick Oliver shows what he calls the process of ‘detoxification’ of Vietnam memory in U.S.A. – his study of responses to the My Lai massacre is a powerfully evocative example of the writing out of uncomfortable facts and the creation of more palatable narratives.38 It also shows that such dominant narratives come into being and prosper in spite of the fact that more reliable accounts of the past exist, and thus his

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work testifies to the power of what Kansteiner calls ‘memory makers’, especially the legal system, the media, government, and experts, such as psychologists and other professionals. Alon Confino and Peter Fritzsche, in their discussion of memory and power relations, have anticipated many of Klein’s arguments about representations, and make a strong case for moving memory studies towards investigating social relations, institutions and the state. The book that they have edited on German memory illustrates the possibility of orienting memory studies towards analysing memory ‘as embedded in social networks’.39 This is a way of understanding memory that does not see it only as embedded in sites such as memorials; rather, Confino and Fritzsche point up the real weakness of Finkelstein’s claim, by showing how collective memories are created and passed on to some extent by design but also unconsciously, by virtue of, and in the process helping to define, existing social structures and networks. The political implications of critical memory studies are clearly shown in studies of the absence of Hiroshima from American collective memory (as in the work of Richard Minear) or the absence of any memory at all of colonial atrocity committed by the British, in Kenya and elsewhere (as in the work of Caroline Elkins and David Anderson).40 That is to say, it may in these cases not be the case that what is remembered is false – in the case of the U.S.A., the significance of Nazi genocide – but just that a whole area of past experience that is difficult to deal with gets ‘forgotten’. This is a process that occurs as much by unconscious mechanisms that permeate a society as by design. Barbie Zelizer has shown the way in which visual artefacts can help provide a mediating factor between individual and collective memory, thus illustrating the process of collective memory formation. While this is, contra Confino and Fritzsche, to focus on representations, it is a good example of the processes by which collective memory construction occurs, especially as it is influenced by the mass media.41 But it is also a reminder, as Geoffrey Hartman notes that what is viable in the notion of collective memory ‘tends to be artistic rather than nationalistic’.42 And perhaps most importantly, we should note the way in which collective memory has helped reveal how ruling elites use collective memory as a tool to perpetuate their dominance, a fact that has been especially apparent in research on historically excluded groups, such as African-Americans, American Indians, Romanies or Australian Aborigines. The Polish Institute of National Memory (IPN) has set out finally to question the long-held assumptions of nationalist narratives about Poland during World War Two; the Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification is doing something similar in revealing the suffering recently experienced by that country’s Maya population; and in

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Spain the attempts by grassroots organisations literally to dig up the memories of the Civil War and shatter the post-Franco silence all owe a great deal to this desire to right past wrongs and restore dignity and names to victims of the recent past, as does another such recent example: Adam Hochschild’s outrage at the official narrative presented in the ‘Memory of Congo’ exhibition at Belgium’s Royal Museum for Central Africa, which, he claims, gives insufficient space to the atrocities that characterised Belgian colonial rule.43 All of these approaches reveal a varied and fruitful research landscape, not all of which can be subsumed under the rhetoric of ‘re-enchantment’ or ‘cultural homogenisation’. And quite apart from these examples, which are mostly drawn from historians, the work of literary theorists and philosophers such as Geoffrey Hartman, Marianne Hirsch, Michael Rothberg, Avishai Margalit and Marc Augé reminds us that the study of collective memory is a very broad discipline and one that cannot be summed up by singleminded critiques that simply deny the term any validity. 44 We can thus assert the continued usefulness and insightfulness of memory studies. But writing about collective memory is a currently fashionable scholarly procedure that chimes in with the wider cultural preoccupation with memory and commemoration. Long after it has become unfashionable, or just another aspect of historiography (in the way that gender history or micro-history have come to be accepted by the historical profession), still memory will have another relationship to history that goes deeper than being simply something that historians can choose to study. *** Taking into account these critiques of memory studies, how best to proceed? Kansteiner pointed out in his 2002 articles that ‘Memory’s relation to history remains one of the interesting theoretical challenges in the field’.45 Hence I will try and respond to his and Klein’s attack on memory studies by examining precisely this relationship between memory and history and, following Ricoeur, by asserting that there is a necessary connection between them that will continue to exist long after our current commemoration obsession has passed. I should say straight away then that this appeal to the link between memory and history is synonymous neither with Nora’s ‘romantically folkloric’ eulogy to memory as the basis of authenticity nor with Patrick Hutton’s appeal to ‘living memory’ as the basis of history, an appeal which hypostatises tradition and nostalgically invalidates critical reflection.46 Rather, it is an attempt to provide a critical understanding of the ways in which testimony, in the narrow sense, and memory in general form the basis of history so that the two remain separate but interdependent.

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Let me first make a few general observations about some problems of which memory studies needs to be aware, and from which research agendas might emerge: 1) There is an apparent paradox of memory being future-oriented – we are familiar with the injunction to remember, which implies memory in the future – and simultaneously a danger of commemoration-obsession (Nora, Ricoeur) or of taking memory only as an object of history rather than regarding it as its ‘womb’ or ‘bedrock’.47 2) It is important to bear in mind that memory is ‘a process, not a material object or outcome’.48 This is something that has thus far received relatively little attention from scholars, not least because writing about the ways in which memory is embedded in social relations is harder to do than writing about it as anchored in memory sites. Kansteiner is therefore right to say that we need more emphasis on the collective memory processes, along the lines, I would suggest, of the essays in Confino’s and Fritzsche’s The Work of Memory or of the 2005 special issue of History & Memory edited by Alon Confino devoted to ‘Histories and Memories of Twentieth–Century Germany’. 3) Memory, as Michael Rothberg stresses, is ‘multidirectional’. That is to say, there sometimes takes place ‘a process in which transfers occur between events that have come to seem separate from each other’.49 He gives the examples of the Holocaust and decolonisation, but there are others, such as slavery, the use of the atom bomb, and genocide. Memory studies might take into account the fact that often there is a tense dialectic between the memory of the Holocaust, which has been a spur to scholarly work on other genocides and to a widespread interest in the public sphere in that event, and the possibility that it is precisely the focus on the Holocaust that somehow prevents people from investigating or taking equally seriously cases which do not appear to be exactly like it. As Barbie Zelizer puts it, ‘It may be that we have learned to use our Holocaust memories so as to neglect our response to the atrocities of here and now’.50 Beyond these initial suggestions, there is also the more general consideration that, as represented by Ricoeur, memory is the ‘bedrock of history’ or the ‘womb of history’. What does he mean by this claim? First, it must be noted that Ricoeur does not mean to suggest that he enjoys the current fascination with memory, indeed he explicitly states at the start of his last book that he is ‘troubled by the unsettling spectacle offered by an excess of memory here, and an excess of forgetting elsewhere, to say nothing of the influence of commemorations and abuses of memory – and of forgetting’.51 He warns especially that ‘a certain demand raised by impassioned memories, wounded memories, against the vaster and more critical aim of history, lends a

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threatening tone to the proclamation of the duty of memory, which finds its most blatant expression in the exhortation to commemorate now and always’.52 With respect to the distinction between memory and history, Ricoeur notes that archival research constitutes a ‘victory over the arbitrary’.53 Historical knowledge thus has certain distinct advantages over collective memory: ‘the articulation between events, structures, and conjunctures; the multiplication of the scales of duration extended to the scales of norms and evaluations; the distribution of the relevant objects of history on multiple planes: economic, political, social, cultural, religious and so on’.54 Thus, what Ricoeur means by memory being the ‘bedrock of history’ is that in thinking about our ability to discuss the past at all, ‘we have no other resource, concerning our reference to the past, except memory itself … we have nothing better than memory to signify something has taken place, has occurred, has happened before we declare that we remember it’.55 In other words, historiography is doing something different from memory, something important, valid and critical, but it cannot so easily be divorced from memory as Klein and Kansteiner – or Nora and Hutton – might wish. Collective memory, writes Ricoeur, ‘constitutes the soil in which historiography is rooted’; memory ‘remains the guardian of the entire problem of the representative relation of the present to the past’.56 And by ‘memory’ here Ricoeur primarily means testimony; as he writes, ‘whatever may be our lack of confidence in principle in such testimony, we have nothing better than testimony, in the final analysis, to assure ourselves that something did happen in the past, which someone attests having witnessed in person, and that the principal, and at times our only recourse, when we lack other types of documentation, remains the confrontation among testimonies’.57 This is not to say that Ricoeur’s claims cannot be questioned. It is worth asking: does Ricoeur take into account the fact that not everyone is freely able to give testimony or that power relations in most societies mean that some testimonies will be privileged over others, or even that some will not be heard at all? My colleague Bruce Baker cites the example of a black man, Richard Puckett, falsely accused of raping a white woman in South Carolina and lynched in 1913. Until the post-Civil Rights era, the man’s family’s testimony could not be heard.58 Furthermore, are Ricoeur’s findings suitable for dealing with the excess of the Holocaust? In an earlier study, Ricoeur made the argument (not unrelated to his Protestantism) that forgiveness understood as a kind of forgetting was beneficial: ‘on the political as well as on the private level, forgetfulness of revenge becomes a sign of grace. It is good for the health of our societies, so for life itself that one should prescribe crimes which cannot be considered genocide or crimes against humanity’. This sounds appealing, but Ricoeur does not consider how one should apply this dictum to crimes that are genocide.59 A similar problem emerges in Memory, History, Forgetting, if only because one sometimes feels that Ricoeur’s

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vocabulary does not respond adequately to the ravages of the twentieth century. How appropriate is Ricoeur’s use of organic metaphors (memory as the ‘womb of history’) in dealing with events – like genocide – that grow out of organicist-authenticist thinking? Does Ricoeur also, like Hutton, in the end present a view of memory’s link to history that implies a belief in ‘living memories’ as the site of authenticity? What is a ‘happy and peaceful memory’ at which Ricoeur says his book aims?60 Memory, as we know from Benjamin, can disrupt history, can be a transformative force. In Susan Handelman’s terms, it ‘is an act of compression which releases an otherwise unavailable meaning’.61 It generates action in a way that historiography cannot, for it flattens out the past, and this is why Benjamin tried to write ‘a different kind of history, but one which opposed the regressive and reactionary nature of “myth.”62 Similarly, is Ricoeur’s argument convincing that when historians write historically about memory, taking collective memory as their subject matter, this somehow confuses the relation between history and memory, or constitutes an attempt ‘to abolish the status of the womb of history commonly attributed to memory’?63 And finally, is Ricoeur’s argument about the status of testimony really that convincing, in the light of the numerous other sources that we have at our disposal – whether historians or not – to prove the existence of the past? Has not this confidence in testimony been both shattered and paradoxically reinforced by the terrible events of the twentieth century? Those who have written theoretically on testimony (inter alia Geoffrey Hartman, Lawrence Langer, Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub) might find Ricoeur’s claims persuasive – given the importance they accord testimony – but also curiously redemptive in the light of the ‘crisis of witnessing’ that has been diagnosed as the post-Holocaust condition. Irrespective of these challenges of ‘unhappy memory’ to Ricoeur’s argument and to history, I will end by tentatively suggesting that Ricoeur’s claim that memory constitutes the ‘bedrock of history’ remains true, and not just because the root of the word ‘history’ comes from the Greek for ‘eyewitness’.64 What meanings memory has for history are of course hotly debated, but that memory does have meaning for historical consciousness is, in Lucian Hölscher’s words, ‘unbestritten’ (undisputed).65 Although it is somewhat mawkish in its quasi-religiosity, Ricoeur’s comments on the relationship between memory and history that conclude his final magnum opus are also quite moving: The historical operation in its entirety can then be considered an act of sepulchre. Not a place, a cemetery, a simple depository of bones, but an act of repeated entombment. This scriptural sepulchre extends the work of memory and the work of mourning on the plane of history.66

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One way of making this conclusion more palatable might be to draw a distinction between memory and commemoration. ‘Remembering’, Ricoeur argues, ‘quickly veers off into commemoration, with its obsession of a finite, completed history’.67 At the end of the era of commemoration, ‘sociomnemonic structures’ will remain key to the construction of individual and group identities – indeed it is impossible to conceive of society without such collective memories – and memory (contra Klein and Kansteiner?) will still remain the ‘bedrock of history’. It may well be that, after the end of the age of commemoration, we will still live in age in which the disjunction between Reinhart Koselleck’s ‘horizon of expectation’ and ‘space of experience’ is the ‘fundamental condition of societal relationships’ so that ‘anticipation of the future [will] work without deferring primarily to the authority of remembrance’.68 We may still be, in other words, what Peter Fritzsche memorably calls ‘stranded in the present’. This will not mean the disregard for or ‘overcoming’ of memory. Memory studies may, in Kansteiner’s words that are worth reiterating, evince a ‘rarely acknowledged but not particularly surprising desire for cultural homogeneity, consistency, and predictability’,69 or, as Klein puts it, ‘Memory appeals to us partly because it projects an immediacy we feel has been lost from history’.70 But it can do more than this, and the more the emphasis is put on processes of change and contestations over memory construction in the context of public institutions and the state, the less likely this is. Indeed, the role of memory in an age which does not defer unthinkingly to tradition becomes even more important: it is just that the memories that become dominant will do so not because they represent tradition but through a hard-fought process of negotiation and contestation. Beyond the Mnemosyne Institute and the era of commemoration, history will still be unthinkable without memory. Mnemosyne was, we recall, the mother of the nine muses, including Clio, the muse of history. As the founder of the Mnemosyne Institute says, ‘if you have worked in memory, which is life itself, there is no retirement except in death’.71

Notes 1. P. Ricoeur. 2004. Memory, History, Forgetting, trans. K. Blamey and D. Pellauer, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 498. 2. S. Bellow. 2002.‘The Bellarosa Connection’, in Janis Bellow (ed.), Collected Stories, New York: Penguin, 35–89. Page references in the text. My thanks to Bruce Baker and Barbara Rosenbaum for incisive comments on earlier versions of this chapter. 3. P. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 504. 4. P. Nora. 1989. ‘Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire’, Representations, 26, 7–25. 5. A. Huyssen. 1995. Twilight Memories: Marking Time in an Age of Amnesia, New York: Routledge.

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6. D.F. Krell. 1987. ‘The Perfect Future: A Note on Heidegger and Derrida’, in John Sallis (ed.), Deconstruction and Philosophy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 114–21. 7. C.S. Maier. 1993. ‘A Surfeit of Memory? Reflections on History, Melancholy and Denial’, History & Memory, 5 (2), 150–51. 8. C.S. Maier. 2002. ‘Hot Memory … Cold Memory: On the Political Half-Life of Fascist and Communist Memory’, Transit: Europäische Revue, 22, online at: www.iwm.at/t-22txt5.htm, retrieved 5 July 2005. 9. See D. Stone. 2004. ‘Memory, Memorials and Museums’, in D. Stone (ed.), The Historiography of the Holocaust, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 508–32; and D. Stone. 2006. History, Memory and Mass Atrocity: Essays on the Holocaust and Genocide, London: Vallentine Mitchell. 10. BBC1 10 o’clock news, 28 June 2005. 11. P. Connerton. 1989. How Societies Remember, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 5 and passim. 12. V. Schwarcz. 2002. ‘Mnemosyne Abroad: Reflections on the Chinese and Jewish Commitment to Remembrance’, in D.E. Lorey and W.H. Beezley (eds), Genocide, Collective Violence, and Popular Memory: The Politics of Remembrance in the Twentieth Century, Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 143 (orig. 1991). 13. T. Butler. 1989. ‘Memory: A Mixed Blessing’, in T. Butler (ed.), Memory: History, Culture and the Mind, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 25. See also J. Winter. 2000. ‘The Generation of Memory: Reflections on the “Memory Boom”, in Contemporary Historical Studies’, German Historical Institute Bulletin, 27, online at www.ghidc.org/bulletin27F00/b27winter.html, retrieved 18 October 2005. 14. N.G. Finkelstein. 2000. The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, London: Verso, 5. 15. N. Gedi and Y. Elam. 1996. ‘Collective Memory: What Is It?’, History & Memory, 8(1), 30–50. For an earlier discussion see M.I. Finley. 1965. ‘Myth, Memory and History’, History and Theory, 4(3), 297: ‘“group memory” is never subconsciously motivated in the sense of being, or seeming to be, automatic and uncontrolled, unsought for as personal memory so often appears. Group memory, after all, is no more than the transmittal to many people of the memory of one man or a few men, repeated many times over; and the act of transmittal, of communication and therefore of preservation of the memory, is not spontaneous and unconscious but deliberate, intended to serve a purpose known to the man who performs it.’ Memory, Finley notes, is thus ‘controlled by relevance’. 16. D. LaCapra. 1998. History and Memory after Auschwitz, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 8. 17. T. Judt. 2005. ‘From the House of the Dead: On Modern European Memory’, New York Review of Books, 6 October, 16. See also T. Judt. 2005. Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945, London: William Heinemann, 803–31; R.S. Esbenshade. 1995. ‘Remembering to Forget: Memory, History, National Identity in Postwar East-Central Europe’, Representations, 49, 72–96. 18. K.L. Klein. 2000. ‘On the Emergence of Memory in Historical Discourse’, Representations, 69, 127–50. 19. W. Kansteiner. 2002. ‘Finding Meaning in Memory: A Methodological Critique of Collective Memory Studies’, History and Theory, 41, 180.

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20. W. Kansteiner, ‘Finding Meaning in Memory: A Methodological Critique of Collective Memory Studies’, 184, 193. 21. P. Gray and K. Oliver. 2004. ‘Introduction’, in P. Gray and K. Oliver (eds), The Memory of Catastrophe, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 5. 22. D.S.A. Bell. 2003. ‘Mythscapes: Memory, Mythology, and National Identity’, British Journal of Sociology, 54(1), 65. 23. Bell’s distinction between those who hold neurological memories in their brains – for whom the word ‘memory’ is appropriate, and everyone else – for whom collective memory should be replaced by ‘myth’: is too simplistic, and is a version of the argument that has also been put forward by Gedi and Elam, among others. Timothy Snyder’s distinction between ‘mass personal memory’ and ‘national memory’ – although it uses the specific term (‘national memory’) that Bell wants to decouple – seems to me to be more alive to the complexities and nuances of what is meant by ‘collective memory’ than Bell’s literalism. See N. Gedi and Y. Elam, ‘Collective Memory: What Is It?’ and T. Snyder, 2002, ‘Memories of Sovereignty and Sovereignty over Memory: Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine, 1939–1999’, in Jan-Werner Müller (ed.), Memory and Power in Post-War Europe: Studies in the Presence of the Past, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 39–58. 24. R. Strong. 1978. ‘Introduction’, P. Cormack, Heritage in Danger, 2nd ed., London: Quartet, 10, cited in R. Hewison. 1999. ‘The Climate of Decline’, in D. Boswell and J. Evans (eds), Representing the Nation: A Reader. Histories, Heritage and Museums, London: Routledge, 160. 25. I. de Haan, 2003. ‘Paths of Normalisation after the Persecution of the Jews: The Netherlands, France, and West Germany in the 1950s’, in R. Bessel and D. Schumann (eds), Life after Death: Approaches to a Cultural and Social History of Europe During the 1940s and 1950s, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 68–69. 26. W. Kansteiner. 2004. ‘Genealogy of a Category Mistake: A Critical Intellectual History of the Cultural Trauma Metaphor’, Rethinking History, 8(2), 193–221. But see also E. Runia. 2006. ‘Presence’, History and Theory, 46(1), 4 for a brief but tough criticism of ‘trauma’. 27. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 78. 28. N. Manea, 2003. The Hooligan’s Return: A Memoir, trans. A. Jianu, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 224. 29. Manea, The Hooligan’s Return: A Memoir, 244. 30. Andrew O’Hagan. 2003. ‘Still Reeling from My Loss’, London Review of Books, 2 January, which memorably opens: ‘If you want to be somebody nowadays, you’d better start by getting in touch with your inner nobody, because nobody likes a somebody who can’t prove they’ve been nobody all along.’ 31. LaCapra, History and Memory after Auschwitz, 8. 32. J.M. Hess. 2002. ‘Memory, History, and the Jewish Question: Universal Citizenship and the Colonisation of Jewish Memory’, in A. Confino and P. Fritzsche (eds), The Work of Memory: New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture, Urbana/Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 40–41. 33. As exemplified by D.B. Pillemer. 2004. ‘Can the Psychology of Memory Enrich Historical Analyses of Trauma?’, History & Memory, 16(2), 140–54. Pillemer argues

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36.

37. 38.

39. 40.

41.

42. 43.

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(150) that ‘“collective knowledge” is a more apt descriptor than “collective memory.”’ For an attempt to mediate between notions of societal remembering and individual memory, that uses ‘non-discursive forms of memory’ as its guiding insight, see M. Stewart. 2004. ‘Remembering Without Commemoration: The Mnemonics and Politics of Holocaust Memories among European Roma’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, n.s., 10, 561–82. See also S. Kapralski. 2004. ‘Ritual Memory in Constructing the Modern Identity of Eastern European Romanies’, in N. Saul and S. Tebbutt (eds), The Role of the Romanies: Images and Counter–Images of ‘Gypsies’/Romanies in European Cultures, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 208–25. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 95. ‘This text’, Ricoeur notes of Halbwachs’ On Collective Memory, ‘basically says: to remember, we need others’ (120). E. Zerubavel. 2003. Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 3, 6. See also I. Irwin-Zarecka. 1994. Frames of Remembrance: The Dynamics of Collective Remembering, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, for an earlier statement along similar lines. Kansteiner, ‘Finding Meaning’, 188. Cf. D. Stone. 1999. ‘The Domestication of Violence: Forging a Collective Memory of the Holocaust in Britain, 1945–6’, Patterns of Prejudice, 33(2), 13–29, esp. 14. B. Zelizer. 1998. Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory Through the Camera’s Eye, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 3. K. Oliver. 2004. ‘“Not Much of a Place Anymore”: The Reception and Memory of the Massacre at My Lai’, in P. Gray and K. Oliver (eds), The Memory of Catastrophe, 171–89. A. Confino and P. Fritzsche. 2002. ‘Introduction’, in A. Confino and P. Fritzsche (eds.), The Work of Memory, 5. R.H. Minear. 1995. ‘Atomic Holocaust, Nazi Holocaust: Some Reflections’, Diplomatic History, 19(2), 347–65; D. Anderson. 2004. Histories of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson; C. Elkins. 2004. Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya, London: Jonathan Cape. B. Zelizer, Remembering to Forget; cf. H. Knoch. 2001. Die Tat als Bild: Fotografien des Holocaust in der deutschen Erinnerungskultur, Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, for West Germany. G.H. Hartman. 1996. ‘Public Memory and Its Discontents’, in The Longest Shadow: In the Aftermath of the Holocaust, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 105. N. Aleksiun. 2003. ‘Polish Historiography of the Holocaust: Between Silence and Public Debate’, German History, 22(3), 406–32; V. Sanford. 2003. Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan; H. Graham. 2005. The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ch.7; A. Hochschild. 2005. ‘In the Heart of Darkness’, New York Review of Books, 6 October, 39–42. For another example see I. Zertal. 2005. Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hartman, ‘Public Memory and Its Discontents’; M. Hirsch. 2001. ‘Surviving Images: Holocaust Photographs and the Work of Postmemory’, in B. Zelizer (ed.), Visual Culture and the Holocaust, London: Athlone Press, 215–246; M. Hirsch. 1997. Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Postmemory, Cambridge, MA:

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Harvard University Press; M. Rothberg. 2001. ‘W.E.B. Du Bois in Warsaw: Holocaust Memory and the Color Line, 1949–1952’, Yale Journal of Criticism, 14 (1), 169–189; M. Rothberg. 2004. ‘The Work of Testimony in the Age of Decolonisation: Chronicle of a Summer, Cinema Verité, and the Emergence of the Holocaust Survivor’, PMLA, 119(5), 1231–1246; A. Margalit. 2002. The Ethics of Memory, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; M. Augé. 2004. Oblivion, trans. M. de Jager, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 45. Kansteiner, ‘Finding Meaning’, 184. 46. LaCapra, History and Memory after Auschwitz, 19; P.H. Hutton. 1993. History as an Art of Memory, Hanover: University Press of New England. 47. Ricouer, Memory, History, Forgetting, 95–96. 48. B. Forest, J. Johnson and K. Till. 2004. ‘Post-totalitarian National Identity: Public Memory in Germany and Russia’, Social and Cultural Geography, 5(3), 374. See also A. Etkind. 2004. ‘Hard and Soft in Cultural Memory: Political Mourning in Russia and Germany’, Grey Room, 16, 37–59. 49. Rothberg, ‘The Work of Testimony’, 1243. 50. B. Zelizer, Remembering to Forget, 13. See also, on the question of the ‘failure of memory’, P. Eisenstein. 2003. Traumatic Encounters: Holocaust Representation and the Hegelian Subject, Albany: SUNY Press. 51. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, xv. 52. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 89. 53. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 147. 54. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 498. 55. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 21. 56. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 68, 87. 57. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 147. 58. B.E. Baker. 2000. ‘Under the Rope: Lynching and Memory in Laurens County, South Carolina’, in W.F. Brundage (ed.), Where These Memories Grow: History, Memory, and Southern Identity, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 319–345. 59. P. Ricoeur. 1995. ‘Memory–Forgetfulness–History’, ZiF Mitteilungen, 2, 12. See my discussion in D. Stone. 2006. ‘Paul Ricoeur, Hayden White and Holocaust Historiography’ in History, Memory and Mass Atrocity: Essays on the Holocaust and Genocide, London: Vallentine Mitchell, 107–131. 60. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 459. For an exemplary discussion of the problems associated with the interaction, indeed indistinction, between Ricoeur’s categories of ‘personal memory’, ‘social memory’ and ‘historical memory’, see S. R. Suleiman. 2004. ‘History, Heroism, and Narrative Desire: The “Aubrac Affair” and National Memory of the French Resistance’, South Central Review, 21(1), 54–81. 61. W. Benjamin. 1992. Illuminations, trans. H. Zohn, London: Fontana Press, 98 (citing Lukács). See also S. A. Handelman. 1991. Fragments of Redemption: Jewish Thought and Literary Theory in Benjamin, Scholem, and Levinas, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 150; and R. Comay. 1990. ‘Redeeming Revenge: Nietzsche, Benjamin, Heidegger, and the Poetics of Memory’, in C. Koelb (ed.), Nietzsche as Postmodernist: Essays Pro and Contra, Albany: SUNY Press, 21–38. 62. Handelman, Fragments, 164. 63. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 95–96.

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64. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 169. See also G. Agamben. 1993. Infancy and History: Essays on the Destruction of Experience, trans. Liz Heron, London: Verso, 94. As Marc Bloch wrote, ‘nothing can really ever take the place of seeing things with one’s own eyes: provided one is blest with good sight’, quite a claim for a historian. See M. Bloch. 1999. Strange Defeat: A Statement of Evidence Written in 1940, trans. Gerard Hopkins, New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 24. 65. L. Hölscher. 1989. ‘Geschichte und Vergessen’, Historische Zeitschrift, 249, 1–17. 66. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 499. 67. Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting, 408. 68. R. Koshar. 1998. Germany’s Transient Pasts: Preservation and National Memory in the Twentieth Century, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 18, cited in P. Fritzsche, 2004. Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 54. 69. Kansteiner, ‘Finding Meaning in Memory’, 193 70. Klein, ‘On the Emergence’, 129. 71. Bellow, ‘The Bellarosa Connection’, 35.

2 Rwanda’s Bones Sara Guyer

‘What we call mortal remains escapes common categories.’ Maurice Blanchot In Alain Resnais’s documentary, Night and Fog, the failure to see what occurred at Auschwitz, the failure to see despite the new technologies of seeing – Kodacolor and close-up – is coupled with an archive of black-andwhite images that leave us to see more than we can bear. In the film, commissioned to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, no living person enters into the colour screen. There is only a disembodied voice that over and again states the impossibility of seeing today that in Auschwitz, among the apparently innocent crumbling buildings and grassy fields, there were gas chambers and crematoria. The film suggests that what took place here remains unimaginable, not only because it is beyond our expectations, but also because what remains at this site gives little evidence of the violent crimes performed here. Nevertheless, the camera lingers over what does remain: unidentifiable debris – pieces of wood, wire, and stone. These ‘remnants of Auschwitz’ gathered by the camera’s eye and inserted into a montage of archival footage of the liberation of the camp, despite being ‘nothing’, also come to resemble the corpses and bones that appear in the film’s archival images of mass graves and emaciated survivors.1 The image of ‘nothing’ – this image of the failure to see the Holocaust in which ‘everything was burned’ – also becomes an image of what one does not see: the bones and corpses that once filled this now (only ten years on) tranquil landscape.2 With the Holocaust, the iconography of genocide has come to signal the total destruction, not only of a population, but also of their remains and their testimony. In the language of Resnais’s documentary, the crisis of witnessing

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Auschwitz leads to an account of sublime negative knowledge, that is, it leads us to see the impossibility of seeing, and further leads us to see this impossibility as the epistemological, aesthetic, and ethical crisis that Auschwitz brings to bear. This crisis commands permanent vigilance.3 In Rwanda, unlike Auschwitz, the bones remain visible. The predominant strategy of memorializing Rwanda’s 1994 genocide has entailed leaving massacre sites intact and displaying the bones of the dead — or, in the case of one memorial, preserving thousands of corpses in powdered lime. Far from being sanitized spaces of worked-through mourning or barren sites without visible evidence of the violence that occurred there, Rwanda’s genocide memorials are raw and macabre. They are uncomfortable, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Yet, the discomfort that they occasion is not due simply to what they commemorate – the 100-days genocide of the Tutsis in April 1994 and the absent testimonies of those murdered – but how they commemorate it – with ‘shelves and shelves of skulls and bones’.4 For over a decade now in Rwanda and abroad survivors, together with journalists, scholars, aid-workers, philanthropists, government officials, even tourists have been absorbed in a complex discussion about these sites, about their treatment of the dead and their effects on the living. There are many ways of explaining (and even explaining away) these memorials. For example, they can be understood as memorials of the very, very poor, reflections of a tradition of mourning, or evidence of the unworked-through expressions of grief in a country that remains still traumatised by its recent and enduring violence. Yet all of these seemingly viable justifications for memorials composed of bones are also inaccurate. Gisozi, the internationally funded Genocide Memorial Museum in Kigali – made up of elaborate exhibitions, videos, and an Israeli-designed structure, which is to say, a well-endowed project, also includes open crypts.5 And, as Claudine Vidal has carefully traced, unlike other parts of Africa, in Rwanda, there is no tradition of displaying bones or fetishizing corpses, but rather pre-colonial funeral rites were modest, and focussed not on the corpse, but rather on the name.6 Finally, if the display of bones could be understood to reflect the enduring absence of mourning and working through, it may be rather that the bones are what continue to prevent mourning from taking place. In some sense, these memorials can be understood as much the cause of Rwanda’s enduring trauma – the awkward correlation of an open tomb and the memory of violence – as an effect of it. For those who defend them, memorials made of unburied bones or cadavers offer the clearest physical evidence of the genocide. But this clarity is obscured as soon as one recognizes that any body can make bones (and some of the bones collected at these sights may belong to people murdered after the genocide as part of the retaliation campaigns). Despite this ‘hard evidence’, only testimony, usually by those who keep these memorials and

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guide visitors through them, turns the display of bones from transhistorical icons of death into the markers of an historical event.7 Others argue that the memorials should be dismantled and that the bones in them must be buried; their gruesome, visibility – and more than visibility, stench – must be removed from the landscape, whether as a gesture of respect for the dead or for the living, whether as a way of dealing with the past or of imagining a future. This position, which is voiced both by survivors’ groups and by foreign NGOs concerned to prevent genocide by remembering it, acknowledges that the exposure of bones not only is violent in its own right, but also interferes with social and political efforts at reconciliation – including the very efforts that other modes of commemoration, above all juridical modes, like gacaca (locally based, informal genocide courts aimed at reconciliation as much as the prosecution of low-level perpetrators).8 How can people live together when the remains of the dead, the abhorrent evidence of what stands between them, makes such a violent – and also incoherent – claim on the sense of the living, or, in other words, when the living still haven’t figured out how to place – comprehend or bury – the dead: when bones take the place of stories? Rather than undertake to defend or condemn these memorials, in this essay I propose to read them, that is, to take account of their assumptions and effects and to consider how – and whether or not – they memorialize the Rwandan genocide. In order to do this, I will focus on only three of the many memorials that have come to mark Rwanda’s hilly countryside: Nyamata, Nyarubuye and Murambi. I also will focus on responses to them, not by Rwandans, but by visitors, journalists in particular.9 The memorials involve both preservation (they leave a massacre site intact) and exposure (they display the victims’ remains). They also appear to resist comprehension and meaning – not least because they accost the senses of those who visit them. But the memorials are unintelligible not only because they leave visitors numb or overwhelmed, but also because they are marked by an essential predicament. On the one hand, they commemorate genocide as genocide. That is, they commemorate the annihilation (or intended annihilation) of a population, rather than of persons, and thus they bear witness to the difference between genocide and death in general. The memorials – such as they are – cannot and do not memorialize individual deaths and proper names. Yet, by refusing to return names, identities, or individualities to the dead, they either recur to genocide’s logic (which also is colonialism’s logic); that is, the logic of impersonality whereby persons are recognised only as members of a population, or they commemorate death-in-general, rather than the specific violence of genocide. This logic is made particularly vivid in the collections of skulls and bones at each of these sites. These collections are not made up of individual corpses identified and recovered by the living;

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they are rather made up of hundreds, even thousands, of individual bones categorised according to type. If to remember the dead as individuals (to restore names and faces) – in the name of recovered dignity and propriety – is to fail to remember the very specific violence that attends genocide as violence against a population, to remember the dead through the sheer anonymity of these bones means that no one is or can be remembered. At the risk of a certain vulgarity (but what is vulgarity in this context?) a pile of unrelated bones does not commemorate a person. By turning first to the memorial at Nyamata, which is composed of an ‘intact’ massacre site, a sunken interior vault that holds the body of an unknown female victim, and two open crypts that house skulls and bones, and then to Murambi, a memorial that preserves thousands of actual corpses (rather than a scene of killing), I will consider the ways in which these sites – even as they preserve actual remains – do not recover these remains as those of individuals: the way in which they reflect a complex, wavering distinction between commemorating the destruction of a population and death in general. Finally, I will suggest that this intensely non-anthropomorphizing style of commemoration, that is, these acts of commemoration that recover neither individual persons nor proper names, render the memorials indistinguishably as memorials to a population (genocide) and to the dead in general. Whereas Philip Gourevitch compellingly suggests that in order to ‘picture’ (imagine, represent, or understand) genocide ‘you must accept the principle of the exterminator, and see not people but a people’,10 I want to suggest that these memorials have the disturbing effect of collapsing the foundations of these apparently opposed ways of seeing. *** Nyamata is a church located about two hours outside of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. During the 1994 genocide, Nyamata became a massacre site. Since the genocide it has become a memorial, one in which the remains of the massacre are largely left intact. The church sanctuary has bloodstains and piles of clothing and other objects left by those who gathered here to avoid being killed only to find that this apparent safe-haven would become the site of their death. The corpses have been removed, although not to be buried. Washed and organized, they have been relocated to two crypts just outside of the church.11 Beneath the main sanctuary is a sunken vault with a coffin that holds the body of an unknown woman who was raped and murdered during the massacre. In contrast to the chaos above ground, the vault is pristine and white-tiled. Skulls and bones are arranged on shelves in a triangular glass case. While the skulls and bones are carefully lined up in alternating piles adding up to no one person, the coffin implies the shape and unity of a human figure. Yet, rather than any one person, the dead body here is exemplary not individual, no one rather than

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someone, a synecdoche of all of the dead rather than an unsubstitutable person.12 This is someone whose identity must remain unknown (in the way that Benedict Anderson writes that the identity of the unknown soldier must remain unknown) so that this body can stand in for all of the others. The underside – or the remainder – of this effort is visible on the church’s main floor. One ascends from the crypt to find a row of body bags. These hold not a single cadaver, but rather they are overflowing with bones of every shape and size. One bag is too full to zip, and human bones protrude from it. These bags show what the coffin shows: What remains are the remains of no one. It seems that these are part of a memorial still in process – an effort at dealing with the dead that remains incomplete. Yet, the official descriptions of the memorial acknowledge that this is not unfinished business on the part of the ‘architects’ and organizers of the memorial, but a deliberate aspect of it. This is not a memorial to the individual dead, but to their absence – not the absence of carnage or of remains, but the absence of persons and witnesses.13 The Nyamata memorial preserves the massacre scene and provides a subterranean crypt wherein the dead, either as unknown or as thoroughly impersonalised (as bones), remain. In both cases memorialisation is marked by the absence of the name and the person. The memorial is composed of bones that could belong to anyone and that also belonged to someone (they are not stones or substitutions, but a part of the corpse itself), yet someone whose identity is irretrievable. In an essay published in the New York Times, Andrew Blum, who refers to himself as a ‘genocide tourist’, describes his visit to Nyamata in the spring of 2005. Blum explains that he visits Rwanda in part because he hopes to see and to feel the effects of genocide. He hopes that this will allow him to experience something of the Germany from which his grandparents fled. The Holocaust is too distant – and too mediated – to provide more than an abstract understanding. Yet in Rwanda, as he puts it bluntly: ‘Genocide is still fresh.’ Night and Fog’s account of Auschwitz suggests that it is not the proximity of the event but its very nature that makes the Holocaust inaccessible to sense. Yet, the inaccessibility that the film describes – the fact that the violence is imperceptible – is different from the one that Blum describes in his article. The Holocaust is stylised and hypervisible, more like a movie, than the raw, incoherent material of history. Nyamata affords Blum the experience he seeks: the memorial is harsh and unforgiving, and yet its violence becomes the source of a kind of freedom – not the freedom that results from seeing that one does not see (as in Night and Fog), but rather the relief comes from seeing (and sensing) something and hence no longer having to struggle to imagine it. He begins by describing what he sees: A sad woman named Celaphine Mukamusoni showed us around. She pointed out bullet holes in the ceiling and bloodstains on the walls where children had been smashed. She gestured toward a room that held a pile

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of clothes removed from victims’ bodies and, as a raw memorial, left there, unwashed. In the same room were plastic sacks of remains exhumed from recently identified graves, waiting for burial. Behind the church were two enormous crypts, built into the ground but covered with a tile roof. Celaphine gestured for us to step down into them. They were hot and damp, like something alive. Near the entrance were newer coffins, wrapped in purple. Stretching out into the dark were shelves and shelves of skulls and bones. We went back up the stairs and Celaphine led us silently to the second crypt, where she insisted that we climb down. It was the same as the first, and my stomach turned. Strangely, I felt relief. The odor exempted us from the need for imagination. It relieved us of the need for understanding. Blum’s experience is visceral: the stench of the second crypt makes his stomach turn. Yet, this nausea also becomes the condition of an unlikely relief – relief from abstraction and the effort to understand. The stench allows for the palpable, apparently authentic experience of violence and its effects, one that allows Blum to turn from the experience of the senselessness of genocide and mass crime in general (‘it made no sense’, he says earlier of Wannsee, ‘its defiance of understanding was devastating and astounding’) to a sensory experience (an odor and an image) that takes the place of – without resolving – the unintelligibility of genocide. The bones at Nyamata thus bring him closer to what he desires – an image of genocide through which its violence would come to make sense. The bones allow Blum to sense the Rwandan genocide; they also free him from having to make sense of the Holocaust. When Blum mentions the imagination, he evokes Gourevitch’s account of visiting Nyarubuye, another of Rwanda’s church-turned-massacre-sites. Gourevitch reluctantly visited the site ten years earlier in the immediate aftermath of the genocide, and his account of this visit, which opens We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, is preoccupied with ethical and aesthetic questions, specifically with the possibility or impossibility of sensing (both seeing and understanding) genocide. He writes: At least fifty mostly decomposed cadavers covered the floor, wadded in clothing their belongings strewn about and smashed. Macheted skulls had rolled here and there. The dead looked like pictures of the dead. They did not smell. They did not buzz with flies. They had been killed thirteen months earlier, and they hadn’t been moved. Skin stuck here and there over the bones, many of which lay scattered away from the bodies, dismembered by the killers, or by scavengers – birds, dogs, bugs. The more complete figures looked a lot like people, which they were once. A woman in a cloth wrap printed with flowers lay near the door. Her fleshless hipbones were high and her legs

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slightly spread, and a child’s skeleton extended between them. Her torso was hollowed out. Her ribs and spinal column poked through the rotting cloth. Her mouth was open and her head was tipped back: a strange image – half agony, half repose. I had never been among the dead before. What to do? Look? Yes. I wanted to see them, I suppose; I had come to see them – the dead had been left unburied at Nyarubuye for memorial purposes – and there they were, so intimately exposed. I didn’t need to see them. I already knew, and believed, what had happened in Rwanda. Yet looking at the buildings and the bodies, and hearing the silence of the place, with the grand Italianate basilica standing there deserted, and beds of exquisite decadent death–fertilised flowers blooming over the corpses, it was still strangely unimaginable. I mean one still had to imagine it.14 For Gourevitch the insight obtained here is only negative: he discovers that standing amidst the murdered victims, the Rwandan genocide (and perhaps death itself) ‘was strangely still unimaginable.’ The massacre site at Nyarubuye, far from exempting him from the imagination, far from solving the problem of intelligibility and comprehension, points to a contradiction: The real, that which has occurred and belongs to history, that which one can see and sense, still remains unimaginable and, for this reason, only can be accessed through the imagination. The real is inaccessible to sense. Blum refers to this passage with some scepticism, he wonders whether despite everything Gourevitch says ‘being at the scene, breathing its air give[s] us some insight, however small into the mysteries of mass murder and death itself.’ Yet, Gourevitch is not alone in this account. Later in the book he refers to Alexandre Castanias and Annick van Lookeren Campagne, monitors for the UNHCR who had witnessed a post-genocidal massacre at Kibeho – one that was intentionally or spontaneously retaliatory – and in either case bloody. Gourevitch recalls Alexandre saying: ‘I experienced Kibeho as a movie. It was unreal. Only afterwards, looking at my photographs – then it became real.’15 Alexandre’s admission suggests that if one can sense or envision an object, if it is ‘imaginable’ and visible then it does not require the imagination, understood as an act of creativity or inventive (artistic or technological) envisioning. That which cannot be envisioned or sensed — that which cannot be imagined – must be, indeed only can be, imagined.16 Gourevitch’s description of the site also reflects a particular manner of seeing. In his account what he sees appears not as the actual thing that it is, but rather as a picture of the thing. More than this, although Blum comments on the stench of Nyamata (and while I too found a strong, sweet, stifling odour pervading all of the memorials that I visited in Rwanda), Gourevitch explains that part of what allowed him not to experience the corpses as real was that they had no smell. Without smell the bones can appear as pictures

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and forms – or perhaps it is the other way around: if Gourevitch sees the corpses as pictures he cannot smell them. Indeed, he goes on to admit, halfapologetically, that he found beauty in this open tomb: The dead at Nyarubuye were, I’m afraid, beautiful. There was no getting around it. The skeleton is a beautiful thing. The randomness of the fallen forms, the strange tranquility of their rude exposure, the skull here, the arm bent in some uninterpretable gesture there – these things were beautiful, and their beauty only added to the affront of the place. I couldn’t settle on any meaningful response: revulsion, alarm, sorrow, grief, shame, incomprehension, sure, but nothing truly meaningful.17 While Gourevitch (half–apologetically) finds beauty at Nyarubuye, he also finds himself incapable of ‘settl[ing] on a meaningful response’ to what he sees. He is arrested, rather than informed by it. This paralysis can be understood as the source of the memorial’s ethical charge, but also the effect of the contradictions that inhere in them. Their effect is neither understanding nor the restoration of capacity before violence, but rather confusion, despondency, and the experience of non-sense, both the nonsense of all these bones, and the nonsense of the effort to turn these bones into signs. Gourevitch’s response also raises the question of the function of a genocide memorial: how does bearing witness differ from – even preclude – explanation? Is it precisely in the absence of a meaningful explanation that witnessing is necessary? Do these memorials bear witness to the absence of a sufficient explanation? Do they bear witness, in other words, to genocide as nonsense? The memorials neither package nor narrate the genocide. In them an active withholding of intelligibility and the staging of the meaninglessness of genocide – and death in general – coincide in the presentation of bones. In other words they both preserve the evidence of violence and provide ground for victims’ experience of fear and demand for increased power (which is to say that they have a political function) that is inextricable from their exposure of incoherence and sheer non-sense. These two aspects of the memorials are inextricable. For Rwanda’s macabre memorials at once keep genocide unintelligible and reflect its unintelligibility.18 Gourevitch, standing before – and as he admits, on – the bones at Nyarabuye is left senseless, unable to see, smell, or understand what is there.19 This shock to the senses – or loss of sense – occasions his effort to provide images for the difference between genocide and murder in general – a difference that has no image but is rather, as he puts it, the difference of ‘an idea’ (and hence that which only can be figured or imagined).20 Sense – the stench of bones – saves Blum from having to imagine or understand, and his account suggests that the memorials take care of the genocide, yet taken care of without making a claim on our understanding. In other words, the

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memorials preserve the non-sense of genocide. If we can smell and see the bones, we do not have to imagine them or turn the genocide into an occasion of comprehension, understanding, or integration. But what has entered into experience here? Is the stench of death the same as the stench of genocide? These memorials even as they reflect the violence of a particular mode of killing also indicate a larger crisis, not only of meaning (the sheer unintelligibility of death), but also of the capacity of bones to bear witness to genocide. Nyamata and Nyarubuye present the specificity of genocide by displaying piles of bones. While bones are in no way specific to one kind of death rather than another, the memorials made up of bones rely upon the assumption that only this evidence – these remains – can incontrovertibly present Rwanda’s genocide. One memorial takes this logic of preservation even further. It preserves not individual, washed bones (or not only these), but thousands of entire corpses. The memorial is located on the site of a former technical school called Murambi where between 27,000 and 40,000 people were massacred. The schoolrooms at Murambi are filled with wooden tables upon which thousands of corpses – preserved in lime – are laid. Some of the corpses are arrested in a final death struggle, their mouths frozen in a silent cry. Others are crushed with mangled bodies and arms caught in the instant of forcing something or someone – now only another corpse – away. To see the corpses in this way – to welcome them into a narrative that the skulls and bones collected elsewhere resist – is also to see them as individuals, as persons who could be known and identified, and also to see the dead as living on in this frozen death. Yet, these anonymous bright white forms also are distorted, faceless cadavers, corpses that are not – have not been — buried or given a proper place, an individual monument or name. Strewn atop one another, they evoke the figures in George Segal’s installations, especially his 1984 ‘The Holocaust’, located in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park, more than they do actual, knowable persons who once lived. Segal’s figures are anonymous, faceless, often androgynous, slightly disfigured forms, life-sized bodies that have not fully come into being (or are no longer distinguishable beings). ‘The Holocaust’ is composed of eleven figures, ten prone bodies that imperfectly form a star or a swastika and one standing figure – a man dressed in rags, an apparent witness – who looks away from the pile of bodies out through a wall of barbed wire that he grasps, a part of the installation that also separates it from the park. Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit recognize in Segal’s installation ‘a rather harsh judgment’ of the imperative ‘Never Forget.’ As they explain it, this is not only by its defiantly unrealistic representation of the victims’ bodies (these are certainly not the corpses we must never forget), but also by his imprisoning a truly faithful memory within the terrifyingly unreadable

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figure of the witness … What can be shown – what Segal shows us – is not the Holocaust as we might remember it, but rather the Holocaust as we must learn to see it for the first time. We can’t forget – or remember – that which we have never known.21 Unlike Segal’s installation, the witness at Murambi is a living guide. A survivor named Emmanuel who opens up the doors to each room and urges visitors to press on.22 More than this, the memorial is made up of actual corpses, rather than representations. These are the corpses we must never forget, and when we visit them, we enter into the actual space of the dead, rather than an evocative artwork. Yet Murambi also troubles the distinction between actual corpses that we can remember and representations of corpses that are mere stand-ins. This is because the memorial turns the dead into signs. If the Holocaust left no corpses for us to see, if the dead were cremated and turned to ash, and if Segal’s well-fed statues call attention to their impossibility as actual remains, Murambi shows us just how much there is to see and to sense and to remember and to forget. Indeed, far more explicitly than Segal’s installation, Murambi is ‘a rather harsh judgment’ of the imperative ‘Never Forget.’ By presenting the dead to us, the memorial exposes the ineptitude of that command. Yet, the exposure of an ethical and political failure does not keep the memorial from repeating the very imperative whose irrelevance it reveals. Murambi solicits this remembrance by presenting us with the actual dead and by compelling us to see the dead not as individuals or persons, but as a mass. Even as the memorial preserves individual bodies, it turns these bodies into mere parts of a single anonymous form. In this way, it shows – as the bones at Nyamata show – that genocidal violence is never violence against individuals, but that genocide renders all individuals members of a population. Murambi commemorates – and calls upon us to remember – the impersonal dead, the ‘organic collectivity’ that the perpetrators of genocide figured and undertook to annihilate.23 Yet, at the moment that it leaves us seeing the dead without distinguishing between them, it also leaves us seeing not the difference of a group in which all members are destined to be killed, but rather that mortality is the absolute difference, the difference between the frozen white forms and those who remember them. Yet this difference – between the living and the dead – trembles. This happens as soon as we remember that the living access this memory by standing in a tomb and by abandoning themselves to the very senselessness that conditions and also is exposed in this experience.24 As I mentioned earlier, Gourevitch considers the difference between seeing people and a people, and suggests that genocide relies upon turning people into something other than people by seeing them as a population. The memorials reflect a complex relation to this distinction: they refuse to

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provide individual graves or inscribe the names of the dead. In this sense they appear to commemorate genocide as genocide. They offer a shockingly non–anthropomorphic tribute to the dead of the Rwandan genocide. At the same time, they also can be seen to recast the meaning of anthropomorphic memorialisation, for they reveal the non-difference between those who were murdered in the genocide and those – all of us – who will die. They reveal the radical non-difference between the dead that they display and those who died of natural causes (or those murdered, but without the intention of extermination). The memorials give us to ‘see’ not genocide, not death, but the dead. In other words, the very gesture through which the dead are rendered ‘a people’ and in which genocide is commemorated as genocide is the same gesture through which the dead are rendered ‘people.’25 What the memorials give us to see – and also to experience as a stench – is the impersonality of genocide but also the failure of a memorial that exposes this impersonality to render meaning. They do not restore individuals; they do not turn corpses into names; they do not give us any insight into death or genocide, apart from the negative insight of its enduring incomprehensibility. And yet, the impersonality of genocide is also the impersonality of death itself. In leading us to see the dead as the perpetrators of the genocide saw the living, they also lead us to see only the dead: the bones and cadavers of which every one of us is composed and will become and which signal the event of death without rendering it intelligible. In other words, at the instant that these memorials bear witness to genocide as genocide they also show that the difference between the remains of a genocide victim and the remains of the dead in general cannot be represented bones. They show us that of genocide – and of death – there remains no sense, even when we can see the remains. And finally, they make clear that even when the bones remain, the demand for an absent testimony also remains.

Notes I am indebted to Scott Straus for leading me to Rwanda, for visiting the memorials with me, and for thinking with me about them – and their resistance to explanation. Thanks also to Steven Miller, Dan Selcer, and Dan Stone, Emily Sun, and the organizers of ‘The Future of Memory’ Conference. 1. The phrase ‘Remnant of Auschwitz’ is Giorgio Agamben’s. G. Agamben. 1998. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller–Roazen, Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998. 2. Maurice Blanchot, among others, calls attention to the literal meaning of the word holocaust as sacrificial burning: ‘The holocaust, the absolute event of history – which is a date in history – that utter-burn where all history took fire, where the movement of Meaning was swallowed up, where the gift, which knows nothing of

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forgiving or consent, shattered without giving place to anything that can be affirmed, that can be denied — gift of very passivity, gift of what cannot be given.’ M. Blanchot. 1986. The Writing of the Disaster, trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. One of the many lines of thought evident in this passage concerns the impossibility of denying the Holocaust – whatever the status of evidence. It cannot be denied because it also cannot be affirmed. For an account of ‘sublime negative knowledge’ (knowing that you do not, or did not know: seeing that you do not, or did not see) and on the basis of this insight, turning from blindness to freedom, and the unsustainability of this new stance, see Paul de Man’s ‘The Rhetoric of Temporality’, in particular, his reading of William Wordsworth’s lyrical ballad ‘A slumber did my spirit seal.’ P. de Man. 1983. Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Culture, 2nd edition, revised. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press. Andrew Blum, ‘Searching for Answers, and Discovering that There are None’; Philip Gourevitch, ‘Among the Dead’, excerpts from We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families. Although Gourevitch focuses on Nyarubuye, rather than Nyamata, which I discuss, his account of the memorial – which includes many of the same strategies and components as Nyamata – offers some of the most thoughtful insights into how these memorials function and how very uncomfortable they are. For photographs of Nyarubuye, Nyamata, and a third church-memorial, Ntarama, see Simon Norfolk’s photographs in the section entitled ‘Rwanda: The Atrocity Exhibition’ collected in For Most of It I Have No Words. A. Blum. 2005. ‘Searching for Answers, and Discovering that there are none’, New York Times, 5 May; P. Gourevitch. 1999. We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with our Families, New York: Picador U.S.A.; S. Norfolk and M. Ignatieff. 1998. For Most of it I Have No Words, Stockport, U.K.: Dewi Lewis Publishing. See Blum’s description of the memorial museum and the way in which it turns that which remains ‘fresh’ elsewhere in Rwanda into the stuff of history. He writes: ‘it was affecting, but in those carpeted and cooled galleries, the genocide was history. Outside, it was still part of everyday life. On the slope below the museum was a garden filled with tombs, one of them still open. Coffins draped in purple bunting were visible a few feet underground, and a ladder rested nearby, ready for use.’ A. Blum. 2005. ‘Searching for Answers, and Discovering that there are none’. ‘Les anciens Rwandais, s’ils ne fétichisaient en aucune façon la dépouille de leurs morts, ne les oubliaient pas pour autant. Le nom des parents disparus était conserve par le culte des ancêtres, dont le procedures conservaient la mémoire des liens généalogiques entre les défunts et les vivants.’ C. Vidal. 2001. ‘Les Commémorations du Génocide au Rwanda’, Les Temps Modernes, 613 (mars–avril–mai 2001), 16. Although DNA testing or other modes of forensic science also could establish the origin of these bones, the function of the memorials is not to obtain scientific evidence, but rather an experience of commemoration. Susan Cook notes that of the three potential aims of the memorials – preservation of evidence, memorialisation, and documentation – she was surprised to discover that a member of the Ministry of Justice was (at least in

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2000) ‘not very interested in the preservation of forensic evidence from genocide sites’. In his explanation this is because of gacaca ‘in which most of the evidence is based on eyewitness testimony’. S. Cook. 2006. ‘The Politics of Preservation in Rwanda’, in S. Cook (ed.), Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda: New Perspectives, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. For fine accounts of Rwandan responses to the memorials see Cook’s and Vidal’s. I visited Nyamata, Ntarama, and Murambi – as well as several other memorials – and the construction site that was Gisozi in July 2002, although over the past eight years they have continued to change, both intentionally (through acts of NGOs and others, especially concerned to honor the tenth anniversary of the genocide in 2004) and unintentionally (they are frozen in time but also continue to decay). I have not visited Nyarubuye. S. Cook, ‘The Politics of Preservation in Rwanda’; C. Vidal, ‘Les Commémorations du Génocide au Rwanda’. P. Gourevitch. 2001. ‘ Among the Dead’, in M. Roth and C.G. Sala (eds), Disturbing Remains: Memory, History, and Crisis in the Twentieth. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 70. On the appropriation here of memorial strategies used at Auschwitz (and Yad Vashem), specifically, the display of clothes, see the ‘Keeping Memory alive in Rwanda.’ 2003. 5(1), 149–51. Also, as the same article notes the Rwandan memorials clearly resonate with Cambodia’s memorials, however – at least until the Genocide Memorial Museum – the memorials included no photographs, only the bones and the preserved sites. Many survivors have detailed the acts of dismemberment that occurred during the genocide. For particularly vivid description, see J. Hatzfeld. 1993. Dans le nu de la vie: Récits des marias rwandaise, Paris: Seuil. Gourevitch also notes that even the statues at Nyarubuye were decapitated and Simon Norfolk includes a photograph that he calls ‘A boy’s legs pushed into a vase’, which represents the bones of a child forced – with flowers – into a tin box. See P. Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with our Families. Norfolk explains that this is way of enacting the imperative to drown all the Tutsi in the Nile (from which, according to the racial theory behind the genocide, the Tutsi are said to have come). In the absence of the Nile – or another body of water – the flowerpot stands in. On the facing page, Norfolk places a photograph of a prosthetic leg, troubling the difference between bones and other remains. S. Norfolk and M. Ignatieff. 1998. For Most of it I Have No Words, Stockport, U.K.: Dewi Lewis Publishing. It would seem as if these bags are only temporarily situated here, they appear an exhibition in process, perverse afterthought, or incomprehensible oversight. However, a report of ‘La Commission pour le Mémorial du Génocide et des Massacres au Rwanda’ explains ‘A l’interieur de l’Eglise, juste à l’entrée des ossements qui ont été ramassés sur les collines environnantes ont été recueillis dans des sachets’: giving some evidence that it is a thoroughly deliberate, indeed accepted decision. Under the section devoted to the hills of Rebero and Kaymba, it is added that ‘Les ossements des tués sur cette colline ont été recueillis dans les sachets et déposés à l’Eglise de Nyamata’. ‘La Commission pour le Mémorial du Génocide et des Massacres au Rwanda’, (1996) Commission pour le mémorial du génocide et des massacres au Rwanda,

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‘Rapport préliminaire d’identification des sites du génocide et des massacres d’avril–juillet1994 au Rwanda’ (Kigali), 174. P. Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with our Families, 15–16.; P. Gourevitch. 2001. ‘Among the Dead’, 63–64. P. Gourevitch. 2001. ‘ Among the Dead’, 67 Gourevitch’s account of the imagination is Derridian, evoking similar formulae that Derrida has offered, for example: only the unforgivable can be forgiven. See also Derrida’s account of invention in ‘Psyche: Inventing the Other’ for an account of the impossibility of witnessing a singular event. As Alexandre’s experience shows, the pictures allow for repetition and hence for sense. P. Gourevitch. 1999. We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with our Families, 19. In other words, they could be understood to enact the strange imperative that Maurice Blanchot offers in The Writing of the Disaster: ‘Keep watch over absent meaning.’ Gourevitch’s account of stepping on a skull stands as an allegory for the impossibility of good conscience. He writes: ‘We went on through the first room [at Nyarubuye] and out the far side. There was another room and another and another and another. They were all full of bodies, and more bodies were scattered in the grass, and there we stray skulls in the grass, which was thick and wonderfully green. Standing outside there, I heard a crunch. The old Canadian colonel stumbled in front of me, and I saw, though he did not notice, that his foot had rolled on a skull and broken it. For the first time at Nyarubuye my feelings focused, and what I felt was a small but keen anger at this man. Then I heard another crunch and felt a vibration underfoot. I had stepped on one, too.’ P. Gourevitch, ‘Among the Dead’, 66. And also an ‘ideal’: the ideal of extermination and purification. See Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, 1999. ‘George Segal: The Holocaust, 1984’, ArtForum, February, 78–79. For another account of the inability to remember that which we have never known and a critique of this imperative to remember – in lieu of an imperative to imagine — see Amy Hungerford. 2002. The Holocaust of Texts: Genocide, Literature, and Personification, Chicago: U of Chicago Press. See, for example, Susan Cook’s account of her experience at Murambi. S. Cook, ‘The Politics of Preservation in Rwanda’. Scott Straus writes: ‘For establishing a working definition of genocide, I would suggest that Chalk and Johanssohn’s formulation be modified to annihilation of a ‘group that a perpetrator constitutes as an organic collectivity.’ Organic collectivity indicates that a group is seen as a natural, interconnected unit with reproductive capacity and biological qualities. When a perpetrator claims a group has a genetic kinship, or racial basis, that group is being constituted as an organic collectivity.’ S. Straus. 2001. ‘Contested Meanings and Conflicting Imperatives: A Conceptual Analysis of Genocide’, Journal of Genocide Research 3(3), 366. See R. Antelme. 1998. The Human Race, trans. J.Haight and A. Mahler, Marlboro, VT: Marlboro Press. These terms are translatable in Giorgio Agamben’s idiom as the difference between bios and zoe, where bios signals a life that can be killed but not sacrificed.

3 The Imperial War Museum North: A Twenty-First Century Museum? Gaynor Bagnall and Antony Rowland

Museums are the cathedrals of the postmodern age. Architectural innovations such as the Guggenheim museum and the Imperial War Museum North (IWMN) have established a spectacular presence in Bilbao and Manchester akin to the cathedrals of Rheims and York in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. These two museums are symptoms of a renaissance in museum building that appears set to continue long into the twenty-first century; however, critics have been divided about the import of such constructions. Whereas some writers have lauded the architectural vision and ambition of Daniel Libeskind’s building in Trafford Park, others have criticised the IWMN’s perceived vapidity, and its impact on social inclusion. Museum studies is moving away from an uncritical celebration of the architectural renaissance: ‘A recurring issue’, according to Suzanne MacLeod, is now ‘the tension between iconic architecture and the agendas of access and inclusion that form the central tenets of the modern museum’.1 Many critics have also commented scathingly on the exhibition space: Matthew Hughes refers to the IWMN as, without its multimedia, ‘just a box with a restaurant and a viewing platform’; Rainer Emig attacks the conservatism of the displays, and concludes that ‘Despite the architectural gesture of the building, it … ultimately houses the ingredients of a standard war museum’.2 The IWMN is found wanting from opposed critical positions: the exhibition space is not radical enough for cultural critics such as Emig; nor is it a traditional space which might appeal to the ‘core audience’, as Hughes sees it, of military historians and local researchers.

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Figure 3.1: The ‘Impressions of War’ silo

Figure 3.2: Vietnam footage in the Impressions silo

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In contrast, this chapter will comprise the first extended defence of the IWMN as a pivotal twenty-first century museum in the sense that it deliberately effects such dialectical tensions in the exhibition space rather than simplistically attempting to solve such recent critical issues in museum studies. Critics such as David Storrie have contended that, as with Libeskind’s extension to the Jewish Museum in Berlin, there is a mismatch between the spectacular architecture and the underwhelming exhibitions. ‘Libeskind’s spaces’, Storrie insists, ‘are ultimately diminished by their exhibits’.3 Instead, we illustrate that Storrie misreads the anti-redemptive and antiiconic exhibition space, which dovetails perfectly with Libeskind’s vision. Drawing on evidence from visitor responses4 to the building and exhibitions, we show that this space opens out another important debate for twenty-first century museums in that it engages with the increasingly self-conscious aestheticisation of the museum object. Harriers and tanks are presented as both relics of war and art objects in their own right; there is even an ‘Impressions of War’ silo that openly impresses upon the visitor the fact that television programmes such as Dad’s Army have more to do with the collective British memory of World War Two than recent historiography. In this silo, the link between aesthetics, popular culture and collective memory is compounded with a more obviously artistic exhibition space: the pop art sign for the silo (figure 3.1) comprises a pastiche of a Lichtenstein picture; over–sized chairs point towards a television screen which contains loop footage of events in, for example, Vietnam (figure 3.2) and the Falklands. The exhibits here comprise not historical icons but, amongst other things, a Blackadder Goes Forth video, an Airfix–600 kit, a Dad’s Army game and even a bottle of Kentish Spitfire Ale. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how this open engagement with the aestheticisation and commodification of history operates paradoxically – but productively – in the context of the section of the museum devoted to the Holocaust. Rather than banning contemporary artworks from the main exhibition space on the grounds that they might provide succour for Holocaust deniers (as happened at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.), in the IWMN, ‘stills’ about secondary witnessing by the artist Darren Almond are literally mirrored in the cabinet that represents the Holocaust and genocide.5

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Figure 3.3: Exterior of the Imperial War Museum North (canal side)

Post/modernist Architecture The IWMN comprises the most spectacular architecture on the border between Manchester and Salford since the view of The Lowry museum from Trafford Road became obscured by what Libeskind would term ‘the degraded product of necessity’; in this case, an ugly car park and a shopping arcade.6 In his plans Libeskind referred to the IWMN as existing ‘in the horizon of the imagination’ (63): glimpses of the building from the road bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal approximate to this vision, as the museum dominates the western skyline; the aluminium sheeting colours differently according to the light and weather conditions, like the stele in Peter Eisenman’s ‘Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe’ in Berlin.7 From an architectural viewpoint, the building might be said to be postmodern, given its resistance to the right angle, and its emphasis on spectacle, as opposed to, say, the modernist and hyper-rationalist architecture of Roger Diener’s Centre PasquArt museum in Biel. Yet, from the perspective of other disciplines, postmodernist works of art resist the modernist nostalgia for referentiality, which is implicit in Libeskind’s explanation of the building as a ‘fundamental emblem of conflict’, which fuses modernist ‘fragments, shards or traces of history’ (see figure 3.3).8 His mythopoeic narrative surrounding the

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origin of the architecture confronts the visitor in a picture by the front desk, and during the guided tour: Libeskind allegedly shattered the contemporary world (in the form of a globe) and then reassembled the shards into this symbol of ongoing conflict (63). Many critics, such as Raul Barreneche, regurgitate the story as if it were the key to understanding this breathtaking twenty-first century architecture: ‘The museum’s exterior is composed of three fragmented volumes that [apparently] suggest a shattered globe’.9 Emig injects some much-needed scepticism into the debate over the building’s referentiality when he asserts that Libeskind’s narrative is ‘a charming although unlikely story’.10 Barreneche himself resists architectural intention when he asserts elsewhere that the ‘stark forms suggest a violent crash’ (82). Other readings are possible: the curved surface of the earth shard is reminiscent of the outlines of early British tanks in World War One (a Mark V tank is held in the forecourt of the Imperial War Museum in London). Such narratives and references (intended or not) are a far cry from Libeskind’s earlier Urban-Villa project (1990), which consists of postmodern architecture that ‘does not imitate, represent or symbolize beyond itself, but simply shows – makes a site’.11 In contrast, the architecture of the IWMN is instructive for twenty–first century war museums in that it brings together postmodern architectural forms with a distinctly modernist referentiality and ‘celebration and lamentation of fragmentation’.12 The future architecture of war museums will have to confront the paradox that Libeskind unintentionally highlights. How can postmodernist forms which allegedly do not ‘represent … beyond [themselves]’ embody war museums which rely on the referentiality of signs of conflict to make any sense? Critics who (mis)read the architecture as simply postmodernist often go on to lament the lack of depth in Libeskind’s work: they are clearly not going to laud one of the most important legacies of the IWMN for twenty-first century museum construction, which is what we will term an emphasis on playful discombobulation. As opposed to the neoclassical pomposity of the Imperial War Museum in London, the IWMN building delights in mildly disconcerting its visitors. The air shard contains a vertigo-inducing walkway where visitors can see through the mesh in the floor to the ground below. The jagged edge of this shard is mirrored in the pathways around the museum, which contain slate fragments between them. As with the pathways between the old and new buildings at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, they avoid travelling in a straight line, which, in one instance, would be the most convenient way to reach the exit to The Lowry (see figure 3.4). At the back of the building, there are two signs on concrete posts which announce ‘No alcohol beyond this point’ (see figure 3.6): they are facing each other, so the only way the visitor could have brought the offending substance to the IWMN is via the Ship Canal. If the visitor approaches the museum from certain parts of the car park, or from the canal entrance, it is not immediately clear where the entrance of the museum is located (it is tucked away between the earth and

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Figure 3.4: Sign for the IWMN (canal side)

Figure 3.5: The Imperial War Museum (London)

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air shard). This particular instance of playfulness enrages the critic David Fleming: bemoaning ‘pretentious architecture’ and museums ‘with little in them’, he laments that ‘nothing annoys me more than being unable to find the entrance to a museum’: it is no coincidence he mentions Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin two sentences earlier (where the entrance to the new building is via an underground passage from the old museum), nor that the architect’s plans for the Felix Nussbaum Haus in Osnabrück were entitled ‘Museum Without Exit’.13 Such conservative approaches to museums – in which quick access to the exhibitions and archives is all important, at the expense of the constellation of encounters in the twenty-first century museum – are sometimes dressed up in the progressive guise of concerns about social inclusion. Yet the entrance to the IWM in London is hardly more inviting to those unfamiliar with museum space: a pair of fifteen-inch naval guns point at the visitor (figure 3.5), who becomes a symbolic enemy entering into an arms cache. (The only way the guns can be outflanked is if the visitor enters through the south entrance at the side of the building.) Fleming has a point in that the spectacle of the IWMN must be offputting to some visitors. The visitor response cards suggest that the building certainly stimulates strong feelings and has the capacity to polarise opinion. The emphasis on discombobulation and the desire of the building to disconcert is not lost on the visitors, as the museum’s archive of responses indicates, whatever their opinions on the architecture, or the unwelcoming entrance: I feel that the space and light contrast used is confusing and therefore the atmosphere and the War Museum itself. The architecture is horrible and it needs a main entrance that stands out. If this is the best the North can do I shall continue to trail to the Elephant and Castle. The architect should be shot to make a start. Confusing, difficult to follow … Yet, it seems that many people enjoy being disconcerted once they understand the architect’s aim: Fantastic, every angle, every corner and every surface emits an emotion never felt before … Libeskind claims that the IWMN offers a ‘participatory experience’ before the visitor enters through the actual door.14 This assertion is supported by some of the visitor responses to the building: The architect makes the outside look like the Death Camps of WW2. Also the brutal simplicity and sharp angles of the building make you think war is bad … It’s very emotional. The building looks beautiful.

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Figure 3.6: Sign outside the IWMN

Figure 3.7: Trabant exhibit in the IWMN

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The architecture of the IWMN becomes a potential barrier to social inclusion like its Victorian forbears: the postmodern shards might be equally as alienating as the Ionic Greek Revival style at the front of the neoclassical Manchester Art Gallery. However, we would argue that the IWMN’s twenty–first century discombobulation includes the visitor in the construction of the museum’s meanings in a very different way to neoclassical architecture, which warns the entrant that this space encompasses valuable cultural material with which they are privileged to engage. It is not the fault of spectacular architecture per se that it encourages, for some, what Elaine Heumann Gurian calls ‘threshold fear’, but decades of misinformation that culture is only for the likes of an elitist minority.15 Hence in the local magazine the salford star, a woman mentions taking her elderly mother to The Lowry for the first time, who ‘wanted to know who had given us permission to go in, and was I sure she could have a cup of tea in the bar’.16 It is not hard to imagine such reservations extended to the museum on the opposite side of the Ship Canal, despite Libeskind’s claims that the IWMN offers a ‘participatory experience’ before the visitor enters.17

Discombobulation and the Exhibition Space The playful discombobulation continues in the main exhibition space: Emig’s correct assertion that the IWMN takes a conventional approach to war in the chronological Timeline underplays the museum’s radical departure from the displays in the IWM in London in terms of the space, design, exhibits, and the emphasis on the aestheticisation of museum objects. As the visitor enters the exhibition on the first floor – already disconcerted by the anti-classical staircase that narrows as the steps ascend – the first object to be encountered comprises an American AV-8A Harrier jet. Any visitor familiar with the IWM in London might expect the exhibition space to open out past the jet into a cacophony of weaponry akin to the IWM’s ‘main hall full of military kit like a boy’s bedroom’.18 Instead, the Harrier constitutes the equivalent of ‘the obligatory crocodile hanging from the ceiling’ in pre–twentieth century natural history collections: only a few war icons follow, including a Russian T-34/85 tank, a flame thrower from HMS Vindictive and a Leopard Mark IV Security vehicle from the former Southern Rhodesia.19 One icon is playfully anti-iconic: a 1982 Trabant Deluxe Estate car from East Germany (figure. 3.7) nudges the visitor into questioning what exactly embodies a ‘true’ icon of war. Daring to challenge a multitude of visitors who must desire a ‘hall full of military kit’, this anti-iconic stance is complemented by the design of the exhibition space. The double-height main hall conveys an overpowering sense of emptiness; it contains Libeskind’s signature sharp

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angles, low lighting and walls with narrow skylights. Yet, this emptiness and anti-iconic stance is able to provoke an emotional response from this visitor: the shards of light create an amazing effect in the main hall. The exhibition is superb and worrying. Very powerful … James Young notes the illusion of a sloping floor in the Jewish museum in Berlin: in Manchester, Libeskind goes a step further and introduces a slight concavity; the ‘butterfly’ visitor is mildly disconcerted by this as they traverse the main exhibition space.20 Critics such as Hughes and Storrie object to the anti-iconic emptiness and discombobulation: Storrie contends that ‘It is as if [Libeskind] wants to replace objects with the idea of architecture and negate the narratives held within these objects through the production of built form’ (184). In contrast, we would argue that Libeskind and the exhibition designers wanted the boy in the bedroom to grow up: rather than allowing visitors to play unreflectively in a cockpit, the IWMN unsettles a potentially unseemly attraction to weapons of mass destruction. Instructively for twenty-first century museums, it also questions visitors’ attachment to reified objects as the ‘true’ museum experience. The IWMN’s anti-iconic stance resists Victorian encyclopaedism, and the museum as the equivalent of the overcrowded cemetery or mausoleum. Of course, this stance is bound to be paradoxical in a museum which still partly relies on icons of warfare to fill some of the exhibition space, and which is pressured by visitor responses to include even more conventional icons: more large scale exhibits, i.e., tanks, vehicles and aircraft that people can get into/on for a feel of ‘what it was like … Your museum was great, but you need more tanks and guns. As with the paradox surrounding the architecture, the museum productively opens out a debate about museum iconicity rather than ‘solves’ it with an absence of objects or of a well-lit replica of the military kit in London. Significantly, visitors were also able to identify with this debate and the question it raises concerning visitors’ attachment to reified objects as part of the museum experience, although it could be suggested that this response illustrates that instead there is a shift towards the reification of human experience: Having visited both Imperial War Museums we found this one to be extremely interesting and thought-provoking. Especially as it focuses mainly on the human element and not just machinery …

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More seriously, Emig accuses the museum of a nationalist and fetishist attachment to war (55), but, again, this highlights the difference in presentation between the London and Manchester museums. Whereas the main hall in London conveys a sense of celebration – as Emig rightly notes, the emphasis is on D-Day in the World War Two section – the overall tone of the IWMN is decidedly anti-redemptive. Unintentionally, the empty and low-lit exhibition space can be read as openly confronting a melancholic connection to past warfare.

Figure 3.8: The Great Court in The British Museum Hughes argues that the ‘origins of the Great War are presented with no mention of the Fritz Fischer debate’: its inclusion would no doubt have enraptured visitors, but the museum staff chose instead to build on the playful discombobulation in the construction and arrangement of the main exhibition space with a more popular vehicle for conveying information than 1960s German historiography: The Big Picture Show. Academics in museum studies sometimes forget that, in the twenty-first century, the main audience for museums is not (thankfully) academics: the IWMN attempts to draw visitors with little or no knowledge of historiography into a more reflective response to the exhibits via the unsettling video projections of different images onto the surrounding walls (with no central projection space), accompanied by a loud soundtrack of diegetic and extradiegetic sound. During the show, the surrounding lighting is dimmed, which heightens the inevitably didactic experience.

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Critics have been quick to deride what some regard as the increasingly media and spectacle-dominated exhibitions in twenty-first century museums. Fleming argues that, post-Guggenheim, curators see objects as almost irrelevant to the museum experience: like the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the IWMN has saddled itself to ‘an exhibition that is pedestrian at best’; with its refurbished Great Court (figure. 3.8), the British museum is similarly just ‘a spectacular destination café with some antiquities in the basement’.21 As Andreas Huyssen pointed out in Twilight Memories, however, it is ‘not exactly a new idea to suggest that entertainment and spectacle can function in tandem with complex forms of enlightenment’.22 Huyssen argues against Jean Baudrillard’s contention that the museum is now ‘just another simulation machine … no longer distinguishable from television’ (30), pointing out that the museum boom coincided with ‘the cabling of the metropolis’ (32). Museums are increasingly popular owing to the materiality of the objects not available to the viewer of digital television. The Big Picture Show chimes with Huyssen’s vision of the postmodern museum as a ‘site of spectacular … and operatic exuberance’: in the IWMN, the discombobulating slide show operates alongside the ‘museum object as historical hieroglyph rather than simply a banal piece of information’ (33). The narrative emphasis during the Show is on personal testimony rather than conveying a confusing myriad of historical facts, which is why, of course, many historians have taken against the museum (one colleague at The University of Salford quipped that IWMN stands for Innovation With Mostly Nothing). In contrast, we argue that the IWMN accommodates a wider audience than historians by presenting history (or, more accurately, memory) in the form of personal testimony rather than hardcore fact. This emphasis was compounded when the museum opened with a series of unprompted sketches performed at intervals throughout the day by staff members and local actors: breaking through the ‘fourth wall’ equivalent of the exhibition space, the performances drew attention to specific testimonies.23 Members of staff also encourage Huyssen’s ‘hieroglyphic’ approach to icons through ‘handling’ sessions, where they discuss the history and import of selected objects. The icons themselves function not as static and reified relics but as active producers of meaning, as this visitor response signifies: A box of love for those who lost their lives, one person’s death tells you more than a thousand … Artworks surrounding the icons encourage this production: poems, photographs and art enter into dialogue with the facts of the icons’ previous existence. Exactly what the visitors are producing is, of course, a matter for debate: many historians would baulk at the lack of specific data, and trite emotional connections are, of course, possible: to paraphrase and re-deploy

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Kenneth Hudson on a stuffed gorilla, who knows what goes through visitors’ heads when they contemplate a Harrier jet.24 Indeed, our analysis of the visitor responses shows that this mode of representing history at the IWMN enables visitors to produce a range of meanings that are reflective of those found in other museums that adopt similar strategies of integrating the spectacular with personal testimony.25 The responses are saturated with nostalgia, reminiscence and emotion, and there is a personalisation of war and its effects: Night after night, the bombers would fly down and over the river Dee to bomb Liverpool. As children we stood on the prom at New Brighton as far as the eye could see from Bootle to Dingle the whole area was ablaze. The Soldier and Girl sleeping and the account of a couple meeting at the station made me weep. It was my mother and father’s experience. The Medical Inspection made me laugh. My Granddad told me how he was signed up and had to endure a similar ordeal. Yet, at times, for some, there is a more philosophical engagement. The experience can be thought-provoking, and provides a space for visitors to reflect upon the past and the nature of war, and in some cases the performance of a ‘reflexive’ self: A message for today’s youth : I was a 10-year-old girl during the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy (1943). It was a frightening and horrible experience. I survived and now believe all war is wrong. Work for peace … We must never be allowed to forget the inhumanity that took place in our Europe. There were many brave people who gave up their youth and their lives to put a stop to injustice. This gives us [a] chance to quietly show our gratitude. War is a terrible thing. These artefacts remind us of that. They also remind us of the compassion and human dignity which is the other face of war. This last extract draws our attention to the aesthetics of the museum object or artefact, and it is to this that we now turn. Many critics in museum studies argue that museum objects are inevitably aesthetic, since they are reified as soon as they enter the exhibition space.26 As Hudson simply puts it in relation to natural history museums (he has a predilection for taxidermy): ‘A stuffed elephant in a museum is a stuffed elephant in a museum, not an elephant’ (12). Museums, in contrast, are attentive (or not) to the process of reification to varying degrees. The IMWN is exemplary in its acute awareness of the increasingly self-conscious

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aestheticization of the museum object. Contemporary museums are becoming more like art galleries ‘as a means of countering the visually deadening serial effect created by the serried ranks of dead creatures, minerals or other such objects’ in traditional natural history museums. Christopher R. Marshall is particularly fond of a hippopotamus in London’s Geological museum: its anti-naturalist stance constitutes ‘a beautifully framed aesthetic object in its own right’ (172). In the IWMN, the Harrier jet comprises the equivalent of Marshall’s hippo: its isolation at the ‘North Pole’ of the exhibition space creates what the critic terms the ‘slow space’ necessary for aesthetic contemplation (174). Libeskind’s slanted light-fittings complement the tilted line of the jet’s body, increasing the viewer’s sense of its operation primarily as an aesthetic object in the museum rather than a defunct sign of warfare. As with all the other icons, the jet’s podium contains red strip lighting which intensifies during the Big Picture Show: this emphasises its presentation as an isolated art object. (As one of the authors prepared to take a picture of the Trabant during a visit to the IWMN, a group of art students turned up to draw sketches of the car and its surrounding objects.) The low lighting throughout the exhibition – as in the Holocaust exhibition in the IWM, some of the labels are hard to read in places – creates the effect of an art gallery, as opposed to the brightly-lit main hall of the IWM. Marshall argues that his hippopotamus ‘reminds us of nothing so much as the work of a certain English enfant terrible of contemporary art with his predilection for cabinets filled with mutely suspended sharks, cows and other animals’ (172). If the IWMN visitor looks closely at the label for the Harrier jet, they will discover that the icon does indeed comprise Damien Hurst’s latest art installation. Of course, this is not the case, but its possibility stresses the aesthetic possibilities of the framing of objects as soon as a shark is taken out of the sea and a jet out of Mediterranean warfare.28

The Holocaust Cabinet In contrast, the section of the museum dedicated to the Holocaust seems to eschew the emphasis elsewhere on the aesthetics of museum objects and the commodification of history. The Holocaust cabinet does not include a copy of Schindler’s List as an equivalent of the Blackadder Goes Forth video in the ‘Impressions’ silo. Instead, a sober exhibition rejects the multimedia approach prevalent in the rest of the museum, and deploys minimalist techniques – which are still, of course, a particular form of aesthetics – in a short, but effective, exhibition; one that is for some, ‘graphic and almost too personal to look at’.

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Figures 3.9 and 3.10: The Holocaust Cabinet in the IWMN

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3.11: The Table of Statistics This outline suggests a conservative approach to the Holocaust in the museum space, but the cabinet is actually much more contentious, and confronts the complexities of how to represent the Holocaust in a twentyfirst century museum primarily about twentieth-century warfare. How can

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museum curators adequately represent the comparable singularity of the event in a wider history of warfare and atrocity? The particularity of the Holocaust is suggested in the exhibition’s location at the bottom of the museum; by implication, this comprises the nadir of twentieth-century history. Libeskind’s sloping floor leads ‘butterfly’ visitors who traverse the main exhibition space – and avoid the Timeline – straight towards the implicitly most horrific section of the museum.29 Significantly, the figures of six million Jews murdered (or eleven million killed in total) during the Holocaust are absent from the ‘league table’ of statistics in the bottom corner of the museum (see figure 3.11). Their absence suggests the potential non-comparability of the event, but a member of the IWMN staff explained that they were left out because they needed to be put in their proper context (in other words, in the cabinet itself). To have included them would, the curators thought, belie the true significance of the Jewish experience during World War Two. And yet the size and labelling of the cabinet itself suggests a comparability that the absence of the statistics attempted to avoid. Whereas Washington and Melbourne have devoted entire museums to the representation of the Holocaust, and the IWMN contains a whole floor dedicated to the event, the Manchester museum chose to engage with the Holocaust within a single cabinet. When the multimedia exhibition first opened in London, visitors required a separate ticket to look at the exhibits, signalling the event’s singularity, as opposed to the IWMN, where the objects are openly held in an old-fashioned cabinet. In Manchester, the event is signalled to be one instance of atrocity amongst the myriad of accounts in the museum; hence, contentiously, the first word the visitor comes across when walking past the cabinet is ‘GENOCIDE’. Many critics would be outraged by this suggestion of comparability, and yet we would argue that this is precisely the way in which the Holocaust will be increasingly situated in war museums as the twenty-first century continues. The era of the Holocaust museum is over since the post-memory generation oversaw the construction of the Washington museum and London exhibition in the 1980s and 1990s. Representations of the Holocaust in war museums will increasingly figure as scaled-down versions of the exhibitions in spaces that focus more specifically on the event. Hence the first section of the cabinet in the IWMN is basically a miniature version of the Holocaust Tower of faces in the Washington museum.30 Critics such as Rick Crownshaw have illustrated how this tower functions as a kind of counter-monument to the monumentality of the overall museum: a myriad of photographs of a Jewish community before its destruction confront the visitor with a sea of faces before the victim status apportioned during the genocide.31 In the IWMN, a much smaller set of photographs opens out into a simple, but powerful, narrative of absence. Photographs of Jewish individuals, families and property from before the

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war in Frysztak (Poland) are followed by a series of identity cards from the Kraków ghetto. The cabinet ends with iconic Holocaust photographs, such as the picture of women and children in the birch grove at Birkenau. In one sense, the narrative depicts a movement from identity to absence and anonymity. Cheerful family scenes give way to enforced identity in the form of the ghetto cards; the pictures of anonymous victims and corpses function as the endpoint of authoritarian identity politics. However, in another, more disconcerting sense, the entire cabinet is about absence and anonymity. Paradoxically for a museum exhibit, the visitor confronts an absence of information: visitors do not know who these people are in the Frysztak photographs; equally, the ghetto cards tell us nothing about the human beings behind the passport-size photographs. As Marshall writes in relation to the tower of faces in Washington, the initial photographs in the IWMN ‘reinforce not so much a sense of the individuality of these Holocaust victims in particular, but rather a generalised and even collective sense of the anonymity of fadedness and loss’ (176). This overall sense of absence in the exhibition culminates in what the labels refer to as a ‘Bowl from Auschwitz II-Birkenau’, a ‘Prisoner’s jacket from Majdanek’, a concentration camp prisoner’s cap and a pair of clogs ‘issued to [a] concentration camp prisoner’. These items are aligned in the cabinet so as to suggest an absent body (figure 3.10). The ensuing symbol of the ‘collective sense of … anonymity’ clearly resonates for many visitors: the IWMN staff commented that in the response cards visitors recall these objects as particularly thought-provoking. To return to Hudson’s gorilla, exactly what is being provoked remains an issue: Henning bemoans museums in which ‘objects become little more than props or stimuli … a blank slate for imaginary projections’ (112). Little historical information is (and perhaps can) be given about these Holocaust icons: the shoes are from an unnamed concentration camp; the owners’ testimonies are absent, and it is unclear whether they survived or not. Despite this particular form of absence, an empathetic response to the ‘stimuli’ is still possible, as this visitor comment demonstrates: I am in a dark mood after my visit. The Holocaust display sent shivers through me, the clogs made me want to cry. Killing machines from the past serve to remind us all that we have learned nothing. The following response from one of our students illustrates the point further. A Sociology student admitted that she was appalled – after seeing the clogs – that she had recently uttered the common phrase ‘these shoes are killing me’. More importantly, she realised that she had misread the phrase ‘clogs’ in Primo Levi’s testimony as ‘shoes’: such a response acknowledges difference and refuses to transform something alien (Levi’s clogs) into the

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‘same’ (the ‘killing’ shoes). Some historians might baulk at the lack of information contained in this ‘imaginary projection’, but the cabinet ultimately reflects the fact that in twenty-first century museums there will be individual stories and family histories from before the war that cannot be traced, due to a lack of historical evidence or oral and written testimony by survivors. Imaginative projections are thereby sometimes the only way of making any (inevitably compromised) sense out of absence. Hudson comments that ‘Only the person of exceptional imagination, knowledge and powers of detachment can restore to an object the associations and the qualities which the museum has taken away’ (12). However, we would argue that the Holocaust cabinet highlights the impossibility of reversing the process of reification when it is not obvious what the objects refer to even before they enter the museum. The photographs represent people ‘alive as dead’ in a mausoleum for the anonymous.32 Our analysis of the cabinet so far suggests an overwhelmingly effective representation of absence in a concise space, but the exhibition is not, of course, beyond criticism when engaging with such a controversial topic for twenty-first century museums. Like the exhibition in London – with its newsreel of Nazi rallies and an entire cabinet devoted to an SS uniform – the perspective is mainly that of the perpetrator as the cabinet moves left to right towards the destruction of the Jewish communities in Poland. Nor does the cabinet comment self-consciously on the perpetrator icons of ghetto cards and photographs taken primarily by Nazi guards in the camp, or individuals present at the Einsatzgruppen massacres. Unlike the IWM, however, visitors are allowed to take photographs of the cabinet and Darren Almond film stills: a paradoxical logic persists in the London exhibition that the perpetrator photographs themselves are not obscene, but that a visitor taking a picture of the selfsame photographs constitutes an act of obscenity. In both the IWM and the IWMN, one of the most successful ways in which the museums engage with the process of perpetration is by figuring the museum visitor as a potential perpetrator or bystander. Visitors who stare at stuffed gorillas in natural history museums are rarely figured, or challenged, in the exhibition space itself. In contrast, when the visitor comes across an ordinary Adler typewriter in the London exhibition, ‘a basic tool of the bureaucracy’, they see their own reflection mirrored ‘in the black perpetrator space’.33 Similarly, when the visitor to the IWMN looks closely in the Holocaust cabinet, they can see their own face reflected back. Such discomforting participatory strategies are increasingly common in twenty–first century museums as they try to unsettle the viewpoint of unreflective visitors who look on the ‘object’ of history as if it had no relevance to the contemporary world.34 As well as glancing at their own reflections, visitors can see the Darren Almond film stills reflected in the Holocaust cabinet’s glass: unlike the Holocaust museum in Washington, the IWMN gives space to artworks which

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Figures 3.12, 3.13 and 3.14: Darren Almond’s Auschwitz ‘stills’ engage with secondary witnessing. Staff in Washington insisted that ‘art must remain separate from the permanent exhibitions’, and that artwork depicted elsewhere in the museum ‘should be of authentic documentary character’, in case Holocaust deniers make use of such art for their own cause.35 Marshall states that the museum’s approach was ‘readily understandable’ when it actually relies on muddled logic that insists that an overtly aesthetic approach to the Holocaust must be played down so that the event appear true. Instead, the Almond artwork highlights the fact that, increasingly, visitor responses to twentieth-century history in twenty-first-century museums will inevitably be those of secondary witnesses. The Holocaust, according to Susan Gubar, is ‘dying’ in the sense that the primary witnesses are sadly dwindling; artists such as Almond must ‘keep [the event] alive as dying’.36 Almond initiates this process by focussing on ‘his generational alienation from the subject of [World War Two] and his personal desire to find a way of re-engaging with it’.37 The images of railway lines, bus shelters and Oswieçim railway station (figures 3.12, 3.13, 3.14) comprise ‘screen-grabs’ (digital film stills) from his 8 mm film Oswiecim March 1997. Almond ‘re-engages’ with history by transforming his familiar theme of public transport and motifs of arrival and departure into signs for the act of secondary witnessing. His work differs to that of photographers such as

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Erich Hartmann in that he eschews the ‘modernist compositions’ of ‘oftrepeated icons of Holocaust imagery’; instead of shots of the iconic guardhouse and barbed wire at Auschwitz-Birkenau, he presents a bus shelter in Oswieçim, as if to stress his proximity to, but not involvement in, the camp’s history.38 Almond is impressed that he can take a bus all the way from London Victoria to Oswieçim via Warsaw and Kraków: the journey becomes a sign for the conscious act of secondary witnessing.39 On the surface, the main film still appears to be presented from a victim’s perspective, as the deportee enters Oswieçim station; the grainy quality of the pictures adds to the documentary aesthetics.40 However, rather than try and present ‘transparently timeless windows into history’, Almond’s focus is on the proxy-witness’s pilgrimage, the ‘bystander’ status of current inhabitants of Oswieçim, and the secondary witness’s inability to recapture some of the life narratives of deportees. Unlike victims arriving in the station for the first time, Almond is aware of the contemporary resonances of the word ‘Oswieçim’: the main focal point is the station sign; a pole splits through the ‘e’ and ‘c’, and the middle of the picture, presenting the Holocaust – in an Adornoian manner – as creating an irrevocable split between pre- and post-Holocaust culture. In the background are vehicles in the station car park, which represent both the bystander culpability of previous inhabitants of Oswieçim, living in the town during the death camp’s operation, and the attitude of contemporary Poles who must wish, as Almond puts it, to get on with their daily lives and forget what happened at Auschwitz-Birkenau.41 The artist follows writers such as Raul Hilberg and Zygmunt Bauman by drawing attention to the bureaucratic underpinning of the deportations: a plated signpost features prominently in the film still, with the inscription ‘A177’; the stills are superimposed with a grid reminiscent of graph-paper, which hints at the bureaucracy behind the cattle-trucks. As with the Adler typewriter and the Holocaust cabinet, the viewer is not allowed to dissociate themselves completely from Almond’s critique of the bystander position: the implication seems to be that one of the cars in the main picture could easily be one of the viewer’s. In another picture, the focus is on the points at a railway spur rather than the aesthetics of the lines themselves, as in iconic photographs of Auschwitz-Birkenau: Almond emphasises that ordinary workers became complicit with the Nazis’ bureaucracy when operating such simple machinery. Bystanders are implicated throughout Almond’s sequence: all the IWMN film stills are self–referential in that they connote the second and third parts of Almond’s Oswieçim series; the artist brought the bus shelters to Germany and placed them on the site of a former Nazi deportation centre; he then arranged for replicas to be transported back to Poland ‘to create a kind of quiet monument’. The second part was titled Terminus: Almond reflects on the horrific irony of the secondary witness’s

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ability to arrive and depart at the shelters, unlike the deportees at the Birkenau terminus. The whole sequence is didactic in that it warns against the secondary witness forgetting in the future to make the real, and metaphorical, journey to Auschwitz. In this sense, it is able to jolt the visitor out of an unreflective encounter with history’s objects in a way that the documentary evidence in the Holocaust cabinet opposite cannot achieve. Postmodernist architecture, playful discombobulation and the aesthetics of the artefact: all the qualities of the IWMN discussed in this chapter might seem irrelevant or unseemly in the context of Holocaust representation in particular. Yet Almond’s film still of the rail spur in Birkenau highlights the unavoidably aesthetic aspects of museum icons. The self-conscious aestheticisation of the museum object can be felt even in the presentation of the iconic utensils, brushes, pans, artificial limbs, suitcases and baskets in the Auschwitz museum itself. The rooms dedicated to the various icons are virtually empty apart from the glass windows and objects: this sparseness creates the slow space necessary for aesthetic contemplation. Cases with artificial limbs are underlit like the iconic exhibits in the IWMN, emphasising the increasing overlaps – in terms of the framing of exhibitions – between museums and art galleries. After decades of earthwork art and radical public sculpture, the vast swathe of crumbling brick chimneys in the former men’s camp in Birkenau appear akin to an open–air art installation rather than unaesthetic attestations to mass annihilation. To paraphrase and redeploy Hudson’s central question about museums in a more controversial context, is a brick chimney in a museum a chimney in a museum, rather than a chimney in the barracks at Birkenau? As with the Holocaust cabinet in the IWMN, the open-air museum at Birkenau illustrates that it is impossible to reverse the process of reification.

Notes 1. Suzanne MacLeod (ed.). 2005. Reshaping Museum Space: Architecture, Design, Exhibitions, London/New York: Routledge, 2. 2. Matthew Hughes. 2002. ‘The Imperial War Museum (North). The Triumph of Style over Substance?’, History in Focus, 4, www.history.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/-War/ #imp; Rainer Emig. 2007. ‘Institutionalising Violence, Destruction and Suffering. Pitfalls, Paradoxes and Possibilities of War Museums in Britain’, Journal for the Study of British Cultures, 14(1), 53–64, 60. 3. David Storrie. 2006. The Delirious Museum: a journey from the Louvre to Las Vegas, London/NY: I.B. Tauris and Co. Ltd, 182. 4. Data was gathered from visitor response cards at the IWMN. These are blank postcards which are located inside and outside the main and special exhibitions at the Museum. Visitors are invited to reflect and comment upon their visit. The

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6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

19. 20. 21. 22.

23. 24. 25.

26. 27. 28. 29.

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cards are collected daily, and the information on them is recorded by the Museum. We analysed these responses to the Museum for the period 1 April 2007 to the end of November 2007. Suzanne Bardgett (project director), quoted in Andrew D. Hoskins. 2003. ‘Signs of the Holocaust: exhibiting memory in a mediated age’, Media, Culture and Society, 25(7), 7–22, 14 (http://mcs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/25/1/7). Daniel Libeskind. 2001. The Space of Encounter, London: Thames and Hudson, 22. See James E. Young’s account in this volume of visiting the Berlin memorial on different occasions. Libeskind, The Space of Encounter, 63. Raul A. Barreneche. 2005. New Museums, London: Phaidon, 81. Emig, ‘Institutionalising Violence’, 59. Libeskind, The Space of Encounter, 18. Emig, ‘Institutionalising Violence’, 61. Daniel Fleming, ‘Creative space’, in MacLeod, Reshaping Museum Space, 53–61, 54. Libeskind, p.63. Elaine Heumann Gurian, ‘Threshold Fear’, in MacLeod, Reshaping Museum Space, 203–14. Colette. 2007. Letter to salford star, 4 (spring), 57. Libeskind, The Space of Encounter, 63. Hughes, ‘The Imperial War Museum’. The Jewish Museum in Berlin contains a staircase that leads nowhere, as opposed to the narrowing staircase in the IWMN. Michelle Henning. 2006. Museums, Media and Cultural Theory, Maidenhead/New York: Open University Press, 15. James E. Young. 2000. At Memory’s Edge: After-images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 174. Fleming in MacLeod, Reshaping Museum Space, 57. The quotes are from Blueprint and Museums Journal (quoted in Fleming 57, 59). Andrea Huyssen. 1995. ‘Escape from Amnesia: The Museum as Mass Medium’, in Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia, London/New York: Routledge, 13–36, 24. A member of staff in 2007 commented that these performances were now, sadly, less common, due to staff and actors moving elsewhere. Kenneth Hudson. 1975. A Social History of Museums: What the Visitors Thought, London\Basingstoke: Macmillan, 49. Gaynor Bagnall. 2007. ‘Performance and Performativity at Heritage Sites’, in L. Smith (ed.), Cultural Heritage: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, London: Routledge. See, for example, Henning, Museums, Media and Cultural Theory, 18. Christopher R. Marshall, ‘The Contemporary museum as art gallery’, in MacLeod, Reshaping Museum Space, 170–93, 172. According to the museum label, these American jets were in service in the Mediterranean 1971–83. The singularity of the event would also have been reflected in the proposed construction of the Shoah Centre close by to the IWMN. The cabinet also connotes absence in the sense that the Shoah Centre’s exhibitions would have

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challenged the museum’s narrative of destruction, but the Centre was never built. According to Donald Bloxham and Tony Kushner (2005) in The Holocaust: Critical Historical Approaches, Manchester: Manchester University Press, the Centre would have ‘forced the visitor to confront the fact that the Holocaust was not experienced by its victims as the coherent narrative in which it is now [as in the cabinet] increasingly packaged’ (50). Bill Williams, one of the representatives for the proposed Centre, argued that (again, unlike the cabinet) it would ‘avoid a lachrymose perception of Jewish history as a whole and its definition in terms of “victimhood”’ (www.msa.mmu.ac.uk/continuity/archive/shoahcentre/brief.htm). Libeskind offered a design for the building, which, he explained, would engage with ‘the day-to-day context of Jewish life in Manchester, England, and elsewhere’ in a ‘Threshold Datum’ which would spread out into ‘splinters’ with exhibition space and sound chambers (The Space of Encounter, 74). Bloxham and Kushner report that the Centre faltered ‘partly through a lack of financial will and partly through its radical vision’ (48). Staff at the IWM argue that money was the main reason for its failure. They explained that the original plan was for the Centre to be located on land adjacent to the IWMN. The IWM helped to secure a site (owned by Peel Holdings), and obtained funding, as well as Libeskind’s input. The Shoah Centre board then proposed moving the Centre onto the IWMN site, so it would be more directly connected to the museum (and the cabinet). IWM staff argued that this would, however, have reduced the car parking space, as well as the IWMN’s potential for future expansion. They agreed to go ahead with the plans as long as financial compensation was forthcoming. Representatives of the Centre could not guarantee compensation, and negotiations ceased in 2000. 30. Zauna (the former ‘bathhouse’) in the Birkenau museum contains a similar exhibition of photographs just before the visitor exits the building. Unlike the IWMN cabinet, some of the Birkenau pictures are accompanied with narratives describing the history of the depicted families and individuals. This interaction has the effect of contextualising the visual art which would otherwise be just a (still effective) peon to absence. 31. Rick Crownshaw. 2000. ‘Performing Memory in Holocaust Museums’, Performance Research, 5(3), 18–27. 32. Mark C. Taylor, quoted in Storrie, The Delirious Museum, 2006, 128. The history behind the photographs of the Frysztak Jews reveals a series of mass executions, imprisonment in ghetto towns and villages, instances of Polish anti-Semitism, and the destruction of a Jewish community. Murray Kessler has recorded how Polish Jews in villages in the region of Cracau were moved to ghetto towns in 1941 because ‘the Germans wanted to make sure they have all the Jews in one place [sic]’ (http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Frysztak/FrysztakHOLO.htm). On 3 July 1942, all Frysztak Jews had to ‘report to the auction place where you sold horses, cows and pigs [sic]’: people were then put in trucks, sent to the forest in Warzyce, shot, and buried in mass graves. (Kessler records that ‘2 or maybe 3 thousand’ were shot, whereas another account states that ‘850’ were taken to the woods [www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/krosno/holocaust.htm].) On 18 August 1942 the Frysztak ghetto was liquidated, and Kessler was transported to Plaszow near Kraków (others went to Przemysl, the Jaslo ghetto and Belzec). His brother

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35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40.

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Hersh was captured and shot in the cemetery in Frysztak. Kessler survived the war by escaping from Plaszow, and hiding with a Polish farming family in a nearby village. Greenberg in MacLeod, Reshaping Museum Space, 230. Indeed, we can see in the following comment how this participatory strategy draws this visitor into questioning and reflecting upon the Holocaust: ‘Why did this happen? Why did Hitler hate the Jews so much?’ Marshall in MacLeod, Reshaping Museum Space, 175. Susan Gubar. 2003. Poetry After Auschwitz: Remembering What One Never Knew, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 7. Almond biography at http://www.eyestorm.com/artist/Darren_Almond_biography.aspx. Dora Apel. 2002. Memory Effects: The Holocaust and the Art of Secondary Witnessing, NJ/London: Rutgers University Press, 111–12. Almond interview at http://www.eyestorm.com/artist/Darren_Almond_interview.aspx. The shot is carefully staged. After a visit to the station, it became clear to one of the authors that – in order to capture the car park and sign in the same frame – Almond must have placed the camera on a train rather than taking the shot from a more static position on the platform. Almond interview. Revealingly, the first exhibition the visitor comes across at the Auschwitz museum is dedicated to local Poles who helped the inmates during the war.

4 Memory and the Monument after 9/11 James E. Young

Allow me to open with a polemical question: what have monuments and memory to do with each other? ‘Every period has the impulse to create symbols in the form of monuments’, Sigmund Giedion has written, ‘which according to the Latin meaning are “things that remind”, things to be transmitted to later generations. This demand for monumentality cannot, in the long run, be suppressed. It will find an outlet at all costs’.1 This is still true, I believe, which leads me to ask just what these outlets and their costs are today. Indeed, the forms these demands for the monumental now take, and to what self-abnegating end, throw the presumptive link between monuments and memory into fascinating relief. In this meditation on ‘memory and the monument’, I would like to explore the ways both the monument and our approach to it have evolved over the course of the twentieth century, the ways the monument itself has been reformulated in its function as memorial, forced to confront its own limitations as a contemporary aesthetic response to recent past events such as the 11 September attacks and more distant past events such as the Holocaust. In this somewhat contrary approach to the monument, I try to show what monuments do by what they cannot do. Here I examine how the need for a unified vision of the past as found in the traditional monument necessarily collides with the modern conviction that neither the past nor its meanings are ever just one thing. And then with these thoughts in mind, I would like to share with you the conceptual foundations for a World Trade Centre memorial that I kept in mind during my time on the jury that finally chose Michael Arad and Peter Walker’s design for the World Trade Centre Site Memorial at ‘Ground Zero’ in New York City in 2004.

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Like other cultural and aesthetic forms in Europe and America, the monument in both idea and practice has undergone a radical transformation in the modern era. As intersection between public art and political memory, the monument has necessarily reflected the aesthetic and political revolutions, as well as the wider crises of representation, following all of this century’s major upheavals including both world wars, the Vietnam War, and the rise and fall of communist regimes in the former Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites. In every case, the monument reflects both its socio-historical and aesthetic contexts: artists working in eras of cubism, expressionism, socialist realism, earthworks, minimalism, and conceptual art remain answerable to the demands both of art and of public history. The result has been a metamorphosis of the monument from the heroic, selfaggrandizing figurative icons of the nineteenth century celebrating national ideals and triumphs to the antiheroic, often ironic and self-effacing conceptual installations marking the national ambivalence and uncertainty of late twentieth-century postmodernism. Indeed, the status of monuments on the cusp of the twenty-first century remains double-edged and is fraught with an essential tension: outside of those nations with totalitarian pasts, the public and governmental hunger for traditional, self-aggrandizing monuments is matched only by the contemporary artists’ scepticism of the monument. As a result, even as monuments continue to be commissioned and designed by governments and public agencies eager to assign singular memory and meaning to complicated events, artists increasingly plant in them the seeds of self-doubt and impermanence. The state’s need for monuments is acknowledged, even as the traditional forms and functions of monuments are increasingly challenged. As a result, the monument has increasingly become the site of contested and competing meanings, more likely the site of cultural conflict than of shared national values and ideals. ‘The notion of a modern monument is veritably a contradiction in terms’, Lewis Mumford wrote in the 1930s. ‘If it is a monument it is not modern, and if it is modern, it cannot be a monument’.2 Believing that modern architecture invites the perpetuation of life itself, encourages renewal and change, and scorns the illusion of permanence, Mumford wrote, ‘Stone gives a false sense of continuity, a deceptive assurance of life’ (434). Instead of changing and adapting to its environment, in Mumford‘s eyes, the monument remained static, a mummification of ancient, probably forgotten ideals. Instead of placing their faith in the powers of biological regeneration, fixing their images in their children, the eminent and powerful had traditionally sought in their vanity a petrified immortality. In Mumford‘s words: they write their boasts upon tombstones; they incorporate their deeds in obelisks; they place their hopes of remembrance in solid stones joined to

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other solid stones, dedicated to their subjects or their heirs forever, forgetful of the fact that stones that are deserted by the living are even more helpless than life that remains unprotected and preserved by stones. Indeed, Mumford went on to suggest that traditionally it seems to have been the least effectual of regimes that chose to compensate their paucity of achievement in self-aggrandizing stone and mortar.3 In later reflections, Mumford adumbrated his critique of the monumental in ways that both complicated and refined his earlier views. That is, the real problem with monumentality, he later suggested, may not be intrinsic to the monument itself so much as it is to our new age, ‘which has not merely abandoned a great many historic symbols, but has likewise made an effort to deflate the symbol itself by denying the values which it represents …’.4 In an age that denies universal values, he found, there can also be no universal symbols, the kind that monuments once represented. ‘The monument’, he continued, ‘is a declaration of love and admiration attached to the higher purposes men hold in common … An age that has deflated its values and lost sight of its purposes will not produce convincing monuments’.5 Or as put even more succinctly by Sert, Leger and Giedion in their revelatory 1943 essay, ‘Nine Points on Monumentality’: ‘Monuments are, therefore, only possible in periods in which a unifying consciousness and unifying culture exist’.6 Where the ancients used monumentality to express the absolute faith they had in the common ideals and values that bound them together, however, the moderns (from the early nineteenth century onwards) have replicated only the rhetoric of monumentality, in the words of Giedion, ‘to compensate for their own lack of expressive force.’ ‘In this way’, according to Giedion, ‘the great monumental heritages of mankind became poisonous to everybody who touched them’.7 For those in the modern age who insist on such forms, the result can only be a ‘pseudo-monumentality’, what Giedion called the use of ‘routine shapes from bygone periods … [But] because they had lost their inner significance they had become devaluated; mere clichés without emotional justification’.8 To some extent, we might even see such pseudomonumentality as a sign of modern longing for common values and ideals. Ironically, in fact, these same good reasons for the modern scepticism of the monument may also begin to explain the monument’s surprising revival in late modern or so-called postmodern societies. Because these societies often perceive themselves as no longer bound together by universally shared myths or ideals, monuments extolling such universal values are derided as anachronistic at best, reductive mythifications of history at worst. How to explain, then, the monument and museums boom of the late twentieth century? The more fragmented and heterogeneous societies become, it seems, the stronger their need to unify wholly disparate experiences and memories with the common meaning seemingly created in common spaces.

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But rather than presuming that a common set of ideals underpins its form, the contemporary monument attempts to assign a singular architectonic form to unify disparate and competing memories. In the absence of shared beliefs or common interests, memorial-art in public spaces asks an otherwise fragmented populace to frame diverse pasts and experiences in common spaces. By creating common spaces for memory, monuments propagate the illusion of common memory. In fact, Maurice Halbwachs argued that it is primarily through membership in religious, national, or class groups that people are able to acquire and then recall their memories at all.9 That is, both the reasons for memory and the forms memory takes are always socially mandated, part of a socializing system whereby fellow-citizens gain common history through the vicarious memory of their forebears’ experiences. If part of the state’s aim, therefore, is to create a sense of shared values and ideals, then it will also be the state’s aim to create the sense of common memory, as foundation for a unified polis. Public monuments, national days of commemoration and shared calendars thus all work to create common loci around which seemingly common national identity is forged. In this way, monuments have long sought to provide a naturalizing locus for memory, in which a state’s triumphs and martyrs, its ideals and founding myths are cast as naturally true as the landscape in which they stand. These are the monument’s sustaining illusions, the principles of its seeming longevity and power. But it is just this seeming naturalization of national myths that also disturbs contemporary critics of the monument. For as several generations of artists – modern and postmodern, alike – have made scathingly clear, neither the monument nor its meaning is really everlasting. Both a monument and its significance are constructed in particular times and places, contingent on the political, historical and aesthetic realities of the moment. Part of our contemporary culture’s hunger for the monumental, I believe, is its nostalgia for the universal values and ethos by which it once knew itself as a unified culture. But this reminds us of that quality of monuments that strikes the modern sensibility as so archaic, even somewhat quaint: the imposition of a single cultural icon or symbol onto a host of disparate and competing experiences, as a way to impose common meaning and value on disparate memories – all for the good of a commonwealth. When it was done high-handedly by government regimes, and gigantic monuments were commissioned to represent gigantic self-idealizations, there was often little protest. The masses had, in fact, grown accustomed to being subjugated by governmental monumentality, dwarfed and defeated by a regime’s overweening sense of itself and its importance, made to feel insignificant by an entire nation’s reason for being. But in an increasingly democratic age, in which the stories of nations are being told in the multiple voices of its everyday historians – i.e., its individual citizens – monolithic meaning and

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national narratives are as difficult to pin down as they may be nostalgically longed for. The result has been a shift away from the notion of a national ‘collective memory’ to what I have called a nation’s ‘collected memory.’ Here we recognize that we never really shared each other’s actual memory of past or even recent events, but that in sharing common spaces in which we collect our disparate and competing memories, we find common (perhaps even a national) understanding of widely disparate experiences and our very reasons for recalling them. This relatively newfound sense of public ownership of national memory, that this memory may actually be ours somehow and not on vicarious loan to us for the sake of common identity, has been embraced by a new generation of memorial-makers who also harbour a deep distrust for traditionally static forms of the monument, which in their eyes have been wholly discredited by their consort with the last century’s most egregiously dictatorial regimes. Seventy years after the defeat of the Nazi regime, contemporary artists in Germany still have difficulty separating the monument there from its fascist past. In their eyes, the didactic logic of monuments – their demagogical rigidity and certainty of history – continues to recall too closely traits associated with fascism itself. How else would totalitarian regimes commemorate themselves except through totalitarian art like the monument? Conversely, how better to celebrate the fall of totalitarian regimes than by celebrating the fall of their monuments? Monuments against fascism, or against the totalitarian regimes of the former Soviet Union, therefore, would have to be monuments against themselves: against the traditionally didactic function of monuments, against their tendency to displace the past they would have us contemplate – finally, against the authoritarian propensity in monumental spaces that reduces viewers to passive spectators. Rather than continuing to insist that the monument do what modern societies, by dint of their vastly heterogeneous populations and competing memorial agendas, will not permit them to do, I have long believed that the best way to save the monument, if it’s worth saving at all, is to enlarge its life and texture to include its genesis in historical time, the activity that brings a monument into being, the debates surrounding its origins, its production, its reception, its life in the mind. That is to say, rather than seeing polemics as a by-product of the monument, I would make the polemics surrounding a monument’s existence one of its central, animating features. For I believe that in our age of heteroglossia (Bakhtin’s term), the monument succeeds only insofar as it allows itself full expression of the debates, arguments, and tensions generated in the noisy give and take among competing constituencies driving its very creation. In this view, memory as represented in the monument might also be regarded as a never-to-be-completed process, animated (not disabled) by the forces of history bringing it into being.

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Here I recall being asked in several cases to help revive memorial processes in Boston, Berlin, and Buenos Aires that had become bogged down in what their organizers perceived as a morass of dispute, bickering, competing agendas, and politics. With the impertinence that only an academic bystander can afford, I always replied, yes, it’s true. You thought you were bringing a community together around common memory, and you found instead that the process is fraught with argument and rancorous division. In Boston, I gently suggested that the New England Holocaust Memorial Committee stop hiding the issues that divided them and instead make them the centrepiece of a public forum on their proposed memorial. In Berlin, when asked by the Bundestag in 1997 to explain why I thought Germany’s international design competition for a national ‘memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe’ had failed, I answered that even if they had failed to produce a monument, the debate itself had produced a profound search for such memory and that it had actually begun to constitute the memorial they so desired. Here I recalled what I regarded as two exemplary memorial responses to Germany’s paralysing memorial conundrum: How does a nation like Germany memorialize the mass murder of Jews perpetrated in its name? How does a nation rebuild itself on the bedrock memory of its crimes? How does a nation memorialize a past it might rather forget? Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz conceived and then built a ‘Monument for Peace and against War and Fascism’ in Harburg-Hamburg that was actually designed to disappear. Unveiled in 1986, this 12-metre high, 1-metre square pillar was made of hollow aluminium, plated with a thin layer of soft, dark lead. A steel-pointed stylus, with which to score the soft lead, was attached at each corner by a length of cable. As 1.5-metre sections were covered with memorial graffiti, the monument was lowered into the ground, into a chamber as deep as the column was high. The more actively visitors participated, the faster they covered each section with their names, the sooner the monument would disappear. After several lowerings over the next seven years, the monument itself vanished on 10 November 1993 with its last sinking. Nothing is left but the top surface of the monument, now covered with a burial stone inscribed to ‘Harburg’s Monument against Fascism.’ In effect, the vanishing monument has returned the burden of memory to visitors: now, all that stand here are the memorytourists, forced to rise and to remember for themselves. With audacious simplicity, the Gerzes’ counter-monument thus flouted any number of cherished monumental conventions: its aim was not to console but to provoke; not to remain fixed but to change; not to be everlasting but to disappear; not to be ignored by its passersby but to demand interaction; not to remain pristine but to invite its own violation and de-sanctification; not to accept graciously the burden of memory but to throw it back at the town’s feet. By defining itself in opposition to the

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traditional monument’s task, the Gerzes’ Harburg monument illustrated concisely the possibilities and limitations of all monuments everywhere. Among the hundreds of submissions in the failed 1995 competition for a German national ‘memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe’, one similarly articulated the difficult questions at the heart of Germany’s Holocaust memorial process. Artist Horst Hoheisel proposed a simple, if provocative anti–solution to the memorial competition: blow up the Brandenburger Tor, he said, grind its stone into dust, sprinkle the remains over its former site, and then cover the entire memorial area with granite plates. How better to remember a destroyed people than by a destroyed monument? Rather than commemorating the destruction of a people with the construction of yet another edifice, Hoheisel sought to mark one destruction with another destruction. Rather than filling in the void left by a murdered people with a positive form, the artist would carve out an empty space in Berlin by which to recall a now absent people. Rather than concretizing the memory of Europe’s murdered Jews, the artist would open a place in the landscape to be filled with the memory of those who come to remember Europe’s murdered Jews. A national landmark celebrating Prussian might and crowned by a chariot-borne Quadriga, the Roman goddess of peace, would be demolished to make room for the memory of Jewish victims of German might and peacelessness. In fact, I suggested to my German hosts in 1997, perhaps no single emblem better represents the conflicted, self-abnegating motives for memory in Germany today than the vanishing monument. Of course, I said, such a memorial undoing would never be sanctioned by the German government, but this, too, was part of the artist’s point. Hoheisel’s proposed destruction of the Brandenburger Tor participated in the competition for a national Holocaust memorial, even as its radicalism precluded the possibility of its execution. At least part of its polemic was directed against actually building any winning design, against ever finishing the monument at all. Here he seemed to suggest that the surest engagement with Holocaust memory in Germany actually lay in its perpetual irresolution, that only an unfinished memorial process would guarantee the life of memory. Instead of a fixed sculptural or architectural icon for Holocaust memory in Germany, the debate itself – perpetually unresolved amid ever-changing conditions – might now be enshrined. And then just to make sure they grasped my own polemic, I offered the reassuring words, ‘Better a thousand years of Holocaust memorial competitions in Germany than a final solution to your Holocaust memorial question.’ A day later, I was invited by the Speaker of the Berlin Senate to join a five-member Findungskommission whose mandate would be to run yet another competition for a suitable design for the Denkmal. When I asked, ‘Why me? I don’t think it can be done’, Herr Sprecher Radunski answered with a Hegelian glint in his eye, ‘Because you don’t think it can be

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done, therefore, only you can do it.’. Thus hoisted on the petard of my own polemic, I agreed to serve – but only on two conditions: first, we would make the process itself publicly transparent, so that it might be regarded as part of the memorial design for which we searched; and second, that we would invite artists and architects not to solve Germany’s paralysing memorial conundrum in their submissions, but rather to articulate the problem formally in their designs. Indeed, three further issues arose during the deliberations of our Findungskommission that we had to address openly before proceeding. After debating the role of a memorial placed apart from an actual site of destruction, we concluded that this would not be merely the passive preservation of the past, say of the concentration camp ruins that the Nazis had bequeathed to us. But it would serve as a deliberate act of remembrance, a declaration that memory must be created for the next generation, and not only preserved. We then addressed two further concerns shared both by us, as members of the Findungskommission, and the memorial’s opponents: Would this be a contemplative site only, or pedagogically inclined as well? By extension, would this memorial serve as a centre of gravity for the dozens of memorials and pedagogical centres already located at the actual sites of destruction, or would it somehow displace them and even usurp their memorial authority? Because we did not see Holocaust memory in Germany as a zero-sum project, we concluded that there was indeed room in Berlin’s new landscape for both commemorative spaces and pedagogically-oriented memorial institutions. With this précis in hand, we invited twenty-five artists and architects, of whom nineteen submitted designs. From these nineteen, we culled a shortlist of two, proposals by Gesine Weinmiller and Peter Eisenman, and recommended them to the then Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who favoured Eisenman’s design for a waving field of stelae. Where the ‘monumental’ had traditionally used its size to humiliate or cow viewers into submission, this memorial in its humanly proportioned forms should put people on an evenfooting with memory. Visitors and the roles they play as they wade knee-, or chest-, or shoulder-deep into this waving field of stones will not be diminished by the monumental but will be made integral parts of the memorial itself, now invited into a memorial dialogue of equals. Visitors will not be defeated by their memorial obligation here, nor dwarfed by the memory-forms themselves, but rather enjoined by them to come face to face with memory. Able to see over and around these pillars, visitors will have to find their way through this field of stones, even though they are never actually lost in or overcome by the memorial act. In effect, they will make and choose their own individual spaces for memory, even as they do so collectively. The implied sense of motion in the gently undulating field also formalizes a kind of memory that is neither frozen in time, nor static in space. The sense of such instability will help visitors resist an impulse towards closure in the

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memorial act and heighten one’s own role in anchoring memory in oneself. In their multiple and variegated sizes, the pillars are both individuated and collected: the very idea of ‘collective memory’ is broken down here and replaced with the collected memories of individuals murdered, the terrible meanings of their deaths now multiplied and not merely unified. The land sways and moves beneath these pillars so that each one is some 3 degrees off vertical: we are not reassured by such memory, not reconciled to the mass murder of millions, but now disoriented by it. Meanwhile, new national elections were called, a new government coalition was formed between the SPD and Green Party, and the Denkmal itself had become a political flashpoint. Eventually, Joshka Fischer (head of the Green Party and eventual Foreign Minister for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s new government) agreed to join the coalition only on condition that the Denkmal be built, after all. Beginning at 9:00 in the morning and running until after 2:00 in the afternoon on 25 June 1999, a full session of the German Bundestag met in public view to debate and finally vote on Berlin’s ‘Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe’. Both opponents and proponents were given time to make their cases, each presentation followed by noisy but civil debate. Finally, by a vote of 314 to 209, with 14 abstentions, the Bundestag approved the memorial in four separate parts: first, the Federal Republic of Germany will erect in Berlin a memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe on the site of the former Ministerial Gardens in the middle of Berlin; second, the design of Peter Eisenman’s field of pillars (Eisenman-II) will be realised; third, an information centre will be added to the memorial site; and fourth, a public foundation composed of representatives from the Bundestag, the city of Berlin, and the citizens’ initiative for the establishment of the memorial, as well as the directors of other memorial museums, members of the Central Committee for the Jews of Germany, and other victim groups will be established by the Bundestag to oversee both the building of the memorial and its information centre in the year 2000. Five years later, in May 2005, Germany’s national ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’ was dedicated. Now that Germany’s ‘Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe’ has been dedicated (May 2005), is this the end of Germany’s Holocaust memory-work, as I had initially feared? No, debate and controversy continue unabated. Moreover, once the parliament decided to give Holocaust memory a central place in Berlin, an even more difficult job awaited the organizers: defining exactly what it is to be remembered here in Peter Eisenman’s waving field of pillars. What will Germany’s national Holocaust narrative be? The question of the memorial’s historical content began at precisely the moment the question of memorial design ended. Memory, which had followed history, would now be followed by still further historical debate.

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Indeed, as so brilliantly conceived by the architect and Dagmar von Wilcken, the exhibition designer for the ‘Ort der Information’, this site’s commemorative and historical dimensions interpenetrate to suggest an interdependent whole, in which neither history nor memory can stand without the other. As one descends the stairs from the midst of the field into the ‘Ort der Information’, it becomes clear just how crucial a complement the underground information centre is to the field of pillars above. It neither duplicates the field’s commemorative function, nor is it arbitrarily tacked onto the memorial site as an historical afterthought. But rather, in tandem with the field of stelae above it, the place of information reminds us of the memorial’s dual mandate as both commemorative and informational, a site of both memory and of history, each as shaped by the other. While remaining distinct in their respective functions, however, these two sides of the memorial are also formally linked and interpenetrating. By seeming to allow the above-ground stelae to sink into and thereby impose themselves physically onto the underground space of information, the underground Information Centre audaciously illustrates both that commemoration is ‘rooted’ in historical information and that the historical presentation is necessarily ‘shaped’ formally by the commemorative space above it. Here we have a ‘place of memory’ literally undergirded by a ‘place of history’, which is in turn inversely shaped by commemoration, and we are asked to navigate the spaces in between memory and history for our knowledge of events. Such a design makes palpable the Yin and Yang of history and memory, their mutual interdependence and their distinct virtues. Like the mass murder of European Jewry it commemorates, Eisenman’s memorial design provides no single vantagepoint from which to view it. From above, its 5-acre expanse stretches like an Escherian grid in all directions and even echoes the rolling, horizontal plane of crypts covering Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. From its edges, the memorial is a somewhat forbidding forest of stelae, most of them between one and three meters in height, high enough to close us in, but not so high as to block out sunlight or the surrounding skyline, which includes the Brandenburger Tor and Reichstag building to the north, the renovated and bustling Potsdamer Platz to the south, and the Tiergarten across Ebertstrasse to the west. The colour and texture of the stelae change with the cast of the sky, from steel-grey on dark, cloudy days; to sharp-edged black and white squares on sunny days; to a softly rolling field of wheat-coloured stelae, glowing almost pink in the sunset. As one enters into the waving field of stelae, one is accompanied by light and sky, but the city’s other sights and sounds are gradually occluded, blocked out. From deep in the midst of the pillars, the thrum of traffic is muffled and all but disappears. Looking up and down the pitching rows of stelae, one catches glimpses of other mourners and beyond them, one can even see to edges of the memorial itself. At the same time, however, one

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feels very much alone, almost desolate, even in the company of hundreds of other mourners nearby. Depending on where one stands, along the edges or deep inside the field, the experience of the memorial varies – from the reassurance one feels on the sidewalk by remembering in the company of others, invigorated by life of the city hurtling by; to the feelings of existential aloneness from deep inside this dark forest, oppressed and depleted by the memory of mass murder, not reconciled to it. Only when moving back out towards the edges, towards the streets, buildings, sidewalks, and life, does hope itself come back into view. Neither memory nor one’s experience of the memorial is static here, each depending on one’s own movement into, through, and out of this site. One does not need to be uplifted by such an experience in order to remember and even be deeply affected by it. The result is that the memory of what Germany once did to Europe’s Jews is now forever inflected by the memory of having mourned Europe’s murdered Jews here, of having mourned the Holocaust together with others and alone, by oneself. My last memorial case-history is still unfolding somewhat uneasily before our eyes in lower Manhattan, where as it turns out polemics are playing an especially fraught, if only occasionally instructive role in the discussion over how to commemorate the victims of the World Trade Centre attacks. Some of the families of victims have been adamant that the entire 16-acre site be regarded literally as a burial ground, sacred, and therefore off-limits to any and all redevelopment. This site, they insist, must remain empty, to be visited only by the families coming to mourn their loved ones lost in the attacks there. Other family representatives argue as insistently that their loved ones be commemorated by rebuilding the WTC even bigger than it was, right in the same place, that to do otherwise would be to capitulate to the killers, that as traders and bankers, they would want to be remembered by the icons of commerce they helped build. The families of firemen and police officers tend to favour setting aside the footprints of the towers for a memorial, a place that would recall the heroism of their deaths. Meanwhile, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is trying to balance the needs of the Port Authority, the developers, and the financial community against the needs of mourners. And the city is juggling its civic duties to commemorate the dead with its own need for renewal and economic recovery. The first casualty of this resulting gridlock of competing agendas was the set of six designs commissioned by the LMDC from the architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle in 2002. In trying to please everyone – with 12 million square feet of generic office space housed in a generic looking cluster of mid-highrise buildings, laced with spaces for proposed memorials and gardens – the designers pleased no one. Recognizing this on the day he unveiled the designs, LMDC Chairman John Whitehead offered a seventh alternative: none of the above, which was the only proposal universally applauded.

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Amid the noisy, if healthy, tumult of discussion surrounding the announcement of the two site-design finalists in February 2003 and their audacious designs for rebuilding at Ground Zero, debate around an actual memorial to the 9/11 attacks almost fell by the wayside. Because the designs by finalists Daniel Libeskind and the Think Team included such prominent memorial elements, some suggested that ‘the whole thing was a memorial,’ that a separate memorial competition long planned by the LMDC as part of its renewal of Ground Zero would be redundant. But in fact, despite the suggestive commemorative dimensions to both designs, neither the architects nor the LMDC ever conceived of ‘the whole thing’ as the only memorial to the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, a separate design competition for a memorial was always part of the LMDC’s original plan for the redevelopment of downtown – and for good reasons. From the outset, the LMDC seemed to recognize that as tempting as it may be to allow the new building complex to serve as a de facto memorial, the conflation of re-building and commemoration would also foreclose the crucial process of memorialisation, a process they had also come to regard as essential to both memory and redevelopment. Rather than prescribing a particular aesthetic form or architectural approach to the memorial, the LMDC wisely chose to open up the question of the memorial, to hammer out a mission and programme statement outlining the various kinds of memory to be preserved, and then to initiate an open blind international competition for a design that would, they hoped, return responsibility for the memorial to the public for whom it is intended. Between November 2002 and March 2003, the Families Advisory Council of the LMDC (which included families of the victims, local residents and business people, and other groups affected by the attacks) appointed a committee of various Advisory Council members and hand-picked professionals and experts in public art to formulate a ‘Memorial Mission Statement’, which was to serve as a guiding mandate for the memorial and its process. In its final version, the ‘Memorial Mission Statement’ read: • Remember and honour the thousands of innocent men, women, and children murdered by terrorists in the horrific attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001. • Respect this place made sacred through tragic loss. • Recognize the endurance of those who survived, the courage of those who risked their lives to save others, and the compassion of all who supported us in our darkest hours. • May the lives remembered, the deeds recognised, and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, which reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance and intolerance.

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By the time the LMDC held its 28 April 2004 press conference at the Winter Garden announcing both the International Competition for a World Trade Centre Site Memorial design and the jury for the competition, we jurors had already concluded that part of our announcement would be, unbeknownst to the LMDC, an invitation to potential designers to break the rules and to challenge the site-plan design, just as all the great buildings and monuments of our era had to break the rules of their day – including Libeskind’s own Jewish Museum design in Berlin and Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C. We worried that even with a second or third close reading of the guidelines, without our explicit permission at the press conference, competitors might view ‘Memory Foundations’ as the overall memorial, into which they would somehow have to fit their own memorial design, a kind of memorial within a memorial. Our remarks were widely reported (The New York Times headline declared, ‘Officials Invite 9/11 Memorial Designers to Break the Rules’) and well received by the LMDC itself, with its president Kevin Rampe congratulating us on asserting exactly the kind of independence that the LMDC had hoped from us. Competition rules and requirements invited anyone over the age of eighteen anywhere in the world to register for the competition, with a nonrefundable submission fee of $25. Designs were to be presented on single 30x40 inch rigid boards (preferably foam), vertically oriented, and coded only with a registration number in order to ensure anonymity. All registrations had to be received by 29 May 2003. By that date, the LMDC had received some 13,800 registrations from 92 countries around the world. By the second-stage deadline date of 30 June 2003, the LMDC had received 5,201 actual submission boards from 63 countries, and from all of the United States except Alaska. In a then secret location in mid-town, the LMDC worked day and night for the month of July, determining eligibility, sorting submissions, recording bar codes and registration information, and organizing the first viewings of the design boards for the jury, to begin 1 August 2003. After intense deliberations but without a clear sense of a dominant design, we arrived at a list of eight finalists in mid-October. By this time, it had also become clear to us that we were going to be an interventionist jury, that because we could not recommend any of the designs without significant modifications, we would make specific and in some instances, extensive recommendations to all the teams, subjecting each to what amounted to the kind of ‘critique’ architecture students receive during their training. The LMDC approached each of these teams, still unidentified to the jury, and provided them with our detailed critiques, provided funds for them to develop their boards into three-dimensional models and to animate their designs with a short video walk-through. We then met with each of the teams over the course of two days the second week of November 2003, exploring their models with them and hearing their own conceptual descriptions of

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their designs. In fact, until the morning we met them, we didn’t know their names or where they’d come from. On 19 November 2003, we announced the list of eight finalists, whose designs, models and animations were revealed to the public in an exhibition at the now just reconstructed Winter Garden of the World Financial Centre. In the end, arguments came down not to which of the two designs was more beautiful and moving, but to which of the two made the better memorial. Here we read and re-read the words of Michael Arad and Peter Walker prepared for their design statement: This memorial proposes a space that resonates with the feelings of loss and absence that were generated by the destruction of the World Trade Centre and the taking of the lives of thousands of people. It is located in a field of trees that is interrupted by two large voids containing recessed pools. The pools and ramps that surround them mark the general location of the footprints of the twin towers. A cascade of water that describes the perimeter of each square feeds the pools with a continuous stream. They are large voids, open and visible reminders of absence. The surface of the memorial plaza is punctuated by the linear rhythms of rows of Sycamore trees, forming informal clusters, clearings and groves. This surface consists of a composition of stone pavers, plantings and low ground cover. Through its annual cycle of rebirth, the living park extends and deepens the experience of the memorial. Bordering each pool is a pair of ramps that lead down to the memorial spaces. Descending into the memorial, visitors are removed from the sights and sounds of the city and immersed in a cool darkness. As they proceed, the sound of water falling grows louder, and more daylight filters in from below. At the bottom of their descent, they find themselves behind a thin curtain of water, staring out at an enormous pool. Surrounding this pool is a continuous ribbon of names. The great size of this space and the multitude of names that form this endless ribbon underscore the vast scope of the destruction. Standing there at the water’s edge, looking at a pool of water that is flowing away into an abyss, a visitor to the site can sense that what is beyond this curtain of water and ribbon of names is inaccessible. The statement goes on to describe how the upper and lower levels are linked, how the slurry wall will be revealed as part of the design, and where the unidentified remains of victims will be contained at bedrock. It concludes with, ‘The memorial plaza is designed to be a mediating space; it belongs both to the city and to the memorial. Located at street level to allow for its integration into the fabric of the city, the plaza encourages the use of

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this space by New Yorkers on a daily basis. The memorial grounds will not be isolated from the rest of the city; they will be a living part of it.’ At nearly midnight on January 7, we finally reached the 10–3 plurality for a winner that we had set for ourselves, choosing Michael Arad and Peter Walker’s ‘Reflecting Absence.’ In its minimalist conception, the memorial logic of the voids, and the essential incorporation of Peter Walker’s groves of trees, ‘Reflecting Absence’ seemed to capture most succinctly the twin motifs of loss and renewal already articulated so powerfully in Daniel Libeskind’s ‘Memory Foundations.’ It also brought the memorial site to grade, thus weaving it completely back into the urban fabric. In the words of our ‘Jurors Statement’: In its powerful, yet simple articulation of the footprints of the Twin Towers, ‘Reflecting Absence’ has made the voids left by the destruction the primary symbols of our loss. By allowing absence to speak for itself, the designers have made the power of these empty footprints the memorial. At its core, this memorial is thus anchored deeply in the actual events it commemorates – connecting us to the towers, to their destruction, and to all the lives lost on that day. In our descent to the level below the street, down into the outlines left by the lost towers, we find that absence is made palpable in the sight and sound of thin sheets of water falling into reflecting pools, each with a further void at its centre. We view the sky, now sharply outlined by the perimeter of the voids, through this veil of falling water. At bedrock of the north tower’s footprints, loved ones will be able to mourn privately, in a chamber with a vault containing unidentified remains of victims that will rest at the base of the void, directly beneath an opening to the sky above. While the footprints remain empty, however, the surrounding plaza’s design has evolved to include beautiful groves of trees, traditional affirmations of life and rebirth. These trees, like memory itself, demand the care and nurturing of those who visit and tend them. They remember life with living forms, and serve as living representations of the destruction and renewal of life in their own annual cycles. The result is a memorial that expresses both the incalculable loss of life and its consoling regeneration. Not only does this memorial creatively address its mandate to preserve the footprints, recognize individual victims, and provide access to bedrock, it also seamlessly reconnects this site to the fabric of its urban community. Since that day in January 2004, of course, the site-design process and highly public squabbles between agencies, developers, architects, and family member groups have continued unabated. The design of Daniel Libeskind’s ‘Freedom Tower’ has evolved radically with the appointment of architect David Childs as lead architect for the building itself (leaving Libeskind still as

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the architect of the overall site-plan). But in fact, the memorial design by Michael Arad and Peter Walker has remained fundamentally the same as that chosen by the jury in 2004. When it first appeared that the memorial would have to be fit into Libeskind’s master site plan, it now turns out that the ‘Freedom Tower’ and associated (and still to be determined) cultural buildings and museums will be built around the memorial itself. Together, they will constitute a site of living memory at Ground Zero. Despite reports in the city’s papers that the site’s constant evolution is somehow a betrayal and not a working through of memory, the two principal teams of designers – Daniel Libeskind and David Childs for the Freedom Tower, Michael Arad and Peter Walker for the Memorial – continue to view their projects as part of a larger matrix of memory and commerce, life and loss. In this vein, public memory of the 9/11 remains an animated process, by which the stages of memory follow each other, from generation to generation to generation. Will this be a site commemorating the old World Trade Centre and the thousands murdered here, or one that merely replaces what was lost in the attack? By necessity, it will be both. This is why we need to design into this site the capacity for both remembrance and reconstruction, space for both memories of past destruction and for present life and its regeneration. This must be an integrative design, a complex that meshes memory with life, embeds memory in life, and which balances our need for memory with the present needs of the living. Our commemorations must not be allowed to disable life or take its place; rather, they must inspire life, regenerate it, and provide for it. We must animate and reinvigorate this site, not paralyse it, with memory.

Notes 1. S. Giedion (ed.). 1958. Architecture You and Me: The Diary of a Development, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 28. 2. L. Mumford. 1938. The Culture of Cities, New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 438. 3. Mumford, The Culture of Cities, 434. 4. L. Mumford. 1949. ‘Monumentalism, Symbolism and Style’, Architectural Review, April, 179. 5. Mumford, ‘Monumentalism, Symbolism and Style’, 179. 6. J.L. Sert, F. Leger and S. Giedion in S. Giedion (ed.), Architecture You and Me, 48. 7. Giedion, Architecture You and Me, 25. 8. Giedion, Architecture You and Me, 25. 9. M. Halbwachs. 1952. Les cadres sociaux de la mémoire, Paris: Presses universitaires de France.

5 The Edge of Memory: Literary Innovation and Childhood Trauma Susan Rubin Suleiman

Under ‘crisis’, Roget’s thesaurus lists the following nouns among others: critical time, key moment, turning point, pressure, predicament. In speaking of crises of memory, I have all those meanings in mind. Interestingly, crisis and criticism have the same Greek root: kritein, to discriminate, to choose. A ‘crisis of memory’ is a moment of choice, of discrimination and sometimes of predicament or conflict as concerns the remembrance of the past, whether by individuals or by groups. At issue in a crisis of memory is the question of self–representation: how we view ourselves, and how we represent ourselves to others, is indissociable from the stories we tell about our past. I examine a number of such moments since the end of World War Two, focusing specifically on problems of self-representation, both individual and collective. On the collective side, one example would be the ways that the period of the Occupation in France has been interpreted and narrated ever since the Liberation; on the individual side, the problem concerns the vicissitudes of memory and testimony: the relation of individual testimony to historically established facts, the vacillations of memory with the passage of time, the relation between autobiography and fiction. Today, my subject is innovative writing by child survivors of the Holocaust, those I have called the ‘1.5 generation’ – that is, people who were too young to have had an adult understanding of what was happening to them, but old enough to have been there during the Nazi persecution of Jews (as opposed to the second generation, born after the war). It is only relatively recently, in historical terms that the concept of ‘child survivor of the

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Holocaust’ has emerged as a separate category for scholarly attention, just as it is relatively recently that child survivors themselves have integrated it into their consciousness. For a long time, in both popular representations and among psychologists, the term ‘Holocaust survivor’ designated all and only those who had been in concentration camps, whatever their age at the time; children who had survived in hiding, the large majority, were not considered survivors, either by themselves or others. Widespread use of the term ‘child survivor’, in the psychological literature as well as by organized associations of child survivors, started around the early 1980s and has gained momentum in the past two decades.1 Almost without exception, Jewish children in Europe during the war experienced the sudden transformation of their world from at least some degree of stability and security to chaos: moving from a familiar world to new environments, alone or with strangers, having to learn a new name and new identity, learning never to say who they really were; these were among the ‘everyday’ experiences of Jewish children during the war, who survived (I’m not even including here those who were deported, most of whom perished). The luckiest ones lived through it all with their parents; most experienced at least temporary separation from family and loved ones; many lost one or both parents and other close family to deportation and murder. In one sense, however, all were very lucky: only 11 per cent of Jews in Europe who were children in 1939 were still alive at the end of the war.2 Of course, it can be said that not only children (and not only Jews) but all those who were persecuted by the Nazis experienced feelings of bewilderment and helplessness, not to say massive trauma, during the war. But the specific experience of Jewish children was that disaster hit them before the formation of stable identity that we associate with adulthood, and in some cases before any conscious sense of self. Since the majority survived in some form of hiding, they were obliged to cover over or ‘forget’ their Jewishness, thus complicating an already fragile identity; for children in assimilated Jewish families, who didn’t have a sense of Jewishness to begin with, this involved the bizarre simultaneity of becoming aware for the first time of an identity and having to deny it at the same time. All children, including the few who survived in ghettos and camps, had to live with the knowledge, however ill understood, that Jewishness was the cause of their misery. This is beautifully brought out in Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertész‘s autobiographical novel Sorstalanság (1975; Fateless, 1992), whose adolescent protagonist has no connection at all to the Jewish community or to Jewish religious practice, yet is deported to Auschwitz. There are an impressive number of contemporary writers, writing in a wide array of languages, who were children or adolescents during the Holocaust and who have dealt with that experience in their works. Their works are highly individualised in literary style, yet bear ‘family

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resemblances’ in tone, genre, and emotional or narrative content. Themes of unstable identity and psychological splitting, a preoccupation with absence, emptiness, silence, a permanent sense of loneliness and loss, including the loss of memories relating to family and childhood, and, often, an anguished questioning about what it means to be Jewish after the Holocaust dominate much of their writing. Equally compelling is their preoccupation, either explicitly stated or implied in their formal choices, with the question of how to tell the story. One of these writers, Raymond Federman, who dates his ‘birth’ to the moment when his whole immediate family was rounded up by French police, leaving him the sole survivor at age fourteen, has observed: ‘My life began in incoherence and discontinuity, and my work has undoubtedly been marked by this. Perhaps that is why it has been called experimental.’3 So that is the guiding question of this chapter: what is the relation between experiment and existence, when existence starts out with a fracture?

Perec’s W Ou Le Souvenir D’Enfance; Or, the Paradox of Suspension Georges Perec’s 1975 book W ou le souvenir d‘enfance, has become iconic for some Holocaust scholars, for it manifests an extreme self–consciousness about the limits and paradoxes of remembering and writing about childhood trauma.4 Perec, one of France’s most innovative writers, whose stature has grown exponentially since his premature death from cancer in 1982, was the child of Polish immigrants who had emigrated to France during the 1920s. Born in 1936, Perec lost both of his parents in the war. His father was killed in 1940 while serving in the French Army, and his mother was deported to Auschwitz – he saw her for the last time when he was five yeas old. He spent part of the war in hiding, under an assumed name, and was brought up by the family of his paternal aunt. When W or the Memory of Childhood was published, in 1975, it took many readers by surprise. Perec, already a respected writer, was associated with the group of experimental novelists and poets known as Oulipo, who were known for their interest in difficult word games which they often used as the basis for their work. Perec, a champion word-player, had accomplished a tour de force in 1969 when he published a full-length novel from which the most commonly used vowel in the French language, the letter E, was absent: appropriately, the title of this work La Disparition, ‘the disappearance.’ It is a burlesque detective story, astonishingly readable and entertaining despite the contortions of language it necessitated.5 Because of work like this (La Disparition was followed by a brief text titled Les Revenentes, which used nothing but Es as vowels!), most readers thought of Perec as a playful,

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unusually clever writer; and since his name sounds like many typical Breton place and family names ending in ‘ec’ or ‘ecq’, few readers knew of his Polish Jewish family history, marked by the Holocaust. W or the Memory of Childhood did not break with Perec’s experimental mode of writing; but in this book, what had appeared as purely formal experimentation in earlier works takes on a profound existential significance: doubling, splitting, discontinuity, fragmentation, absence, substitution become not only signs of the work’s formal ambition but also signs imbued with personal and historical meaning, related to the nature of childhood memory and to traumatic separation and loss experienced by a child survivor of the Holocaust. After the publication of W, his earlier works, with their mysterious disappearances, confused identities, and violent crimes, suddenly acquired a horrific autobiographical resonance. How does one write an autobiography when one has ‘no childhood memories’ (as Perec famously states about himself in one of the opening chapters of W)? Perec solved this question by inventing a whole new literary form. In W, he alternates chapters of autobiography with chapters of a science-fiction novel that is related very indirectly to his autobiography. Philippe Lejeune, a preeminent theorist of autobiography, has noted that such a ‘montage’ of autobiography and fiction in a single work was totally unknown before Perec invented it. Of course, the problem of remembering one’s childhood is not limited to people who are Holocaust survivors or survivors of childhood trauma. As Freud showed in his early work on screen memories, the ‘raw material’ of early childhood experiences ‘remains unknown to us in its original form’, no matter who we are.6 Perec, who last saw his mother when he was five years old, was hardly unusual in not being able to remember her; but the circumstances of their separation and of her disappearance (she put him on a train heading south to safety, and was deported a few months later) were not those of a usual childhood. Lejeune is fascinated by Perec because of the way the writer’s self–questioning coincides with the extreme experience of Jews in the Holocaust. Perec envisaged autobiography, Lejeune notes, as ‘oblique, multiple, shattered and at the same time endlessly turning around the unspeakable (l‘indicible).’7 Lejeune is certainly right about the inexhaustibility of the subject, as well as about Perec’s endless and oblique approaches to it. However, I think we need to think again about the word ‘unspeakable’, which is so often used in connection with the Holocaust. In fact, I would propose a moratorium on it. If a thing is spoken about, however obliquely, then it is not ‘unspeakable’ – on the contrary, it may be the object about and around which one can never stop speaking. Speaking can take many forms; sometimes, as popular wisdom has it, silence speaks louder than words. In any case, we are concerned here not with speaking but with writing. The problem, as Perec

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well knew, was not whether ‘it’ could be written, but how it could be written. With difficulty, to be sure, but also, as he so brilliantly showed, with invention – and yes, silence, but a silence that speaks, like the famous suspension points between parentheses on the otherwise empty page that separates Parts I and II of W or the Memory of Childhood: (…) Is the ellipsis a form of saying, or of not saying? It is both, a sign that says ‘I will not say’ – and that has inspired commentators to say a great deal.

Federman’s Double or Nothing; Or, How (Not) To Say It However marvellous and important a writer Perec is, I also want to take a moratorium (at least today) on talking about him. I want to speak, rather, about another writer of the 1.5 generation, who shares Perec’s selfreflexiveness and inventiveness, as well as his background as the son of poor Polish Jewish immigrants living in Paris during the war. Unlike Perec, however, Federman has only recently been integrated into the canon of Holocaust writing. Despite the fact that all of his creative works (he has published close to a dozen novels and several volumes of poetry as well as books of criticism) turn around his own childhood trauma, he was known for many years chiefly as an American avant-garde writer and theorist, and that was how he presented himself as well. (Interestingly, his first breakthrough was in Germany – and now, also France, but he still remains a relatively hidden treasure.)8 Older than Perec by eight years (born in 1928), Raymond Federman had just turned fourteen when his immediate family, mother, father, and two sisters, were taken away by French police in the infamous ‘rafle du Vél d’Hiv’, the roundup of more than 12,000 Jews from 16 to 17 July 1942, almost all of whom, including the Federmans, ended up in Auschwitz. Raymond was spared because his mother, at the last minute, thrust him in a closet on the landing outside their apartment door; the boy, half naked, sat all day in the closet and finally ventured out at night, dressed in his father’s overcoat. He eventually made his way to the unoccupied zone in the south of France, working as a hired hand on a farm until the end of the war. In 1947, a relative in the U.S.A. arranged for him to emigrate.9 After spending several years in Detroit, where he earned a high school diploma and learned to play the jazz saxophone while supporting himself with a series of odd jobs, Federman went to New York, worked in a lampshade factory, and was drafted into the Army during the Korean war; in 1954, aged twenty-six, he enrolled on the G.I. bill at Columbia University, obtained his B.A. in comparative literature, and went on to do a doctorate in French at UCLA. He wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the early works of

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Samuel Beckett. In 1971, his autobiographical novel, Double or Nothing, established him as one of the leading experimental writers in the United States, little known by the general public but highly appreciated by specialists interested in the American avant-garde. Meanwhile, like a number of other American postmodernists, he earned a living as a professor; he retired from the University of Buffalo a few years ago, and now lives in California. Throughout most of the 1970s, Federman wrote about his own work exclusively in terms of avant-garde formal experimentation. To a reader today, especially one who knows Federman’s personal history, what seems most striking in his theoretical statements of that time is their evacuation of any reference to personal experience or to history. ‘There cannot be any truth nor any reality exterior to fiction’, he wrote in a ‘manifesto’ in 1975.10 A few years later, however, in a 1980 interview, he invoked personal experience as the source and even as the subject of his fiction. Responding to a question about the ‘elaborate voices-within-voices narrative structure’ of his novels, he explained: ‘I think that it’s true of all fiction writers – but especially those who base their fiction on personal experiences – that they have to invent for themselves a way of distancing themselves from their subject. […] And yet, paradoxically in my case, the more complex the system of distancing becomes the closer I seem to be getting to my own biography’.11 A few years later, he brought history back as well: the fiction of postmodernism, he wrote in a 1988 essay, was a response to the ‘moral crisis provoked by the Holocaust.’ Federman’s insight that ‘the more complex the system of distancing’ the closer he gets to his biography has important implications both for the psychology of childhood trauma and for the experimental writing of the 1.5 generation. What are the ways he invents to distance himself from, and at the same time bring himself closer to, his life story? One could write a whole book on that subject, for Federman has made use, in his works, of the full panoply of distancing devices, including word-plays and punning (cf. his own name, Federman, ‘featherman’, homme de plume, writer), and a boisterous humour even in – or especially in – treating the most painful subjects. His early novels are formally the most innovative, and I think also in many ways the most moving. I’d like to go into a bit of detail about his first novel, Double or Nothing, which I think is a brilliant work. Federman has explained that he began it as a series of handwritten notes for a novel, and only gradually discovered that the notes were themselves to be the substance as well as the form he was seeking. He then spent several years transcribing and rearranging them typographically (this was in the days before computers), so that in the end he had a manuscript each of whose pages stood on its own visually; at the same time, they conveyed the picaresque tale, in fractured form, of a young French Jewish immigrant to America, who had lost his whole family during the war.

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Not surprisingly, no mainstream publisher would touch the finished manuscript – it was not viable commercially, he was told, unless he gave up all the fancy typography and fractured narrative and simply told the story. After all, he did have a good story: from wartime misery to freedom in America, a classic American road book by and about a young man on the make, his head full of sexual fantasies and dreams of getting rich quick, double or nothing, a gambler in life as well as in casinos. But ‘simply telling that story’ was exactly what Federman neither wanted nor was able to do. Double or Nothing was published by a small press in Chicago, its layout painstakingly arranged on every page, unchanged.12 The book has two opening chapters, the first of which is titled ‘This Is Not a Beginning’ and begins this way: Once upon a time (two or three weeks ago), a rather stubborn and determined middle-aged man decided to record (for posterity), exactly as it happened, word by word and step by step, the story of another man (for indeed what is GREAT in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal), a somewhat paranoiac fellow (unmarried, unattached, and quite irresponsible), who had decided to lock himself in a room (a furnished room with a private bath, cooking facilities, a bed, a table, and at least one chair), in New York City, for a year (364 days, to be precise), to write the story of another person – a shy young man about nineteen years old – who, after the war (the Second World War), had come to America (the land of opportunities) from France under the sponsorship of his uncle… and so on to the bottom of the page in a single sentence that contains, in summary form, not only the narrative we are about to read but also the whole past history of the young man whose story in America will be told by the ‘paranoiac fellow’ who plans to shut himself in a room for a year to write, eating nothing but noodles (we will soon learn), because of his restricted budget. Although the traditional opening formula, ‘once upon a time’, promises a tale of adventure told by a single narrator in chronological mode, there is a twist: the tale told here will be that of a writing project, itself part of a ‘recording’ project, involving at least three narrative ‘persons’ whose relationship is ambiguous; and the march of linear time will be replaced by the meanderings of retrospection and prospection. The large number of parentheses that pepper these first few lines continue down the page, both prolonging the sentence and impeding its progress. Postponement is the basic principle of this novel, as of many others by Federman. As a figure, it is related to digression and to … suspension. One difference between Federman and Perec is that Perec’s suspensions create mainly gaps, whereas Federman’s create excess, as if there was so much to tell that no single line of narrative or thought could be developed without

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qualifications, additions, corrections, or straying to other stories, other thoughts. The effect in both cases is to make the reading more difficult, as well as to call attention to the act of telling. It can also often be humorous, as it is here; however, the humorous effect is in jarring contrast to the past history of the young man, which is evoked briefly on this opening page as part of a letter he wrote to his American relative: that his parents (both his father and mother) and his two sisters (one older and the other younger than he) had been deported (they were Jewish) to a German concentration camp (Auschwitz probably) and never returned, no doubt having been exterminated deliberately (X-X-X-X), and that, therefore, the young man who was now an orphan, a displaced person, who, during the war, had managed to escape deportation by working (VERY HARD) on a farm in Southern France, would be happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to come to America (that GREAT country he had heard so much about and yet knew so little about) to start a new life, possibly go to school, learn a trade, and become a good, loyal citizen. Aside from the multiple parentheses, the temporal dislocations and other kinds of formal play, this first page introduces a typographical sign that Federman will use in all of his subsequent fiction: the four Xs that mark the extermination of his family. Like Perec’s play with letters and typographical symbols in W or the Memory of Childhood, Federman’s use of the Xs here points to both saying and not saying: in one sense, the Xs repeat what has already been said (‘exterminated deliberately’), and are therefore redundant; in another sense, they are conventional signs of erasure, and also function as cover–ups for the names of the parents and the sisters, which are not given either here or elsewhere in this book.13 Commenting on these Xs in an autobiographical essay some years ago, Federman wrote: ‘For me these signs represent the necessity and impossibility of expressing the erasure of my family’.14 More recently, he has stated that he sees the writer’s task as ‘the subtle and necessary displacement of the original event (the story) towards its erasure (the absence of story)’.15 The rows of Xs on the opening page of Double or Nothing accomplish that displacement: they indicate the event (the extermination of the family), but only under erasure. The paradoxical combination of an excess of communication (redundancy) and a lack of communication (‘exing-out’, covering up) recurs throughout Double or Nothing (the title already says as much), and throughout Federman’s oeuvre, in various forms. What we have here is an elaborate structure of saying and unsaying (or qualifying) what one has just said. Roland Barthes, in one of his marvelous short essays, calls this kind of speech ‘le bredouillement’, a stammering or sputtering. ‘Bredouillement’ is the opposite

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of ‘bruissement’, the smooth humming of language like a well–oiled machine.16 When a speaker or a machine sputters, it is a sign that something is not quite right: the speaker wants to correct or qualify or cancel what he has said, but can do it only by saying more. Barthes calls this ‘une très singulière annulation par ajout’, a ‘very curious cancellation by addition’, and notes that this kind of speech signals a double failure: it is hard to understand, yet one ends up by understanding it in the end – but what one understands is precisely that something is not right. ‘The sputtering (of the motor or of the subject) is, in sum, a fear: I fear that I may not be able to go on.’17 It is not a coincidence, I think that the ‘sputtering’ in Double of Nothing occurs most strikingly at the moment when the word CAMPS appears, for example on page 39. At that point, the horizontal movement of reading breaks down completely, and we have large white spaces surrounding the iconic/ calligrammatic representation of a lamp with a shade, formed by words that denote the same meaning. The icon, or calligram, repeats and therefore reinforces the verbal meaning, but it also disrupts the reading and makes the text harder to follow – all the more so as the concluding half of the parenthesis is upside down, allowing for another version of the lamp calligram that requires one to invert the page. The white spaces signal emptiness, a disruption or arrest of speech, but they can also be thought of as reinforcing the meanings of reduction and abandonment associated with ‘the new generation’, the phrase after which the first blank space on the page occurs. I propose to call the paradoxical figure of affirmation and denial, of saying and not saying, by its rhetorical name: preterition. The emblematic form of preterition is a sentence of the type ‘I will not speak about X’, where X is named and designated precisely as the thing that will not be said. Usually, no detailed description or narrative development about X occurs in such a sentence (though it is possible, often with comic effect), but the subject that is not to be spoken of is at least mentioned. The most radical figure of preterition is doubtless the sentence: ‘I must forget about X’ – and that is exactly the sentence we find at almost the very end of Double or Nothing (181), again in the context of Jewish identity and of the protagonist’s name, which has shifted several times since Jacques, the most recent version being Dominique:

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(I don’t like Dominique. I’ve never liked Dominique) Too effeminate not Jewish enough (you can’t avoid the facts) But we must forget about that about the Jews the camps and about the LAMPS H A D E S (never again)

You can’t avoid the facts, but we must forget about that: Preterition, the selfcontradictory figure of approach and avoidance, affirmation and negation, amnesia and remembrance, is, I would propose, an emblematic figure for both Perec’s and Federman’s writing about childhood trauma and about the early experience of loss and abandonment. Perec’s suspension points, at once a silence and an anchor for writing, are a kind of preterition: how to say it while not saying, or while saying in pieces. As for Federman, his whole oeuvre is a series of variations on the crucial event that is both everywhere and yet nowhere recounted in straightforward fashion in his books.

Experiment and Existence: A Few Speculative Conclusions It is hazardous to generalize about any group, and child survivors of the Holocaust who are innovative writers are no exception. Yet, what would be the point of analysing recurrent figures in the work of a Perec or a Federman if we did not then speculate, however tentatively, about the more general psychological and aesthetic implications of their writerly choices? The paradoxical combination of ‘saying while not saying’ that characterizes the figure of preterition is, I suggest, emblematic of experimental writing about childhood trauma, in particular the experience of childhood loss. And I also suggest, speculatively, that the psychological correlative of preterition is what Freud called the splitting of the ego, the simultaneous recognition and denial of a painful reality. It is unfortunate, in today’s perspective that Freud’s theory

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about the splitting of the ego is embedded in two essays that seem terribly outdated, if not downright offensive. In ‘Splitting of the Ego in the Defensive Process’ (1938) and in the earlier essay ‘Fetishism’ (1927), Freud links his discussion of the ego’s relation to reality to the ‘fact’ of female castration as discovered by the little boy. Many contemporary commentators have noted that ‘the reality of female castration’ is Freud’s own blind spot, the sign of his masculine bias. But there is more to his theory of fetishism than an outdated reflection on sexual difference. Interpolated towards the end of the ‘Fetishism’ essay is a long passage that most commentators ignore and that has nothing to do with sexuality but everything to do with the psychological response to traumatic childhood loss. Freud introduces this digression as ‘another point of interest’ linked to earlier speculations on his part (in two essays dating from 1924) regarding the difference between neurosis and psychosis. He mentions that he recently learned that two of his patients, young men, had lost their fathers at a young age, and ‘each – one when he was two years old and the other when he was ten – had failed to take cognizance of the death of his beloved father … and yet neither of them had developed a psychosis’.18 Freud explains that according to his earlier theory, what distinguishes neurosis from psychosis is the ego’s acknowledgment of a painful reality: neurotics acknowledge reality, while psychotics ‘detach’ themselves from it.19 By that theory, the boys’ refusal to acknowledge their fathers’ death should have led to psychosis, but it didn’t. Freud therefore concludes that their reaction was more complex than he had thought: ‘It was only one current in their mental life that had not recognised their father’s death; there was another current which took full account of the fact. The attitude which fitted in with the wish and the attitude which fitted in with reality existed side by side’.20 The ‘oscillation’ between recognition and denial of the father’s death is structurally identical, according to his analysis, to the ‘oscillation’ of the fetishist who both acknowledges and denies the ‘reality’ of female castration. Today, we reject the major premise of this argument (‘the unwelcome fact of women’s castration’21); but the psychological structure it describes remains, I think, rich in possibilities. The splitting of the ego, as Freud analyses it in the essay on fetishism, functions as a defense mechanism by allowing the subject to at once recognize and deny a traumatic loss. According to Freud’s theory, fetishism is strictly a male perversion, bound up with the male fear of castration. ‘I know it, but still …’ – this is, according to Freud, the fetishist sentence par excellence. In Freud’s analysis, this knowledge is linked to the little boy’s discovery of sexual difference; but as his own analysis suggests, fetishism as a structure of simultaneous denial and affirmation of reality, resulting in the ‘compromise solution’ of a symbolic substitution for a lost object, has a more general applicability. There is no reason to assume that the two little boys’

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complex response to the traumatic event of their father’s death could not have occurred in a little girl. According to this expanded view, which corresponds to what some theorists have called a ‘generalised fetishism’, Freud’s own obsessive emphasis on castration and on the maleness of the phenomenon disappears; what remains – in any case, what I want to emphasize – is Freud’s remark that ‘this way of dealing with reality [that is, simultaneously affirming and denying it] … almost deserves to be called artful’.22 Following up on the implications of this remark, we might say that the rhetorical figure of preterition corresponds to the simultaneous recognition and denial of traumatic childhood loss; it is a compromise formation, allowing the subject of loss to move forward, to invent, to continue, however haltingly – or as Barthes would say, sputteringly. As for the aesthetic implications of preterition, I hope to have shown that while it is always the same basic structure of affirmation and denial, it can lead to ever new verbal and visual inventions. In one sense, preterition simply keeps repeating that it is impossible to say what must be said, that there will never be a language adequate to express the enormity of the event. The affirmation of this impossibility can itself become a cliché, but it can also be the motor for new ways of saying. Maurice Blanchot, in his meditation on writing and disaster, quotes Schlegel’s remark that ‘to have a system’ and ‘not to have a system’ are equally lethal for philosophical thought – ‘whence the necessity of maintaining, while abandoning, both of those demands at the same time’. Blanchot adds that what is true for philosophy is also true for writing: ‘one can become a writer only by never being a writer; the minute you are one, you are no longer one’.23 To keep repeating the same thing, but always as if for the first time, in other words, differently: in his essay titled ‘The Necessity and Impossibility of Being a Jewish Writer’, Raymond Federman writes: To say that it is impossible to say what cannot be said is indeed a dead end in today’s literature, unless one makes of this gap, this lack, this linguistic void the essential moral and aesthetic concern that displaces the original event towards its erasure … In other words, it is no longer through the functions of memory that one will confront the issue, but with the powers of imagination … It is this impossibility of saying the same old thing the same old way which must become a necessity, and thus enable the writer to reach us again, to move us again, and force us, perhaps, to understand what we have not been capable of understanding for more than fifty years. It is NOT through content but form, NOT with numbers or statistics but fiction and poetry that we will eventually come to terms with the Holocaust and its consequences. [My emphasis].24

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But this eloquent defense of the aesthetic imagination raises a whole new question, or even two: should we accord a special privilege, in the matter of ‘imagining the Holocaust’, to writers who were actually alive at the time and experienced the losses and the terror for which they try to find an adequate language (however blurry their memories may be)? Conversely, what is the relation of the experimental 1.5 generation writers to the broader movement of postmodernism? There are, after all, many other writers, both older and younger, who apparently have no relation to the Holocaust, do not write about it, but whose writing also manifests the figures of suspension and fragmentation. The second question is easier to answer, so I’ll begin with it. Obviously, no writing occurs in a vacuum, and experimental writers like Perec and Federman are part of a modernist and postmodernist tradition of literary experimentation; their works could not exist without those of Proust, Joyce, Faulkner, Beckett – nor are their works the only ones about which this can be said. While modernist and postmodernist experimentation are surely linked to the upheavals of the twentieth century, they are not necessarily linked to individual life stories — or else, they are linked to the lives of all those who lived in the century, not only to the specific trauma of child survivors of the Holocaust. This fact does not, however, diminish the interest of the particular conjunction of life experience and writing that is manifested in the works I have been discussing. The first question is harder. Sara Horowitz, in a perceptive essay, speaks of writers who are child survivors as occupying a transitional place, between the adult survivor writer, whose ‘actual experiences … whether represented or transfigured in the work itself, validate the writing and anchor it in a specific historical reality’, and those second-generation writers who attempt to recreate, exclusively through their imagination, a reality they never experienced and could not, ontologically, have experienced. Self-conscious writers who are child survivors, Horowitz claims (she mentions Begley and Ida Fink, although Fink was really a young woman and not a child during the war), ‘knowingly unsettle the issues of authenticity, reliability, and memory that are most problematic for second generation writers’. The sentence she quotes by Begley, ‘Our man has no childhood that he can bear to remember; he has had to invent one’, has also been uttered, in almost exactly the same words, by Perec, Federman and other self-conscious 1.5 generation writers like Régine Robin.25 The question still persists, however, whether their survivor status gives them a privileged access to the subjects they wrestle with. Not surprisingly, my answer would be yes and no. No, because there have been beautiful books written about the Holocaust, and even about the experience of the 1.5 generation, not only by second generation writers like Raczymow and Modiano whose family history is implicated in the event, but also by other writers who ‘were not there’ and who have no personal or family ties to Jewish suffering. Anne Michaels’s Fugitive Pieces (1996) and

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W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz (2001) are prize-winning examples of the power of imagination to construct the inner world of a child survivor who lost his whole family. Michaels (born in 1958 in Toronto) and Sebald (born in 1944 in a small town in Bavaria) imagine adult protagonists who seek to come to terms with their barely remembered childhood memories. Like Perec, Federman and Robin, Michaels and Sebald are part of a literary tradition, which will – at least, one hopes – continue and evolve long after the death of the last Holocaust survivor. Individual talent is not necessarily a consequence of childhood suffering (and even less so of a particular historically situated suffering), though it may be related to it. There is also a ‘yes’ to the question of the survivor’s privileged status, however; and that ‘yes’ has to do precisely with the ‘having been there’: the ontological status of something that ‘once was’ distinguishes the historical past from an imagined or fictional past. Similarly, the ontological status of the survivor must be distinguished from that of a person who, by imaginative projection, imagines what it is like to be one. This does not mean that the survivor’s version of the past is ‘truer’, or even more factually accurate, let alone more powerful artistically than that of a later writer of talent; it simply means that the survivor, by virtue of ‘having been there’, testifies to the historical status of the event, even if he or she has no reliable memories of it, as is the case with many members of the 1.5 generation. Federman, in his humorous way, has suggested something like this: ‘Federman in his person bespeaks the authority of his experience but not its sentiment. Sentiment is secondary, external, an after the fact category. Let others weep. Federman salutes.’26 The sentiment is the product of writing and telling, and can be shared by all, including those (authors and readers) who were not there. The ‘authority of the experience’, however, belongs only to one who was there, which, I repeat, does not mean that everything the survivor remembers is factually true, or even that the survivor has an ‘authoritative’ understanding of his or her experience. The only true authority of the survivor is ‘in his [or her] person’. Like ashes after a fire, the survivor is a sign pointing to, or representing, something that ‘once was’. The semiotician Charles Peirce called such signs, which have a physical proximity to the objects they represent, indices. The survivor is an index. But an index as such does not speak; it must be interpreted. The nice thing about being a person as well as an index is that you can interpret your own indexical status; but others can interpret it as well – whence the deep resonance of the final paragraph in Raymond Federman’s reflection on the necessity and impossibility of being a Jewish writer: And so when the historians close their books, when the statisticians stop counting, the memorialists and witnesses can no longer remember, then

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the poet, the novelist, the artist comes and surveys the devastated landscape left by the fire – the ashes. He rummages through the debris in search of a design. For if the essence, the meaning, or the meaninglessness of the Holocaust will survive our sordid history, it will be in works of art.27 Here, the artist and the witness are two different people, with the artist given privilege, since the witness can forget (and will certainly disappear). But when the witness who experienced and the artist who interprets are one and the same person, and when the artist is a self-conscious, post-Beckettian, postmodern, post-Holocaust artist, then the conjunction of experiment and existence yields (among others) the structures of approach and avoidance, of event and erasure that I have sought to analyse in these pages.

Notes 1. Among psychoanalysts in the U.S.A., attention to child survivors arose in the process of treatment of ‘second generation’ patients whose parents were child survivors. A major figure among psychoanalysts studying child survivors was Judith Kestenberg (1910—1999), who was also one of the founders, in 1974, of the Group for the Psychoanalytic Study of the Effects of the Holocaust on the Second Generation. (See S. Bergmann and M. Jucovy. 1982. Generations of the Holocaust, New York: Basic Books, 36). Much of her later work was devoted specifically to child survivors. Groups of child survivors started meeting in Los Angeles and various cities on the East Coast in the early 1980s, and eventually formed the National Association of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors (NAHOS), which sponsored its first conference in 1987 and has sponsored annual conferences since then; another major organisation is the Hidden Child Foundation, which grew out of an international conference held in New York in 1991 and has branches worldwide. See S. Bergmann and M. Jucovy, Generations of the Holocaust, 84—94, 36; J. Kestenberg and I. Brenner. 1996. The Last Witness: The Child Survivor of the Holocaust. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press; and J. Kestenberg and C. Kahn. 1998. Children Surviving Persecution: An International Study of Trauma and Healing, Westport, CT: Praeger. 2. D. Dwork. 1991. Children with a Star: Jewish Youth in Nazi Europe, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, xxiii. Dwork's book studies both hidden children and children who perished. 3. R. Federman. 2003. ‘A Version of My Life – The Early Years’, Contemporary Authors, 208, 118. 4. I first discussed W ou le souvenir d'enfance in my book Risking Who One Is, and devoted a more analysis to it in my essay, S.R. Suleiman. 2004. ‘The 1.5 Generation: Georges Perec's W or the Memory of Childhood’, in M. Hirsch and I. Kacandes (eds), Teaching the Representation of the Holocaust, MLA.

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5. The English translation, appropriately, is devoid of Es: G. Perec. 1994. A Void, trans. Gilbert Adair, London: Harvil. 6. S. Freud. 1953. ‘Screen Memories’, in J. Strachey (ed.), The Standard Editions of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, 3, London: Hogarth Press, 301—22. 7. P. Lejeune. 1990. ‘Introduction’, in G. Perec, Je suis né, Paris: Editons du Seuil, 7—8. 8. On the reception of Federman's works in Germany (in addition to translations, his works have been adapted for the stage and for radio plays), see Thomas Irmer. 1998. ‘Federman in Germany’, in L. McCaffery, T. Hartl, and D. Rice (eds), Federman from A to X-X-X-X, San Diego, Ca: San Diego State University, 126—34. This wonderful 1998 collection of texts and photos by Federman fans, with many contributions by Federman himself, was ‘totally ignored’ in the U.S. and never reviewed, according to an e-mail the author sent me in August 2004. Catherine Viollet, one of the rare French scholars who wrote about Federman in the early 1990s, complained then that he was unknown in France even though he writes in French and English – she herself discovered him while spending a year in Germany. (See C. Viollet. 1993. ‘Raymond Federman: La voix plurielle’, in S. Dubrovsky and J. Lecarme, and P. Lejeune (eds), Autofictions et Cie, Nanterre: Université Paris X-Nanterre, 193. 9. There exists no authoritative biography of Federman, and his own versions of his life, as he never tires of repeating, are as much invented as recalled, ‘real fictitious discourses’ as the subtitle of Double or Nothing proclaims. What appears to be the least fanciful, most ‘serious’ autobiographical account of his early years is the long essay he wrote for the reference book Contemporary Authors, see R. Federman, ‘A Version of My Life – The Early Years’, 118—36. There he gives his age as 14 when he was left on his own, whereas in his novels and even in some interviews, the ‘boy in the closet’ is said to be 12 or 13 years old. When I questioned him about the reasons for this, Federman responded in an e-mail that he thought ‘it would be more dramatic to have the boy of the story be 13.’ Besides, he added, ‘when I came out of the closet/womb, mentally, physically, emotionally, I was 13 or less. I was so unprepared. So dumb, so shy.’ (2 August 2004). Although Federman's family was totally irreligious and he had no bar mitzvah, the fact that in Judaism age 13 marks a boy's passage into manhood may also be relevant here. 10. Federman, R. 11. Federman, R. 12. In what follows, I will quote and reproduce pages from the original 1971 edition. The current, 3rd edition (Boulder: Fiction Collective, 1998) is adapted from the original and differs in layout on many pages. 13. In more recent works, Federman has evoked his family in some detail, but always in fragments that one needs to piece together from novel to novel. The most concrete information about his parents and sisters, including photographs and the dates of their deportation to Auschwitz (they left on three different transports) is given in various entries in L. McCaffery, T. Hartl, and D. Rice (eds), Federman from A to X-XX-X. See ‘Chronology’, ‘Convoi’, ‘Mutter’, as well as alphabetical entries under ‘Federman:’ Jacqueline, Marguerite, Sarah and Simon. 14. R. Federman, ‘A Version of My Life – The Early Years’, 119. 15. R. Federman. 2004. ‘The Necessity and Impossibility of Being a Jewish Writer’, http://www.federman.com/rfsrcr5.htm 16. R. Barthes. 1984. ‘Le bruissement de la langue’, in Le bruissement de la langue, 99—102.

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17. R. Barthes. 1984. ‘Le bruissement de la langue’, 99. 18. S. Freud. 1953. ‘Fetishism’, in J. Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, 21, London: Hogarth Press, 155–6. 19. Freud, ‘Fetishism’, 155. 20. Freud, ‘Fetishism’, 156. 21. Freud, ‘Fetishism’, 156. 22. S. Freud. 1953. ‘Splitting of the Ego in the Defensive Process’, in J. Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, 23, London: Hogarth Press, 277. 23. M. Blanchot. 1986. The Writing of the Disaster, trans A. Smock, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 61; translation modified: M. Blanchot. 1980. L'écriture du désastre, Paris: Gallimard, 101. 24. R. Federman. 2004. ‘The Necessity and Impossibility of Being a Jewish Writer’, available at www.federman.com/rfsrcr5.htm 25. Were this chapter already not too long, I would devote extensive space to Régine Robin's L'immense fatigue des pierres, a collection of seven interconnected stories Robin calls ‘biofictions.’ In addition to frequent metacommentary and the figure of suspension, which Robin uses repeatedly in this work, one finds an interesting solution to the problem of split or multiple identities: Robin imagines alternative life stories for the recurring character of the writer who is a child survivor of the Holocaust and whose extended family in Poland was murdered (the writer in many of the stories is a woman, and is sometimes clearly Robin herself, but not in all). Robin was born in 1939 to Polish immigrants to France; her father, who volunteered for the Army like Perec's, was taken prisoner and spent the war in a stalag in Germany. Robin herself survived in hiding in Paris with her mother, as she recounts in one of the autobiographical stories in the book, ‘Gratok’. See R. Robin. 1996. L'immense fatigue des pierres, Montréal, QC: XYZ éditeurs. 26. R. Federman, ‘Notes and Counter-Notes’, 8, accessible at www.federman.com/ rfsrcr6.htm 27. R. Federman. 2004. ‘The Necessity and Impossibility of Being a Jewish Writer’, available at www.federman.com/rfsrcr5.htm

II. THE FUTURE OF TESTIMONY

The Future of Testimony: Introduction

Antony Rowland Having suggested possible future directions for the study of memory and transmission in general, we now turn to the specifics of testimony. Elie Wiesel provided a contentious locus for the future study of testimony with his notorious overstatement that the Holocaust established the form as a new literary genre.1 Many critics have subsequently questioned his assertion: Sue Vice points out that he ignores testimonies from previous conflicts such as World War One; Young argues that he overlooks a ‘long tradition of literary testimony’ in scripture.2 Wiesel’s assertion is accurate insofar as it recognises the critical attention that has accrued to the genre since the end of the Second World War, and, more recently, outside the remit of historians.3 Cultural critics now generally agree that testimony operates beyond the restrictions of positivism, and a judicial focus on the mimetic properties of testimony. Young was one of the first critics to emphasise, in 1988, that ‘The survivor’s testimony is important to us in many more ways than merely establishing times and places, names and dates’.4 In 2006, Geoffrey Hartman illustrated that such a stance will still be central to future cultural critics when he proposed that the ‘viva voce texts’ of video testimony ‘present a challenge … They have values that include yet reach beyond the factual historical yield of witness accounts’.5 Readerly complexities surrounding interpretations of a genre ‘underpinned by meta-textual criteria’ (as Matthew Boswell puts it in this volume) will form the basis for future analyses of testimony. These critical paradigms include Hartman’s ‘frame conditions’ in video testimony (2), where ‘memory studies and a regard for cultural difference enter significantly’, as well as the influence of the ‘maieutic listener’, a Socratic counterpart who brings latent ideas clearly into consciousness (3). Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub remind us that an impending focus on these ‘meta-textual criteria’ and ‘frame conditions’ must emphasise that historical criteria are unavoidably textual. The insistence on

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the ‘textualisation of the context’ in Testimony opens out future elaborations on the interaction between history as text and testimonies as memory texts.6 As well studying the ‘frame conditions’ that impact on the personal narratives, future analyses of testimony must also focus on its literariness, the performative aspects of written and oral testimony, and ‘devices of imaginative condensation … and imaginative flash’.7 Young, drawing on the work of Hayden White, was one of the first critics to recognise the ‘poetizing’ (or narrative configurations) of Holocaust facts. In turn, Young’s groundbreaking work has lead to detailed extrapolations of this ‘poetizing’, such as Robert Eaglestone’s dextrous unpacking of the ‘textual signs of the genre of [written] testimony’ in The Holocaust and the Postmodern.9 Eaglestone’s survey of some of the structural keys of testimony includes discussions of narrative framing and disruption, horrific epiphanies and a lack of closure in the genre. (Another key feature comprises a dialectic of in/articulacy: the Buchenwald survivor Robert Antelme encapsulates this conundrum in his comment that ‘No sooner would we begin to tell our story than we would be choking over it. And then, even to us, what we had to tell would start to seem impossible’.)10 The importance of Eaglestone’s work for future studies of testimony lies mainly in its engagement with the form as it deploys, negotiates and subverts generic characteristics. Following Wiesel, he also opens out new ways of reading testimony: for Eaglestone, the genre is distinct from other literary forms in that it evinces a paradox of non-identification. Connections with the reader are encouraged, but, more importantly, also undermined. Charlotte Delbo’s work forms a prime example of this process, since – as Boswell illustrates in this book – it ensures ‘that incomprehensible events do not appear to be too readily comprehensible’: the non-survivor will never truly understand, or, in Delbo’s oft-repeated phrase, ‘see’ what actually happened. Despite the singularity of the survivors’ experiences, however, one by-product of the increasing attention to the generic nature of testimony will be a proliferation of false testimony (Vice discusses examples in her chapter in this book). The reception of testimony has already reached a stage where the rhetoric, syntax and torsions of victim testimony in particular can be mimicked. But rather than ignore the results, Vice suggests that some of these books will require critical engagement in the future, and should be reevaluated (as she suggests in relation to Fragments) as literary texts.11 Whereas much critical work has clearly still to be done on the literariness of testimony, it is less certain whether critics will continue to dwell on the concept of testamentary aporia. Testimony has proved to be the key study for the establishment of the genre as a legitimate area of critical inquiry: Felman and Laub dwell particularly on testimony (and the field’s) incompleteness, since ‘what has been witnessed cannot be made whole and integrated into an authoritative telling’.12 Such statements about the failure of witnessing anticipated future analyses of the testimony of the Other, such as Giorgio

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Agamben’s controversial claim that the experiences of emaciated Musulmänner form a lacuna in survivor narratives.13 Critical attention to readerly ignorance (as a different form of incompleteness) has provided a new way of reading texts, in which the inconceivable meta-textual space outside the testimony becomes all-important. The influence of Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah – a film constructed entirely out of testimonies – is central to Felman’s thinking about testamentary lacunae. Difficulties of ‘seeing’ in the film and ‘The newness of the film’s vision … consists precisely in the surprising insight it conveys into the radical ignorance into which we are unknowingly all plunged with respect to the actual historical occurrence’..14 Experiencing ‘ignorance’ and incompleteness are now established responses to the genre: perhaps critics now need to move on from conceptual discussions of this ‘silence’ to more specific instances of lacunae in individual testimonies. It will be interesting to see what more can be said philosophically about the ineffable ‘inside’ after the work of pioneering critics such as JeanFrançois Lyotard, Lanzmann, Felman, Laub and Agamben. One of the most valuable (but often unstated) legacies of Felman and Laub’s book is its analysis of testimony as a cross-generic genre. Testimony switches (without comment) between analyses of prose, poetry, oral and video testimony. The efficacy of the future critical study of testimony will depend on engagements with how the form operates within different generic contexts. In Shoah, for example, visual metaphors interlace the montage: the erasure of Simon Srebnik in the Polish crowd is reflected in the earlier disappearance of his boat down the river; the boat itself forms a metaphor for both the return of the ‘dead’ (Srebnik) and the Styx-like journey to the dead (those murdered in Chelmno).15 Following Felman and Laub’s critical approach, future scholars must challenge the continuing emphasis on testimony primarily as prose or video testimony in Holocaust studies. As early as 1948, Antelme put forward a case for poetry as a testimonial form par excellence; a year later, Theodor Adorno’s essay ‘Cultural Criticism and Society’ was published, which contains the (much-maligned) contention that ‘To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’.16 The critical study of Holocaust and post-Holocaust poetry and literature would have been very different over the last half-century if Antelme’s quotation about testamentary poetry as a ‘true’ representation of the camps had become a popular maxim, as opposed to Adorno’s more prescriptive (some would say Draconian) statement. For the editors of this volume there is also a pressing need to focus more on the reception of testimony, linguistic play and readerly pleasure. In 2007, Jane Kilby proposed that critics might be asking too much of testimony; instead of freighting language with too much pathos and pain, the genre might also contain the beauty of levity, which allows ‘language to do more work for us by asking less of it’.17 Kilby’s work also takes into account the potential pleasures of light reading.18 In contrast, Lawrence Langer comments on the aesthetic

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difficulties of testimony: ‘If art is concerned with the creation of beautiful forms, Holocaust testimony, and perhaps Holocaust art as well, deals with the creation of “malforms”’.19 Langer creates a binary between literary aesthetics and the supposedly non-aesthetic genre of testimony, but is it really unethical to experience pleasure or ‘levity’ through testimony? Critical sensitivity must clearly be paramount in an engagement with the reception of ‘The Anxiety of Futility’.20 However, future concentrations on readers’ pleasurable experiences of the essential rhetoricity of testimony will not, as some critics fear, banalise or (worse) fictionalise the events themselves by proxy, particularly since words can never be ‘material fragments of experiences’, but only, in Young’s resonant phrase, a ‘fugitive report’ of the events.21 Equally, didactic dangers lie in regarding the genre as a sacred form beyond the realm of aesthetic considerations. (Distinctions must be made here between the self–conscious aesthetics and literariness of some testimony – such as Primo Levi’s If This is a Man and Jorge Semprun’s Literature or Life – and the more improvisatory nature of oral testimony.) Young, Felman and Laub’s insistence on the uncovering of the relationship between literature and testimony since the late 1980s might have led to a desacralisation of the written form of the genre, and yet the opposite appears to be the case. Perhaps Felman and Laub’s apparently teleological insistence that the recipients of testimony undergo an ‘existential crisis’ has contributed to this process.22 Langer’s critique of testamentary aesthetics arises partly out of his distrust of humanist, redemptive narratives in relation to the Holocaust (and his focus on oral testimony): he shares Adorno’s understandable concern in Aesthetic Theory that ‘however tragic they appear, artworks tend a priori towards affirmation’.23 One future focus should be on how testimony is able to disrupt this tendency towards the affirmative. For example, at the end of If This is a Man, Levi begins the last paragraph with the statement that ‘Of the eleven of the Infektionsabteilung Sómogyi was the only one to die in the [last] ten days’.24 Any potential movement towards redemption (at the expense of Sómogyi) and an unreflective celebration of liberation is immediately undercut by the next sentence, which recounts that five out of these eleven men ‘died some weeks later in the temporary Russian hospital of Auschwitz’. What might a reflective reader’s response be to such narrative disruption, and to the dangers of redemptive pleasure? How might an ethical de-sacralisation of victim testimony take place? Derek Attridge has pointed out that by staging the process of witnessing, testimonies produce a ‘pleasurable intensity which will often make the literary work more effective as a witness than a historical work’.25 Future work on testimony needs to encompass analyses of the ‘imaginative condensations’ that produce these potentially pleasurable intensities. So far, the emphasis in this section of the introduction has been on impending considerations of the literary qualities and reception of

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testimony. One of the specific ways in which the study of kinds of testimony might shift is indicated in this volume with Eaglestone’s chapter on perpetrator testimony. Future analyses of this sub-genre would seem to grate with Michael Rossington and Anne Whitehead’s indication of a possible future direction of memory studies, which encompasses a politics of forgetting and forgiving as ‘we move on from … violent, disruptive and traumatic histories’.26 Of course, this is a fraught process given the tenaciousness of some traumatic histories and the contexts of present ‘forgetting’, such as an attitude in Japan towards former ‘comfort women’ in the 1930s and 1940s.27 What would a move away in Holocaust studies from victim to perpetrator testimony mean in the context of Rossington and Whitehead’s statement? ‘Forgetting’ in relation to perpetrator testimony could perhaps encompass a movement from the perception of perpetrators as madmen in the early years after World War Two (as Boswell discusses in relation to Sylvia Plath’s poetry) to Hannah Arendt’s ‘banality of evil’ in the 1960s, and onwards to a more recent ‘de-banalised’ focus on the intricacies and potential self-delusion – and specific meta-textual criteria – of such testimony. Paradoxically, the latter stage moves towards ‘forgetting’ by remembering the perpetrators through testimony, rather than ignoring their scribbling as irrelevant, unseemly, or as establishing (through critical study) a problematic anti-victim perspective. In Constructing the Holocaust, Stone ruminates on the lack of Rausch in Holocaust historiography: such key components in the unfolding of atrocities might be evidenced by perpetrator testimony.28 The paradox of remembering to forget perpetrator testimony also undercuts the perpetrators’ desire just to be forgotten. As Christopher Browning notes (quoted by Eaglestone in his chapter), ‘unlike the survivors … the perpetrators did not rush to write their memoirs after the war. They felt no mission to “never forget”. On the contrary they hoped to forget and be forgotten as quickly as possible’.6 Or – as is demonstrated in the Shoah scene with Srebnik in the Polish crowd – would a future focus on perpetrator (and bystander) testimony show ‘the very process of the re-forgetting of the Holocaust, in the repeated murder of the witness and in the renewed reduction of the witnessing to silence’?29 And would critics enact this process? Would they simply be ‘forgetting’ in Jean Baudrillard’s sense when he accused the TV series Holocaust (quoted by Boswell) of producing a ‘forgetting that “is part of the extermination’”? Would critics initiate a retroactive return from what Hartman terms the ‘humanity of the victim’ to the ‘perpetrators’ inhuman behavior’, after the testamentary ‘turn’ in the 1990s in the opposite direction from traditional historiography?30 Or would such critical work allow for a fruitful unpacking of Hartman’s loaded – but unexplained – term ‘inhuman’? What, one might controversially ask, are the limits of the human at the opposite end of the spectrum from Agamben’s study of the Musulmänner?

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Whatever the ethical conundrums of turning to such writing, ‘As we come to terms with the complexities of survivor testimony’, Eaglestone argues in his chapter, ‘these [perpetrator] accounts offer very different challenges in terms of how we understand them’. One meta-textual concern in Shoah is that perpetrator testimony is recorded in unconventional ways. A camera records the testimony of Franz Suchomel in secret; in a sense, Lanzmann answers the gross deceit of the testimony with the necessary deceit of the hidden camera. The improvisatory nature of oral testimony may be less selfconscious when it appears to be unrecorded: it can also have devastating consequences, as when a former member of an Einsatzkommando discovered Lanzmann’s camera, and put him in hospital for a month.31 Another ‘frame condition’ comprises the fact that perpetrator testimony is sometimes written ‘before the gallows’: as Levi argues in relation to Rudolf Höss’s Commandant of Auschwitz, readers consequently have to be aware of its potential mendacity.32 Linguistic traces of rabid ideology are also given careful scrutiny: Levi warns us that Höss’s description of his father as a ‘fanatical Catholic’ might not necessarily be read as negative given the discourse of Nazism (85). Levi sums up the new textual and meta-textual concerns surrounding perpetrator testimony when he discusses the problems of reception, literary value, commentary, duplicity, and instructiveness in his opening comments on Commandant of Auschwitz: Usually someone who agrees to write the preface to a book does so because he likes the book, finds it pleasant to read, of high literary level such as to arouse sympathy or at least admiration for the person who wrote it. This book is at the other end of the spectrum. It is full of vileness recounted with a disturbing bureaucratic obtuseness. Reading it is oppressive, its literary quality is base and its author, despite all his efforts to defend himself, comes across just as he is, a stupid, verbose scoundrel, a coarse braggart whose mendacity at times is more than obvious. And yet this … is one of the most instructive books ever to have been published (83). Ignoring the laudable urge to ignore its ‘vileness’, future engagements with perpetrator testimony will comprise an important stage on the way to forgetting its obtuseness. Further critical questions also need to be addressed in relation to the genre of testimony, such as its troubled relationships with historiography, technology and survivor narratives in general, and its seemingly inextricable links to the Holocaust. Will critics explore interdisciplinary intersections between testimony and history in the future, rather than writing off history as a simplistically positivist, anti-victim narrative? As Stone recounts in this book, historians themselves are still coming to terms with the growth in memory studies, of which the study of testimony forms an integral part. ‘[Modern]

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historians’, Hartman argues, ‘have only recently viewed the personal aspect of memory as doing more than trouble “the clear waters of historiography” ’.33 History books often end with the alleged caesura of the end of the war and the liberation of the camps, but testimony can affect a telling counter-narrative. In The Drowned and the Saved, Levi outlines his aversion to simplistic tales about liberation: ‘There exists a stereotyped picture, proposed innumerable times … at the end of the storm … all hearts rejoice … In the majority of cases, the hour of liberation was neither joyful nor lighthearted’.34 Sara Guyer argues that survivor accounts such as Antelme’s ‘are accounts not of the triumph of man but of sheer, unglorious resilience, of surviving muteness without overcoming it’.35 Her reference to ‘unglorious’ stoicism indicates the need in the future to read both anti-sacred testimony, and testimony as anti-sacred. Art Spiegelman shows the way with his unsentimentalised portrait of his father Vladek in Maus; however, critics should also enquire as to why the genre of testimony has become seemingly inextricable from Holocaust narratives. Testimony is now beginning to be discussed in a variety of historical contexts. Why, however, have there been no more Shoahs in the context of other twentieth and twenty-first century atrocities? A critical requirement also persists to expand the remit of testimony beyond the original, traumatic incident. Levi’s post-war poem ‘The Survivor’, for example, demonstrates that testimony is sometimes bound up with trauma that – as Antelme puts it – still ‘[goes forward] within our bodies’ from the original incident.36 As Langer dramatically (but importantly) puts it, ‘Anguished memory stains the desire for graceful ageing with the refuse of annihilation zones and slaughter areas’.37 The Second World War comprises history that is not yet over according to Felman and Laub, so how is history ‘incomplete’ in the later narratives of authors such as Levi?38 In answering such questions, critics will have to be attentive to the dangers of interpreting later testimony solely through the prism of the original, traumatic incident. And what precisely, they will need to ask, makes the incident traumatic in the first instance? What makes trauma traumatic? The emphasis in the last paragraph has been on written testimony, but one of the pressing questions for oral testimony will be about recording technology. What will be the future (in an increasingly ‘blue chip’ era) of video testimony? Hard drives are now unreadable from most personal computers made in the early 1980s (such as the Acorn Electron), whereas mediaeval manuscripts remain eminently consultable in The British Library. The imprint of electronic technology on the genre of testimony is doubleedged: on the one hand, it paradoxically enhanced its future demise (in the form of perishable videotape, which may not, as Scotch tape once famously promised through a duplicitous skeleton, contain a lifetime guarantee); on the other hand, it now allows for an uncontrolled proliferation of testimony on the Internet. Perhaps the advent and popularity of testamentary blogs

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point to an end point in the publishing history of testimony. The genre is a twentieth-century phenomenon in the sense that troops, for example, (as opposed to higher ranks) did not have access to the publishing industry until relatively recently. In his autobiographical account of the First World War, Siegfried Sassoon betrays his awareness of this fact in his guilty question: ‘But where was the glory for the obscure private?’39 Charles Rowland – a relative of one of the editors – comments in his (unpublished) testimony about privates’ experiences in the First World War that some of them were offered the ‘glory’ of recommendations, but then – unlike Sassoon – had them quashed for trivialities such as having muddy boots. Perhaps the Internet now offers a way for such previously unpublished writing – and future working-class testimony – to bypass the publishing industry entirely.

Notes 1. Elie Wiesel. 1990. ‘The Holocaust as Literary Inspiration’ in Dimensions of the Holocaust, Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 7. 2. Sue Vice. 2008. ‘Holocaust Poetry and Testimony’ in Robert Eaglestone and Antony Rowland (eds), Holocaust Poetry, special edition of Critical Survey, (20): 2 (2008), 7–17, 7; James Young. 1988. Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 21. 3. See R. Eaglestone 2005 for his excellent discussion of Wiesel’s statement (The Holocaust and the Postmodern, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 38). 4. J.E. Young. 1988. Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation, Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 32. 5. G. Hartman. 2006. ‘The Humanities of Testimony: An Introduction’, Poetics Today, 27: 2 (summer), 249–60, 249. 6. S. Felman and D. Laub. 1992. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History, New York: Routledge, xv. 7. Hartman, ‘The Humanities of Testimony’, 2. 8. Young, Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust, 4. 9. Eaglestone, The Holocaust and the Postmodern, 43. 10. Antelme quoted in S. Guyer. 2008. ‘Before The Human Race: Robert Antelme’s Anthropomorphic Poetry’, in Critical Survey, (20): 2 (2008), 31–42, 34. 11. S. Vice. 2003. ‘Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Fragments and Holocaust Envy: “Why Wasn’t I There Too”?’ in Representing the Holocaust: In Honour of Bryan Burns, London and Portland: Vallentine Mitchell, 249–68, 250. 12. Felman and Laub, Testimony, 171. 13. G. Agamben. 2002. Remnants of Auschwitz, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen, New York: Zone Books, 13. 14. Felman and Laub, Testimony, 208, 214. 15. As the film recounts, Srebnik was shot in the head, but miraculously survived. 16. R. Antelme. 2003. ‘Poetry and the Testimony of the Camps’, in D. Dobbels (ed.), On Robert Antelme’s The Human Race: Essays and Commentary, Evanston, Illinois:

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28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36.

37. 38. 39.

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Northwestern University Press, [1996]), 31–7, 34; T. Adorno. 1967. ‘Cultural Criticism and Society’, in Prisms, trans. S. and S. Weber, London: Neville Spearman, 17–35, 34. J. Kilby. 2007. Violence and the Cultural Politics of Trauma, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, xiv. Eaglestone, The Holocaust and the Postmodern, 38. Quoted in M. Rossington and A. Whitehead (eds). 2003. Theories of Memory: A Reader, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 197. L. Langer. 1991. Holocaust Testimonies, New Haven/London: Yale University Press, xiii. Young, Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust, 23, 24. Felman and Laub, Testimony, xvi. T.W. Adorno. 1997. Aesthetic Theory, G. Adorno and R. Tiedemann (eds) and R. Hullot–Kentor (trans. and ed.), London: The Athlone Press Ltd, 1. P. Levi. 1987. If This Is A Man/ The Truce, trans. S. Woolf, London: Abacus [1958], 179. D. Attridge. 2004. The Singularity of Literature, London/New York: Routledge, 97; my italics. Theories of Memory: A Reader, 12–13. ‘Told to commit suicide, survivors now face elimination from history’, The Guardian, 6 July 2007, 25. The Japanese military forced an estimated 200,000 Chinese and Korean women to work in ‘comfort stations’, but a revisionist view persists that private contractors recruited the women. For a discussion of Rausch, see D. Stone. 2003. Constructing the Holocaust, London: Vallentine Mitchell, 73. Felman and Laub, Testimony, 267. Hartman, ‘The Humanities of Testimony’, 257. Recounted in Felman and Laub, Testimony, 251. P. Levi. 2005. The Black Hole of Auschwitz, M. Belpoliti (ed.) and S. Wood (trans.), Malden/Cambridge: Polity Press, 86. Hartman, ‘The Humanities of Testimony’, 2. P. Levi. 1986. The Drowned and the Saved, Raymond Rosenthal (trans.), London: Abacus [1986], 52. Guyer, ‘Before The Human Race: Robert Antelme’s Anthropomorphic Poetry’, 35. Quoted in Guyer. Also see Antony Rowland 2007 for his discussion of Levi’s poetry in ‘Poetry as Testimony: Primo Levi’s Collected Poems’ in Textual Practice, 22:3 (September 2008), 487–506. Langer, Holocaust Testimonies, 54. Felman and Laub, Testimony, xiv. The officers are ‘in clover compared with the men’. S. Sassoon. 1940. Complete Memoirs of George Sherston, London: The Reprint Society, [1937]), 247.

6 Reading Perpetrator Testimony Robert Eaglestone Gitta Sereny writes that, during her time as NURRA welfare office in Displaced Persons camps in Germany, she felt more and more that we needed to find someone capable of explaining to us how presumably normal human beings had been brought to do what had been done. It was essential … to penetrate the personality of at least one of the people who had been intimately associated with this total evil.1 The works that I will call ‘perpetrator testimony’ – often very popular, widely read and successful in the public sphere – seem to promise to meet this need, to ‘penetrate’ into the ‘why’ of the Holocaust. That they do not, and that this failure is not only a question of lying or evasion on the part of the writers, is one of their very many strange characteristics and is the focus of the second part of this chapter. The first part explores their other, and perhaps more explicable generic oddities: while the testimonial and literary work of Holocaust survivors has received, rightly, a great deal of critical and scholarly attention, there has been a dearth of work on the very peculiar writing by (and even this ‘by’ is complicated) perpetrators. The reasons for this lack critical work are several. There has been, of course, a vitriolic critical debate about writing perpetrator history. While Raul Hilberg argued that ‘without an insight into the actions of the perpetrators, one could not grasp this history in its full dimensions. The perpetrator had the overview. He alone was the key’, others, Yehuda Bauer, for example, have suggested that this very idea passes over the suffering of the victim and seems to miss the essential part of the Holocaust.2 It risks, as Derrida suggests in Force of Law when imagining ways in which Walter Benjamin would have engaged with ‘the final solution’, simply ‘re-telling’ Nazism from the perpetrator’s point of view. Moreover, perpetrator

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testimonies by perpetrators (for, as I will argue, most are, in fact, not by them in any simple sense) seem at best unreliable and at worst are characterised by ‘forgetfulness, repression, distortion, evasion and mendacity’.3 Widely recognised issues such as the camouflaging language of the perpetrators, the lack of key documents in certain areas and the problems of the secret manipulation of sources further complicate this. Finally, there are the issues of a clear moral repugnance, so clearly stated, as ever, by Primo Levi: I do not know, and it does not interest me much to know, whether in my depths there lies a murderer, but I do know I was a guiltless victim and I was not a murderer. I know that the murderers existed, not only in Germany, and still exist, retired or on active duty, and that to confuse them with their victims is a moral disease or an aesthetic affectation or a sinister sign of complicity.4 Focussing on the accounts of the perpetrators risks this ‘Bitburg’-like confusion. However, I want suggest that, with due caution, these texts should be examined as more than simply sources to be (warily) mined for historical detail and are, in fact, useful sources for thinking about the affectivity of Holocaust texts and wider cultural and philosophical issues in relation to the Holocaust. Indeed, I want to suggest that these texts have a certain force for two central reasons, that are, as it were, performed in their very textuality. Yehuda Bauer writes of recent historical work: Who, if anyone, gave the order to murder the Jews, and when? … But, when all is said and done, what is the essential importance of this quest? If we, at some future date, know the exact way the murder was implemented, what will that knowledge give us? We will know who, what, and when, but we will not have asked the really important question: Why?5 As the citation from Sereny indicates, these texts seem to promise an answer to that question. But more than this, as I will suggest, many also serve an almost quasi-juridical function, in that they perform a ‘type’ of confession. (Of course, many originally were legal testimonies and serve a direct juridical function, but have become texts which leave the courts of law and enter the wider public sphere). These two functions are set in a complex interrelationship, and are set, in turn, into a series of questions, both philosophical and historical, that stem from the Holocaust about the very possibility of explanation at all. But these texts, too, are also texts: that is, they are shaped by horizons of expectation, construction – in short, by genre rules. To think of these texts as forming a genre is itself rather surprising: one recent critic, Alan Rosen, remarks that ‘at first glance one is surprised to find a literature at all’ because – he cites Christopher Browning – ‘unlike the

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survivors, the perpetrators did not rush to write their memoirs after the war. They felt no mission to “never forget”. On the contrary they hoped to forget and be forgotten as quickly as possible’. However, there are texts by ‘government officials such as Franz von Papen, Ernst von Weiszacker and Albert Speer, military figures such as Wilhem Keitel and Karl Donitz; ideologues such as Alfred Rosenberg; police officials such as Walter Schellenberg and concentration camp administrators such as Perry Broad and Rudolf Hoess’. Yet even in this list, the memoir-writers have an odd relation to their texts: Hoess’s memoir, for example is a forced confession, Speer’s a questionable bestseller, and all of them seem to beg other sorts of questions. However, this list, too, is not complete as it is based only on the more limited scale of a memoir, that is, texts by the perpetrators themselves. Just as some survivors have ghost-writers, or have their testimony bought out in conjunction with historians (for example, Mark Roseman’s The Past in Hiding is also, in a real sense, Marianne Ellenbogen’s testimony), so, more often, work on perpetrators is done by or with other writers, or with very unusual pressures. In addition, just as the testimony of the victims runs across several distinct forms and modes of writing (by form, I mean roughly what one might call realism, modernism and so on; by mode I mean autobiography, history, fiction and so on) this is even more so in the case of perpetrator testimony, which – in addition to autobiography, history and fiction – also partakes of ritual enforced confession and of legal testimony in its various modes (accusatory, exculpatory, descriptive). We are used to thinking about the uncanniness of testimony: Felman claims that it ‘make us encounter strangeness’.7 This strangeness exists, too in these accounts, but, as I shall argue below, in modified ways. That is, in this chapter, I am less concerned directly with the intentional – or possibly unintentional – lies of the authors and more with the nature of the form itself and what this can, and cannot, reveal.

Perpetrator Testimony as a Genre Perpetrator testimony can be compared to survivor testimony in a number of ways: they each bear a trace of a person’s witness, they each are interwoven with historical events, and so on. However, I would suggest that there are – over and above the key issue of victimhood – a number of formal and textual differences that differentiate pepetrator testimonies very clearly from the works of, say, Primo Levi or Kitty Hart. What are almost the oddest phenomena about perpetrator testimony could be classed under what Foucault calls the ‘author function’. In ‘What is an author?’, Foucault seeks to analyse the role of the author in part to show

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that the idea that the author, as a locus of revelatory authenticity, is a historical construction. The ‘Author function’ in fact offers a series of historically constructed regulatory controls on authorship and, more importantly, on interpretation. Foucault concludes his essay by suggesting that the older characteristics of the ‘author function’ have passed, and new questions might be usefully asked: What are the modes of existence of this discourse? Where does it come from; how is it circulated; who controls it? What placements are determined for possible subjects? Who can fulfil these diverse functions of the subject?8 These questions – often interestingly foregrounded in postmodern fiction – are very relevant to the category of perpetrator testimony. Indeed, several key testimonies have a strange relationship to their authorship. In most cases testimony is explicitly dragged out of the author and many – the most celebrated – are written not by the perpetrator but about and with the perpetrator, willingly (Sereny on Speer) or unknowingly (Moscarski on Stroop) or more unwillingly (legal testimony). Even these have complex gradations: while Hoess’s Commandant of Auschwitz is forced from him by the Polish Court as a confession; other trial confessions are more willing, or the result of direct interrogation. Similarly, Sereny portrays herself as a willing collaborator with Speer, rather than an interrogator. An even more attenuated example is Carmen Callil’s Bad Faith, where the author is writing an account of the life of Louis Darquier, following her friendship with his deceased daughter. These texts, then, have estranging relations to their own authorship. Where, usually, victim testimony tries to offer a unified narrated subject – ironically, given the damage done by trauma and the self-fracturing doubleness of memory discussed by Delbo among others – perpetrator testimony leaves a doubleness in the narrated subject. I will return to this ‘splitting’ below. These texts also have a different relation to narrative voice from survivor testimony. While many survivor texts use historical information, or break off the narrative to offer some wider account of the events, these texts rarely do. Speer’s Inside the Third Reich is told from his point of view throughout. However, when the author is not the witness – as in the case of Sereny’s two books – there is a great deal of historical discussion and explanation. Like survivor testimony, these texts usually offer narrative frames for themselves – Mocsarski explains what he was doing in a Polish prison cell with Stroop; Sereny outlines her ambitions, hopes and fears: her work contains self-reflective discussions that question what she and Speer are doing. Like survivor’s texts, perpetrators too have moments of epiphany: Into that Darkness twice has the protagonist, Stangl, seeing, and being disgusted by, fountains or springs of blood emerging from mass graves. Moczarski

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describes Stroop’s disgust with some ‘dead man’s blood’ on his boot during the Warsaw Ghetto clearance. Speer’s own account – as opposed to Sereny’s double of it – contains a moment in early 1945 where he records his realization that he had ‘become part of this perverted world … I had lived thoughtlessly among murderers’.9 Like survivors texts there are time-slips, from the past to the present: Speer’s account refers often to the Nuremburg trials (to show their rightness or wrongness), and Sereny’s version veers to and from the records, to the past, to their conversations. Indeed, Sereny’s work – especially on Speer – is almost postmodern in its self-reflectivity. However, there is little desire to identify with the protagonists, even when they tell their story in the most sympathetic – or pathetic – way. Further, unlike survivor testimony, which is told and retold, with new versions appearing over and again, testimony by perpetrators often seem to be the end of the matter for the authors. That is, if one symptom of a text about trauma is its lack of closure, its desire to reopen events and explore them over and again, then one symptom of these perpetrator texts is their desire for closure, for an ending. Of course, some of the perpetrators were in fact executed, which obviously prevents retelling, but even in the text of the writing there is a desire for closing down the flow of narrative. Any interruptions and opening of the narratives come from within: Sereny (who of course repeats herself in writing two books about perpetrators, the second more complex and sophisticated than the first) opens up Stangl and Speer, forcing them back over ground previously covered; Moscarski interrogates and questions Stroop, either himself or through the other man in the cell, the ‘good German’ (that is, Wehrmacht but not SS) Schielke. However, these texts have four deeply interwoven characteristics that both frame and underlie them. The first is that the texts are about, or are in themselves, acts of punishment. Forced confessions, like the formal recantation of views by heretics, are not simply stating facts: they are themselves part of the form of punishment. Just as, at Nuremburg, the trial was more a show trial to educate the world and the former Reich about Nazism, so too concurrent trials (Hoess in Poland) and later ones (Eichmann, the Hamburg trials) were about education and wider political issues, rather than simply the judicial process. In a symmetry to the sense that the crimes were also considered ‘beyond punishment’ or as crimes against humanity, for which no court can stand (as no one court stands for all humanity), these confessions are a form of extra-judicial punishment to the perpetrators and to their reputations. Events witnessed and testimonies written, then, act not simply as a chronicle of events but as a wider, literary calling to account. Mozcarski attacks Stroop over the death of his brother, which lends the testimony the air of psychodrama. Into that Darkness ends with Gitta Sereny making Stangl confess beyond his courtroom declaration ‘My conscience is clear about what I did, myself’ through to ‘I never intentionally hurt anyone’

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through to ‘in reality I share the guilt … my guilt … only now in these talks … my guilt is that I am still here’.10 Nineteen hours after this, he is dead. ‘I think he died’ Sereny writes because he had finally, however briefly, faced himself and told the truth; it was a monumental effort to reach that fleeting moment when he became the man he should have been’.11 There is more than a hint here – not least from the form itself, the location of this comment in the narrative flow of the text – that Sereny, or Sereny’s actions have in fact killed him: and that final sentence – when he became the man he should have been—is very ambiguous: is the man he should have been truthful and so honest and decent? Or one who admitted his guilt, and so, evil and wicked? Or one who was not cheery and positive – as he was in his discussions generally – but bent and grey with guilt? (Sereny revisits this in the final pages of her Speer book: here she finds his refusal to die, although ‘he needed and longed to die’ of central interest).12 The second characteristic, as I suggested above, is the splitting between the narrator and the perpetrator. In texts by survivors, even ones that focus especially on the self-destroying nature of the trauma, the sense that the past victim is the present narrator is stressed. However, in these accounts, the past perpetrator is split from the present. Where the narrator is an investigator (legal or self appointed), the split is enacted in the form of the writing – it is a ‘second person’ testimony. Where the narrator is the perpetrator in a forced confession, the split is enacted by – as Browning says – mendacity and pleading. In the case of Speer, the most significant, perhaps, the split is enacted by a sense of his pre- and post- Spandau life: a life of action turned to a life of reflection. This has a corollary in the splitting of the reader, who is constantly draw into the text, with moments of almost unwitting sympathy (Stangl’s wife is threatened) and simultaneous repulsion (he was the commandant of Treblinka). Third, and most obviously, these texts beg questions about ‘factual’ truth and mendacity. Indeed, while the genre itself seems to ask the reader to willing to suspend our belief, the content of the texts keeps returning to these questions. Again, this is the core of Sereny’s book on Speer. The whole of Sereny’s book hinges on Speer’s presence or absence at Himmler’s speech at Posen on 6 October 1943 and so about whether he actually (officially, as it were) knew about the Holocaust: it was ‘absolutely central to an understanding of him’, a ‘landmark date’.13 Joachim Fest’s account of Speer, too, argues this is a ‘crucial’ date.14 This concentration itself is odd, as the book draws so much on the ‘total texture’ of his life and his battle with truth: this moment of presence or absence becomes a narrative touchstone, a moment where the non-provable, non-empirical tapestry of a life can be pinned down, held for a moment to account. Like a good detective story, the Sereny builds up the suspense. First, she stresses how important it is for him not to have heard the speech. In 1971, Speer hears about an article by Erich

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Goldhagen which alleged he had been present: it sends Speer into cold sweats and makes him sleepless. Sereny shows this article to be faulty (the allegation is the result of a unedited proof). Then Speer lists all the reasons he couldn’t have been there: no night landings were possible back in Germany, Hitler’s appointment book showed his return and so on. Then, piece by piece Sereny takes these away: the fact is that the more Speer tries to explain away awkward facts, the clearer it is that he is desperately trying to avoid facing the truth. There is simply no way that Speer can have failed to know about Himmler’s speech, whether or not he sat through it.15 This date becomes an epipahntic moment, a concrete historical fact that can be proved or disproved. In fact, the text itself, in the final pages (the chapter called ‘the great lie’) allows that Speer himself ‘sensed dreadful things were happening with the Jews’ and then in a letter to the South African Board of Deputies, that he considers ‘my main guilt to be my tacit acceptance of the persecution and murder of million of Jews’.16 Sereny pauses over the translation of ‘tacit acceptance’: billigung. Speer himself glosses it as also ‘looking away, not by knowledge of an order or its executioner’.17 Thus, Speer (and so Sereny) admits a general sense of knowledge, to which one incident (official though it may be) is not crucial, nor landmark. I think that Sereny’s text focuses on this moment, however, precisely because it can be codified, discussed, it is not the secret, but the encryption of the secret, the hiding and the denial of it that is the issue. Finally, these texts have a strong generic unity offered either by the external frame or by the internal (non-perpetrator) narrator in their desire to, as Sereny says ‘penetrate’ the personality. Each of them, and perhaps Sereny’s most of all, are faintly reminiscent of not who but ‘whydunnits’. Each of them seems almost to offer, at the beginning, such an insight. And yet, when it comes to it, there is no ‘secret why’. Emil Fackenheim writes: Why did they do it? I once asked Raul Hilberg this core question. He heaved a sigh and said: ‘They did it because they wanted to do it’. Of course, Hilberg know very well that this is no answer, because the next question is, Why did they want to do it? And not only that; one doesn’t do everything one wants to do. The main point is that somebody decided to do it.18 Sereny fails to uncover this in Speer, and instead explores the issues of guilt, rather than motivation. Stroop is unrepentant, and for him the genocide was deserved, and will not debate the matter much further. Hoess and others offer pleading. In this way, these texts are profoundly disappointing: they seem not to get close to the heart of the matter.

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No Answer? I want to outline three possible approaches as to why these texts are so unfulfilling in their ability of offer a ‘why’. The first, which his more of a caveat, turns on the nature of language itself, and especially on genre. Paul de Man, whom we may take as knowing something about telling and not telling, writes that Rhetoric functions as a key to the discovery of the self, and it functions with such ease that one may well begin to wonder whether the lock indeed shapes the key or whether it is not be the other way round, that a lock (and a secret room on box behind it) had to be invented to give a function to that key.19 That is, the very form of the writing – the memoir, the confession, the ‘second person autobiography’ – itself creates an explanation that there will be an answer (as fiction so easily does). However, it may be that, outside of fiction or attempts to understand the world through art, there are no simple answers or solutions to these questions. That is, for all our hope that the testimony will penetrate the veil of this mystery, it only seems to reveal more veils. Even to ask for an answer is a mistake. A second explanation of the unsatisfying nature of these texts lies in Hilary Putnam’s account of language and ethics. In his Reason, Truth and History he argues for what he calls an ‘internalist’ perspective: ‘because it is characteristic of this view to hold that what objects does the world consist of? is a question that makes sense to ask only within a theory or description’.20 He goes on ‘Truth’ in an internalist view, is some sort of (idealized) rational acceptability – some sort of ideal coherence of our beliefs with each other and with our experiences as those experiences are themselves represented in our belief system.21 Truth, he argues ‘itself gets its life from our criteria of rational acceptability’.22 Putnam suggests that the standards of rational acceptability take in a range of areas of human life including our ethical standards. What people would expect, what they can and cannot defend and so on also fall under the standards of rational acceptability for Putnam: they can be investigated, discussed, explored, justified and so on in an open-ended way. He suggests, over the course of the book, three ways in which a putative Nazi might engage with this. First, the Nazi might claim that his beliefs are right and good: this, Putnam says is ‘rubbish’ as his arguments are selfcontradictory and weak and the ‘notion of a ‘good argument’ he writes, is

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‘internal to ordinary moral discourse’.23 Second, the Nazi may simply claim that he has chosen these positions because that is how he feels, without offering an explanation: then, Putnam suggests, we are right to blame them for unjustified actions. Third, and with perhaps most historical weight, Putnam argues that if the Nazi argues that he repudiates moral norms, then his culture would lose the ability to describe ordinary interpersonal relations, social events and political events adequately and perspicuously by our present lights (original italics) … if the different ideology and moral outlook are … warped and monstrous, then the result will simply be an inadequate, unperspicuous, repulsive representation of interpersonal and social facts.24 Even if the Nazi still maintains a moral vocabulary of sorts (as, say Stroop claimed he did) then even these terms will no longer work in the same way that normal moral notions work. The Nazi will be morally incomprehensible: there will be no shared world, or very basic rational acceptability. Each of these three alternatives really describe the ways in which the Nazi is simply not amenable to debate or rational discourse, which in turn means that their post-war accounts of themselves simply won’t make sense: there will be no ‘real’ to which to penetrate, there are not shared standards by which to justify – or even explain – their behaviour. It may be that there is no way that we can understand the perpetrator testimony: it simply does not belong to our moral world. That is, they were no longer ‘normal human beings’ if, by normal one might mean (pace Putnam) sharing the lowest level of a communal rationality. A third approach comes from one of the earliest, and most insightful, attempts to undertake an account of a perpetrator, Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. Of course, this book generated controversy in its time, and still does.25 Its central claims are often misunderstood. Raul Hilberg didn’t like the book, even though it draws considerably and with correct scholarly deference on his own magisterial work and shares many of his conclusions and insights. At the core of the idea of the ‘fearsome, word-andthought-defying banality of evil’ is the idea that there simply is no ‘radical evil’ in the Kantian sense, and that ‘evil’ – while horrific – is the result of a much simpler process.26 Arendt argues that Eichmann ‘was genuinely incapable of uttering a single sentence that was not a cliché.’27 This in turn was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else. No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of safeguards against the words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such.28

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Evil is not ‘deep’ or ‘statanic’ or even ‘interesting’, either in the mundane sense or in the original sense of ‘inter-esse’, between beings. There is just nothing there: it is an absence. This is not to argue, with Paul Roth, that ‘there is no why’ but that evil, in this understanding, is not open to a foundational answer.29 Writing to Scholem, Arendt puts it like this: It is indeed my opinion now that evil is never ‘radical’, that it is only extreme, and that it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension. It can overgrow and lay waste the whole world precisely because it spreads like a fungus on the surface. It is ‘thought-defying’, as I said, because thought tries to reach some depth, to go to the roots, and the moment it concerns itself with evil, it is frustrated because there is nothing. That is its ‘banality.30 If this is correct, then it means that the attempt to ‘penetrate’, to understand the evil is doomed to failure, because, simply, there is nothing to understand. It explains why these texts become narrative accounts (they offer a historical account of the evil acts) and are quasi-juridical (they judge the evil) but can get no closer to the evil, as evil, here, has no depth. This is absolutely not to say that this evil is not evil, nor only to say it is for desk killers, but it is to analyse the form of that evil.

Conclusion The question, then, of perpetrators testimony – like nearly all questions regarding the Holocaust – turns out to ask meta–questions. In this case, the question is: what counts as an explanation? How might we know when we have got to the end of an investigation? What answer satisfies us? These are, of course, very hard to answer both in the abstract and in this context. In part, the inability of knowing ‘when to stop’ is perhaps a response to the horror. What explanation of guilt could be enough? This sort of idea underlies the fictional/theoretical opening of Sean Burke’s The Ethics of Writing (2008) in which on ancients fictionalised Nietzsche is called to account for the Holocaust because only the murder of God – analysed, poeticised, proclaimed by Nietzsche – could be enough of a cause. In part, it is because the very question of guilt is too ‘interdisciplinary’, because each discipline that approaches this issue provides different discoveries or paths of analysis (sociologists find social pressure, historians find historical circumstances, philosophers locate moral evil and personal weakness): the sheer competition of explanations makes an overarching one impossible. This is not the ‘inexplicability’ of the Holocaust, but an over-explicability. And finally, in part, because the Nazi world is at one and the same time both

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utterly familiar and utterly unfamiliar in a self-contradictory way. A character in David Grossman’s See Under: Love discusses the ‘White Room’: she explained that for forty years people had been writing about the Holocaust and would continue to do so, only they were doomed to failure … There is nothing in the White Room. It’s empty. But everything that exists beyond its membranous walls, everything that flows out of the corridors of Yad Vashem is projected into it.31 The ‘White Room’ is a symbol of both the fact that in any analysis of the Holocaust the analyser brings his or her own world with him or her, and of the continuing complexity and paradoxical nature of explaining, and of satisfying the need for explanation of the events. Perpetrator testimony, with its oddness of form and its evaded promise of explanation is perhaps an acute version of this phenomena.

Notes 1. G. Sereny. 1974. Into that Darkness, London: Pimlico, 9. 2. R. Hilberg. 1996, The Politics of Memory, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 61–62. 3. C. Browning, 1998. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution, London: Harper Collins, 2 ed., 210. 4. P. Levi. 1988. The Drowned and the Saved, trans. Raymond Rosenthal, London: Abacus, 32–33. 5. Y. Bauer. 2002. Rethinking the Holocaust, London: Yale University Press, 2002, xiv. 6. A. Rosen. 2001. ‘Autobiography from the other side: the reading of Nazi Memoirs and Confessional ambiguity’, Biography 24(3), 555–69, 555. 7. S. Felman and D. Laub. 1992. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History, London: Routledge, 7. 8. M. Foucault. 1977. Language, counter-memory, practice, ed.. Donald Bouchard, New York: Cornell University Press, 138. 9. A. Speer. 1995. Inside the Third Reich, trans. R. and C. Winston, London: Phoenix,, 575 10. Sereny, Into that Darkness, 364. 11. Sereny, Into that Darkness, 366. 12. G. Sereny. 1995. Albert Speer: his battle with truth, London: Picador, 704. 13. Sereny, Albert Speer: his battle with truth, 397, 399. 14. J. Fest. 2001. Speer: the final verdict, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 185. 15. Sereny, Albert Speer: his battle with truth, 401. 16. Sereny, Albert Speer: his battle with truth, 706, 707. 17. Sereny, Albert Speer: his battle with truth, 708; See also Fest, Speer: the final verdict 333. 18. E. Fackenheim and R. Jospe (eds). 1996. Jewish Philosophy and the Academy, London: Associated University Presses, 195–6.

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19. P. de Man. 1979. Allegories of Reading, London: Yale University Press, 173. 20. H. Putnam. 1981. Reason, Truth and History Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 49. 21. Putnam, Reason, Truth and History, 49–50. 22. Putnam, Reason, Truth and History, 132. 23. Putnam, Reason, Truth and History, 212. 24. Putnam, Reason, Truth and History, 212. 25. See, for recent coverage, David Cesarani, 2004, Eichmann: his life and crimes London: Heinemann. 26. H. Arendt. 1967. Eichmann In Jerusalem, London: Penguin, 252. Space makes a consideration of this impossible here: this concept is widely discussed. Interestingly, Browning thinks it a useful concept but misapplied to Eichmann in C. Browning. 2003. Collected Memory: Holocaust History and Postwar Testimony, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 3–4. A good account is given in S. Benhabib. 2000. ‘Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem’, in Dana Villa (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Hannah Arendt, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, and in various in S. Aschheim (ed.). 2001. Hannah Arendt in Jerusalem, London: University of California Press. The best discussion in recent years is in R.J. Bernstein. 2002. Radical Evil, London, Polity. 27. Arendt, Eichmann In Jerusalem, 48. 28. Arendt, Eichmann In Jerusalem, 49. 29. P.A. Roth. 2004. ‘Hearts of Darkness: “Perpetrator History“ and why there is no why’, History of the Human Sciences 17(2/3), 211–51. 30. H. Arendt. 2007. The Jewish Writings, ed. by J. Kohn and R. H. Feldman, New York: Schocken Books, 471. I owe this to Simon Swift. 31. D. Grossman. 1989. See Under: Love, trans. Betsy Rosenberg, New York: The Noonday Press Farrar Strauss Girous, 124–5.

7 Reading beyond the False Memory Syndrome Debates Jane Kilby

In her book Rocking the Cradle of Sexual Politics, Louise Armstrong is clearly vexed by the possibility that women are being ‘encouraged’ by often wellmeaning therapists to remember events that have no stake in reality, an anxiety she most clearly expresses in reference to the phenomenally successful self-help book The Courage to Heal, co-authored by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis. Indeed, in keeping with the critical storm caused by this multimillion selling book, Armstrong also maintains that: No matter how much one implicitly trusts that suppressed memories do emerge in adulthood, the charge used by those challenging the reality of claimed assault is correct: the book does not require real memory, offering instead the assurance that if you think you were abused, if you feel you might have been abused, you probably were. Within this loose construction lurks the invitation to turn some dreadful actuality of paternal child rape into an experiential metaphor.1 Although not dismissing the possibility that memories of abuse can be suppressed – which is to say consciously forgotten – Armstrong is, nonetheless, voicing profound concern over the plausibility of traumatically absent memory. Indeed, for Armstrong this ‘loose construction’ is illustrative of exactly how ‘twisted’ the politics of remembering sexual abuse has become, with psychotherapeutic discourse and practice imagined here, by Armstrong at least, to not only have the power to send women out into the world with words empty of (political) meaning but more radically with the power to send women out into the world with memories empty of reality.

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Following Armstrong’s line of thinking, the problem is not that self-help literature and culture more broadly simply places an individualist emphasis on helping yourself to cope with the reality of sexual abuse such that it is politically meaningless as a project for radical change, but that it is also figured by Armstrong as quite literally encouraging a ‘help yourself ’ (to the memory of others) mentality. In other words, ‘real’ victims are at risk of losing their patent claim on reality; ‘real’ memory, it seems, is up for grabs. But what if radical amnesia is a very real possibility? What if violence leaves us no sign at all, except perhaps a vague thought or nebulous feeling? And how are we to understand the politics of remembering (sexual) violence if it returns as (less than) nothing, with little or no evidence to suggest its future track? These are the questions that I will pursue in this chapter.

The Question of Real Memory While Armstrong is more or less silent on the political dilemmas and theoretical issues raised by The Courage to Heal, thus leaving readers to draw their own conclusions, other commentators have not been so quiet or retiring in their conclusions. Indeed, if any single thing caused the controversy over repressed memory, it was the popular success of The Courage to Heal and as such it has been key to those wishing to critique the recovered memory movement. Frederick Crews is a case in point. Originally published as two articles for The New York Review of Books, Crews’s 1995 The Memory Wars is a barely contained critique of Freud and the recovered memory movement – although to the extent to which ‘the relatively patent and vulgar pseudoscience of recovered memory rests in appreciable measure in the respectable and entrenched pseudoscience of psychoanalysis’, it is ‘the perniciousness of the recovered memory movement’ that bears the brunt of his critical attack.2 And more particularly, this is because psychoanalysis did not have the power to wreak social harm until it fell into the ‘coarser hands’ of Bass and Davis, since it was at this point only that ‘a countless number of deluded people (mostly women) were encouraged into launching false charges of sexual abuse against their dumbfounded and mortified elders’.3 Key to his critical attack is, not surprisingly, the part played by the therapist in the production of memories. Quite simply, for Crews, there is a ‘blindness to the role of therapy itself in producing behaviour that gets mistaken for the residue of long-buried trauma from the patient’s early years’, which itself is an error that ‘partakes of a much wider insensitivity to suggestion – a shortcoming whose roots can be found in Freud’s stubborn faith, in defiance of explicit challenges on the point that messages from the unconscious are by and large incorruptible’.4 Indeed, here, the recovered

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memory movement – which is characterised by Crews as the ‘stepchild’ of psychoanalysis – is seen to be repeating the ignorance, if not sins, of the father. According to Crews, then and without doubt, ‘the therapist’s presupposition that childhood sexual abuse is the likeliest cause of adult misery’ does, indeed, ‘issue in specious “memories” on the suggestible patient’s part’.5 Or more succinctly, as he puts it later: ‘where repression was, there shall suggestion be’.6 At issue for Crews and thus driving his desire to critique the recovered memory movement is how easily the idea of robust repression allows for a rewriting of family history. Crews simply does not credit the idea that history can suddenly and mysteriously appear from nowhere. For him, historical consciousness is or must work as a progressive, steady accreditation of knowledge such that it can be (easily) tracked; it is not something that appears in and of our instant making, such that it is unavailable for empirical testing and verification. History cannot come into being as if by magic, or at least if it does it must appear at the behest of a powerful instigator. Accordingly Crews writes that psychoanalysis and the recovered memory movement ‘stand closer to animistic shamanism than to science’, and it ‘must be discarded if, once and for all, we are to bring psychotherapy into safe alignment with what is actually known about the mind’,7 which is to say into safe alignment with what is actually known and knowable by the mind. Quite clearly Crews is haunted both by the unscientific nature of repression and the licence it gives for conjuring any manner of belief (or maybe more accurately the licence it gives women for revising family history). Indeed, he returns time and time again to the fact that repression cannot be scientifically proven, hence inducing popular belief in the theory of repression must by necessity become a literary or textual affair. He writes: The very idea of repression and its unraveling is an embryonic romance about a hidden mystery, an arduous journey, and a gratifying neat denouement that can ascribe our otherwise drab shortcomings and pains to deep necessity. When that romance is fleshed out by a gifted storyteller who also bears impressive credentials as an expert of the mind, most readers in our culture will be disinclined to put up intellectual resistance.8 Bass and Davis, do not figure, in this particular instance, as his object of direct critique, but rather Crews focuses on Lenore Terr, noted as the author of the highly influential and ‘deftly written book’ Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memories Lost and Found and cited as a fluent ally of the recovered memory movement, of which Bass and Davis are the leading figures. In a commentary that passes over his question as to whether ‘Terr [isn’t] simply handing herself a conceptual blank check’ (when Terr maintains that trauma is a unique historical experience that rewrites the rules

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of memory), Crews concludes in dismay that ‘If Terr is right about the special character of real-world trauma, we may have to fall back on sheer stories after all’.9 This emphasis on the power of storytellers and storytelling is central to Crews’s theory of how suggestion works, since for him it is the ‘seductive’ and ‘romantic’ nature of trauma stories that is understood by him to be recruiting a wider female reading public; hence he writes, ‘Just such solicitation – we can think of it as suggestion-at-a-distance – has by now been brought to bear on myriad vulnerable people, mostly women, by advocates in search of ideological and/or financial gain’.10 But it is at this point in his argument that Crews does, indeed, bring the full weight of his critique to bear on The Courage to Heal, since he considers Bass and Davis to be ‘the most successful communicators’ of the reality of repression, describing them as ‘a teacher of creative writing and her student’ and as ‘radical feminists who lacked any background in psychology’,11 but who through ‘the icy formalism inculcated’ by their ‘recovery manual’12 have ensured that recovery is ‘not about surmounting one’s tragic girlhood but about keeping the psychic wounds open, refusing forgiveness or reconciliation, and joining the permanently embittered corps of “survivors” ’.13 Critiquing ‘Bass and Davis’s model of extracting repressed truths from the unconscious like so many bills from an automatic teller’,14 Crews concludes that these ‘young fanatics’ and ‘romanticists’ will eventually be defeated, because ‘once the bizarre and sinister features of the recovered memory movement are widely known, sophisticated readers will not hesitate to distance themselves from it’.15 There is, of course, plenty to say about Crews’s commentary, but my concern here is its similarity with Armstrong’s own, for when Armstrong formulates her understanding of politics in terms of ‘real memory’, she is clearly sharing ground with Crews, ground which for Crews at least is governed by – and thereby restricted to – what can be known by the mind and measured by science. This I would argue is not the ground on which to build a feminist politics of sexual abuse memory, for feminists have long since argued that science is not a natural ally, but more importantly, as Judith Butler argues, trauma ‘takes its toll on empiricism’.16 Thus I am keen to follow Sue Campbell, who argues in her book Relational Remembering: Rethinking the Memory Wars that feminists should not concede ground to sceptics even if and while they acknowledge that there is room for doubt; but rather feminists must take the ‘wars’ as an opportunity to rethink the sociality of memory, an opportunity clearly missed by Armstrong. This said, however, it is also, I would argue, an opportunity missed by Campbell. Since in her desire to also distance herself from the position held by Bass and Davis-Campbell makes only one reference to The Courage to Heal and this is buried in a footnote – she fails to grasp the challenge presented by trauma: namely its resistance to any project of understanding or reading. For as Cathy Caruth argues, the debates concerning false memories ‘suggest that the problem of what it means to

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remember traumatic experience and what it means to know or recognise trauma in others is defined, in part, by the very way that it pushes memory away’.17 In some way absolutely fundamental to the experience, trauma refuses to make itself known to anyone. Following Caruth, then, it is possible to argue that the reality of traumatic memory and the role played by others in its production are not easily grasped, and by turn this means, as Caruth writes, when following the insights of Terr in a different direction to Crews: ‘there may not be one simple, generalisable set of rules that can determine in advance the truth of any particular case, and we may thus ultimately have to struggle with the particularity of each individual story in order to learn anew, each time, what it means for a memory to be true’.18 This is a distinctly radical commitment but it is a possibility Campbell rejects when she asserts, for example that ‘the question of whether people can recover memories of childhood sexual abuse or whether they sometimes seem to remember abuse that didn’t happen’ is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ and therefore ‘the real issues are elsewhere’.19 I do not share Campbell’s confidence or conclusion. But rather in keeping with Caruth, I would suggest that the question of whether people can recover memories of childhood sexual abuse is a question not easily answered by what can count as ‘reasonably’ known, especially if Terr is right to stress that trauma rewrites the laws of memory. Indeed, despite her claims to be rejecting designated positions, Campbell’s commitment to the importance of philosophy suggests a distrust of story-telling, which while not necessarily putting her on same ground as Crews, suggests that her model of relational remembering might be more conservative than she hopes or imagines. Indeed, this is perhaps the only conclusion given her claim that ‘we are not there, even as imaginary interlocutors, to question or press the client about her account of the past’.20 To what extent is her emphasis on relationality an actual rethink, if the memory of others is held as a separate account, beyond challenge? How does Campbell’s emphasis on the sociality of memory compare, for example, to Shoshana Felman’s claim that ‘The Other is necessary … for the history of trauma, to be written, to be constituted at all’.21 And how does it compare to Dori Laub’s claim that ‘The emergence of the narrative which is being listened to – and heard – is, therefore, the process and the place wherein the cognizance, the “knowing” of the event is given birth to. The listener, therefore, is a party to the creation of knowledge de novo’, and that the ‘testimony to the trauma thus includes its hearer, who is, so to speak, the blank screen on which the event comes to be inscribed for the first time’.22 And finally how does it compare to Caruth’s claim that the history of a trauma ‘can only take place through the listening of another’.23 The aim of the rest of this chapter is to explore these questions with a view to arguing that the emphasis placed by Felman, Laub and Caruth on the role of the other demands an infinitely more radical rethink

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of the sociality of memory than that suggested by Campbell, and in so doing it will require us to radically rethink the importance of language, storytelling and our methods thereby for reading women’s testimony.

Reading One Life, One Story At this point I want to turn to Donna J. Young’s ‘Remembering Trouble: Three Lives, Three Stories’, an analysis of the narratives of three generations of women living in rural New Brunswick, Canada, since she begins her analysis with express reference to the work of Felman and Laub (although the essay appears in the distinctly Foucault-inspired Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory, ed., Antze and Lambek, 1996). Based on ethnographic field work, Young’s analysis of the women’s stories of abuse and violence is an insightful account of the power of discourses in shaping the ways in which we remember, and she clearly illustrates how the discursive fields of the women – who are identified as Grandmother, Mother and Daughter (who is also acknowledged as a personal friend and as her point of entry into the remote community) – are historically and socially determining. As a consequence, Young demonstrates how their acts of remembering are respectively shaped by the religious rhetoric of the earlier part of the century, the consumer culture of the 1950s and 1960s and the contemporary medical language of psychiatry, especially the therapeutic discourses of recovered memory, post-traumatic repression and dissociation. From the outset, however, Young is mindful of the limits of analysing ‘discourse’, warning, for example, of the poverty of ‘[hastily] drawn abstractions [when] charting a dominant discourse at a particular moment’.24 As a consequence, Young is careful to reflect on her approach by noting that what is at stake in collecting life stories is not a simple reconstruction of the empirical historical past, nor an indulgent and by turns condescending exploration of another’s subjective, and therefore flawed, understanding of events that have passed, ‘but the very historicity of the event in an entirely new dimension’.25 Importantly, Young is sensitive to the fact that reading testimony is not about providing a simple record of events, nor a using of testimony as a pretext for demonstrating its limits, but rather of establishing the actuality of the events of which people speak in an ‘entirely new dimension’. In other words, Young is conscious of the power of the interpreter and the ways in which the historicity of events – the very fact that they have happened – can be lost in the thick of reporting on the reality or else analysing its discursive production. By invoking the work of Felman and Laub, Young is clearly acknowledging a concern with the women’s actual experiences of violence: the ‘real’ of their experiences. Following Felman and Laub, Young thus endeavours to make an analytical space for the reality of trauma by acknowledging that ‘there is a creative and

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formative tension between the ways in which stories are embedded in historical, political, economic, and ideological worlds and the ways in which narratives create those worlds’.26 By emphasising this tension between the context and testimony, Young seeks to ameliorate the ways in which an emphasis on the constitutive function of a discourse can result in crude, almost positivistic determinism (and thereby become little more than ideological critique). This is an important recognition on the part of Young, especially when she analyses how the ‘psychoanalytic discourse of repression and dissociation’ work to shape Daughter’s memories as they emerge in therapy, for certainly the FMSF lobbyists admit no such subtlety. So although Young is clearly critical of how ‘the literality of the therapist’s interpretation of [Daughter’s] nightmares and memory flashes denies, and so erases, the historical and cultural context within which Daughter’s imagination and language unfurled’,27 Young’s express aim is to restore a sense of that context, but doing so, as I have noted, without losing sight of Daughter’s testimony. Thus she writes of how ‘embedded in her story of once repressed and now recovered memories are the remnants of a childhood situated at the crossroads of changing, and utterly incommensurable, cosmologies’.28 Despite this overt sensitivity — which is reiterated when Young insists that ‘this exploration of family history over three generations assumes a dialectic tension between context and text’29 – her commitment to maintaining a sense of the text is soon lost in practice. In spite of theoretical allusions to the textuality of the context, which is to insist on the irreducibility of history and life stories to context at the very least, Young, nevertheless, maintains that the anecdotal fragments she has chosen ‘act as a “diagnostic of power” … revealing as they do, “historical shifts in configurations or methods of power” ’.30 Thus she reads the life stories of the women as a diagnosis ‘of both the ideological and discursive shifts that engender new constructions of narrative identity within new moral orders’.31 In spite of positing a less than given relationship between a text and ‘its’ context, Young proceeds here as if there were an ostensibly straightforward relationship between them, which is confirmed when she writes that ‘transformations of power are mirrored in the very forms of textual disclosure and language within which the women couch their tales’.32 It seems, then that Young has no trouble in reading the women’s narratives. They are, in the final analysis, strangely transparent as Young reads them, quite literally, as stories revealing the ‘truth’ of the power of discourse. So, for example, Young maintains that Daughter’s ‘therapists, and countless books on childhood and ritual abuse written for a public with an enormous appetite for salacious stories, convinced her that within her recovered memories, her Self, lay a horrible truth’.33 ‘But will this story be hers?’ Young asks. The simple answer for Young is no. I cannot stress enough that Young’s analysis is insightful and as such it is a rich piece of discourse analysis. However, on this count, it is not an

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example of the type of reading pushed for by Felman and Laub. They mean something other than using testimony as a diagnostic of power, for as they argue when stressing the importance of reading text and context in conjunction – a strategy of analysis they call ‘shuttle reading’ – it is not a question of returning to the purely academic ‘ “mirror-games” between the “novel” and “life” and to the traditional, all-too-familiar critical accounts of the mutual “reflection” (or “representation”) between “history” and “text”’,34 but is rather, and more challengingly, so as to attempt to see – in an altogether different and exploratory light – how issues of biography and history are neither simply represented nor simply reflected, but are reinscribed, translated, radically rethought and fundamentally worked over by the text. In order to gain insight into the significance and impact of the context on the text, the empirical context needs not just to be known, but to be read; to be read in conjunction with, and as part of, the reading of the text.35 This summary exposition is already enough to show the limits of Young’s understanding. It is not a question of mirroring, but rather a question of exploring how testimony alters our conceptualisation of ‘its’ context and how it might – or might not – be known. At issue for Felman and Laub, and the reason why they query what constitutes the context of testimony, is a concern over when and where testimony gets written in the first place. For as I noted above, Felman and Laub stress that testimony is only ever written or else constituted at the point of reception, in the presence of another. There is no historical record prior to this moment, no context as such. So when, for example, Laub argues that ‘the “knowing” of the event is given birth to’ at the point of reception, he means that testimony and any significance it has as a testimony is given to us only in the moment of listening and reading. There is no idea of memory before memory. It is not, as Young maintains, a case of holding testimony up to the light to catch a glimpse of how it is shot through with cultural meaning, but rather it is a case of looking to create language in the light of the moment. But when Young reads the ‘fragmented story’ of Daughter – which is taken by Young to represent Daughter’s attempt ‘to recover/re-create a life history in the wake of post-traumatic memory loss’ – none of this understanding of how testimony is given can be found in her reading. So although Daughter is her point of entry into the research, and even although Daughter ‘with considerable skill’ sabotages Young’s ‘best-laid plans’ as she ‘go[es] out in search for clues that would unravel the significance of her night terrors’,36 and even though Young ‘had the sense that [she] was travelling away from [her] project (at that point still firmly rooted in the prosaic) to probe the mysteries of the otherworldly, a task better suited to spirit mediums than to

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anthropologists’,37 and even though it became obvious to Young that her ‘role was to serve as a bridge between the two worlds her life uncomfortably straddles’,38 she does not allow any of this disruption or tension to reconfigure the parameters of her reading. Daughter’s testimony is read more simply as a statement on power, not as a potential statement on trauma. This lack of attention to the question of reading trauma narratives is most evident when Young analyses the journals written by Daughter for her therapists, which again are another example of the Daughter’s disruptive influence, since she refuses to be interviewed by Young, protesting instead that she had already written her life story for her therapists, thereby insisting on giving her therapy journals to Young. Basing her analysis on these journals, Young begins, however, by arguing that ‘over the course of therapy the journal entries shift radically from the world in which Daughter presently struggles to one previously repressed’, whereupon ‘previously repressed memories are incorporated as facts into the reports’.39 As the stress on repressed memories becoming facts clearly suggests, Young reads the changing concerns and language of the journal entries as a sign of the encroaching power of a discourse preoccupied with the past as a secret, undiscovered reality. Thus the differences between the two excerpts (one drawn from spring 1991 and one from spring 1992) are offered as indicators of Daughter’s enculturation and her production as a subject ‘driven to uncover the motley facts of her case history’.40 The first excerpt is understood as testament to Daughter’s relative freedom from dominant trauma discourses, since it is written with an informal, lay understanding of her experiences. The second excerpt is read, however, as a sign of the saturating power of therapeutic discourses, which is evidenced, according to Young, by a distinct alteration in tone and content. The second extract reads: I researched all kind of books and articles on neuroscience, particularly night-terrors, eye-sight and hallucinations. I discovered that what I experience are hypnagogic hallucinations. It makes sense to me now … It is my understanding that an area in the occipital lobes (visual cortex) takes signals received from the eyes and ‘forms’ what we see, then sends those images to our consciousness (thought, recognition, and acknowledgment) to be acknowledged. So it seems to me that what happens when you have hypnagogic hallucinations is that the occipital lobes must be picking up visual signals from elsewhere. I think that the occipital lobes are getting signals from the temporal lobes where memories are stored. In memory loss or blocking out, the memories have not disappeared, it is the accessing of memories which has stopped.41

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Using the content of this second piece of writing and its expressive difference from the first as the basis for her analysis, Young is quick to discredit Daughter’s testimony by arguing that Daughter’s technical competency represents her seduction by the language of psychiatry and thus her own thwarted desire to become an expert. Young writes: Placed within the context of Daughter’s frustrated ambitions to be a scientist, I find the tenor of these excerpts sadly revealing. Daughter splits before our very eyes: one Self, would-be medical researcher, detached and objective, offering for dissection her other Self as patient. Denied entry into the world of the educated middle class as an equal, Daughter trades her ravaged psyche as currency for acceptance into a class to which she aspires.42 Leaving aside the fact that the second excerpt was written as formal letter by Daughter to an expert in the field and not as an informal journal entry (which would account, in part, for the shifting style and substance), what is troubling about Young’s analytical privileging of discourse is her failure to engage with Daughter’s testimony to traumatic experiences. I will stress, again that I do not wish to deny that Daughter’s language is difficult and requires interrogation or, indeed, to simply chide Young for voicing her concerns about the validity of Daughter’s account. But rather I wish to assert that Daughter can be read as saying something other than what is dictated by dominant discourse. Again while I have no objection to Young’s doubling of commentary whereby she substitutes her reading of Daughter’s journals for the therapists’ presumed reading, I do object to her failure to read beyond the terms of her critique. For despite Daughter’s expressed dislike of the analogy of splitting (Daughter writes: ‘I do think “splitting” is a major form of coping. We all split in varying degrees. But I don’t like the analogy of being two different people’43), Young promptly invokes it. Young’s failure to read continues, moreover, when she speculates on the success of Daughter’s ‘attempt’ to write her past. Here Young’s commentary is singularly dismissive, when she writes: ‘What I find sad about my friend’s attempt to write her life is how abysmally it fails. Rarely does she describe an event by placing herself squarely in the action of the unfolding story. One almost wonders if she was ever there at all’.44 But is it not possible to read Daughter’s account as precisely to struggle the write about one’s ‘own’ trauma? So when Young reads Daughter’s inability to ‘construct a life story’ and inability to ‘wrest her story away from her interlocutors’ [by whom I guess that Young means her therapists] as evidence of the grip of power, might it not be read as evidence of her struggle to get a grip on trauma and how she would, indeed, have no story to tell without her interlocutors? And when Young argues that Daughter’s

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voice has become ‘the voice of an outsider, or, perhaps more to the point, a would-be outsider’,45 might we not read this as a struggle to speak about something on which you do not have the inside track? I should add here that I am not trying to trump Young’s reading with the ‘truth’ of my own. But rather I am trying to suggest that we might try to find ways of reading that do justice to the trauma suffered, a reality less real for being so brutally more. Because despite her critical commentary, Young is in no doubt that Daughter suffered distinct trauma. As Young clearly details, Daughter was molested by her neighbour; lost her memory at the age of ten, when she and her siblings spent a winter alone with their father following desertion by the mother; lost her brother in a tragic accident and her other brother when he was forced to leave the family home by a brutal stepfather; and finally, as Young acknowledges, throughout her teenage years ‘Daughter spent most of her energy avoiding the sexual advances of the [stepfather]’.46 Given all this it is hardly surprising that Daughter finds it difficult to write a story at which she is at the centre, since this is to ask her to write the story of a life which by description, here, is enough to push anyone to the limits of what they can reasonably grasp as their ‘own’. Daughter’s life was not in her possession and so she was, indeed, removed from the most significant events of her life. If the reference to a traumatic experience is taken as our guide (rather than an analytical concern with discourse), or indeed if we strive to read testimony in the context or field of trauma, it is possible to argue that Daughter’s attempt to write her life does not read solely according to the strictures of discourse, but registers, if Young is right in diagnosing a haunting failure, the limits of all and any recovery. Her account fails to secure credibility precisely because her experiences of traumatic abuse are beyond even her own handling. In a very real sense, Daughter does not own her story, and to this end Young is right but for the wrong reasons. Daughter’s story does not belong to her because it resists the language in which it might be told: words cannot do it justice. So when Young concludes that while she might have a greater historical knowledge of the settlement in which the women lived out their lives, yet might have failed ‘to understand the local character of human existence at particular points in history’,47 she is not wrong, but nor is she wrong in her desire to offer the insight to Daughter, since it requires a degree of understanding neither of them have at their disposal, for as Geoffrey Hartman argues, ‘The real – the empirical or historical origin – cannot be known as such because it presents always within the resonances or field of the “traumatic”’.48 If Daughter’s ‘fragmented story’ – which is beyond doubt a testimony to unknown loss – is going to be read as a trauma text, it will require feminists to read very differently, for, as Hartman argues, the story of trauma is ‘a statement of a different sort’, one which ‘relates to the negative moment in experience, to what in experience has not been, or cannot be, adequately experienced’.49

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Importantly, then, this will require a different economy of reading, a reading of that which is missing from the statement. So, for example, as Judith Butler argues, ‘it will be one that must be read for what it indicates, but cannot say, or for the unsayable in what is said’.50 Ultimately, then, I want to argue for a way of reading that does not follow Young’s post-structuralist commitment to the language of discourse, since this requires her to read women’s testimony at the express level, whether taken as a statement concerning power or meaning (or more as a statement on the meaning of power, and vice versa), for, as Felman argues, testimony is a mode of truth’s realization beyond what is available as statement, beyond what is available that is, as a truth transparent to itself and entirely known, given, in advance, prior to the very process of its utterance. The testimony will thereby be understood, in other words, not as a mode of statement of, but rather as a mode of access to that truth’.51 Trauma is spoken of only in the moment of testimony: beyond that it is always untold, unspoken, and its truth unknown. In practice, then, if feminists are going to read women’s testimony as testimony to trauma they will have to learn to read what is said silently. As Caruth puts it, this is a process of listening to ‘the silence of its mute repetition of suffering’.52 Or as Butler argues, ‘One will have to become a reader of the ellipsis, the gap, the absence’ or ‘broken narratives’.53 In sum, a learning to read beyond the economy of overt symptoms or signs, which means, as Hartman puts it, ‘more listening, more hearing of words within words, and a greater openness to testimony’.54

The Conceit of Reading Suggesting a practice of critical reading based on the reading of ‘words within words’, silence and ellipsis is, without doubt, a literary conceit, but it is no less ‘fanciful’ than the theory of critical reading advanced, for example, by Kalí Tal, author of Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma. Like Young, Tal is interested in how critics read survivor testimony or, as she puts it, the literatures of trauma, asking among other questions: ‘What happens when a survivor’s story is retold (and revised) by a writer who is not a survivor?’.55 Of paramount importance for Tal are the meanings victims give their experience and how these meanings are available to ‘survivor–readers’ in a way that they simply are not ‘available to non-traumatised readers’, whereupon the non-traumatised reader ‘does not have access to the meanings of the sign that invoke traumatic memory’ and thereby ‘will come

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away with different meaning[s] altogether’.56 Thus the literature of trauma is quite categorically, ‘defined by the identity of its author’.57 This said, however, Tal is, nonetheless, keen to establish that ‘The work of the critic of the literature of trauma is both to identify and explicate literature by members of survivor groups’.58 Indeed, she readily acknowledges that the ‘reader becomes part of this reconstruction [of the traumatic reality] when she participates in the testimonial process’,59 although for Tal this means: ‘I must respect the autonomy of the text; I am a visitor and must observe the requisite courtesies; I must be careful not to appropriate what is not mine’.60 With this warning, Tal advances a series of key principles for reading survivor testimony responsibly. According to Tal, if we are going to be responsible cultural critics we must meet the following requirements. First, we must contextualise: since it is ‘[only] after we have contextualised the trauma can we separate the outside interpretations of “Other People’s Trauma” (OPT) from the narratives of the survivors and successfully “read” the revisions of that trauma’.61 In practice this means that the critic must determine the composition of the community of trauma survivors; the nature of the trauma inflicted upon members of the community; the composition of the community of perpetrators; the relationship between the communities of victims and perpetrators; and the contemporary social, political, and cultural location of the community of survivors.62 Second, Tal argues it is ‘only fair to the reader’ if a cultural critic ‘provides enough information’ about themselves so that the reader can also place them in context.63 Hence, according to Tal, being a responsible cultural critic requires making the question ‘Why me?’ integral to one’s approach,64 a question she goes on to answer by acknowledging that she is a white, primarily heterosexual, upper-class, secular Jew with a ‘multiethnic, multiracial extended family’ and a history of having been ‘sexually abused as a twelve-year-old by adult friends of my maternal grandfather’.65 Third, she writes: I believe that the responsibility of the cultural critic is to present a continuous challenge to the assumptions upon which any communal consensus is based – to insist that nothing go without saying. When cultural critics seek to expose and then question the rationales for specific community practices, we situate ourselves in opposition to dominant discourse. We question our own beliefs, and the beliefs of others. We appeal to people’s ‘good sense’, and we measure our success by the amount of argument we generate.66

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And finally fourth, ‘The involvement of the reader in the testimonial process depends upon her willingness to participate in communal struggle and to identify with the survivor’.67 There is no doubt in my mind that Tal is making a strenuous and important effort to establish the parameters of reading. But there are clear problems with her recommendations. For surely her demand for contextualisation is prohibitively exhaustive: the composition and relationship of the community of survivors and perpetrators as well as the contemporary social, political, and cultural location of the community of survivors? And, then, the nature of their trauma? And does not her act of contextualising herself not risk being read as a ruse for authorising her reading of testimonies, which span a range of traumatic events, including the Holocaust, racial oppression and sexual abuse? This is a point compounded when, as noted above, she asserts that victims of violence constitute a community of readers providing them with privileged access to each other’s testimony. And with respect to her third proposition: is not the demand to let ‘nothing go without saying’ quite simply impossible? Does not the questioning of our beliefs carry the possibility of an endless self–reflexivity? And why must ‘we appeal to people’s “good sense“ ’: who are the ‘people’ and what is ‘good sense’? And do we really want to ‘measure our success by the amount of argument we generate’? Are there not times when argument generates more heat than light? So despite Tal’s caveat that ‘such a process is not infinitely reductive, nor does it promote the notion that all theories are equally valid’, I am not convinced on the first count, and do not know how to make sense of the second. It is not my intention to make an easy target of Tal’s endeavour, but a politics of reading based on the idea that there are ‘words within words’ appears distinctly less conceited and increasingly modest and prudent when compared to this exorbitant prescription for what constitutes a proper reading of the literatures of trauma. And finally with respect to Tal’s fourth condition: should the reader presume that the survivor wants us to identify with them and partake of their community struggle? Is the presumption of kinship not appropriation in another guise? This is perhaps the most critical question here, precisely because Tal offers her model of reading in opposition to the approach of ‘postmodern’ readers on the basis that they disregard author intentionality. Thus she argues that the ‘approach of most postmodern critics is inappropriate when applied to reading the literature of trauma’ because they ‘simply claim that an author’s intent is irrelevant’, which she argues is obviously not how we should approach the literatures of trauma. Whereupon Tal argues, ‘The act of writing, though perhaps less accessible to the critic, is as important as the act of reading’.68 Similarly she argues that unlike ‘the most playful of the deconstructionists, we do not seek to prove that there is, finally, no solid place to stand’.69 On the question of

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inappropriate readers, Tal reserves some of her most damning criticism for the psychoanalytical readings of Felman and Laub, whose work represents ‘an appropriative gambit of stunning proportions’.70 Felman in particular, it is argued, ‘partakes of the worst sort of psychoanalytical pomposity’71 and her ‘hubris’ is only matched by the interventionism of Laub and his ‘personal appropriative interpretive strategy’.72 Felman is, she argues, a ‘selfstyled interpreter’, and, as is her habit, Tal adds, Felman makes ‘no distinction between [the] real and the metaphorical’.73 Tal is not the only critic to take issue with Felman and Laub on the subject of appropriation, so I want to make one point. The cogency of claiming that we must not make appropriative readings depends for its force on a set of liberal and deeply individualistic conceits, chief among them being the ‘autonomy’ or integrity of the testimony. Yet by Tal’s own admission and with the acknowledgment of many, the reader is always already part of the process of giving testimony; indeed without a reader there is no testimony. Testimony requires reading, for as Dori Laub argues ‘testimonies are not monologues; they cannot take place in solitude’.74 But how we receive testimony is open to question, so what I am saying is that we can no longer afford thinking about testimony as the property of the survivor, as her testimony and her testimony alone. For minimally, it is only if we figure trauma as entering ‘the representational field as an expression of personal experience’ as Jill Bennett argues that the question of its vulnerability to ‘appropriation, to reduction, and to mimicry’ arises in the first instance (2005: 6). But more than that and as I have been arguing, trauma can never enter the representational field as an expression of personal experience, since trauma is the very defeat of this possibility. Actively interpreting, if not actually constructing, the testimony of others is a political necessity and this requires a degree of disrespect for its impossibly imagined meaning. This said, however, there is disrespect and there is disrespect, hence I would like to invoke Frigga Haug’s notion of ‘undogmatic disrespect’ and Judith Butler converse notion of ‘a certain respectful dishonouring of intention’.75 Critical reading, but reading that is ‘light’ on presumed meaning, and while Tal might object to this proposal, as Ellen Rooney argues ‘The check on appropriation and cooptation lies not in some prophylactic disengagement from the stories that are not ours, but from the necessary vulnerability of such a reading to critique, rereading and dismissal’.76 I can stand corrected. Unlike Tal, then, I think we can take a lead from the playful deconstructionists. Indeed, I consider my strategy of light reading draws inspiration from what Harold Bloom calls a strong misreading, which, as Dominick LaCapra argues, can be understood as a supplement to the method of deconstruction usually associated with Jacques Derrida and Paul de Man (typically understood as a practice of close reading). Denoting a specific relationship between reader and text, LaCapra likens the practice of

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a strong misreading ‘to the “riff” in jazz, wherein one musician improvises on a tune or on the style of an earlier musician’ (2000: 44). In practice, this requires careful listening and reading in the first place but, then, an experimenting with the original text. As LaCapra argues, this supplements deconstruction through an active intervention in which a text is indeed rewritten in terms of possibilities that were underexploited or even unexplored by its author and perhaps remain submerged in the text … Its performative quality indicates that it does not simply copy or imitate the manifest content of the text being read but actually makes something happen (or makes history in its own way) through associations and improvisations.77 There is a game of language to be played here, which might sound facile, but it is not child’s play (or if it is child’s play, it is the single most important game to be learnt), for rather than mourn the loss of language as a secure ground for establishing the significance of trauma, we might do better to find new ways of reading the silence left by the experience of violence. Or put slightly differently, rather than mourn the loss of language for securing authorial intention, we might do better to celebrate the infinite power of language, which is nothing less than its structural and structuring condition of address, of always murmuring. For if we do not risk a more adventurous reading (and theory of language), how are we going to make sense of trauma, when, as Tal herself argues, it happens ‘outside the bounds of “normal human experience” ’, so that the ‘subject is radically umgrounded’.78 How are we going to make sense of her following contortion – ‘[accurate] representation of trauma can never be achieved without recreating the event since, by its very definition, trauma lies beyond the bounds of “normal” conception’79 – without adopting more creative and imaginative ways of reading, ways of reading and thereby writing freed from the conceits that determine what is normal, right and proper? And indeed this has always been the feminist challenge in some form or another. So, for example, when writing in the late 1980s, Haug argues ‘Buried or abandoned memories do not speak loudly; on the contrary we can expect them to meet us with obdurate silence. In recognition of this, we must adopt some method of analysis suited to the resolution of a key question for women; a method that seeks out the un-named, the silent and the absent’.80 She goes on Here, too, our experience of education maps out a ready–made path of analysis; we have been taught to content ourselves with decoding texts, with searching for truth in textual analysis, complemented at best by the author’s own analysis … ‘Re-learning’ in this context means seeing what

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is not said as interesting, and the fact that it is not said as important, it involves a huge methodological leap, and demands more than a little imagination.81 Advocating a strategy of ‘light’ reading, reading that is light on the word, on the meaning it establishes for the testimony read, is critical if we are to hear the silent past of testimony, for, as Haug also argues, ‘alongside omissions, absences and the unnamed, it is still possible to reconstruct past events in the cracks between the echoes of our silence’.82 Importantly, it is time (again) to take a methodological leap, and while Haug was arguing for this leap for different reasons and in relation to differently buried and abandoned memories her analysis finds a resonance here. So while Tal is happy to ‘disregard the cultural prohibition against profaning the sacred’ in relation to discussing the Holocaust’83 I would like to apply the same anti-sacral principle to the analysis of sexual abuse and ask that we no longer hold sacred notions of testimony. Indeed, here Judith Herman’s formulation of testimony as having ‘both a private dimension, which is confessional and spiritual, and a public aspect, which is political and judicial’84 is clearly problematic, for when ascribing a sacral dimension to testimony, it becomes difficult to interrogate it without being open to the charge of defiling its integrity. It is time to ‘demystify’ testimony and the ways in which we can approach it. For when Tal complains that ‘Mythologisation works by reducing a traumatic event to a set of standardised narratives (twice and thrice-told tales that come to represent “the story” of the trauma)’,85 can she not guess that in repeating the ideological insights of 1970s feminism, she has already told the story twice, and that maybe it is best to develop an alternative language in order not to tell it thrice? Put simply, may it not be better to attempt saying it for the first time, each time, in order to maintain the vitality of political language, to always improvise in the hope that women’s testimony might be heard anew?

Notes 1. L. Armstrong. 1994. Rocking the Cradle of Sexual Politics: What Happened When Women Said Incest, London: The Women’s Press, 5. 2. F. Crews. 1995. The Memory Wars: Freud’s Legacy in Dispute, London: Granta, 4—5. 3. Crews, The Memory Wars, 4—5. 4. Crews, The Memory Wars, 14. 5. Crews, The Memory Wars, 14. 6. Crews, The Memory Wars, 181. 7. Crews, The Memory Wars, 29. 8. Crews, The Memory Wars, 166. 9. Crews, The Memory Wars, 167.

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10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24.

25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48.

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Crews, The Memory Wars, 189. Crews, The Memory Wars, 192. Crews, The Memory Wars, 204. Crews, The Memory Wars, 194. Crews, The Memory Wars, 215. Crews, The Memory Wars, 206. J. Butler, 2004a ‘Quandaries of the Incest Taboo’, in J. Butler, Undoing Gender, London and New York: Routledge, 154. C. Caruth. (ed.). 1995. Trauma: Explorations in Memory, Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, viii. Caruth, Trauma, viii–ix. S. Campbell. 2003. Relational Remembering: Rethinking the Memory Wars, Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, 14. Campbell, Relational Remembering, 77. S. Felman. 2002. The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Trauma in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 175, fn.3. S. Felman and D. Laub. 1992. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History, London and New York: Routledge, 57. Caruth, Trauma, 11. D. Young. 1996. ‘Remembering Trouble: Three Lives, Three Stories’, in P. Antze and M. Lambek (eds), Tense Past: Cultural Essays on Memory, London and New York: Routledge, 41. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 25, citing S. Felman and D. Laub, Testimony, 62. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 25, my emphasis. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 38. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 26. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 26. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 26, citing Abu–Lugkod. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 25. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 26, my emphasis. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 42, my emphasis. Felman and Laub, Testimony, xiv—xv. Felman and Laub, Testimony, xiv—xv. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 35. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 34. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 35. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 36. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 42. ‘Daughter’ cited in Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 37. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 37. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 37. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 37. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 37. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 40. Young, ‘Remembering Trouble’, 42. G. Hartman. 1995. ‘On Traumatic Knowledge and Literary Studies’, New Literary History, 26(3), 543—4.

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Hartman, ‘On Traumatic Knowledge’, 540. Butler, ‘Quandaries’, 156. Felman and Laub, Testimony, 15—16. C. Caruth. 1996. Unclaimed Experience, Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 9. Butler, ‘Quandaries’, 155. Hartman, ‘On Traumatic Knowledge’, 541. K. Tal. 1996. Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 16. Tal, Worlds of Hurt ,17. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 18. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 203. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 203. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 17. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 17. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 4. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 5. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 4. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 5. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 203. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 17—18. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 5. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 54. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 54. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 56—7, 58. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 59. Felman and Laub, Testimony, 70—1. J. Butler. 2004b. ‘Bodily Confessions’, in J. Butler, Undoing Gender, London and New York: Routledge, 171. E. Rooney. 1996. ‘What’s the Story? Feminist Theory, Narrative, Address’, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 8(1), 1–30, 16. D. LaCapra. 2000. History and Reading: Tocqueville, Foucault, French Studies, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 44. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 15. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 15. F. Haug et al., 1987. Female Sexualisation: A Collective Work of Memory, trans. carter, Erica, London: Verso, 65. Haug et al. Female Sexualisation, 68. Haug et al. Female Sexualisation, 68. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 8. J. Lewis Herman.1992. Trauma and Recovery: From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, London: Pandora, 181. Tal, Worlds of Hurt, 6.

8 False Testimony Sue Vice

False Holocaust testimony has become of pressing generic concern especially since 1996 and the unmasking of Binjamin Wilkomirski’s infamous fictional testimony Fragments.1 I consider here some examples of false or embellished Holocaust testimony, and argue that neither a literary nor a historical approach of a conventional kind is sufficient to determine the genre of such testimonies. As Robert Eaglestone has persuasively argued in relation to Fragments, there ‘is no textual property that will identify a stretch of discourse as a work of fiction’,2 while the accuracy or otherwise of the historical events represented in testimony is equally insufficient as a guide to authenticity. I will consider whether there are more fruitful ways to approach such works, by exploring as well psychological and philosophical notions of false testimony. The kind of masquerade or deception which characterises false or embellished Holocaust testimony can be detected in other kinds of writing as well. Recently, critical consensus has suggested that false testimony of varied kinds is not only an emerging literary and cultural genre, but a usefully unfamiliar way in which to view such constructs as nationality, ethnic origin, the experience of victimhood, gender, and subjectivity itself.3 In this essay, I consider whether false Holocaust testimony differs in any respect from other kinds of ethnic and cultural imposture, and if we can approach false Holocaust testimony in a structured way. In the introduction to a special issue of Australian Literary Studies entitled Mapping Hoaxes and Imposture in Australian Literature, Maggie Nolan and Carrie Dawson put forward four categories for explaining such ‘acts of imposture’, whether these are Holocaust-related or not: identification, appropriation, creation and affiliation.4 This is helpful in explaining the motives and actions of the hoaxers themselves, but it does not take into account our judgment as

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readers. How do we respond to reading Holocaust testimony which – especially in the wake of Wilkomirski – for various reasons causes us unease? A philosophical model of true and false testimony might be helpful in our efforts to classify Holocaust fakes. Such a classification is useful in being precise about the genre of false testimony, rather than, for instance, having anything to do with preventing Holocaust denial. Although deniers seize with glee on genuinely false testimonies like Wilkomirski’s, they are wilfully indiscriminate and also cite works by Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi. I have divided false Holocaust testimony into three categories. The first category consists of outright invention: fiction has been published as fact and the events described have no basis in the historical record. This includes Wilkomirski’s Fragments, and the work of an Australian falsifier, Bernard Holstein, whose purported testimony Stolen Soul of 2004 has indeed turned out to be based on an act of theft. Holstein’s best-selling memoir narrates his birth in Germany, the two years he spent in Auschwitz from the age of nine, where he was protected by two older boys, fed by a British airman, subjected to medical experiments, then fought alongside the resistance, escaped the camp and joined local partisans, hid with wolves and ate the food regurgitated by a female wolf, was recaptured and returned to Auschwitz, then after the war emigrated to Australia and was adopted there. However, a private investigator hired by the publisher discovered that Holstein was actually born in Australia and then adopted; he was baptised in 1942, confirmed in 1952, and spent some time in a seminary training to be a priest.5 Indeed, a religious element of an unusual kind persists in Holstein’s book, as the title suggests. For instance, Holstein writes of his arrival at Auschwitz, ‘I had given up any hope of seeing my family again, these monsters have stolen them from me, and with them, my soul’.6 In the book’s preface, Holstein idiosyncratically observes that, I know that there is a fire burning within me and that the man my father wanted me to be has been sacrificed on that fire. I know it is the fire of the righteous, and the sacrifice is the sacrifice of the purest of the pure. The ovens that burnt the children of Israel burnt with the passion of Leviticus.7 It is tempting to read Stolen Soul as Wilkomirski’s Fragments has been read: as an account of a childhood event which was experienced as traumatic, perhaps in Holstein’s case too that of adoption, which has been transposed into a Holocaust setting and, in this case, into a stylised and confused discourse of Levitical sacrifice. Holstein’s real name is Bernard Brougham; in the memoir, Holstein describes how he was born in – rather coincidentally – Holstein County, which is now Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany. As if following Wilkomirski’s example, Holstein counterclaims that his documents are

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unreliable and that, despite being a Jewish orphan, he was brought up as Catholic by his adoptive family. With hindsight this testimony appears to signal its own uncertain status. The narrator of Stolen Soul makes a feature of his unreliable memory: ‘How do you know who you are when there is no one to confirm your memories?’, he asks rhetorically. The narrator also incorporates the possibility of inaccuracy into musings about his pre-war life: ‘In my mind I think I am at a small Jewish school, with maybe 20–30 other children, but is this possible? Surely Jewish schools were closed’.8 While making a bid for authenticity in its contrast between childhood memory and the historical record, this rhetorical questioning now reads as the strategic pre-empting of a reader’s sceptical question. The second category consists of embellished testimonies: these are testimonies by individuals who did live through the Holocaust years but have added to their experiences to ‘improve’ upon what really happened. In this category is Martin Gray’s 1971 ghost-written memoir For Those I Loved, about his experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto and Treblinka.9 It seems that the Treblinka sections cannot be authentic and that Gray has added them to appear in a more heroic light, and to offset guilt at having survived in Aryan Warsaw while his family perished in the ghetto. Gray makes numerous errors about the layout of Treblinka, including confusing the upper (extermination) camp with the lower (main) camp; he effects countless unlikely escapes from captivity; and mentions very few names or dates.10 The reader’s doubts here may centre around issues of implausibility and factual inconsistency with other survivor accounts of Treblinka – such verification cannot be a specifically literary matter. Another example of embellished testimony is that of Deli Strummer, a camp survivor originally from Austria, now living in the U.S.A., who selfpublished a testimony in 1988 called A Personal Reflection of the Holocaust. Strummer has also given many public speeches, but more recently survivors’ groups have withdrawn their endorsement of her.11 Although Strummer was deported from Vienna during the war, she did not spend the five years she claims in camps such as Auschwitz and Mauthausen; rather, she was incarcerated in Theresienstadt for two years. The text itself possesses signs which might make the reader uneasy. While Martin Gray’s memoir For Those I Loved includes apparently authenticating features such as contemporary photographs, although these are a mixture of family and generic images, and a preface by the American photographer David Douglas Duncan, who only knew Gray after the war,12 the signs in A Personal Reflection of the Holocaust are not only factual but also narrative. After a page describing her arrival at Theresienstadt in A Personal Reflection, Strummer writes, ‘I could continue on about Theresienstadt, but I have to realize that it was at least a place where one could expect to survive’,13 as if registering, remarkably, the regrettable ease of life at the Czech camp. A couple of pages later, in a chapter on being deported

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to Auschwitz, Strummer does what her critics accuse her of, and focuses on macabre detail and miraculous escape rather than daily life in the camp. Strummer claims to have seen human bones on the gas chamber floors, and to have entered a gas chamber on five occasions only to experience a shower of water.14 Such details are both factually and narratively unlikely. In the case of both Martin Gray and Deli Strummer, it goes without saying that the truth was sufficient in itself and needed no embellishment. The psychoanalyst Dori Laub argues that such instances of adding false details to genuine testimony are due more to ‘guilt or great loss than selfaggrandizement.’15 This seems clearly to be the case for Gray – whose losses include not only his family during the war but also his wife and children in a fire after the war – and for Strummer, while self-aggrandizement is precisely the way we might explain those in the first category of outright invention. The third category is perhaps the most interesting as it is the most uncertain. This is ‘testimony on which judgment was suspended’, in the phrase of the philosopher Paul Faulkner.16 My central example here is Misha Defonseca’s testimony Surviving with Wolves, originally published in French in 2004 and in English a year later.17 It is presented as the testimony of a Belgian child survivor, who was born in 1934. Mishke, as the child is called, fled her foster–mother’s house after her parents were deported and, in order to find them, walked three thousand miles from Brussels through Germany and Poland to Ukraine, then back to Belgium via Romania, Yugoslavia and France. During her travels the child not only entered the Warsaw Ghetto and escaped again, she joined a troupe of partisans, travelled by clinging underneath a train, stabbed to death a Nazi, and was taken in and cared for by not only one but two packs of wolves. It is instructive to recall that these events were experienced by a child of eight. The testimony is presented as fact, and the British Library cataloguing record describes it as ‘biography’. However, as readers we might wonder whether the description of unlikely historical facts such as these is enough for us to begin to make any kind of judgment about a testimony’s status. Do they allow us to place this testimony in either category one or two, or to accept it as genuine testimony in another category altogether – or are they as unsatisfactory a criterion as that of internal textual evidence? There are other troubling aspects of Surviving with Wolves, although none of them is definitive. For instance, Defonseca uses tropes which are familiar from a variety of other testimonies, including Holstein’s Stolen Soul and Fragments. Like Stolen Soul, Surviving with Wolves is ghost–written and both texts often read awkwardly and mawkishly as a result. By interesting coincidence, Mishke in Surviving with Wolves also eats the regurgitated food offered by a female wolf. Like both Wilkomirski and Holstein, her birth documents are said to be unreliable; she undergoes periods of being unable to speak; she experiences and recalls clear images of horrible violence, as she says: ‘I have an excellent memory, which is

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largely visual’;18 she finds the Armistice to be a disappointment, just as Binjamin in Fragments missed the liberation of the camps; is adopted by unsympathetic carers who insist she forget about the past; and hints at some kind of therapy undertaken in adult life. The wolf imagery in Surviving with Wolves is the counterpart to the rats described in Wilkomirski’s Fragments; but although the boy in Fragments is horrified to imagine he might be partly a rat, the girl in Surviving with Wolves is delighted by the notion of animal ancestry, and her testimony opens, ‘Passers-by don’t notice … that I’m a stray wolf wandering through town’.19 As with much animal representation in Holocaust writing, this seems to be a deflection of Nazi racial categories onto that of species difference. Finally, Defonseca even uses a phrase reminiscent of Wilkomirski’s denial of his equally orderly memory: ‘my past is made up of such distressing fragments that I often recall them in an order … which reflects the grief they caused and not chronologically’.20 Surviving with Wolves is a troubling text for any reader as it is hard to know how to approach it generically. It is also troubling to be made to doubt a Holocaust testimony. There are various ways of approaching this area other than literary or historical ones, particularly psychological and philosophical viewpoints. While psychology tends to focus on false memories, philosophy focuses on false testimony. For my purposes here, there is a crucial difference between these two analytic modes. The emphasis in a psychological approach is entirely on the deluded rememberer and not on any choice or intention to delude. In an article called ‘Make-Believe Memories’, the psychologist Elizabeth Loftus assumes almost entirely that false memories are involuntary.21 They may be ‘injected’, as she puts it, or ‘planted’, by various means such as leading questions in legal situations, or outright suggestion in psychological tests. (The planted memories that Loftus mentions range from demonic possession in childhood, to meeting Bugs Bunny at Disneyland – as she points out, the latter is clearly an impossible memory, whether one has been to Disneyland or not, as Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brothers character.) This emphasis on the testifier accords with legal definitions of false testimony, such as the following from the Lectric Law Lexicon: ‘Testimony is “false” if it was untrue when it was given and was then known to be untrue by the witness or person giving it’.22 Interestingly, if both conditions are to be satisfied before we can fittingly classify a testimony on which judgment has been suspended, Wilkomirski’s Fragments might not be best categorised as false. Although the events it represents were not undergone by the child Binjamin, its author did not ‘know’ his testimony to be untrue when he published it — rather, it appears that he believed in its veracity. We might decide to place Fragments, if not other such works, in another category altogether, perhaps that of ‘case histories’, ‘confessions’, or ‘testimonies of delusion’. In contrast, philosophical efforts to deal with true and false testimony focus on the response of the listener or reader of the memories in question

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rather than on the testifier. Although such investigations into testimony use the word to mean any utterance by which a speaker intends to ‘communicate her knowledge’,23 as Paul Faulkner puts it, the special case of Holocaust testimony can fit interestingly. Michael Dummett, for instance, argues that we have a strong and ‘automatic’ impulse towards accepting testimony, but this does not mean that we do not also have ‘reasons – in the sense of propositions believed for accepting testimony’ – for doing so.24 Faulkner gives four reasons of this kind: ‘situational’ and ‘character’ models, ‘types’, and ‘relevant beliefs’.25 He argues that ‘character’ models are more useful than ‘situational’ ones. To explain this distinction, Faulkner gives the example of asking directions of a stranger ‘in wartime in occupied land’ and argues that the stranger’s demeanour and the characteristics of their testimony, such as its coherence and lack of contradiction, are more reliable as a guide to the ‘credibility’ than the doubts raised by the situation itself.26 It is useful to consider how these notions might affect our reading of a Holocaust testimony like Surviving with Wolves. Although as readers we cannot judge the behaviour of the speaker or narrator, we can assess the ‘character’ of the testimony itself. We judge whether, for instance, it contradicts itself or if it is plausible. But such assessments can be misleading. Like Wilkomirski in Fragments, Defonseca in Surviving with Wolves appears to be candid about the difficulty of remembering and the uncertainty of events. This is clear from such phrases as, ‘it’s hard to gauge distance in my memory’, ‘From what I was able to piece together later’, and ‘I had lost track of time since my parents were arrested’.27 Such an impression of candour about uncertain memory masks quite the opposite: an apparently extraordinary capacity for recalling the most precise details of an incredible story. ‘Types’ of testimony is the third way in which we judge credibility, arising from the first two. It is a more literary method, as it calls upon the idea of a genre of Holocaust testimony which can, as Anne Whitehead has pointed out in her study Trauma Fiction, be imitated like any other,28 as in the cases here. Faulkner argues that, a given testimony is characterised as a certain type in that for situational and character-based reasons testimonial types are … credible, noncredible and as credible as not. The given testimony is … identified as belonging to a type on the basis of contextual features, either of the testimonial situation or the testifier … a given testimony may be identified as belonging to a type prior to its encounter.29 In other words, our judgment of credibility is a consequence of our judgment of type. But the false Holocaust testimony complicates the simpler philosophical model here. In the first place, my examples all take a written form while Faulkner analyses oral utterance. Second, ‘credibility’ is a

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paradoxical notion in relation to Holocaust testimonies, where with hindsight every story of survival seems by definition incredible. The false testimony may strain our credulity by being too credible and also too incredible. Both Holstein and Defonseca describe their younger selves undergoing what seems like a summary of almost all known Holocaust experiences, including not only incarceration in camps and ghettos but also living with partisans, undergoing medical experiments, and masquerading as gentile. This is both credible, in that it is based on historical accuracy, and incredible in being based on too much accuracy: could all these things have happened to one child? Similarities between false and real testimony may also be credible and incredible at the same time. The similarities may indicate either a shared experience – or a plagiarised one. For instance, Martin Gray’s testimony For Those I Loved, which I placed in the second category consisting of embellished testimony, features descriptions of his time in Treblinka which both match and conflict with those of other survivors. Gray’s descriptions are often, in the words of a Sunday Times article published at the time, ‘scarcely credible’. The Sunday Times article compared Gray’s testimony to Jean-François Steiner’s autobiographical novel Treblinka: ‘Steiner’s book does apparently serve to add weight to some aspects of Gray’s account, since Steiner … produces incidents and observations very similar to those Gray himself recalls’. As it turned out, this ‘similarity’ attested to Gray’s ‘blatant appropriations’ from Steiner rather than to his time in Treblinka.30 Also, as we have seen, the false testimony may imitate credibility, if it possesses a plausible situation and a convincing narrator. The imitation in Surviving with Wolves is not of a historically credible Holocaust testimony but of a fantasy, or, more charitably, a psychoanalytic case history. As Defonseca herself puts it, ‘the death of the she-wolf [during the war] was the death of my mother … I was still trapped in my childhood’.31 This amounts to admitting the psychic, ahistorical status of the wolf in Defonseca’s testimony – and, by association, the fictive and picaresque nature of the testimony itself. Surviving with Wolves, like Fragments and Stolen Soul, may testify indirectly to terrible loss, but not in the specific and historical way it is presented to the reader. ‘Relevant beliefs’ is the last testimonial category. These consist of what Faulkner describes as, ‘our beliefs (1) as to the truth of the proposition expressed and (2) as to the cost of our accepting a falsehood’.32 Interestingly, in relation to the second part of the statement, Faulkner observes that, ‘Where the cost to the speaker [of our accepting a falsehood] is high, we should be disposed towards acceptance’ – and this is the case with Holocaust testimony in particular. The huge cost of such a testimony turning out to be false may actually blind us to that very possibility, as the rapturous reception of Fragments and the difficulty of disproving Stolen Soul show. But there is a spark of hope here: Faulkner concludes his analysis by claiming

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that although testimonial ‘credulity is a weakness [it is] not a psychological default’.33 In other words, although we may be automatically disposed towards believing Defonseca, Holstein, and Gray, this is not an unthinking kneejerk reaction, but occurs ‘because we accept other propositions that we take to be evidence for the testimony’. Testimonial acceptance is the product of decisions and judgments, however implicit these may be. The concept of a shared body of knowledge might help us to make a decision about the status of Surviving with Wolves.34 In the case of categorizing false Holocaust testimony, this community consists of Holocaust scholars, journalists and others, including, in Holstein’s case, a private investigator. Surviving with Wolves has not been subject to the kind of investigation that Fragments underwent. But it is interesting to learn that the publisher contacted the literary critic Lawrence Langer before the book was commissioned, and in an interview about this Langer recalled saying, ‘It’s preposterous … Don’t do it’. [The publisher] said, ‘Why not?’ I said, ‘because it isn’t true.‘ I said, ‘Ask [Defonseca] how she crossed the Rhine, in the middle of the war, when the SS is guarding the bridges at both ends. Find the Elbe on a map and ask how a little girl goes across that river. She speaks no German, she’s Jewish, poorly dressed, and no one says, “Who are you, little girl?” ’ I said it’s a bad idea, don’t do it, it will prove an embarrassment.35 However, once more Langer’s judgment focuses entirely on the unlikely historical facts of Surviving with Wolves. To make a full judgment, the ‘intellectual community’ will have to combine this with a consideration of the testimony’s textual and generic properties, and – crucially – with the degree of audience credulity or suspicion that is brought to bear on the text.

Notes 1. B. Wilkomirski. 1996. Fragments: Memories of a Childhood 1939–1948, trans. C. Brown Janeway, London: Picador. For an account of the case, see S. Maechler. 2001. The Wilkomirski Affair: A Study in Biographical Truth, trans. J.E. Woods, New York: Schocken. Thanks to the following for various kinds of help in writing this article: Matthew Bevis, Paul Faulkner, Alan Polak, Neil Roberts, and Pip Vice. 2. R. Eaglestone. 2005. The Holocaust and the Postmodern, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 125. 3. See for instance J. Ryan and A. Thomas (eds). 2003. Cultures of Forgery: Making Nations, Making Selves, New York and London: Routledge. 4. M. Nolan and C. Dawson (eds). 2004. Who’s Who? Mapping Hoaxes and Imposture in Australian Literary History, Special Issue of Australian Literary Studies, St Lucia: University of Queensland Press.

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5. C. Madden and J. Kelly. 2004. ‘Holocaust man’s claims queried’, Perth Sunday Times, 31 October. 6. B. Holstein. 2004. Stolen Soul: A True Story of Courage and Survival, Crawley, WA: University of Western Australia Press, 46. 7. Holstein, Stolen Soul: A True Story of Courage and Survival, xi. 8. Holstein, Stolen Soul: A True Story of Courage and Survival, 16. 9. M. Gray. 1984. For Those I Loved, with Max Gallo, trans. Anthony White, New York: Little, Brown. 10. For a full account, see A. Polak. 2004. ‘The Cultural Representation of the Holocaust in Fiction and Other Genres’, Ph.D. thesis, University of Sheffield. 11. L. Copeland. 2000. ‘Survivor’, Washington Post. Sunday September 24. 12. See also D.D. Duncan. 1979. The Fragile Miracle of Martin Gray, New York: Abbeville Press. 13. D. Strummer. 1988. A Personal Reflection of the Holocaust, ed. Nancy Heneson, Baltimore: Aurich Press, 9. 14. Strummer, A Personal Reflection of the Holocaust, 12. 15. Quoted in Copeland, ‘Survivor’. 16. P. Faulkner. 2002. ‘On the Rationality of our Response to Testimony’, Synthese, 131 (3), 353–70: 359. In 2008 Misha Defonseca admitted that she was not Jewish and had spent the war living safely in Brussels (D. Mehegan. 2008. ‘Author admits making up memoir of surviving Holocaust’, Boston Globe, 29 February 2008), making her testimony one on which judgment is no longer suspended. 17. M. Defonseca. 2005. Surviving with Wolves: The Most Extraordinary Story of World War II, with the collaboration of V.L. and M.–T. Cuny, trans. Sue Rose, London: Portrait. Thanks to Lisa Allen for drawing this text to my attention. 18. Defonseca, Surviving with Wolves, 59. 19. Defonseca, Surviving with Wolves, 1. 20. Defonseca, Surviving with Wolves, 111. 21. E. Loftus. 2003. ‘Make-Believe Memories’, American Psychologist, 58, 864–73. 22. Lectric Law Library’s Legal Lexicon, http://www.lectlaw.com/def/f015.htm, retrieved on 29 April 2006. 23. Faulkner, ‘On the Rationality of our Response to Testimony’, 358. 24. Faulkner, ‘On the Rationality of our Response to Testimony’, 354. 25. Faulkner, ‘On the Rationality of our Response to Testimony’, 361. 26. Faulkner, ‘On the Rationality of our Response to Testimony’, 358. 27. Defonseca, Surviving with Wolves, 2, 24, 44. 28. A. Whitehead. 2004. Trauma Fiction, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 9. 29. Faulkner, ‘On the Rationality of our Response to Testimony’, 362. 30. Quotations from Polak, ‘The Cultural Representation of the Holocaust’. 31. Defonseca, Surviving with Wolves, 226–7. 32. Faulkner, ‘On the Rationality of our Response to Testimony’, 362. 33. Faulkner, ‘On the Rationality of our Response to Testimony’, 367. 34. See P. Faulkner. 2000. ‘Testimonial Knowledge’, Acta Analytica 15 (24), 127–37, 137. 35. Quoted in D. Megehan.’A Holocaust Survivor Speaks Out after 50 Years’, Boston Globe, reproduced at http://www.libertyforum.org/printthread.php?–Cat= &Board=ethnic_judaism&main=293734974&type=post, retrieved 30 April 2006.

9 Reading Holocaust Poetry: Genre, Authority and Identification Matthew Boswell

Authority in Holocaust Writing: From Testimony to Fiction Elie Wiesel famously wrote that his generation ‘invented a new literature, that of testimony’, and, irrespective of when or by whom this ‘new literature’ was first written, there is something distinct about the way that we read testimony, and Holocaust testimony in particular – about the way we find ourselves asking not simply what we think but what should we think, or, even more strongly, what are we required to think.1 Above all, our postmodern sense of reading being an ungoverned and essentially pleasurable activity is completely transformed by the knowledge that these narratives are records of, and part of ongoing responses to, traumatic events that continue to dominate the authors’ own lives. This shapes a sense of the human struggle that lies behind the writing: something that testimony rarely allows us to lose sight of. The author and the process of authoring are often in the foreground, as in Primo Levi’s present tense interjection in If This is a Man (1958), ‘Today, at this very moment as I sit writing at a table, I myself am not convinced that these things really happened’, or Charlotte Delbo’s epigraph to None of Us Will Return (1965), which expresses an almost identical sentiment: ‘Today, I am not sure that what I wrote is true. I am certain it is truthful.’2 In making such statements, survivor-writers question their own hold on the past and even the legitimacy of the methods they use to represent it; but rather than freeing readers to interpret their texts in whatever ways they choose, these statements emphasise our double distance

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from events that we have never experienced personally and which the survivors themselves have been unable to grasp or articulate fully. Because of this double distance, Wiesel has claimed that ‘any survivor has more to say than all the historians combined about what happened’.3 Here Wiesel perhaps risks overstatement; but it is interesting to note that Levi opens If This is a Man with a poem – variously titled ‘Shemà’ or ‘If This is a Man’ – which considers the demands the ensuing prose account will make on its readers, and which draws into relief the distance separating victims and non-victims (in terms of their understanding of events) with equal starkness. The poem’s imagined readers, addressed directly in the opening stanza, are those who ‘live secure’ in their ‘warm houses’.4 These readers are first instructed, following the poem’s title, to consider ‘if this is a man’; but after describing the dehumanisation of male and female victims in the Lager, the poem asks us more straightforwardly to ‘consider that this has been’ and to ‘engrave’ these words on our hearts, promising catastrophic consequences for our houses, our health and our children if we fail. A clear differentiation is made between an author who must record and come to terms with traumatic experiences and readers whom the author seems to view as a bit of a liability, and who must only bear secondary witness to the actual act of witnessing: and in this differentiation lies the unique authority of the survivor-writer. Poems, epigraphs and authorial intrusions ensure that our reading of testimony is bound by certain rules and governing codes, with authorial ‘authority’ here being understood both in terms of epistemology – as a kind of bedrock for interpretation that determines how meaning is produced – and also in the legalistic or authoritarian sense of defining what meanings are produced: Mosaic law is an important point of reference in a work such as ‘Shemà’, for example. It might seem injudicious to talk about the authoritarianism of the victims; but to borrow Gillian Rose’s phrase (if not her exact sense of it), the representation of fascism also entails an encounter with the fascism of representation and specifically, in testimony, an encounter with a form of representation which understandably tends towards singularity and the eschewal of counter-narratives.5 This compelling claim to the authority of personal experience in testimony has increasingly come to extend to all kinds of Holocaust writing. As Sue Vice notes, even in works that are selfevidently fictional, ‘“Authority” appears to be conferred on a writer if they can be shown to have a connection with the events they are describing’.6 By this logic, authority has commonly been withheld from those writers who have no direct biographical connection to events. Sylvia Plath, for example, was repeatedly taken to task during the 1960s and 1970s not so much for what she wrote, but for what she lacked by way of the necessary experiential credentials. George Steiner embodied this viewpoint when he asked, ‘does any writer, does any human being other than an actual survivor have the right to put on this death-rig?’7

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Steiner’s reference to a ‘death-rig’ conjures up images of poetry as an occult practice and typifies the way that responses to Holocaust verse written by non-victims often call into question received understandings of the role of the poet. In Elizabeth Costello (2003), J.M. Coetzee’s protagonist gives a fictional lecture on Paul West’s real novel The Very Rich Hours of Count von Stauffenberg (1980), reflecting on its graphic account of the execution of the plotters who attempted to kill Hitler in July 1944. The lecture begins by covering what Costello terms the ‘familiar ground’ of ‘authorship and authority’, and in particular the claims made by poets over the ages to speak a higher truth, a truth whose authority lies in revelation, and their further claim, in Romantic times, which happen to have been times of unparalleled geographical exploration, of a right to venture into forbidden or tabooed places.8 Assuming what Michael Rothberg terms an ‘antirealist’ position, real critics such as Steiner and fictional critics such as Costello conceptualise the Holocaust as a unique event that resists normative forms of representation and understanding by those who were not there, placing it at odds with the ‘romantic’ idea of the poet as a ‘hero-explorer’.9 This standpoint has formed a distinct paradigm for the reception of Holocaust literature written by later generations, and stems from testimony itself. But while it seems entirely correct to disentangle poetic authority from the nebulous ground of ‘revelation’, especially in the context of the Holocaust, the subsequent tendency to source authority in a Holocaust writer’s biography, regardless of whether they do or do not claim to be writing testimony, has had, as Vice observes, the knock-on effect of turning the relation between author and narrator into ‘a central literary category’ of all forms of Holocaust writing, including fiction.10 In the case of a writer such as Plath, the critical over-determination of this relation was for a time exaggerated by the theories of ‘extremist poetry’ and ‘confessionalism’ that were linked to her verse when it was first published. However, as Antony Rowland notes, since the beginning of the 1990s critics have become more inclined to see Plath’s Ariel poems as ‘dramatic monologues primarily concerned with the proclivities of different speakers’.11 Following Peter McDonald, this approach takes her poetry (rather than her biography) seriously as an authority.12 But does sourcing authority in poetic form – and in doing so opening up the possibility of valid works of Holocaust fiction – challenge the idea that the only authoritative responses to the Holocaust are those which involve the direct expression of personal experience? Taking poetry seriously as an authority clearly involves detaching imaginative forms of Holocaust writing, such as poetry by non-victims, from

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those factual forms, such as testimony, of which, as Vice points out, ‘one might more reasonably demand an authentic connection between the author-narrator and the events described’.13 Testimony’s authority derives from its specific genre; it is only by way of this genre that the writer’s biography is made manifest, with genre here being understood not simply as a pigeon-hole for texts but as a way, in Robert Eaglestone’s terms, of ‘connecting texts with contexts, ideas, expectations, rules of argument’ and thereby ‘a way of describing how reading actually takes place’.14 And it is this sense of authority being something that pertains to the laws of genre – not experience per se – that needs to be extended to Holocaust verse written by non-victims. And this latter genre is wholly distinct from testimony; for, as fiction, the life of the person who produced the work is an irrelevance, and as poetry it demands that we ask specific questions of its mode of representation, its uses of documentary texts and, above all, its form, which is, in McDonald’s resonant phrase, ‘the serious heart of a poem’ where ‘such “authority” as poetry bears must reside’.15 As a genre, poetry is inherently connected to memory: an art of recall, it has its origins in mnemonics. As Don Paterson observes, rhythm and rhyme mean that, unlike other artworks, a poem ‘can be carried in your head in its original state, intact and perfect … Our memory of the poem is the poem’.16 A focus on contemporary Holocaust poetry as a distinct genre in its own right also reveals a concerted negotiation by a generation of writers with memory, specifically through the genre with which it is often confused: testimony. In that negotiation, contemporary poets make a sustained attempt to respond to the legacy of an event which neither simply demands nor totally resists imaginative appropriation by those who were not there, asking how we identify with those whose lives shaped, and those whose lives were destroyed by, the Holocaust. To commit one such poem to memory is thus, in a way, to remember how to remember; or, more obliquely, to remember how to remember ‘what one never knew’, as Susan Gubar puts it.17 Before postmodernism and the rise of self-reflexive narration, poetry after Auschwitz had also, in the work of writers such as Plath and Geoffrey Hill, addressed the need for writing to become meta–fictional, as though talking about the Holocaust necessarily meant that poetry also had to talk about itself. This was not a way of avoiding thinking about the Holocaust; neither was it a testament to the self-absorbed sensibilities of these poets. Rather, it was a symptom of poetry’s double vision: its way of looking outwards onto history through the internality of genre, which is to say its own specific mode of writing and reading, even of thinking.

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Consuming the Holocaust: Sylvia Plath‘s ‘Lady Lazarus’ Contemporary Holocaust poetry thus defines itself by its attempts to come to terms with other forms of writing, responding either overtly or implicitly to historical studies which document events through eyewitness accounts and analysis of surviving evidence, and to texts written by those who were there (poetry, essays, memoirs, diaries). This process, which began in earnest during the 1960s, allowed writers to address the ‘secondary’ questions which followed once the factual revelations (the when and where and how and by whom) started to seep into public consciousness. Questions such as: What do we do with such knowledge? It is hard to say with any certainty precisely which firsthand accounts of the Holocaust Sylvia Plath read, but Eugen Kogon’s The Theory and Practice of Hell (1950) and poetic works by writers including Nelly Sachs and Paul Celan seem to have influenced her. For example, here is the final stanza of the provocative Holocaust monologue ‘Lady Lazarus’: Out of the ash I rise with my red hair And I eat men like air.18 This seems to allude at once to Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’ (‘Beware! Beware!/ His flashing eyes, his floating hair!’) and to Celan’s ‘Todesfuge’, with its imagery of smoke ‘rising into air’ and men digging ‘a grave in the air’ and in which the ‘golden hair’ of Margarete (namesake of Goethe’s apotheosised representative of the ‘eternal feminine’ in Faust) contrasts with the ‘ashen hair’ of Shulamith (who is named after the princess in ‘The Song of Songs’, who traditionally symbolises the tribe of Israel).19 Another Holocaust poem written by a survivor, Sachs’s ‘O the Chimneys’, also seems to underlie Plath’s final stanza. Sachs’s poem considers the impact of the death camps on traditional forms of religious belief, and concludes with the tercet: O you chimneys, O you fingers And Israel’s body as smoke through the air!20 Taken together, the references to Sachs and Celan add a Holocaust–specific dimension to Christina Britzolakis’s perception that ‘Lady Lazarus is an allegorical figure, constructed from past and present images of femininity … She is a pastiche of the numerous deathly or demonic women of poetic tradition’.21 The striptease performed by a narrator who is constructed from the remains of the dead (both literally and textually) transforms the historically ‘real’ into a lurid spectacle. Celan famously wrote that ‘No one/ witnesses for

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the/ witness’; but Lady Lazarus’s hubris is precisely that she leaves the ‘grave cave’ once a decade to transplant the witnesses, graphically displaying what is left of the victims – ‘a Nazi lampshade’, a ‘Jew linen’ – on her own body.22 Plath’s hubris, on the other hand, is not that she is Lady Lazarus, but that she places ‘sacred’ survivor texts in the mouth of such a flawed speaker. The poem’s broad aesthetic of shock and sensationalism – with its lampshades, gold fillings and bars of soap – has led some critics to question the extent to which the poem is able to repudiate the representative practices of its narrator. Drawing on Saul Friedlander’s Reflections of Nazism: An Essay on Kitsch and Death (1993), which warns of a disturbing ‘new discourse’ about Nazism dominated by sensationalist images and an obsession with death, Rowland argues that Plath deploys an iconography that she cannot transcend. What he terms her ‘camp poetics’, which reproduce the ‘exaggeration’, ‘artifice’, and ‘extremity’ of the Camp movement, ‘highlight and reflect the post-Holocaust writer’s reception of “spectacular” history, rather than rigorously challenging it’.23 Yet one could argue that the monologue’s transformation of horror into kitsch and the subversive allusions to canonical Holocaust and Romantic texts only service the ends of a poem whose guiding impulse is overwhelmingly satiric. As a biting parody of the crass sensationalism of the Holocaust industry and of the way that poetry after Auschwitz feeds off the remnants of the victims, the poem ‘Lady Lazarus’ is able to question the iconography and allusions that its speaker brazenly exploits. For example, the objects left in the ashes prior to Lady Lazarus’s final ‘rebirth’ – ‘A wedding ring,/ A gold filling’ – suggest that she is some sort of jackdaw of history attracted to bright, shiny objects, rather than a Benjaminian angel, possessing genuine historical insight. Indeed, these evocative objects are associated with some of the most violent Nazi larcenies. In addition, Plath actively undermines Lady Lazarus’s rhetoric through the double entendre of the last line. As Gubar points out, to ‘eat men like air’ is an ambiguous simile which could mean both that Lady Lazarus eats these adversaries (perhaps the German Herren, or ‘masters from Germany’, as Celan ironically names them, who ordered the deaths of women such as Shulamith) as easily as if they were air, or that she eats men who are themselves already like air: the murdered men who, in ‘Todesfuge’, dug their ‘graves in the air’, and whose deaths Sachs laments when describing ‘Israel’s body as smoke through the air’.24 Here wordplay and allusion help to unmask the speaker as the victimiser, not the victimised: as the prostitute – performer rises from the ashes in the guise of what Judith Kroll calls a ‘triumphant resurrecting goddess’, we are actually left with a pretty unpalatable taste of what her opportunistic imagination really feeds off.25 Through the suggestion that Lady Lazarus’s tawdry suicide show involves acts of historical theft, even cannibalism, both at the level of its performance and its language, Plath offers a critique of her speaker that

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recalls Jean Baudrillard’s claim (made with reference to the American TV mini-series Holocaust (1978)) that turning the Holocaust into a spectacle produces a forgetting that ‘is part of the extermination’.26

Poetry and Identification: Geoffrey Hill’s ‘September Song’ In ‘Lady Lazarus’ poetic technique is used to generate a kind of internal commentary on the moral pitfalls of Holocaust representation – one which sits side by side with the total moral ambivalence of the poem’s speaker. Combining narrative with visual and sonic forms of making and breaking meaning (the rhymes and short lines of the final stanza, for example, create a breezy feel entirely at odds with the gravitas one might expect from a performance artist whose subject is genocide), a poem which is commonly thought to abuse the Holocaust offers a critique of the forms of identification and appropriation that its narrator indulges in, starkly highlighting her distance – temporal, geographical, imaginative – from the true horrors of the death camps. This focus on the eloquence of poetic form — separating out the parts of a poem from the personality of its creator — occasionally runs the risk of divesting artworks of their human content; of losing sight of the way that poetry offers distinct ways of thinking about, and remembering, human lives. So while taking poetry seriously as an authority means doing away with the idea, popularised by proponents of ‘confessionalism’, that the speakers of poems by authors including Plath, Hill, John Berryman and W. D. Snodgrass are transparent embodiments of their authors, it is equally important not to lose sight of the ‘existential’ edge that early critics rightly noted in their work. In their preoccupation with issues of memory, identity, and the extremities of experience, these writers find in the Holocaust a demand for self-examination. In Eaglestone’s terms, their poems ask questions about ‘“who we are” and “how the world is for us” and how the event of the Holocaust has utterly changed this’.27 In The Holocaust and the Postmodern (2004), Eaglestone highlights how the process of identification forms ‘a central and major – but not always necessary – part of our experience of reading’.28 Survivor accounts, however, open a problem: We who come after the Holocaust and know about it only through representations are frequently and with authority told that it is incomprehensible. However, the representations seem to demand us to do exactly that, to comprehend it, to grasp the experiences, to imagine the suffering, through identifying with those who suffered.29

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Drawing on Wiesel’s claim that the Holocaust ‘invented a new literature’, Eaglestone argues that testimony offers a distinct ‘horizon of understanding where interpretation, text, and readership come together’: one which legislates against the ‘sort of reading as identification, as comprehension’ which consumes and thus normalises the experience of the other.30 The failure of identification does not mean, however, that the experience of victimhood, or otherness, is totally lost to us. If nothing else, it persists in a negative fashion, in the form of that very authority which tells us that the event ‘is incomprehensible’. So, while all reading is grounded in the ‘day-to-day process of identification’, for Eaglestone the ‘new genre’ of testimony contains individuating traits which mean that its texts ‘eschew easy identification and so comprehension by readers’.31 Testimony is therefore unique, in as much as it disrupts the normative ways in which we consume literature; it does this through its imagery and style and (as noted in the introduction to this essay) through devices such as interruptions and narrative frames, ensuring that incomprehensible events do not appear to be too readily comprehensible. Eaglestone quotes Levi’s account of an incident when a schoolboy presented him with an adventure-fuelled plan of how he should have escaped from Auschwitz. This causes Levi to reflect on the general tendency for nonvictims to normalise the Holocaust, illustrating the ‘gap that exists and grows wider every year between things as they were down there and things as they are represented by the current imagination fed by books, films and myths’. Levi, concerned about this slide ‘towards simplification and stereotype’ states that in his own writing he hoped ‘to erect a dyke against this trend’.32 Through his analysis of the way that readers of testimony are drawn into a dynamic of thwarted identification, Eaglestone offers a new vocabulary and interpretative framework with which to approach imaginative works about the Holocaust which consider our relation to history’s victims. The work of poets such as Geoffrey Hill and even, I would argue, Plath, can be understood as profoundly respectful negotiations with the ‘dykes’ that emerge in testimonial texts and the sense of distance and non–identity that they purposefully produce (Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’ are in essence instructive dramas of Holocaust misidentification). The concept of identification also circumvents the dry objectivity that would be implied if we were to see these texts simply as works of historical analysis, while at the same time qualifying the discourse about memory which is often attached to any contemporary work – be it critical or imaginative – which takes an event such as the Holocaust as its subject. This particular discourse is potentially misleading when applied to authors who have no personal recollection of events, as Eva Hoffman warns: ‘It has become routine to speak of the “memory” of the Holocaust, and to adduce to this faculty a moral, even a spiritual value. But it is important to be precise: We who come after do not have memories of the Holocaust.’33 While

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critics such as Gubar couch their critiques of non-victim memory in deliberately paradoxical terms, one can’t actually remember what one never knew; but one might try to respond to it in other ways.34 Hill’s ‘September Song’, like ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’, approaches historical victimhood by way of its speaker’s gestures of identification: although not in terms of wildly inappropriate acts of historical identification, or ‘empathetic identification’, but through more oblique exclusions, through pointed failures of the straining imagination.35 To empathise is to find common ground, and thus to comprehend; a poet such as Hill, however, is more attuned to the uncommon ground that separates the living from the dead: born 19.6.32 deported 24.9.42 Undesirable you may have been, untouchable You were not. Not forgotten or passed over at the proper time. As estimated, you died. Things marched, sufficient, to that end. Just so much Zyklon and leather, patented terror, so many routine cries. (I have made an elegy for myself it is true) September fattens on vines. Roses flake from the wall. The smoke of harmless fires drifts to my eyes. This is plenty. This is more than enough.36 The poem begins by memorialising the death of a ten-year-old child murdered by the Nazis, taking the form of a tombstone, although the flagrant pun in the epigraph – epitaph, where the Christian language of loss (‘departed’) morphs into Nazi euphemism (‘deported’), already exposes something of the poem’s lyric impropriety. More than simply remembering the dead child, ‘September Song’ wants to make contact with them: the first stanza is all about touching children. But another series of puns relating to paedophilia (‘undesirable’) and social caste (‘untouchable’) implies that the poem’s elegiac endeavour constitutes a grave taboo violation, while ‘not forgetting’ is figured as a Nazi trait.37 The poem’s queasy form of address is rendered by an adult ‘I’ calling upon an infant ‘you’; at every stage, however, attempts at communication

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are blocked, with metaphor, in particular, proving unable to connect the two worlds of ‘here’ and ‘there’, ‘inside history’ and ‘outside history’. In as much as the poem has a narrator (the second stanza uses an even more overtly Nazified language, but the tone softens in the third), he or she seems to possess the kind of ‘mind engraved with the Holocaust’ described by Norma Rosen, for which ‘gas is always that gas. Shower means their shower. Ovens are those ovens.’38 In the penultimate stanza, the line ‘Roses/ flake from the wall’ can be read, as Rowland observes, as ‘a terrible metaphor for the flaking skin of burnt victims; even such a seemingly innocent signifier as “wall” is infected by the history of Nazi incidents in which “dissidents” were lined up and shot’.39 Similarly, the negative adjective used to describe the ‘smoke/ of harmless fires’ only very thinly conceals its opposite: the harmful fires lit at the sites of mass murder. As the narrator undertakes some unidentified but clearly prosaic activity, his or her memory is activated metaphorically, dredging up the past through a process of association which brings to mind the scene in Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah (1985) where fires burning in a forest in present-day Israel form a suggestive backdrop for a discussion of the murder of the Vilna Jews in a forest in Lithuania. Here ‘smoke’ provides the twentieth-century equivalent of Proust’s madeleine; but the next step, the mind being flooded by things past, is missing. Rosen has suggested that as ‘an analogy making species’, ‘what we connect and how we connect it are vital keys to our understanding and can be discussed and at times corrected. That we connect is a given.’40 Even when one’s own suffering cannot approximate to that of another, ‘the law of human communication is unchanged. We must still work from what we know and try to connect it to what we do not.’41 In other words, we must somehow force ourselves to identify with the experience of victimhood. This structure or ‘law’ survives in ‘September Song’ (the speaker wants to connect), but in a damaged form, as the unfamiliar reality of the Holocaust, and thus the child’s ultimate fate, lie on the far side of language, inhabiting a world that words and objects can intimate but not recreate. As Jahan Ramazani points out, ‘Hill tweaks himself with constant verbal reminders of the child’s inaccessibility’.42 Even the date of birth given in the poem’s epigraph is one day before Hill’s own, offering ‘a sickening reminder of their dissimilarity’ and suggesting that while the child’s reality existed alongside the writer’s world of comparative normality, it is now unreachable, separated by language, geography and a small but critical lag in time.43 Importantly, as Gubar observes, this epigraph also shows that the narrator ‘knows the date of deportation’ but ‘nothing about the death or death date of the nameless child’.44 The speaker who sets out to describe the life and death of a Holocaust victim concedes: ‘(I have made/ an elegy for myself it/ is true)’. The parentheses exaggerate the imaginative failure and the sense that this poem remains somehow beside the point. For the speaker, the ‘smoke/ of harmless

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fires’ is ‘plenty’, implying that the indirect contact of metaphor—not the thing itself, the historical reality – is all he or she can take. Ironically, this also suggests that a connection with the Holocaust yields a certain profit (perhaps for poetry: as Ramazani points out, ‘every elegy is an elegy for elegy’, and, as such, the genre becomes increasingly replete with losses); but this is only the case when the poem’s language descends from its initial point of high suggestibility into cliché and banality.45 Through this one short poem, Hill traces the verbal degeneration later noted in The Triumph of Love (1999): ‘Nor is language, now, what it once was/ even in – wait a tick – nineteen hundred and forty- / five of the common era’.46 ‘September Song’ is a poem which endeavours to provide a kind of portal into the past, but which only opens onto absence, suggesting that the deaths of the victims of Nazism cannot be reached through traditional gestures of elegiac commemoration. The urge to connect imaginatively with their experiences persists, but the line (both the metaphorical telephone line and, at least by the final stanza, the real poetic line) is dead. Through this self–scrutinising style of writing, Hill pursues the kind of aporia that emerges from the reading of testimony, as noted by Eaglestone and summarised by Maurice Blanchot, a paradoxical double injunction: ‘We read books on Auschwitz. The wish of all in the camps, the last wish: know what has happened, do not forget, and at the same time never will you know.’47 The pursuit of the aporia is the thing: a contradictory logic can be followed, worked at if not worked through. Unable to accept that we will simply never know, poets such as Hill and Plath create speakers who are consumed by a desire for understanding: a desire which often manifests itself in attempts to identify with the victims, and which is at the same time continuously thwarted by the ‘dykes’ which cut off survivors’ accounts of the Holocaust—and, by association, their experiences—from the full comprehension of those who come after. Writing in this way, poets such as Plath and Hill refuse to sanction the collapse of the two logically opposed commands identified by Blanchot. They do not resolve the apparent contradiction between knowing and not-knowing in the way that Rosen does, for example, when she argues that after Auschwitz identification is still possible – ‘the law of human communication is unchanged’ – and in the way which also occurs when we view the Holocaust as an event that lies beyond language and knowledge. These poets suggest that testimony is misunderstood if either injunction is forgotten.

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Notes 1. E. Wiesel. 1997. ‘The Holocaust as Literary Inspiration’, in Dimensions of the Holocaust, ed. Elliot Lefkovitz, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 9. 2. P. Levi. 1996. If This is a Man and the Truce, trans. Stuart Woolf, London: Abacus, 109; C. Delbo. 1995. Auschwitz and After, trans. R.C. Lamont, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1. 3. P. Novick. 1999. The Holocaust in American Life, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 201. 4. P. Levi. 1992. ‘Shemà’, in Collected Poems, trans. R. Feldman and B. Swann, London: Faber and Faber, 9. 5. G. Rose. 1997. Mourning Becomes the Law: Philosophy and Representation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 50. 6. S. Vice. 2000. Holocaust Fiction, London: Routledge, 4. 7. J.E. Young. 1990. Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 130. 8. J.M. Coetzee. 2004. Elizabeth Costello, London: Vintage, 172. 9. M. Rothberg. 2000. Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation, Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 4–5; Coetzee, Costello, 172. 10. Vice, Holocaust, 3. 11. A. Rowland. 2005. Holocaust Poetry: Awkward Poetics in the Work of Sylvia Plath, Geoffrey Hill, Tony Harrison and Ted Hughes, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 34. 12. P. McDonald. 2002. Serious Poetry: Form and Authority from Yeats to Hill, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 5. 13. Vice, Holocaust, 4. 14. R. Eaglestone. 2004. The Holocaust and the Postmodern, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 6 and 37. 15. McDonald, Serious, 6. 16. D. Paterson. 2004. ‘Rhyme and reason’, in Guardian, 6 November. 17. S. Gubar. 2003. Poetry after Auschwitz: Remembering What One Never Knew, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. 18. S. Plath. 1989. ‘Lady Lazarus’, in Collected Poems, London: Faber and Faber, 244–47 (245). 19. Gubar notes the ‘ironic echo’ of Coleridge in Poetry, 201; Rowland, Brian Murdoch, Janice Markey and Steven Gould Axelrod have all detected allusions to Celan, and especially ‘Todesfuge’, in Plath’s poem (Rowland, Holocaust, 47–49); and John Felstiner unpicks Celan’s literary and biblical allusions in J. Felstiner. 2001. Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 38. 20. N. Sachs. 1971. ‘O the Chimneys’, in Abba Kovner and Nelly Sachs: Selected Poems, trans. Michael Roloff, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 79. 21. C. Britzolakis. 1999. Sylvia Plath and the Theatre of Mourning, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 154. 22. Celan, ‘Aschenglorie’ (‘Ashglory’), trans. John Felstiner, in Felstiner, Celan, 223. 23. Rowland, Holocaust, 31 and 43. 24. Gubar, Poetry, 200.

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25. J. Kroll. 1976. Chapters in a Mythology: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath, New York: Harper and Row, 118. 26. N. Levi and M. Rothberg. 2003. ‘General Introduction: Theory and the Holocaust’, in The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings, eds Neil Levi and Michael Rothberg, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 13. 27. Eaglestone, Holocaust, 2. 28. Eaglestone, Holocaust, 24. 29. Eaglestone, Holocaust, 19. 30. Eaglestone, Holocaust, 15–16, 101 and 37. 31. Eaglestone, Holocaust, 8. 32. Eaglestone, Holocaust, 22. 33. E. Hoffman. 2004. After Such Knowledge: Memory, History and the Legacy of the Holocaust, London: Secker and Warburg, 6. 34. Marianne Hirsch’s concept of ‘postmemory’, which ‘is distinguished from memory by generational distance and from history by deep personal connection’, should retain its very specific application to the lives of the children of Holocaust survivors who ‘grow up dominated by narratives that preceded their birth’. See M. Hirsch. 1997. Family Frames: Photographs, Narrative and Postmemory, London: Harvard University Press, 22. 35. Gubar, Poetry, 55. 36. G. Hill. 1985. ‘September Song’, in Collected Poems, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 67. 37. N. Roberts. 1999. Narrative and Voice in Postwar Poetry, London and New York: Longman, 77; A. Rowland. 2001. Tony Harrison and the Holocaust, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 24. 38. Eaglestone, Holocaust, 34. 39. Rowland, Harrison, 26. 40. Eaglestone, Holocaust, 33–34. 41. Eaglestone, Holocaust, 34. 42. J. Ramazani. 1994. Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 7. 43. Ramazani, Poetry, 7; Rowland, Harrison, 24. 44. Gubar, Poetry, 211. 45. Ramazani, Poetry, 8. 46. G. Hill. 1999. The Triumph of Love, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 28. 47. M. Blanchot. 1995. The Writing of the Disaster, trans. Ann Smock, Lincoln, U.S.A.: University of Nebraska Press, 82.

III. THE FUTURE OF TRAUMA

The Future of Trauma: Introduction Jane Kilby

If the future of trauma is as half as contentious as its past and present then there are fraught times ahead, whether we are talking about its future as – or in terms of – a clinical category, concept, diagnosis, ethics, politics, theory, reality, or ‘a knot’ as Roger Luckhurst argues in his chapter for this volume. If its past is ‘inherently contradictory and densely over-determined’ as Luckhurst also maintains, then so will be its future; and again following Luckhurst if trauma is ‘be regarded as one of those specific kinds of very modern concepts that attempts to name an object that is inherently hybrid and impure’, then its postmodern future will be just as messy. And finally if trauma is indeed ‘a new kind of object, less an object, perhaps, than a risky attachment’ as Luckhurst concludes, then the question of the future of trauma can only be a question of uncertain and perhaps scandalous connections. So what of the future: what contradictions and overdeterminations will govern it? What mix of influences should we expect in our thinking and experiences? Of course, there will be many influences, most of which we cannot guess, but for certain the question of globalization will dominate. How are we to understand trauma as a global phenomenon, as something experienced throughout the world and by any number of peoples and communities, under a range of conditions and according to an array of cultural, historical, political, and social logics? Providing one possible answer to this question, Claire Stocks argues that trauma theorists will have to address the ways in which they have worked to ‘reinforce rather than challenge what tend[s] to be specifically Western conceptions of the self’.1 At future issue Stocks maintains is a cultural ‘bias towards Western constructions of the self’ which serves to juxtapose ‘the healthy, unified subject with a pathological, fractured self’.2 ‘Unable to conceive of multiple or divided identity as anything other

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than a symptom that must be cured’, she continues, ‘trauma theory … implicitly reinforces ethically weighted distinctions between “good” Western, healthy conceptions of the self and “bad” pathological, fragmented “others”.3 To rectify this error, she concludes we must ask how ‘we might account for subjects who do not have a singular self that precedes the trauma and to which they might seek a return after exposure to traumatic events?’4 We must ask, in other words, how we might account for cultural difference. Stocks’s question is important not only because it presents the challenge of plural identity and ‘lives [that] may not, therefore, always follow a single linear trajectory’,5 and not only because it thereby reveals the critical status given to ‘notions of individual integrity’ for understanding the force of violence (a point to which I shall return), but because it also reminds us of the ‘the debt that trauma theory owes to the observations made about soldiers in war’6 and the repercussions this has had for our understanding of traumatic experience. Stock does not explore the repercussions of this debt in any detail, but a host of feminist and Marxist critics have, all pointing to the ways in which it has made it difficult to understand both gendered and class trauma, to understand, that is, what Lauren Berlant calls the ‘ever so common, cruel but not unusual’ pain of everyday citizenship for subordinate populations. Indeed, few have identified the challenge as succinctly as Berlant when she writes, that ‘Such a difference [trauma which is an ordinary part of life – the quotidian, and not as Stocks suggests the extreme experience], advises replacing the model of trauma … with a model, say, of suffering, whose etymological articulation of pain and patience draws its subject less as an effect of an act of violence, and more as an effect of a general atmosphere of it.’7 It is a cogent provocation, and one that remains to be worked through, although Karyn Ball provides an compelling outline of what is at stake in her editorial introduction to the recent collection Traumatizing Theory (in which Berlant’s essay is reprinted). Ball writes: Berlant’s intervention demonstrates how the ‘traumatic’ model leads to various confusions. This model elides the difference between what a person is and what she becomes through social negation; it falsely posits an ‘origin’ of structural violence and inspires a ‘dubious optimism’ about law and other institutional venues of inequality as cures for the very harms they enable; the traumatic model also sets up a scarred and exhausted image of the marginalized that may serve as a foil for the healthy, homogenous, national metaculture; lastly in over-identifying the eradication of pain with achievement of justice, this model equates pleasure with freedom while fallaciously assuming that changes in feeling on a collective scale amount to social transformation.8

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There are plenty of lines of future enquiry here, but among the questions to be asked is the one addressed by Cathy Caruth in her chapter for this volume, namely the question of the relationship between law and trauma, if formulated differently and possibly more broadly by Caruth as a question of language and justice. Based on Shoshana Felman’s reading of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Caruth’s chapter is a complex study of how both of these women find themselves writing on the Eichmann trial and the possibility of justice in a language that they both share but do not own by birthright, namely English. Like Arendt, then, Felman finds herself exchanging her mother tongue (in this case Hebrew as opposed to German as for Arendt) for French, and, later, adopting English on arrival in the U.S.A. And while their reasons for doing so are wholly different (for Arendt it is a matter of absolute necessity and for Felman a matter of personal development), they both end up writing in English. The significance of this coincidence will tax future trauma studies scholars, not least because it raises the possibility of a universal language of engagement, one defined by the fact that it is an adopted language; a language which because it is necessarily learnt guards against the cultural and expressive conceit of speaking in one’s own tongue, even if achieving the fluency demonstrated by both Arendt and Felman. And yet critically this is neither a mandate for conservatism nor for reverence if Arendt and Felman are to continue as future models, since both women have been subjected to intense criticism: Arendt in respect of her withering sarcasm and apparent disregard of Jewish suffering; and Felman for her use of psychoanalytic theory and apparent appropriation of Jewish suffering. But here it is possible to argue that critics have failed to understand the significance of Arendt’s work, with Felman suggesting that Arendt ‘be seen (elucidated, understood profoundly) as [a] theorist of trauma’.9 What Felman means by this will require future interrogation, not least because Felman goes on to argue that Arendt’s triumph was not simply to apprehend the banality of Eichmann’s actions, but to extend this process of ‘demythologisation and of deliberate, sobering reduction’ to the victim. ‘And if the perpetrator must be banalised and demythologised to be understood in his proper light’, Felman notes, ‘so does the victim … No longer can the victim be spared the banality of innocence’.10 There is no doubt that Felman is critical of Arendt, as Caruth clearly sets out, but this does not change the nature of Felman’s insight concerning the importance of Arendt and the implications held for both trauma theory and the ethics of engaging victim testimony and experience. Indeed, while Felman and Arendt might differ in respect of their politics, they not only share a common language but a commitment to the importance of language. The critic has to write up the significance of victim testimony and experience. To this end, they can be understood to share a politics, since for

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both what is being demanded by justice is nothing less than a political commitment to maintaining the possibility of language, whether legal or artistic. Indeed, politically, it is what makes language a universal possibility, a meaningful reality for all. Doing otherwise is deadly, for as Arendt and Felman agree: Eichmann had no feeling for language, while at the same time managing to strip language of meaning for his victims. The lesson for trauma studies scholar is as ordinary as it could be given the nature of language and our ability to acquire fluency in other languages: draw your authority to speak from language itself, and not from the deceased or by association with their suffering (for certainly this is the mandate refused by Arendt when challenging the political privilege given to victims) nor the dead language of orthodoxy or party lines (which is certainly the mandate refused by Felman when challenging the idea that simply applying Freudian concepts constitutes a psychoanalytical reading). This process will require constant innovation and creative risk: a willingness to not only ‘think without banisters’ as Arendt famously put it, but to read and write without banisters and as such it is perhaps easier said than done. And yet as Anne Whitehead argues below, this is the very challenge taken up by Art Spiegelman in his In the Shadow of No Towers. According to Whitehead, In the Shadow of No Towers is Spiegelman’s attempt to rewrite the 9/11 narrative and in so doing provoke us into thinking, if not admitting ‘that we do not yet know or understand the events of 9/11’. Indeed, according to Whitehead, the very strength of Spiegelman’s book ‘lies less in whether his story represents the ‘true’ or ‘correct’ version, but rather in suggesting that it is possible to redo, or to undo, the narrative’. At issue, here, is not only a commitment to writing and rewriting violent history, but with it an acknowledgment of what we do not know, might never know, and perhaps cannot know about the trauma of violence. In other words, as Sharon Rosenberg argues in her chapter: we are talking about ignorance. Admittedly the question of ignorance has been with us since the publication of Caruth’s Trauma: Explorations in Memory and Unclaimed Experience.11 But as Rosenberg argues trauma and memory scholars have neglected its significance in terms of their own practice and for this reason we must ask: ‘how is a field to think (about) itself when its condition of possibility, what brings it into existence, is a demand of (a new) ignorance or a loss of what can be counted on as “knowledge”?’ It is a necessary question for as Rosenberg worries ‘trauma and memory studies are being too readily incorporated into the normative and hegemonic projects of the modern university’, with ignorance all too easily sacrificed to ‘the scholarly demands of mastery, detachment, and a certain certainty’. Politically, as teachers and scholars, we might have to defend the fact that our work is a failure in conventional terms. While the idea of failure might not sound promising, its critical significance relates to the fact that it will necessary require, if not give license

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to, ‘creative risk in thought and practice’ as Rosenberg also argues. Indeed, if a lack of mastery, of a banister to hold, is the condition of our engagement, it can hardly be otherwise. What constitutes experimentation is one question of course: and one always subject to the test of time. For pedagogues and artists ignorance, time, creativity and failure are the luxury of their trade. But what of politics? How are we to ‘do’ politics when we do not know the truth or the final story? Or: how does politics remain faithful to its cause, if it escapes knowing and narrative closure? Can we countenance a politics that begins with, in and as an abysmal failure of knowledge and endless, unlimited storytelling? Surprisingly, these are questions few have addressed. For while critics have queried the politics of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma (theory) more generally, pointing to its very clinical and cultural ‘success’ as seemingly incontrovertible evidence of its political ‘failure’, there has been little attempt to grasp how trauma (theory) might change our conception of politics itself. And yet this is the test before us, and a test it will prove since on the one hand it will expose the extent to which trauma theorists have relied on the political liberalism of human rights to secure their politics: the work of Judith Herman being a case in point.12 On the other hand, it will expose the extent to which critics, including sympathetic critics, of trauma theory and PTSD have let fairly traditional ways of thinking about politics act as political critique, the recent work of Micheal Rothberg being a case in point; indeed, Rothberg’s work is perhaps especially significant, here, for the ways in which his thinking has shifted from the largely ethical concerns of his book Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation towards more overtly political concerns in his recent articles on 9/11 and on Delbo’s writing about Algeria.13 Like others, then, Rothberg is not convinced that the insights generated by Caruth in particular ‘can provide the intellectual resources for more large–scale historical and political tasks’.14 So while Caruth’s work is helpful in allowing us to understand that the trauma of 9/11 was not simply a question of the scale of the violence but a function of ‘the way that the events surprised us, took us unawares’,15 Rothberg does not credit it with political significance. At issue for Rothberg is whether trauma is usefully thought of as an ‘accident’ since it does not allow theorists to address ‘the structural features that produce wounding events in the first place (whether traumatic or not)’.16 Thus Rothberg writes ‘Even if trauma cannot be linked to any particular kind of event (certainly an important insight), trauma theory ought to have something to say about the kinds of events that tend to produce traumatic effects’.17 Indeed, he writes that ‘without theoretical supplementation the emphasis on the “accidental” nature of trauma may inadvertently contribute to the narrative framework in which there is no “relevant prehistory to the events of September eleventh” (Butler 5)’,18 and as such it

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offers a potentially conservative trajectory working to remove decades of U.S. foreign policy from the equation. ‘Even if our initial response to the events was the surprise described by [Don] DeLillo’, Rothberg continues, ‘we need ultimately to “catch-up” to the events, to move forward and backward from them in order to work through their traumatic impact and to address social and political contexts that help foster (without necessarily leading to) acts of extreme violence’.19 There is no doubting the cogency of Rothberg’s thinking and many would agree that any ‘attempt at explanation must go beyond the local events of September 11 and their reception and must include discussion, among other aspects of the historical background, of how the United States has been complicit in preparing the grounds for terrorism, both at home and in the rest of the world’.20 Again, Rothberg’s critique is compelling. Of course, we might say, 9/11 was no accident. Or, if it was, it was an ‘accident’ waiting to happen. At issue, for Rothberg, as it has been for a range of critics, is ultimately, the question of cause and responsibility and with it the identity of the perpetrator and victim. For many, Caruth’s emphasis on the ‘accident’ decontextualises the question of trauma and violence and for this reason it is politically, if not morally, irresponsible. Thus it is argued by critics such as Ruth Leys that Caruth’s work offers no clear way of assigning perpetrator and victim identity, and thereby responsibility; indeed, the logic of her position appears such that everyone is/could be a victim and all experience is traumatic. It is a troubling logic (if not quite what it appears). And yet Rothberg’s logic is no less disconcerting, despite its status as conventional wisdom. Key to Rothberg’s reasoning is the idea that, with respect to 9/11 at least, the Americans had it coming. 9/11 was violence on the rebound, with the U.S.A. finally becoming subject to its own history of violence. 9/11 is, in other words, part of a ‘cycle of violence’, with no end in sight: this being perhaps the ultimate tragedy. It is an incredibly powerful and pervasive idea, if lending itself to nihilism. Indeed, it is the logic underpinning the explanation of any number of violent injustices, local and global, collective and individual, many ongoing. History, it is argued, repeats itself, and none more so, it would seem, than a violent one. Violence, it is presumed, begets violence; always its own reward, allowing for the fluidity of victim and perpetrator status, the nature of which can be traded (although not always, with the power of trading places a necessary function of multiple determinations). As aggressor, the U.S.A. becomes victim, to turn again into aggressor and so it goes around, with violence: yet violence is not known, in Western societies at least, to break the circle (although the idea of a preemptive strike is understood to hold such promise, and is certainly justified on the basis of this possible fantasy).21 (Similarly Walter Benjamin’s notion of a ‘bloodless’ violence has also been read as a proposal for a violence ending all violence: a divine violence.)22

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And yet if we pause, here, is it not possible to ask as whether we are explaining anything when peddling this form of argument: for the idea that violence gives rise to itself fails precisely to explain what violence is, the nature of which is always deferred by reference back to itself. The cycle of violence argument is at best deterministic (affording violence a naturalizing, teleological force); and at worst, tautological with a tendency towards infinite regress. It explains nothing, serving instead to erase the problem of violence, rather than push our understanding of it. Violence might be a ‘slippery concept’ as Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe Bourgois argue – and perhaps no less a slippery practice, but it must not be allowed to slip from or through our theory.23 Admittedly, this is not a particularly recent observation. Forty years ago, writing shortly after the publication of Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt was complaining, then, of a general inability ‘to deal with violence as phenomenon in its own right’.24 And while On Violence was written in a climate dominated by the Cold War and the fear of the nuclear strike – which could in all reality be a violence to end all violence, if by virtue of ending all life – and thus as a commentary on the madness of the arms race (as well as the madness of promoting counter-revolutionary violence, a criticism directed at Sartre’s defence and glorification of Fanon’s call to violence), her complaint is easily traced back to her trial commentary. This is the case because her key objection to the trial was the way in which the prosecution attempted to situate the Holocaust in a supposedly endless, forever circling and encroaching history of anti-Semitic violence. Whereas for Arendt, the Holocaust was an event of unprecedented violence that did not draw its logic from a prior history of violence, no matter how plausible the narrative, and as such the legal challenge was to judge it without reference to case history. The nature of the task was, quite precisely, in other words, to establish a precedent for thinking about violence as it was, in its own right, at the time of its happening. The challenge remains the same today: how to do justice to the unique character of violence. This, then, is the imperative of always judging for the first time, or at least judging as if for the first time. A practice of reading case by case, without the aid of historical or, indeed, any other context as such, for as Rothberg knows only too well what counts as the context, or background, of any text is only ever a product of reading and not a given. The meaning of violence cannot be simply read off or from its context. Judging and reading without the context as a given is a daunting task, and it will no doubt prove exhausting, demanding an eternal scrutiny in respect of what we do as much as others do, but doing otherwise is to imagine that we can know in advance what can happen, and that we can assume in all probability what history will be. This is the logic governing Rothberg’s own reasoning. But for Arendt, remembering the Cold War with its paranoid

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calculation and escalation of threat – as well as the Holocaust, it is a game of numbers we should not play. Second guessing the future is as likely to put it into jeopardy as to secure it. Thus Caruth’s emphasis on the accidental can be read, then, as a political check, a check acting against the fantasy of calculation and with it the dream of retroactive anticipation: if only we had known the consequences of U.S. foreign policy, 9/11 might never have happened. It is a powerful wish structure, if ultimately a flawed and deadly one, for it is also the wish of the social engineer: if I can know and predict the consequences of actions and events, I can control and govern the future. This is not say that we cannot reflect on the history of U.S. foreign policy or the history of anti-Semitism and how it plays out in the Middle East, Israel and Palestine, or reckon with violence and trauma with a desire to end them; but it is caution against the seductive appeal of the idea of just, prior and probable cause. Did the Third Reich not patent this idea? Whatever violence is, it is in excess of what we can anticipate, calculate and know. And politically, this also means that it cannot be prescribed in advance or indeed, calculated as an excess of the normal. Indeed, what is critical here for the future of trauma studies is to understand the ways in which a Caruthian inspired scholarship works to depathologise PTSD, which nominally is assumed to describe the response to an overwhelming experience. For Caruth, however, this is deeply problematic, as her reading of Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle quickly establishes: trauma, she argues, is not usefully understood as the experience of being overwhelmed, rather what causes trauma is the ‘break in the mind’s experience of time’.25 What emerges as significant is not a question of overload or excess, but a question of time. She writes: The breach in the mind – the conscious awareness of the threat to life is not caused by a pure quantity of stimulus, Freud suggests, but by ‘fright’, the lack of preparedness to take in a stimulus that comes too quickly. It is not simply, that is the literal, threatening of bodily life, but the fact that the threat is recognised as such by the mind one moment too late.26 The impact of violence – the threat to life – is not a question of violence that is too much to bear – as if there is, or could be, a normative threshold of what is tolerable (a logic that can all too easily be distorted to work in favour of torture: how much pressure does it take to stay on the right side of humanitarian law?), but a question of being caught unawares, of not seeing the danger in time. The implications of this shift in thinking from a quantitative (violence as that which can be calculated as unit pressure, for example) to a qualitative logic (where our understanding of violence is drawn from survivor experience) remains to be explored, but what is clear

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is that future thinking about violence will have to address the fact that trauma is not an economic or libidinal question – which is to say that it will be misleading to continually figure violence in terms of body and as brute force, for example. Indeed, it remains the case that some trauma theorists fail to grasp the extent to which Freud can be read as breaking with the body as a model for thinking about the quite precise psychic impact of violence. In asking: ‘What is lost when memory becomes too closely associated with trauma?’, Carrie Hamilton returns us to question of how we do politics and concludes the volume by pushing the future of trauma studies in an unexpected and entirely productive direction. Fuelled by the idea that we are now mourning the loss of radical political activism, Hamilton is critical of the ways in which theorists, such as Ann Cvetkovich, figure this loss and mourning as a trauma.27 In counterpoint, Hamilton clearly approves of Kristin Ross’s attempt to wrest the question of memory and mourning from the language of trauma, seeking instead an emphasis on the pleasure. ‘One response’, to the question posed, is, then ‘an appreciation for the importance of pleasure as a political factor’. Detecting a possibly traumatic attachment to the idea of mourning (a melancholy), Hamilton concludes by looking to the example set in Argentina by children of the disappeared. By turning to a range of cultural forms, it is argued that these young people are looking for ways of addressing the tragic past without melancholy. ‘Through their focus on creative powers of memory these second-generation Argentines trace their individual and collective tragedies and confront the agents of past atrocities, while simultaneously celebrating the promises, pleasures and playfulness associated with their parents’ progressive politics. The lesson for academics who are committed to progressive politics’, Hamilton argues, ‘is not to be tempted to mourn what has been lost, but rather explore the positive legacies of past activisms’. It is a salutary reminder that mourning and politics can and do take many forms, as will trauma and violence.

Notes 1. C. Stocks. 2007. ‘Trauma Theory and the Singular Self: Rethinking Extreme Experience in the Light of Cross Cultural Identity’, Textual Practice 21(1), 71–92, 73. 2. C. Stocks, ‘Trauma Theory and the Singular Self’, 73–4. 3. C. Stocks, ‘Trauma Theory and the Singular Self’, 77. 4. C. Stocks, ‘Trauma Theory and the Singular Self’, 77. 5. C. Stocks, ‘Trauma Theory and the Singular Self’, 88. 6. C. Stocks, ‘Trauma Theory and the Singular Self’, 75. 7. L. Berlant. 2000. ‘The Subject of True Feeling: Pain, Privacy, and Politics’, in S. Ahmed, J. Kilby, C. Lury, M. McNeil and B. Skeggs (eds) Transformations: Thinking Through Feminism, London and New York: Routledge, 43.

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8. K. Ball. 2007. Introduction: Traumatizing Psychoanalysis, in K. Ball (ed.) Traumatizing Theory: The Cultural Politics of Affect in and Beyond Psychoanalysis, New York: Other Press. 9. S. Felman. 2000. The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge Mass. and London: Harvard University Press, 8. 10. S. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 140. 11. C. Caruth. (ed.). 1995. Trauma: Explorations in Memory, Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press; C. Caruth. 1996. Unclaimed Experience, Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University. 12. J. Lewis Herman.1992. Trauma and Recovery: From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, London: Pandora. 13. M. Rothberg. 2000. Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation, Minnesota: University of Minnesota; M. Rothberg. 2004. ‘“There is No Poetry in This”: Writing, Trauma and Home’, in J. Greenberg (ed.) Trauma at Home: After 9/11, Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press; M. Rothberg. 2006. ‘Between Auschwitz and Algeria: Multidirectional Memory and the Counterpublic Witness’, Critical Inquiry, Autumn, 158–84. 14. M. Rothberg. 2004. ‘“There is No Poetry in This”: Writing, Trauma and Home’, in J. Greenberg (ed.) Trauma at Home: After 9/11, Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 147. 15. M. Rothberg, ‘“There is No Poetry in This”’, 149. 16. M. Rothberg, ‘“There is No Poetry in This”’, 150. 17. M. Rothberg, ‘“There is No Poetry in This”’, 150. 18. M. Rothberg, ‘“There is No Poetry in This”’, 151. 19. M. Rothberg, ‘“There is No Poetry in This”’, 151. 20. M. Rothberg, ‘“There is No Poetry in This”’, 151. 21. Although see R. Girard. 2005. Violence and the Sacred, London: Continuum, for an account of the ways in which violence is indeed used as a means of preventing the spiraling of violence. 22. For discussions of Benjamin, see, in particular, J. Butler. 2006. ‘Critique, Coercion, and Sacred Life in Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence”’, in H. de Vries and L.E. Sullivan (eds) Political Theologies: Public Religions in a Post–Secular World, New York: Fordham University Press; and M. Hanssen. 2000. Critique of Violence: Between Poststructuralism and Critical Theory, London and New York: Routledge. 23. N. Scheper–Hughes and P. Bourgois. 2004. Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology, Oxford: Blackwell, 1. 24. H. Arendt. 1970. On Violence, London and New York: A Harvest Book, 35. 25. C. Caruth, Unclaimed Experience, 61. 26. C. Caruth, Unclaimed Experience, 62. 27. For an alternative critique of Cvetkovich’s work see J. Kilby. 2008. ‘The Promise of Understanding: Sex, Violence, Trauma and the Body’, in F. Alexander and K. Throsby (eds) Gender and Interpersonal Violence, London: Palgrave.

10 The Trauma Knot Roger Luckhurst

By now, to utter the word ‘trauma’ is to invite controversy; it is a name for always contested ground. One might reasonably argue that since the introduction of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to the official diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association in 1980, the categories of sufferers have been progressively extended, and it has escaped psychiatric confines to become one of the defining categories of contemporary experience. As Mark Seltzer put it, ‘the modern subject has become inseparable from the categories of shock and trauma, modernity has come to be understood under the sign of the wound.’1 More recently, E. Ann Kaplan has explored a suffused ‘trauma culture’, in which specific events, such as the World Trade Center attacks, work outwards from their site of impact through process of mediation, transfer and translation, to generate new forms of trauma communality.2 For Judith Butler too, after 9/11, grief is one of the main means for thinking about social collectives, since it ‘furnishes a sense of political community of a complex order, and it does this first of all by bringing to the fore the relational ties that have implications for theorizing fundamental dependency and ethical responsibility.’3 Trauma derives from the Greek word meaning wound. First used in English in the seventeenth century in medicine, it referred to a bodily injury caused by an external agent. In early editions of the Oxford English Dictionary the entries for trauma, traumatic, traumatism and the prefix traumato- cite solely from sources concerning physical wounds. The one exception comes from an 1895 edition of Popular Science Monthly: ‘We have named this psychical trauma, a morbid nervous condition.’ This is an early indication of the drift of trauma from the physical to the mental realm that would start taking place in the late nineteenth century. In the current edition of the OED,

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citations to physical wounds are reduced to three and are substantially outnumbered by those from psychoanalysis and psychiatry. The predominant popular connotations of trauma now circle around metaphors of psychic scars and mental wounds. The metaphor of a psychological ‘impact’ still retains the sense of a wound caused by an exterior agent. The OED also records a further drift into general usage of the adjective ‘traumatic’ for any difficult or untoward event. Trauma, however, still refers to bodily injury in medicine, and as Steven Connor observes the focus on the boundary of the skin in ritual piercing, cutting or scarification continues to play with powerful taboos in many cultures. The elevation of the category of trauma has emerged whilst the skin has been ‘the visible object of many different forms of imaginary or actual assault’ in the modern world.4 Trauma is a piercing or breach of a border that puts inside and outside into a strange communication. It violently opens passageways between systems that were once discrete, making unforeseen connections that distress or confound. Trauma is also worryingly transmissible and this affective transfer appears to be one of its essential attributes. In conversion hysteria, psychical difficulties leak into protean forms of functional nervous disorders and bodily symptoms. It can cross between suggestible patients, as in the ‘contagions’ that ran through hysteria wards in asylums or in the shell-shock cases that passed through specific battalions. It can slide between patients and doctors via the mysterious processes of transference or suggestion, and it can move between victims and their listeners or viewers who are commonly moved to forms of overwhelming sympathy, even to the extent of claiming secondary victimhood. Therapists have discussed the problem of developing ‘vicarious traumatisation’ from listening to difficult patient material; Kaplan has used this idea to suggest a wider problematic of ‘translation’ of trauma across different communities.5 The success of ‘trauma studies’ in the academy also points to the effect of transmission. One of the most influential texts in the area, Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub’s Testimony, explicitly theorizes a trauma pedagogy, in which the effectiveness of textual material is measured by its ability to ‘break the very framework of the class.’6 Felman discovered that she had inadvertently induced a ‘crisis’ in her students with difficult material, but then actively sought this disturbance for pedagogic effect. ‘Teaching must in turn testify, make something happen.’7 The classroom was a significant space through which to theorise the affective transmission and circulation of traumatic emotions: Testimony headed the boom in trauma studies and Felman’s essay on trauma pedagogy first appeared in an issue of American Imago edited by Cathy Caruth, who oversaw the translation of Yale deconstruction into trauma theory and secured the influence of the field with her own Unclaimed Experience in 1996.8 Everywhere, transmissibility has become a central concern about the response to traumatic events, and their representation in narratives and

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images. Can or should the right to speak of trauma be limited to its primary victims? Who can claim ‘secondary’ status without risking appropriation? Dominick LaCapra, recognising trauma’s potential ‘to confuse self and other, and collapse all distinctions’ has suggested a distinction for criticism between identification, which falls into this dangerous confusion, and empathy, which preserves distance.9 His reiteration of this divide across several books suggests that it is constantly under threat of being overrun, and therefore hints at something about the very nature of trauma itself. This issue has been refracted in a very different way in law, where it has become a question of how far compensation for ‘psychiatric harm’ in negligence cases can be extended, once Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was recognised as a compensation-deserving psychiatric illness. Should payments be strictly limited to primary victims? What would constitute a secondary victim, and how should it be delimited: by proximity to the event in space and time, by close emotional tie to those directly involved, thus excluding bystanders or professional rescue workers or those who hear or see loved ones killed, but mediated via television? As a generalised notion of cultural trauma has begun to circulate, the historian Wulf Kansteiner has charged that ‘the most severe abuses of the trauma concept currently occur in the abstract, metaphorical language of cultural criticism.’10 He takes aim at the ‘aestheticised, morally and politically imprecise concept of cultural trauma’, a loose notion that ‘turns us all into accomplished survivors.’11 He examines a familiar ‘critical theory’ trajectory from Theodor Adorno through Jean-François Lyotard to Cathy Caruth and into cultural studies that generalises traumatic experience and turns it into a problem of signification: ‘Just because trauma is inevitably a problem of representation in memory and communication does not imply the reverse, i.e., that problems of representation are always partaking in the traumatic.’12 It is this reversal that has allowed trauma to bleed out and saturate readings of contemporary culture. Kansteiner’s outrage is driven by his sense that there has been an appropriation of the epoch’s inaugural historical trauma: the Holocaust. Any comparisons, any sense of trauma’s transmissibility, its outward movement from the wound, turns brute historical fact into cheaply traded tokens of psychologised ‘survivor culture.’ With a somewhat similar concern, Robert Eaglestone has tried to see off the therapeutic language of trauma as a wholly inappropriate framework for Holocaust survivor testimony, for its rhythm of ‘wounding followed by recovery’ might risk over-coding ‘the accounts of the Holocaust with a discourse of healing or therapy, and so pass over both the epistemological and ethical impossibility of comprehending the survivors’ testimony by seeming to grasp and resolve it, and “work through” or finish with the ethical obligation to recall the events.’13 Yet many leading commentators on the Holocaust, such as Eric Santner and Geoffrey Hartmann, have used the language of trauma theory

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precisely because it has been concerned with resisting easy therapeutic ‘closure.’ There might actually be a rather close affinity between trauma theory and writing on the Holocaust: as James Young has observed, for all the demand that the Holocaust be respected in its literal singularity, it has been caught up in a barely containable metaphorical and analogical proliferation. Young proposes: ‘Rather than look for the Holocaust outside of metaphor, therefore, I would suggest that we find it in metaphor, in the countless ways it has been figured, colored, distorted, and ultimately cast as a figure for other events.’14 This would be to acknowledge a kind of unbounded transmission of affect that is often also ascribed to trauma. Controversy is always sparked because the transmissibility of trauma soon runs up against the very distinct ways in which different disciplinary formations theorise it. Psychiatric experts contest legal understandings of traumatic sequelae; lawyers consider psychiatric taxonomies insufficiently juridical. Medics argue for psychiatric harm to soldiers in warfare; military authorities and government pension agencies traditionally begin by denying its existence. Cultural theorists like Shoshana Felman or Cathy Caruth use psychoanalysis to frame theory, whilst the professional psychiatric bodies that have defined modern clinical understandings of trauma entirely ignore Freud and use either biological or cognitive-behavioural frameworks. Kansteiner privileges history over cultural and critical theory and the Holocaust over other events. Some cultural historians, however, have remarked that the history of trauma is itself traumatised, being singularly marked by ‘episodic amnesia’: ‘Periods of active investigation have alternated with periods of oblivion. Repeatedly, in the past century similar lines of inquiry have been taken up and abruptly abandoned, only to be rediscovered later.’15 ‘A continuous history’, Micale and Lerner concur, ‘would be impossible to establish.’16 What method, then, can grasp trauma, since as LaCapra observes, ‘no genre or discipline “owns” trauma as a problem or can provide definitive boundaries for it’?17 The problem of trauma is that it always seems to burst the frame of local disciplinary coherences. In order to begin to do justice to the complex, overlapping, contradictory meanings that exist in contemporary usages of trauma, the solution is not, I would argue, either to insist on a particular priority of one discourse or to generate an inchoate inter-disciplinary conception that attempts, impossibly, to merge them all together. Rather, it is to observe the discontinuities between different knowledge systems. As Foucault argued, ‘the history of a concept is not wholly and entirely that of its progressive refinement … but that of its various fields of constitution and validity, that of its successive rules of use, that of the many theoretical contexts in which it developed and matured.’18 This is the beginning of unpicking the knot of trauma, a metaphor that by the end of this essay I hope to take more seriously as a model for a multidisciplinary approach to understanding trauma in contemporary culture.

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To grasp the full resonances of the concept of trauma, one needs to be at least minimally aware of four distinct areas:

Victorian Industrial Modernity As most know, the inaugural problem of psychical sequelae to shocking events was the railway accident, inextricably linked materially and symbolically to uncontrolled industrial expansion in the nineteenth century and the reframing of experience inside what Wolfgang Schivelbusch has called the ‘machine ensemble.’19 Many victims of railway accidents appeared to walk away uninjured, yet subsequently developed a bewildering array of debilitating nervous symptoms. A medical dispute arose over the etiology of so-called ‘railway spine’: in 1866, the surgeon John Erichsen proposed it was a physiological phenomenon, the result of severe jolts to the spinal column, causing invisible lesions that were responsible for an array of functional nervous disorders. In 1883, Herbert Page lamented the indiscriminate use of ‘concussion of the spine’ in medical and lay parlance, and dismissed Erichsen’s physiology. Instead, Page proposed ‘purely psychical causes’ for the symptom, arguing that ‘terror has much to do with its production.’20 Page’s use of the idea of nervous shock has a modern ring not because it was a psychical theory so much as a legalistic one. Page was the surgeon for the London and Northwest Railway Company. Erichsen’s argument had to be defeated because an organic origin to railway spine nearly always resulted in huge payments for damages to those caught up in railway accidents, and this was being progressively extended by sympathetic juries to those without any visible physical injury. To associate nervous shock with a psychical hysteria was to equate it with a shameful, effeminate disorder, often dismissed by doctors as a form of disease imitation (what was called ‘neuromimesis’) or malingering. Accident victims who presented these symptoms could now be suspected of feigning illness for financial advantage, and malingering became the principal charge against claimants. This connected the railway accident to the rise in agitation for the compensation for workers involved in industrial accidents. The Workmen’s Compensation Act was eventually passed in England in 1897 (with equivalent acts in Germany and France arriving a little earlier), and was intended to introduce a general form of insurance to take the sting from the new union co–ordination of negligence claims against employers.21 The controversy around trauma is therefore inextricably linked to questions of new kinds of risk and accident compensation in industrial modernity: it is and was, from the beginning, an intertwined medico-legal problem. This attempt to dismiss financial claims cannot be restricted to an era of laissez-faire industrialism either. In 1961, the term ‘accident neurosis’ was proposed as the name for a syndrome that was

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‘motivated by hopes of financial and other rewards, and which shows considerable improvement following the settlement.’22 In 1981, Michael Trimble’s study observed that psychiatric debates around the post-traumatic neuroses ‘represent the veneer of a multi-million pound enterprise’, and the question of malingering then focussed on whiplash injury claims.23 Contemporary guides for forensic assessment still outline the means to detect so-called ‘factitious PTSD.’

The Law of ‘Nervous Shock’ For Karl Figlio, the accident could only exists ‘in a cosmology in which the common view of personal relationships had become contractual, so that obligations and injury could be seen as terms of contract.’24 It is for this reason that negligence claims in the law of tort have provided the dominant way in which law has interacted with, and fundamentally helped constitute, contemporary notions of trauma. In 1989 the so-called Zeebrugge Arbitration (following the sinking of a passenger ferry outside the port) was the first case in England in which it was ‘agreed on all sides that the courts would now accept that PTSD was a recognised psychiatric injury for which compensation would be recoverable at law without proof of any actual physical harm.’25 Yet by 1998 the English Law Commission published a report, Liability for Psychiatric Illness, in recognition of the legal confusion and injustices in recent cases concerned with PTSD and other forms of trauma. The present law was deemed ‘unsatisfactory’, yet after extensive consultation the commissioners concluded that ‘we do not think that medical knowledge has advanced to a sufficiently mature stage for the complete codification of liability for psychiatric illness’ and eschewed statutory legislation in favour of allowing the law ‘to develop incrementally’ case by case.26 Case law has been the means by which the notion of ‘nervous shock’ developed over the past one hundred years, but it has been judgments in these cases that produced the sense of arbitrariness in determining psychiatric liability. The irresolution of legal discourse around nervous shock is central to any understanding of the contemporary trauma paradigm. The history of legal cases over the ‘nervous shock’ of traumatic events inevitably starts on the railway. In 1888 an employee at a railway crossing in Australia mistakenly waved a horse and buggy through a barrier, nearly causing a collision with the oncoming train. Mrs Coultas claimed that the severe fright of the incident had induced her later miscarriage. The judgment (Coultas v Victorian Railway Commissioners 1888) initially found for the claimant, but was challenged and overturned on the basis that there had been no physical injury and therefore no proof of direct causation from the incident to the later miscarriage. The appeal judges explicitly stated that the

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case had to be overturned, otherwise the field would be opened to a mass of ‘imaginary claims.’27 In very similar circumstances in 1901, a carriage was driven through a pub window in East London, causing the publican’s wife severe shock and the premature birth of an ‘idiot’ son. This time Dulieu v White produced a landmark judgment: ‘Damages which result from a nervous shock occasioned by fright unaccompanied by any actual impact may be recoverable in an action for negligence if physical injury has been caused to the plaintiff.’28 No distinction was to be made between actual impact and fear of impact if the physical result was the same. The judge commented explicitly on the distinction between ‘nervous’ and ‘mental’ that should have been made in Coultas. ‘ “Nervous” is probably the more correct epithet where terror operates through parts of the physical organism to produce bodily illness’, he said, whilst ‘merely mental pain unaccompanied by any injury to the person cannot sustain an action of this kind.’29 Any psychological impact, in other words, had to be proven to have been stamped on the body to reach the legal threshold. The full history of the challenges and extensions of those deemed to suffer ‘nervous shock’ cannot be covered here. Suffice it to say that the law fell into crisis with the legal aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster. In 1989, 95 Liverpool Football Club spectators were killed and four hundred injured in the Hillsborough football ground. Claims for physical injuries were settled quickly, since the police admitted negligence in allowing too many fans into the stadium. Sixteen claimants brought an action for nervous shock and consequent psychiatric illness; fifteen were relatives of those killed or injured at Hillsborough.30 The judgment found against the claimants. Secondary victim status was strictly applied: hence, the judges thought relationships to spouses, parents and children could be presumed to be a close tie, whilst those of siblings, grandparents or uncles and aunts were not, and such claimants would be required to demonstrate close ties. For one Hillsborough claimant, watching a brother die might have been a trauma, but was not recoverable at law. Questions of proximity were also narrowly invoked. In terms of time, the ‘immediate aftermath’ was limited to an hour, so that the viewing and identification of the bodies starting eight hours later was deemed to be outside the limit of the event. In terms of space, the necessary proximity ruled out anyone who had seen the event in a mediated way, via television or by any third party report, but also distinguished between different areas inside the football ground. The shock test was also enforced, as Lord Wilberforce argued: ‘There remains … just because “shock” in its nature is capable of affecting so wide a range of people, a real need for the law to place some limitation on the extent of admissible claims.’31 The law had to demarcate ‘rational’ boundaries against the uncontained affective transmission of trauma. The perception that Alcock was a cruel application of the law intensified when six police officers on duty at Hillbsborough claimed

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for post–traumatic stress.32 At trial, the case was dismissed but the Court of Appeal upheld their claim. The ruling found in favour of officers who had tried to administer first aid by the metal pens or been in the ground, but also for those who had handled bodies in hospitals and temporary mortuaries after the event and at some distance. The judgment therefore extended claims of PTSD to ‘rescuers’, where their duties had brought them within range of foreseeable psychiatric injury through employer negligence. The outrage of the relatives previously barred from claims resulted in the House of Lords overturning this Appeal Court ruling, and the case was reconsidered in 1999.33 The ruling, over-ruling and then over-over-ruling of this case demonstrated how confusing the law had become in establishing the legal parameters of a large-scale traumatic event. If trauma is a medico-legal concept, the hyphen is a site of contest rather than reconfirmation. Since PTSD entered the diagnostic grid, it has become one of the legal standards for compensable ‘recognisable psychiatric illness.’ Yet the psychiatric term is not stable, and the diagnostics have continued to extend the categories of sufferer beyond boundaries the law finds comfortable. At the same time, the law often creates the meaningful contours in which psychiatric definitions of trauma are enacted, thus shaping the protean forms in which trauma can be recognised. Trauma emerges in the shadow-boxing between these forms of expertise.

Psychiatry, Neurology and Physiology The drift of trauma from physical damage to psychical wounding took place at the time when treatment of the insane was transformed by new paradigms in psychology. Yet this is not a straightforward story of crude biological theories replacing sophisticated psychodynamic ones: for its entire history trauma has been perennially tugged between rival claims across another hyphenated juncture – the psycho-physical. In the 1880s, ‘railway spine’ was displaced by the term traumatic neurosis. True to form, the German neurologist Hermann Oppenheim had studied the cases of railway and industrial accidents, and had concluded that the consequent symptoms were the result of ‘molecular changes in the central nervous system.’34 Like Erichsen, Oppenheim’s physical etiology was roundly attacked for legitimating fraudulent claims, for Oppenheim’s monograph had the misfortune to coincide with the decision of Bismarck’s Imperial Insurance office to compensate workers for industrial accidents. A witch-hunt against Rentenneurose (pension neurosis) left Oppenheim later recalling that in Germany ‘the traumatic neurosis was everywhere expunged and tabooed’, and his work vilified as crude somatic reductionism.35 The same term was more successful in France because it was associated with the most famous

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European neurologist of the era, Jean-Martin Charcot. Charcot was director of the Salpêtrière asylum in Paris between 1862 and his death in 1893. In 1876, Charcot had offered his codification of la grande hystérie. In the mid-1880s, Charcot began to examine cases of névrose traumatique in male patients. In his Clinical Lectures on Diseases of the Nervous System, Charcot presented six cases of male hysteria, linking directly to debates around the nature of railway spine, since the men’s symptoms were all sequelae to industrial accidents, ‘serious and obstinate nervous states which present themselves after collisions.’36 Charcot’s provocation was in asserting that hysteria could be found in men, since the disease was etymologically and historically associated only with women. Male hysteria lay ‘often unrecognised, even by very distinguished physicians’, in part because male symptoms – in contrast to women – tended to be persistent, stubborn and stable and were therefore mistaken as organic illnesses.37 Trauma thus found itself plugged into Charcot’s monumental taxonomy of hysterias. The conditions presented the familiar mysterious trajectory. Minor accidents were capable of flowering into an elaborate range of contractures, paralyses, fainting, fugue states, or amnesia. Charcot noted that the contractures and paralyses could not be mapped onto the known physical distribution of the nerves: they were fantasies of how the body worked. These were therefore hysterical symptoms, ‘psychical paralyses’, but ‘these motor paralyses of psychical origin are as objectively real as those depending on an organic lesion.’38 Psychical factors were also emphasised with the disturbances of memory. Accidents could produce traumatic retrograde and anterograde amnesia where significant chunks of time before and after the accident were lost. Charcot also argued that that ‘the fright experienced by the patient at the moment of the accident’ was likely to be the element ‘which most probably plays a much more important part in the genesis of the symptoms than the wound itself.’39 Ultimately, however, Charcot regarded any hysterical symptom as a marker of inherited physical weakness. Hereditary traits were the precondition, the explanation for why certain people could survive extreme events unscathed whilst others became irrecoverable hysterics over mild distress. This was a biological theory. The study of traumatic hysteria was picked up by Pierre Janet. Although Janet was appointed to the Salpêtrière by Charcot in 1890, Janet emphasised the psychological elements of hysteria, which he described as ‘an ensemble of maladies through representation.’40 Part of Janet’s later marginalisation came from the aggressive stance he took against ‘the current physiological hypothesis’: ‘I consider the pretended physiological conditions as mere translations of the psychological ideas.’41 His preferred general term, psychasthenia, deliberately displaced any traces of the nervous physiology that survived in the more familiar usage neurasthenia. Janet theorised that a particularly shocking moment or event might produce a defensive response of a narrowing of the field of consciousness. This would become an idée fixe,

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held outside the recall memory of the conscious mind. It would accrue its own memory chain and associations, becoming a ‘new system, a personality independent of the first.’42 It was this act of splitting that created a double self, something that coalesced around the subconscious fixed idea. The subconscious ( Janet’s coinage) was not structural, then, but a specific product of traumatic hysteria. This is what lies behind theories of traumatic dissociation that re-emerged so strongly in the 1980s. In Frank Putnam’s view, it was Janet who ‘made the connection between dissociative psychopathology and traumatic experiences’ and was one of the first to ‘conceptualize dissociative reactions occurring in the context of acute trauma as an adaptive process that protects the individual and allows him to continue to function, although often in an automaton-like state.’43 This ideodynamic theory of trauma gave considerable autonomy to the psyche. That Freud’s intermittent writing on what he once called ‘the dark and dismal subject of traumatic neurosis’ did little to resolve this ambiguity can be illustrated by debates around shell-shock in the Great War, which were dogged by the same hesitancy between psychological or neurological causation.44 The name shell-shock was supposed to link causally traumatic impacts on the body to the effect of bombardment. The physicalist etiology was principally associated with Sir Frederick Mott, a prominent neurologist. Mott’s early war work speculated that shell-shock was caused by aerial compression and concussion that produced shock waves through the incompressible spinal fluid and brain which resulted in invisible lesions (thus reviving Oppenheim’s traumatic neurosis theory). Mott, however, soon confessed that ‘There is a great difficulty in differentiating the symptoms of emotional from commotional shock.’45 Old terms, deriving from industrial modernity, were revived: it was common to speak of the traumatic neuroses of war. Mott and many others were willing to regard susceptibility to traumatic neurosis as hereditary weakness, typical in lower-class conscripts. Psychodynamic models of shell-shock were not necessarily any more benign. To recognise even one case of shell-shock was to sanction what one lieutenant-colonel called ‘a very contagious source of trouble when it gets into a battalion.’46 If shell-shock was hysteria, then just as idées fixes converted into myriad bodily symptoms in the individual, so one case of shell-shock could run through a whole battalion, moving from soldier to soldier through neuromimesis or simulation. A refusal of officers to release a soldier from the front line would prevent hysterical contagion. In this discussion, trauma is once more marked by the now familiar mystery of transpersonal affective transmission. War intensifies the controversy between psychological and physical conceptions of trauma because military imperatives create a distinct ‘ecology.’ This history is reiterative rather than developmental: as Ben Shephard suggests, ‘there appears to be a recurring cycle with the war neuroses: the problem is first denied, then exaggerated, then understood, and finally, forgotten.’47 Gulf War

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Syndrome has remained a disputed entity since 1991, with some commentators regarding it as a purely psychical hysteria whilst others insist that, beyond a small number of cases of PTSD, veterans suffer physical illnesses as a result of vaccine cocktails, pesticidal spraying of equipment, low-level exposure to nerve gas or the inhalation of depleted uranium dust. In America, the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses issued a report in 2004 which concluded that the multi-symptom conditions of veterans could not be explained by stress or psychiatric illness and had neurological underpinnings.48 In England, disability pensions have been disbursed under the category of ‘Symptoms and Signs of Ill-Defined Conditions’, but the Ministry of Defence has refused to accept the existence of Gulf War Syndrome.49 It is striking that the phases of innovation in psychological theories of trauma have always been shadowed by breakthroughs in physiology, which render the etiology of trauma even more irresolute. In the 1890s, as psychodynamic models emerged, brain physiologists isolated the structure of the neurone and the synapse. The Great War coincided with the development of endocrinology as a distinct discipline and the identification of adrenaline, now central to most stress reaction theories of trauma. Contemporary physiological trauma treatments have tried to manage brain chemistry with drugs directed at serotonin levels whilst research has focussed on the brain physiology of the locus coeruleus and the effects on memory and emotion of catacholamines under severe stress. A physicalist conception of trauma now underlies most psychiatric treatment. Trauma has therefore remained an intrinsically hyphenated psycho-physiological phenomenon.

Identity Politics Finally, we need to recognise that trauma has become prominent because it is frequently an advocacy disorder, bound up with particular pressure group campaigns. Its cultural dissemination outside specialist knowledges has been due to the marriage of trauma recovery and recompense with contemporary identity politics. Judith Herman has influentially argued that trauma has an intermittent history because ‘to hold traumatic reality in consciousness requires a social context that affirms and protects the victim and that joins the victim and witness in a common alliance … The systematic study of psychological trauma therefore depends upon the support of a political movement.’50 Herman’s history links the anti-clerical politics of Charcot’s studies of hysteria to anti-war campaigns from the Great War to Vietnam in the 1970s, the Vietnam veterans providing the ‘consciousness raising’ models for feminists to confront the unspoken trauma of intrafamilial sexual abuse to such devastating effect in the 1970s and 1980s. The arrival of PTSD in official diagnostics was itself the product of political advocacy of the anti-

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Vietnam campaigners brought together by Robert Jay Lifton. In 1970, Lifton began informal ‘rap sessions’ with the Vietnam Veterans against the War. He worked with the therapist Chaim Shatan, who publicised his theory of ‘PostVietnam Syndrome’ outside usual medical channels. The syndrome named a problem of ‘impacted grief, in which a never–ending past deprives the present of meaning.’51 Lifton had already participated in a symposium in 1968, published as Massive Psychic Trauma, which was avowedly comparative in its aims, bringing together Lifton’s work on victims of the Hiroshima atom bomb, William Niederlands’ work on ‘Survivor Syndrome’ amongst former concentration camp inmates, and the communal effects of large-scale natural and industrial accidents.52 A generic idea of trauma was built from these separate areas of advocacy, often being pushed for the dual aims of recognition and reparation. Lifton organized co-ordinated responses to the consultations on the fundamental re-orientation of psychiatric taxonomies of mental illness proposed for the third edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.53 Proposals discussed by advisory panels dominated by Lifton and his allies included specific entries for ‘post-combat disorder’ and then, after Mardi Horowitz’s research on the physiology of stress, the more encompassing ‘catastrophic stress disorder.’ The final entry of PTSD was the product of ‘negotiation, coalition formation, strategizing, solidarity affirmation, and struggle.’54 As Allan Young observes, PTSD ‘is glued together by the practices, technologies, and narratives with which it is diagnosed, studied, treated, and represented and by the various interests, institutions, and moral arguments that mobilised these efforts and resources.’55 It has been so successful that individual and group identity is now frequently framed in terms of inaugurating trauma. As Charles Turner suggests, ‘into the gap created by a retreat from history as a mode of relating to the past, and a retreat from the state as the primary referent for an understanding of collective political existence, there enter memory, recollection, remembrance and the discovery of new sites on which a commemorative relation to the past might be established.’56 With these four areas sketched out, trauma is on the way to being properly recognised as an inherently contradictory and densely over-determined term: a knot. I call it a knot because this tracing of the threads bound into the contemporary concept of trauma can fruitfully use the work of the science studies historian and theorist Bruno Latour. Latour has attempted to resituate scientific practice within a network of entanglements, in contrast to the traditional concept of science as necessarily aloof from alleged social and political ‘impurities.’ A successful scientific concept does not just pass through the protocols of a specific scientific discourse, but also works because it binds together a bewilderingly heterogeneous array of resources. In Pandora’s Hope, Latour lists loops that need to be traced around any specific scientific practice. First, there is mobilisation of the world, which is

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the complex, variegated set of processes for transporting objects from the real world into scientific discourse; second, autonomisation, or the way in which a discipline forms its own criteria and expertise for scientific knowledge; third, alliances are the diverse, extra-scientific interests that are ‘enrolled’ in the support of a particular science (kings in cartography, industrialists in chemistry, the military in atomic physics, and so on); fourth is public representation, since ‘scientists who had to travel the world to make it mobile, to convince colleagues to lay siege to ministers and boards of directors, now have to take care of their relations with another outside world of civilians: reporters, pundits, and the man and woman in the street.’57 Finally, there is the scientific concept itself, hard to unravel yet part of this topology because it is ‘a very tight knot at the centre of a net.’58 Trauma might also be regarded as one of those specific kinds of very modern concept that attempts to name an object that is inherently hybrid and impure. In The Politics of Nature, Latour suggests the modern world abounds with new kinds of objects that ‘have no clear boundaries, no well–defined essences, no sharp separation between their own hard kernel and their environment.’59 They are less objects than ‘risky attachments’: ‘They have numerous connections, tentacles, and pseudopods that links them in many different ways.’60 If controversies over scientific claims have intensified, then Latour suggests this is due to the rapid proliferation of hybrid objects that confound modern cateories. These appear not as matters of fact, but as perpetually irresolute matters of concern: ‘new entities that provoke perplexity and thus speech in those who gather around them and argue over them.’61 In this model, trauma is a nodal point, a switching centre that is at once an over-determined scientific concept, developed from physiology, neurology and psychiatry, an economic and legal question of causation and responsibility, an historic emanation from industrial modernity and risk society, and a site of political advocacy for heterogeneous alliances of victims and advocates, experts and amateurs. This explains the difficulty in unpicking the full meanings impacted in the term and the unpredictable routes through which it has been disseminated in contemporary Western culture. There is a reason for the strange transmissibility of trauma: it is inherent in the knotty history and circulation of the concept itself.

Notes 1. M. Seltzer. 1997. ‘Wound Culture: Trauma in the Pathological Public Sphere’, October 80, 18. 2. E. A. Kaplan. 2005. Trauma Culture: The Politics of Terror and Loss in Media and Literature, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

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3. J. Butler. 2004. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, 22. 4. S. Connor. 2004. The Book of Skin, London: Reaktion, 65. 5. See, for instance, C.R. Figley. 1995. Compassion Fatigue: Coping with Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder in Those who Treat the Traumatised, New York: Brunner. 6. S. Felman and D. Laub. 1992. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History, London: Routledge, 48. 7. Felman and Laub, Testimony, 53. 8. See R. Luckhurst. 2006. ‘Mixing Memory and Desire: Psychoanalysis, Psychology, and Trauma Theory’, in P. Waugh (ed.), Literary Theory and Criticism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 497–507. 9. D. LaCapra. 2001. Writing History, Writing Trauma, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 21. 10. W. Kansteiner. 2004.‘Genealogy of a Category Mistake: A Critical, Intellectual History of the Cultural Trauma Metaphor’, Rethinking History, 8(2), 215. 11. Kansteiner, ‘Genealogy’, 194 and 203. 12. Kansteiner, ‘Genealogy’, 205. 13. R. Eaglestone. 2004. The Holocaust and the Postmodern, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 32 and 33. 14. J.E. Young. 1988. Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust: Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 89. 15. J. Herman. 1992. Trauma and Recovery: From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, London: HarperCollins, 7. 16. M. Micale and P. Lerner. 2001. ‘Trauma, Psychiatry and History: A Conceptual and Historiographical Approach’, in M. Micale and P. Lerner (eds), Traumatic Pasts: History, Psychiatry and Trauma in the Modern Age 1870–1930, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1–27. 17. D. LaCapra, Writing History, 96. 18. M. Foucault. 1974. The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. Alan Sheridan, London: Tavistock, 4. 19. W. Schivelbusch. 1986. The Railway Journey: The Industrialisation of Time and Space in the Nineteenth Century, New York: Berg. 20. H. Page. 1883. Injuries of the Spine and Spinal Cord without Apparent Mechanical Lesion, and Nervous Shock in their Medico-Legal Aspects, London: J & A Churchill, 148 and 196. 21. See P. Bartrip and S. Burman. 1983. The Wounded Soldiers of Industry: Industrial Compensation Policy 1833–97, Oxford: Clarendon Press. 22. R. Mayou. 1996. ‘Accident Neurosis Revisited’, British Journal of Psychiatry 168, 399. 23. M. Trimble. 1981. Post–Traumatic Neurosis: from Railway Spine to the Whiplash, Chichester: John Wiley. 24. K. Figlio. 1985. ‘What is an Accident?’, in P. Weindling (ed.), The Social History of Occupational Health, London: Croom Helm, 180–206. 25. C. Pugh and M. Trimble. 1993. ‘Psychiatric Injury after Hillsborough’, British Journal of Psychiatry, 163, 426. 26. See English Law Commission. 1998. Liability for Psychiatric Illness, available at www.open.gov.uk/lawcommm/, retrieved 8 March 2006, 3. 27. This case is discussed in D. Mendelson. 1997. ‘The History of Damages for Psychiatric Injury’, Psychiatry, Psychology and the Law, 4, 169–95.

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36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43.

44. 45. 46. 47. 48.

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50. 51.

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Dulieu v. White. 1901. 2 KB, 669. Dulieu v. White. 1901. 2 KB, 672–73. Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire. 1992.1 AC. Cited in Pugh and Trimble, ‘Psychiatric Injury after Hillsborough’, 428. Frost v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police. 1997. 3 WLR. White v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire. 1999. 2 AC. H. Oppenheim. 1911. Text-Book of Nervous Diseases, for Physicians and Students, trans. A. Bruce, 2 vols, Edinburgh: Otto Schulze, I, 1171. P. Lerner. 2001. ‘From Traumatic Neurosis to Male Hysteria: The Decline and Fall of Hermann Oppenheim 1889–1919’, in M. Micale and P. Lerner (eds), Traumatic Pasts, 150. J.–M. Charcot. 1991. Clinical Lectures on Diseases of the Nervous System (1889), London: Routledge, 221. J.–M. Charcot, Clinical Lectures, 221. J.–M. Charcot, Clinical Lectures, 289. J.–M.Charcot, Clinical Lectures, 231. P. Janet. 1901. The Mental State of Hystericals: A Study of Mental Stigmata and Mental Accidents, trans C. Corson, New York: Putnam’s, 488. P. Janet. 1907. The Major Symptoms of Hysteria, New York: Macmillan, 322–23. P. Janet, Mental State, 492. F. Putnam. 1999. ‘Pierre Janet and Modern Views of Dissociation’, in M Horowitz (ed.), Essential Papers on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, New York: New York University Press, 116 and 120. S. Freud. 1984. ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ (1920), On Metapsychology, Penguin Freud Library 11, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 283. F. Mott. 1919. War Neuroses and Shell–shock, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 22. Evidence to the Report of the War Office Enquiry into ‘Shell–Shock’. 1922. London: HMSO, 66. Ben Shephard. 2000. A War of Nerves, London: Jonathan Cape, xii. See, ‘Scientific Progress in Understanding Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses: Report and Recommendations’. 2004. available at www.va–gov/rac–gwi/docs /Report –andRecommendations_2004.pdf. See the Independent Public Inquiry on Gulf War Illnesses (the ‘Lloyd Report’). 2004. November, available at http://www.lloyd–gwii.com/admin/Managed– Files/4/ReportResume.doc, retrieved 27 Jan 2005. J. Herman. 1994. Trauma and Recovery. London: Pandora, 9. C. Shatan, cited W. J. Scott. 1990. ‘PTSD in DSM-III: A Case in the Politics of Diagnosis and Disease’, Social Problems, 37(3), 301. Shatan’s argument first appeared as an opinion piece in the New York Times in 1972. H. Krystal (ed.). 1968. Massive Psychic Trauma, New York: International Universities Press. For details of the origins of DSM-III, see M. Wilson. 1993. ‘DSM-III and the Transformation of American Psychiatry: A History’, American Journal of Psychiatry, 150(3), 399–410. W. J. Scott, ‘PTSD in DSM-III’, 295. A. Young. 1995. The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 5.

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56. C. Turner. 1996. ‘Holocaust Memories and History’, Journal of the History of the Human Sciences, 9(4), 46. 57. B. Latour. 1999. Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 105. 58. B. Latour, Pandora’s Hope, 106. 59. B. Latour. 2004. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 24. 60. B. Latour, Politics of Nature, 22 and 24. 61. B. Latour, Politics of Nature, 66.

11 Trauma, Justice, and the Political Unconscious: Arendt and Felman’s Journey to Jerusalem Cathy Caruth

The seminal work on trauma and testimony by the psychoanalytic and literary critic Shoshana Felman centers on two fundamental insights: the historical shape of traumatic experience and the urgency and difficulty of bearing witness in an ‘age of testimony’. In her book (co–authored with Dori Laub) entitled Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History (1992), Felman argues that there exists a profound relation between the urgent need for testimony after the Holocaust and the ‘crisis of witnessing’ at the heart of this testimonial demand.1 What would it mean, Felman asks, to rethink the event of the Holocaust itself – and not only its later remembering – around this crisis of witnessing. And conversely, how do the forms of testimony that occur after the Holocaust (in art, film, and videotaped testimonies) re-enact this crisis of witnessing, and in their turn participate in – and transmit – the actual occurrence of the event? In the book that follows Testimony (1992), and rethinks its central issues ten years later, under the title The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century (2002), these questions, originally understood through the realms of psychoanalysis and art, are reformulated around a surprising new conceptual conjunction between trauma and the law. The traumatic history of two World Wars, Felman argues, which resolved itself in a series of unprecedented international and national post-war trials inaugurated by the Nuremberg Trials, has brought to light a link that always existed but that the twentieth century for the first time brings into dramatic focus what she designates ‘the hidden link between trials and traumas’.2 In the two chapters of The Juridical Unconscious devoted to the 1961 trial of Nazi perpetrator Adolf

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Eichmann in Jerusalem, Felman suggests that the trial not only provides a legal framework for the judgment of Eichmann’s crimes but also becomes, itself, a ‘theater of justice’, the legal stage becoming the actual site of visibility of a traumatic historical occurrence, which inadvertently is re-enacted on the site of the law. In this legal re-enactment of the trauma – and in the disruptive and novel possibilities of legal testimony that arise from it – history and justice emerge in the disruption and in the reformulation and reinterpretation of legal consciousness. Felman’s insight into the relation between law and trauma in the Eichmann trial takes place, however, not simply through a direct analysis of the trial but also through a confrontation and encounter with the text of one of the trial’s most prominent reporters, the celebrated German–Jewish–American political thinker Hannah Arendt, whose controversial and pathbreaking trial reports for the New Yorker and the 1963 book that arose out of them, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, are the point of departure for Felman’s own analysis. Coming to Jerusalem with her past expertise as a political thinker (previously crowned by her innovative political analysis of the unprecedented historical phenomenon of totalitarianism), Arendt believes that the trial of the Nazi perpetrator can only acknowledge and do justice to the Nazis’ unique crimes by preserving the strict legal focus of the law. She criticizes the Israeli state and the state’s prosecution for focusing heavily instead on the victims’ testimonial stories, which in her eyes distract from the trial’s strict legal purpose of defining and of proving Eichmann’s crimes. Moreover, Arendt charges the prosecution with exploiting the victims’ ‘tales of horror’ to shore up a particularist version of Jewish justice related to an exhibition of the power and political significance of the Jewish State, a particularist version of justice that Arendt does not share and passionately fights from her cosmopolitan and universalist perspective. It is Arendt’s critique of the use of victims’ testimonies as the focus of the trial that is the starting point of Felman’s contrary argument that the trial is a transformative legal and testimonial event, precisely because it creates a new language and a new legal space for a traumatic history to emerge. I will argue in my turn that it is in the confrontation and the meeting between the differential modes of understanding of Arendt and Felman – in their insights joined together in the critical encounter between the psychoanalytic-literary and the philosophicalpolitical perspectives on the trial, as well as, I would add, in the unconscious ways in which the two texts (and the two untold life stories) of the two women thinkers unwittingly resonate with one another and shed light on each other – that we can best understand the emergence of justice, and of history, at the site of the law.

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I Critical Encounters A Battle over Legal Meaning Felman’s response to Arendt takes place through her discovery that the philosophical core issue behind Arendt’s passionate analysis of the trial is the larger question of the significance of law as source of (legal) meaning, and as a tool of recovery of the human after the dehumanisation of the Holocaust. Felman analyses Arendt’s famous and controversial claim that a central lesson of the Eichmann trial was its illustration, in the person of Adolph Eichmann – the man responsible in the Third Reich for coordinating the transportation of the Jews to the death camps – of what Arendt designated as the new totalitarian phenomenon of the ‘banality of evil’.3 Arendt suggested that Eichmann participated in an unprecedented criminal event not because he was the incarnation of evil motivations, but rather out of his personal ambition to advance in the Nazi regime and because of his inability to think or speak in terms other than those that were ideologically handed to him. This banality of Eichmann was linked, for Arendt, to a larger vision of the unprecedented nature of the Holocaust, which she understood, as Felman emphasises, both in terms of the lack of the usual psychological causal explanations for the crimes of the perpetrators, and as the attempt, within the totalitarian system, to eradicate not only individuals and groups but ultimately also ‘the concept of the human being’ as such.4 Arendt’s notion of the banality of evil was immediately misunderstood, when her report appeared, as a trivialisation of the Nazi crimes. Felman, in contrast, understands the gist of Arendt‘s central concept of ‘banality of evil’ as a political and legal insight into the crucial role of the language in the disaster of the Holocaust. Noting that Arendt‘s description of Eichmann‘s banality concerns his apparent lack of personal motivation against the Jews and his empty, clichéd borrowings of Nazi language, his archaic and anachronistic Nazi bureaucratic use of German even during the trial, Felman suggests that Arendt’s notion of banality is ‘not psychological but legal and political’.5 Arendt sees the goal of the trial, Felman argues, as that of redefining legal meaning and restoring linguistic meaning and a capacity of speech to a world in which the Holocaust has shattered these structures: If evil is linguistically and legally banal (devoid of human motivations and occurring through clichés that screen reality and actuality), in what ways, Arendt asks, can the law become an anchor and a guarantee, a guardian of humanity? How can the law fight over language with this radical banality (the total identification with a borrowed language)? When language itself becomes subsumed by the banality of evil, how can the law keep meaning to the word ‘humanity’?6

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Arendt’s insight into Eichmann’s actions – her sense that he, and other Nazis, were capable of mass annihilation in a manner not understandable through the usual psychological explanations, but rather through a radical loss of language and thought that encompassed the totalitarian world – is for Felman a political insight that ties the trial to the struggle to restore and redefine human meaning after the catastrophic event. The banality of evil ‘designates a gap between event and explanations’,7 a gap that defines the Holocaust within the entire framework of Arendt’s concept of totalitarianism, which undid previous political and legal frameworks of human meaning. The power of Arendt’s political analysis, Felman would thus suggest, lies in focusing the trial on the problem of meaning and in particular on the problem of the legal meaning of the word ‘humanity’. It is this understanding of the trial as a ‘fight over language’ against its radical banalisation and dehumanisation – its loss of human and legal meaning during the Holocaust – that in Felman’s understanding, makes Arendt’s insight into the trial a truly pathbreaking event. What Felman defines as Arendt’s specifically political perspective on the trial thus emerges as a larger question concerning justice and human significance: what does it mean for the law to restore language and restore meaning after the Holocaust? What is the relevance of justice to a redefinition of the human?

Traumatic History and the Emergence of Speech The answer to this question, Felman suggests, first of all concerns the remedial power, after the unprecedented devastation of the Holocaust, of legal speech. As Felman summarizes Arendt’s argument in the first of her two chapters on the Eichmann trial (Chapter 3, entitled, ‘Theaters of Justice: Arendt in Jerusalem, the Eichmann trial, and the Redefinition of Legal Meaning in the Wake of the Holocaust’), the political thinker insists on the fact that the unprecedented nature of the historical event of the Holocaust— its radical rupturing of political, legal and human meaning—requires a strict legal language and a narrow legal focus on the actions of the perpetrator in order to preserve, against the unsettling effects of the totalitarian disruption, the notions of legal judgment and of justice. One must step out of the abyss by means of the remedial power of the traditional legal language of the law. This means focusing the trial’s legal functions on the actions of Eichmann and passing judgment on their criminality in spite of their unusual lack of ordinary criminal motivation. The problem with the prosecution’s focus on witness testimonies is that it places ‘history at the center of the trial’8 rather than Eichmann’s actions and thus contaminates the law with history. This contamination by the victims’ stories undermines the judicial power of legal language to transcend the history that it judges. But this contamination of the law and history within the legal testimony also hides, for Arendt, the reality of the history it is meant to judge. Because

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the prosecution uses the witness stories as new versions of the old stories of anti-Semitism – and presents the Holocaust as one more anti-Semitic event among others – the trial and the witnesses cover over what is new in the event. Felman argues that Arendt’s condemnation of the contamination of law and history derives from her perception of the trial as an effect of trauma: The trial perceives Nazism as the monstrous culmination and as the traumatic repetition of a monumental history of anti-Semitism. But for Arendt this victim’s perspective, this traumatised perception of history as the eternal repetition of a catastrophe is numbing … A trial is supposed to be precisely a translation of the trauma into consciousness. But here the numbing trauma is mixed into the form of the trial itself. In litigating and in arguing the charges on the basis of a numbing repetition of catastrophe, Jewish historical consciousness – and the trial as a whole – submits to the effects of trauma instead of remedying it. History becomes the illustration of what is already known … In the Israeli vision of the trial, the monumental, analogical perception of the repetition of the trauma of antiSemitism screens the new – hides from view precisely the unprecedented nature of the Nazi crime, which is neither a development nor a culmination of what went before, but is separated from the history breaching it by an abyss.9 For Arendt, then, in Felman’s recounting of her argument, the contamination of law and history – through the victims’ repetition of traumatic meaning as return to the old anti-Semitism – in reality preserves neither the law nor history. It replaces a recognition of an adequate legal response to the Holocaust with the captive, entrapped vision of a return that is then, furthermore, co-opted by the Israeli state, which uses the anti-Semitic story as a particular (distorted) version of Zionist claims to return to the homeland as the central and in fact, the only legitimate representation of Judaism. Both justice and history can be preserved, however, only if the law preserves, in its own judging function, their respective discreteness, the clear-cut demarcation line between the two domains, the radical separation between the two disciplines and the two epistemologies. For Felman, in contrast, the inter-contamination of law and history, in the witnesses’ testimonies, precisely makes possible the remedial power of the law. This is because the victims’ stories, for her, are not returns to the old but rather attempts to translate an event that has not yet been articulated into a new form of speech: A victim is by definition not only one who is oppressed but also one who has no language of his own, one who, quite precisely, is robbed of a language with which to articulate his or her victimisation.10

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I will argue … that, in focusing on repetition and its limits in the Eichmann trial, Arendt fails to see the way in which the trial in effect does not repeat the victim’s story, but historically creates it for the first time. I submit, in other words, that the Eichmann trial legally creates a radically original and new event: not a rehearsal of a given story, but a groundbreaking narrative event that is itself historically and legally unprecedented.11 For Felman, in other words, the erasure of the victim, the trauma of the Holocaust, is defined by an erasure of language, an erasure that takes away the victim’s story. What is unprecedented in the event can only emerge or be known for the first time in the trial itself, which does not repeat an old story but creates a new one: The trial shows how the unprecedented nature of the injury inflicted on the victims cannot be simply stated in a language that is already at hand. I would argue that the trial struggles to create a new space, a language that is not yet in existence. This new legal language is created here perhaps for the first time in history precisely by the victims’ firsthand narrative.12 The trial (through the witnesses’ testimonies) testifies to the uniqueness of the Holocaust by creating the story of the event for the first time. Prior to the Eichmann trial, Felman argues, ‘what we call the Holocaust did not exist as a collective story’.13 What Arendt sees as the contamination of the law by history is thus for Felman the only form of translation of this history, whose articulation does not preexist the trial. The trial is thus in itself also a legal remedy of sorts: because it translates voicelessness into voice, and thus creates what Felman calls ‘a revolution in the victim’: It is this revolutionary transformation of the victim that makes the victim’s story happen for the first time, and happen as a legal act of authorship of history.14 *** If Arendt thus sees the Holocaust, from her political perspective, as a political annihilation and erasure of the human requiring a separate legal remedy, Felman sees the Holocaust as a linguistic erasure of the victims’ subjecthood that can only be remedied by re-possessing one’s own history and one’s own subjectivity through the instruments of law, and by recreating thus the language of the law as an original and revolutionary historical testimony.15 The act of justice emerges in the transmission (and transformation) of the historical event within the language of the trial. We might then suggest that

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Arendt’s question, as interpreted by Felman, ‘What does it mean for the law to restore human meaning and to recover language after the Holocaust?’ Becomes, in Felman’s own revised perspective, ‘How can a traumatic history give rise, within the law, to a meaningful story? How can the law transmit a traumatic history?’ And ‘What is the relation, in legal testimony and in general in the proceedings of the law, between trauma and justice?’

A Ghost in the House of Justice The first chapter devoted to the Eichmann Trial in The Juridical Unconscious— ‘Theaters of Justice: Arendt in Jerusalem, the Eichmann Trial and the Redefinition of Legal Meaning in the Wake of the Holocaust’ – thus focuses on the remedial powers of the law through its creation of a new collective speech. The Juridical Unconscious’ second chapter on the Eichmann trial – ‘A Ghost in the House of Justice: Death and the Language of the Law’, in contrast, focuses on one witness’s collapse into silence on the legal stage. The division between the two chapters dealing with the Eichmann trial in The Juridical Unconscious can thus be understood as a structural division between, on the one hand, the way in which the law illuminates the witnesses’ speech, and on the other hand, the way in which the law illuminates the witness’ silence. The second chapter starts abruptly with the narration of a surprising loss of voice and loss consciousness: A witness faints on the stand during the Eichmann trial. This chapter will explore the meaning of this unexpected legal moment, and will ask: Is the witness’s collapse relevant – and if so, in what sense – to the legal framework of the trial? How does this courtroom event affect the trial’s definition of legal meaning in the wake of the Holocaust? Under what circumstances and in what ways can the legal default of a witness constitute a legal testimony in its own right?16 Felman’s analysis here focuses on the memorable moment of the collapse on the witness stand of Yehiel Dinoor, who is rather known under the pseudonym ‘K-Zetnik’, as a notorious literary writer of bestselling autobiographical novels on the Holocaust. Dinoor had met Eichmann at Auschwitz and is brought on to testify for the prosecution as one of the central eyewitnesses of Eichmann in his Nazi role. But Dinoor collapses on the stand mid-speech. As Felman recounts the scene, the collapse occurs just after the witness has confirmed his legal name (Dinoor) and is asked to explain his selfimposed name as a writer, ‘K-Zetnik’, a pseudonym which designates ‘a concentration-camp inmate’ in general; ‘What is your full name?’, asked the presiding judge. ‘Yehiel Dinoor’ answered the witness. The prosecutor then proceeded: ‘What is the reason that you took the pen name K-Zetnik, Mr Dinoor?’ ‘It is not a pen name’, the witness began answering:

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I do not regard myself as a writer who writes literature. This is a chronicle from the planet of Auschwitz. I was there for about two years. Time there was different from what it is here on earth … And the inhabitants of that planet had no names … They did not live, nor did they die, in accordance with the laws of this world. Their names were the numbers ‘K-Zetnik so and so.’ … They left me, they kept leaving me, left … For close to two years they kept leaving me and always left me behind … I see them, they are watching me, I see them … At this point the prosecutor gently interrupted, ‘Mr. Dinoor, Could I perhaps put a few questions to you if you will consent?’ But Dinoor continues speaking [Felman points out], as a man plunged in hallucination: ‘I see them, I saw them standing in the line … ’ Thereupon the presiding judge matter-of-factly intervened, ‘Mr. Dinoor, please, please listen to Mr Hausner; wait a minute, now you listen to me!’ The haggard witness vacantly got up and without a warning collapsed into a faint, slumping to the floor beside the witness stand.17 Taking this scene as a central symbolic moment of the proceedings, Felman argues that this collapse of the witness and this unexpected breakdown of speech is, nevertheless, highly significant to the unfolding legal meaning of the trial. It is not, paradoxically, the witness’s mere speech, but the collapse of this speech into silence that operates here as the central site of a possible new mode for rethinking legal testimony. If in Felman’s first chapter on the trial and her first confrontation with Arendt, then, the collective testimonies of the witnesses appear to her as new and revolutionary voices, here it is the muteness and the silence of the fainted witness – and the dramatic, speechless intervention of his unconscious body on the legal stage – that will create an unexpected testimonial power. The possibility of justice – and of testimony – thus occurs through a point of disruption of the law that explodes the framework of the trial and assumes meaning precisely in exceeding and interrupting the trial’s legal frame.

Silent History Felman’s insight here one might argue, also emerges out of the confrontaton with Arendt, who had, as Felman acknowledged in the previous chapter, recognized the emergence of trauma in the midst of the trial, but had seen this trauma as the repetition of the old, the repeating of the same stories in the name of victimhood and the screening of the political, historial reality of the unprecedented event. For K-Zetnik, Arendt indeed “reserves her most caustic … humor,” Felman notes, describing him as one of the most selfinvolved Jewish witnesses and theatrically and narcissistically involved with

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his own self-presentation. His dramatic and self-dramatizing collapse, which block the prosecution’s ability to move forward with questions, stages for Arendt the general misfire of the prosecution’s strategy of using witness testimony (and a general misfire between the law and trauma). Felman will argue, however, against Arendt, that the collapse of K-Zetnik is not the repetition of victimhood as the same (and the known), as a speech of victimhood that covers over the newness of the event, but rather as the trauatic return of silence as the reenactment of a true historical erasure. Indeed, Felman recasts K-Zetnik’s collapse not as a theatrical staging of woundedness (as Arendt would have it) but rather as a moment of actual retraumatization caused by the calling out, in the middle of his story of Auschwitz and the meaning of his self-given camp name, his official name, as a call to order: The witness is not ‘deeply wounded’ but is re-traumatised. The trial reenacts the trauma … when the judge admonishes Dinoor from the authoritarian position of the bench, coercing him into a legal mode of discourse and demanding his cooperation as a witness, K-Zetnik undergoes severe traumatic shock in re-experiencing the same terror and panic that dumbfounded him each time when, as an inmate, he was suddenly confronted by the inexorable Nazi authorities of Auschwitz … The call to order by the judge … impacts the witness physically as an invasive call to order by an SS officer. Once more, the imposition of a heartless and unbending rule of order violently robs him of his words and, in reducing him to silence, once more threatens to annihilate him, to erase his essence as a human witness. Panicked, K-Zetnik loses consciousness.18 The sudden fainting of K-Zetnik on the witness stand, his collapse from speech to silence, is, for Felman, not a staging of what is known, but rather the re-enactment of a moment that cannot be known, the re-enactment, on the witness stand and through the legal interrogation, of the experience of human erasure at Auschwitz. The admonishing, raised voice of the judge ‘violently robs him of his words and once more threatens to annihilate him, to erase his essence as a human witness’. The trial at this moment thus unwittingly repeats the erasure of witness – the erasure of the human being as a speaking being and as a conscious witness to the event – an erasure that in Felman’s analysis constituted the very ungraspable essence of the Holocaust event. The erasure of the human through the trial as such makes history erupt into the courtroom not as an individual testimony but as the trial’s own testimonial re-enactment of the event. It is indeed this re-enactment of erasure on the level of the trial, rather than simply on the level of the individual human being that for Felman (I would argue) has important legal and historical significance. For what repeats the trauma here is not simply K-Zetnik’s own intrusive re-

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experiencing of the past but rather what Felman calls, more largely, the ‘missed encounter’ between the legal language of the law (represented by the prosecutor and the judge) and K-Zetnik’s traumatised language, a missed encounter that constitutes a break in the legal framework of the trial. KZetnik’s fainting interposes both silence and the sight of his lifeless body on the legal stage of the court, and in this interruption not only K-Zetnik but the courtroom, and indeed the law itself, are caught by history: The fainting that cuts through the witness’s speech and petrifies his body interrupts the legal process and creates a moment that is legally traumatic not just for the witness, but also chiefly for the court and for the audience of the trial. I argue in effect that, in the rupture of the witness’s lapse into a coma, it is the law itself that for a moment loses consciousness. But it is through this breakdown of the legal framework that history emerges in the courtroom and, in the legal body of the witness, exhibits its own inadvertently dramatic (non–discursive) rules of evidence. It is precisely through this break of consciousness of law that history unwittingly and mutely, yet quite resonantly, memorably speaks.19 It is the unconsciousness of the law, and not just the unconsciousness of K–Zetnik that brings history onto the legal stage, as a disruption of the legal framework and as a silent (and visible) re-enactment in the courtroom. It is in this legal trauma of the trial, moreover, that the history of the Holocaust emerges in its essential relation to the collapse – and reconstitution – of justice. In the Holocaust, Felman suggests, justice itself was structured like a trauma: the collapse of justice that constituted the event is reenacted within the trial in the attempt and failure of the legal testimony to bear witness to Auschwitz. And as such the trial, in its momentary failure, reveals both the essence of the trauma as constituted by this judicial collapse, and the essence of this history in the entanglement of trial and trauma. It is this traumatic entanglement of law and history that also makes possible, however, the reconstitution of a new language of justice. Because in the scene of the writer’s collapse and in the physical collapse of his testimonial speech, the trial inadvertently enables silence to enter the framework of the law and to explode its containing space, the collapse makes possible the act of witness of those who speak. Because the law (in the form of the trial) bears witness to silence in the breaking of its own frame, the individual witnesses can come to speak, and do justice to history, within the trial. In response to Arendt, Felman’s complex argument, I would suggest, can therefore be summed up by the following four major points: (1) what enters the trial at the moment of collapse is a legal trauma that does not repeat (as Arendt feels) the already known, but rather repeats itself traumatically as not yet known: the Holocaust continues to occur on the site of the trial itself; (2) what

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thus repeats itself is not only an individual trauma but also the trauma of the law itself, the erasure of the law and of the legal human being re-enacting itself as a core element of the Holocaust event (in this sense the trial is itself part of the Holocaust event, whose consequences and effects are not yet over); (3) because the trauma is thus already in some sense legal, the trial can and must be the site of its repetition; (4) because in this writer’s collapse the trial enables silence to enter the framework of the law, and to explode the law’s containing space, the collapse makes possible the act of witness of those who do speak: because the law (in the form of the trial) bears witness to silence in the breaking of its own frame, individual witnesses can come to speak within the trial.

Departure This repetition, Felman notes, is not indeed a repetition of the same, a return to an old story (or place). Noting K-Zetnik’s last words before he faints, Felman locates at the heart of the testimonial moment no longer a return but the reenactment of a departure: Prior to his fainting spell [Felman observes], at the point where the prosecutor interrupts him, K-Zetnik tries to define Auschwitz by re-envisaging the terrifying moment of Selection, of repeated weekly separation between inmates chosen for an imminent extermination and inmates arbitrarily selected for life. This moment is ungraspable, the witness tries to say: And the inhabitants of that planet had no names. They had neither parents nor children … They did not live, nor did they die, in accordance with the laws of this world. Their names were their numbers … They left me, they kept leaving me, left … for close to two years they left me and always left me behind … I see them they are watching me, I see them What K-Zetnik keeps reliving of the death camp [Felman proceeds to analyse] is the moment of departure, the last gaze of the departed, the exchange of looks between the dying and the living at the very moment in which life and death are separating but are still tied up together and can for the last time see each other eye to eye.20 The moment of departure of the survivor separating from those who are about to be exterminated, the uncanny legal moment in which K-Zetnik reenacts his farewell to the departing – his leave-taking from the dead – is also, I would argue, a moment of K-Zetnik’s own departure from the concentration camp into the singular moment of the trial. The event of erasure, we might say, repeats itself and, as it were, departs into the trial through the witness and in his very collapse. ***

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The emergence of the story of the trial through the trial’s fall back into silence leads to several new and urgent questions. How do we understand the translation of silence into speech in this traumatic legal moment? In what ways do Felman’s psychoanalytic understanding of the repetition of the trauma of the Holocaust within the Eichmann trial as the return of a traumatizing legal erasure and Arendt’s political understanding of the legal and political erasure experienced by the victims of totalitarianism (an understanding not explicitly articulated in her trial report but formulated elsewhere and underlying all her political thought) meet around this relation between speech and silence? What can the encounter of Arendt’s and Felman’s interpretations of the trial tell us about the possibility of rethinking the Holocaust, not through the opposition, but on the contrary, through the encounter, of the political and the traumatic: of trauma theories and of political theories taken together?

II Mute Witness Grief and Justice: Arendt’s Mute Testimony Felman does not aim at exploring this conceptual combination in her deliberate argument, but she does begin to approach it, I would argue, when she proposes to read a silent subtext in Arendt’s book, which will ‘show how Arendt’s legal narrative in Eichmann in Jerusalem unwittingly encapsulates not only the reporter’s critical account, but also the thinker’s own (erased) artistic testimony and the writer’s own traumatic narrative’.21 This silent narrative begins to emerge through a different aspect of Arendt’s relation to K-Zetnik, not simply her sarcastic dismissal of his self-dramatisation and her unsentimental, distant laughter at the legal absurdity of the whole situation, but rather the specific way in which the witness’s collapse re-enacts a ‘failure of narration’ that, in Arendt’s eyes, defeats the logic and the purpose of the trial. Commenting on this scene of unexpected interruption of K-Zetnik’s story, Arendt writes: ‘This, to be sure, was an exception, but if it was an exception that proved the rule of normality, it did not prove the rule of simplicity or of ability to tell a story’.22 Arendt generalizes the collapse of the witness as an allegory of the obstacles to narration the trial comes up against: K-Zetnik’s abnormality as a witness is an exception, Arendt concedes, but the exception that proves the rule (of normality): the fact that ‘normal’ testimonies in this trial (witnesses who did not collapse) also lacked ‘simplicity’ or adherence to a strict factual narrative linearity, and ‘did not prove’ – fell short of – the ‘ability to tell’, which for Arendt is the basis for a valid testimony. During this period of their common French exile, Walter Benjamin authored the famous essay entitled ‘The Storyteller’, which Arendt published posthumously and redeemed from forgetfulness many years later

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in the United States. In Felman’s vision, the implicit and perhaps unconscious reference to the storyteller in Eichmann in Jerusalem also reenacts unwittingly Benjamin’s spiritual legacy, and everything that is symbolised, in Arendt and for Arendt, by the mute wound of his loss and of his death. Behind the concept of the storyteller, Felman suggests, the unnamed shadow of Benjamin projects itself over the critically illuminated pages of the book as Arendt’s own subterranean and mute testimony, indirectly bearing witness to the wound of her personal loss of her friend (his life, his human warmth, his future insight) to Nazi persecution, this unnamed name embodying the line of death that she has crossed, embodying her own dead self, her own unnamed yet implicitly present, silenced personal heartache and trauma. Felman’s far-reaching and intuitive analysis grows out of an attempt to unpack the density and the incisiveness of Arendt’s comment on K-Zetnik: As an exception that confirms the rule of normality – that is, as a symbol of the legal abnormality of the trial as a whole – Arendt faults K-Zetnik for his inability to tell a story and thus to testify coherently. ‘Who says what is … always tells a story, and in this story the particular facts lose their contingency and acquire some humanly comprehensible meaning’, Arendt will write in ‘Truth and Politics’, doubtless remembering unconsciously the unforgettable essay called ‘The Storyteller’ written by her dead friend Walter Benjamin, whose name she will in 1968 – five years after the Eichmann book – redeem from anonymity and namelessness by publishing his work in the United States, but whose lost friendship she will silently mourn all her life as an intimate grievance, a wordless wound, a personal price that she herself has secretly paid to the Holocaust. I hear [says Felman] a reference to ‘The Storyteller’ in the conclusion of Arendt’s account of K-Zetnik’s testimony: ‘It did not prove the rule of simplicity or of ability to tell a story’.23 Ironically enough, Felman points out, Arendt’s ironic insight into K-Zetnik’s inability to tell a story also reflects back on Arendt’s own mute (unintended, unarticulated) testimony, in linguistically inscribing her own pain, her unhealed grief over a story she in turn cannot tell, of her loss of her dear friend, the profound German Jewish thinker and literary critic Walter Benjamin. Benjamin committed suicide in 1940 while caught at the border between France and Spain, in his attempt to exit France illegally (like Arendt) in order to escape the Nazis and emigrate to the United States (like Arendt). Felman attempts to show how Benjamin’s own work on, and insight into, the silence of the traumatised returning veterans of World War One (in his article ‘The Storyteller’ is passed on unconsciously into Arendt’s reading of the trauma of the Second World War, and inscribes itself in her own

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language about the Eichmann trial, particularly in her comments about the need for storytelling and her recognition of the failure of narration and this lapse back into silence in K-Zetnik’s case. Arendt’s legal critique – her political reading of the trial – thus contains within it an indirect and unintended personal testimonial element, inscribing at once the trauma of Benjamin’s death, and the survival of his thought, within her book. In the wake of Benjamin’s insight into storytelling as a narrative deriving its authority from death, and in the wake of Benjamin’s own death, whose presence Felman reads as the emotional subtext of Arendt’s book, Felman thus asks, offering perhaps her most surprising insight into Eichmann in Jerusalem: Has Arendt in her turn borrowed her authority as a storyteller of the trial from a legacy of death of which she does not speak and cannot speak? I would suggest indeed that … Eichmann in Jerusalem is also Arendt’s book of mourning. It is, in other words, a book – an unarticulated statement – on the relation between grief and justice, as well as on the counterparts of grief and justice in narrative and storytelling … both the Eichmann trial and Arendt’s critical rehearsal of it are preoccupied – albeit in different styles – with the translation of grief into justice. Both are therefore mirror images of the translation of grief into grievance … There is, in other words, a crucial story Arendt does not tell and cannot tell that underlies the story of the trial she does tell.24 Felman thus suggests that the ‘testimonial muteness underlying (and exceeding) Arendt’s legal story’ in fact ‘re-enacts, ironically enough, the literary muteness of K-Zetnik’s story’.25 If we go along with Felman, we might argue, indeed that in Arendt’s own mute testimony (as Felman reads it), the erased victim of the Holocaust – whom Arendt would keep out of the trial – re-emerges in the form of Benjamin. Arendt, Felman says, wishes to turn the grief into justice by means of legal speech. Arendt would rather not display grief on the public stage. She faults the prosecutor and his witness for their exhibitionism of grief. She faults the trial for its inadequate translation of grief into strict legal language. Felman has a slightly different take on this central question of the relation between grief and justice: I would argue differently from Arendt that it was the inadvertent legal essence and legal innovation and uniqueness of the Eichmann trial, and not its testimonial accident, to voice the muteness generated by the Holocaust and to articulate the difficulty of articulation of the catastrophic story, the difficulty of articulation and the tragic unnarratability of the ungraspable disaster and its immeasurably devastating, unintelligible trauma. The impossibility of telling is not external to this story: it is the story’s heart. The trial shows

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how the inherent inability to tell the story is itself an integral part of the history and of the story of the Holocaust. The function of the trial thus becomes precisely to articulate the impossibility of telling through the legal process and to convert this narrative impossibility into legal meaning..26 Felman poses her argument in opposition to Arendt’s argument, but her understanding of the relation between speech and silence in fact grows out of Arendt’s reading of the trial, and out of the way in which a testimony arises through and behind Arendt‘s own muteness. I would further suggest that in her reading – and her conceptual highlighting – of the testimonial ‘relation between grief and justice’ in Arendt’s text, Felman implicitly links Arendt’s testimony with the untold traumatic story of the erased legal subject that lies somewhere behind (although not explicitly within) Arendt’s reading of the trial, and that constitutes the underlying basis for her political understanding of the Holocaust and of its legal remedy. Felman’s reading thus begins to point, implicitly, towards an unconscious element of the political theory itself.

Between Two Languages: Felman’s Mute Testimony I would suggest that Felman’s own text, moreover, also has a silent subtext, and in its turn bears mute testimony through Felman’s reading and critique of Arendt’s text; and that this excess of the argument in the insight and in the layers of sensitivity of Felman’s text creates as yet another perspective and another vantagepoint which compel us to take view of political theory and of trauma theory at the same time, and to articulate the two disciplines together. By looking at what resonates behind Felman’s text, we can begin to understand why Felman’s discussion of the Eichmann trial divides itself into two separate chapters. This duality of chapters – the articulation of the split between the chapters – can itself take place, I will suggest, only through a story, and it is in this new silent story that a possible meeting of the political and the traumatic can perhaps begin to take shape. Felman’s response to the stories of departure and linguistic muteness in Arendt’s relation to Benjamin’s story in fact echo, I will show, her own responses to Arendt’s story. Her most resonant response to Arendt, she has told me in an interview she gave me on this topic, took place when she read Arendt’s autobiographical account of the linguistic displacements in her life, entailed by her forced exile and departure from Germany upon the Nazis’ rise to power, six years prior to the actual outbreak of the war. Arendt’s account is narrated in an interview with Günter Gaus that took place in 1964, shortly after Arendt returned to Germany for the first time since the end of the Second World War.27 In response to Gaus’s question concerning what remains for her now of prewar Europe, Arendt replies:

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The Europe of the pre-Hitler period? I do not long for that, I can tell you. What remains? The language remains … I have always consciously refused to lose my mother tongue. I have always maintained a certain distance from French, which I then spoke very well, as well as from English, which I write today … I write in English, but I have never lost a feeling of distance from it. There is a tremendous difference between your mother tongue and another language … The German language is the essential thing that has remained and that I have always consciously preserved.28 ‘I have always been moved by this moment of the interview with Gaus’, Felman says. ‘Arendt’s fear of losing the mother tongue, her split between her mother tongue and the other languages she speaks and writes so fluently and with such eloquence is also a split in her life, which represents her fractured history as well as a gap among her languages, a gap that embodies an impossible split between the German side of her, which she continues to preserve and secretly treasure through the language that she intimately speaks with her husband and her German friends, and the Jewish side of her, which henceforth defines the remainder of her life and determines her political thinking, her political understanding of herself and of the world subsequent to the Second World War.’29 Felman’s response to Arendt’s ‘untold story’ of Benjamin’s death as an unredeemed, perennially illegal Jew, her resonance with Arendt’s muted evocation of Benjamin’s aborted departure from Occupied France embodying his failure to escape as a rightless, stateless person from his deadly entrapment in Nazi Europe, the subtext for which is also the untold story of Arendt’s own successful illegal departure from Germany and France and her successful emigration to, and citizenship in, the United States, speaks to Felman – testifies for Felman – who can hear and give voice to this muted testimony with the power of insight afforded by her own life. Felman’s insight into Arendt’s muted pathos inadvertently encapsulates, I would suggest, Felman’s own mute testimony and muted story, parallel to Arendt’s. Not by coincidence, Felman recognises Arendt’s source of insight in the suppressed pathos and the silent underlying story of a Jewish woman who had left at once her homeland and her native tongue. Arendt’s story of linguistic departure, I would insist, however, is also the story of a political refugee of the Holocaust: Arendt’s complex geography is a political geography with a political significance, including the significant geographical move of Arendt’s journey to Jerusalem to cover the Eichmann trial. Arendt’s life itinerary is the story not only of her personal and linguistic but also of her political experience. Arendt understood quite early the significance of the Nazis’ rise to power. As a German Jew helping the resistance and caught by the Gestapo, Arendt had left Germany in 1933, narrowly escaping incarceration, and crossed the border illegally into

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France, where for a while she worked for a Zionist organization helping to bring Jewish children to Palestine. It is in Paris, during this French exile that she met at once her German Jewish friend and colleague, the thinker and writer Walter Benjamin, and her non-Jewish future husband Heinrich Bluecher, another persecuted German who had to flee his native country not by virtue of his race but because of his political Communist affiliation. Arendt’s Parisian bonding to these two stateless Parisian friends and fellow German refugees must have preserved for her a vital human and linguistic link to her German past and to the high German culture she left behind, during a period in which all three of them daily converse also in French, the language of the substitute country that took them in and gave them refuge. As mentioned earlier, following this French stay Arendt emigrates to the United States, where she quite soon acquires in addition to her fluent French, a new and quite amazing English language fluency, and where, after a few years, she writes and publishes – in English – her seminal book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, a work that, in proposing an original political analysis of Nazi and Stalinist regimes, also tells the story of the twentiethcentury creation of the stateless and the rightless: the key political story of the erasure of the legal subject under totalitarian regimes. It is by virtue of her growing reputation as a published author and as a noted political and cultural journalist, thinker and critic in the United States that Arendt is engaged by the New Yorker to travel on behalf of the magazine from America to Israel, to cover the Eichmann trial held in Jerusalem and to report back from Jerusalem on this high profile trial to the civilised world and to an audience of intellectual Americans. However, Arendt’s journey to Jerusalem from the United States with the public mission of an American reporter must have also signified for her a private attempt to account for the Nazi crimes and account for what happened to her, as a Jew and as a German. But she is deeply ambivalent about the Jewish state, which in her eyes is overly nationalistic, and fails to restrain its power (creating more stateless people in the Palestinians). She is contemptuous of the Jewish prosecution, headed by an Eastern European (Ostjuden) Polish Jew, so complacent in his Eastern European pathos, which for Arendt equals false sentimentality, so unlike the high German culture and the elegant restraint of the German Jewish judges, who remind her of her homeland. Indeed, Arendt’s privileging of the judges’ strict adherence to the law over the prosecution’s criticised contamination of the law with political motives also takes the form of a sardonic and ascerbic criticism of the linguistic follies of the state – which cannot even properly translate the testimonies into unmutilated German – and the linguistic prowess of the judges who do not deign to ‘pretend to need the Hebrew’ to pose questions to Eichmann but speak to him directly in a fluent native German, thus bypassing the translator and the earphones. Eichmann’s banality, as well, is characterised

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by Arendt by his clichéd and empty use of the German language, and by his vacuous adoption of bureaucratic Nazi jargon in the place of any language of expression or responsibility or any message of his own. In a sense, then, Arendt, as an expatriated German Jew, goes to Jerusalem to seek, among the state of the Jews, both justice and a reckoning that would enable her to account for her own departure, but finds herself instead angry at the Jewish state and inadvertently valorizing the German language and the culture she had left behind. In Jerusalem, she seeks Israeli justice in an unconscious hope to repair and to redeem not just the trauma of her Jewish origin, but the trauma of her lost German origin as well: an impossible conjunction whose contradictions are experienced by her in the split between her approval of the law as a higher universal language and principle of justice and her disapproval of the particularist style of the justice machine of the Jewish state. The rupture of the Holocaust, which for Arendt is a rupture of the political as such, is inadvertently enacted – re-enacted – throughout her visit to Jerusalem and throughout her act of witness to the trial, in what she experiences frustratingly as an impossible return to Israel, unwittingly dramatised for her in the split within the trial between politics and law, and between German and Jewish languages. The grief that Felman reads in Arendt’s personal relation to Benjamin’s aborted departure from Nazi Europe is therefore also Arendt’s own mute narrative of grief, in her own impossible separation from the Europe (and the native Germany) she had left behind, her own impossible split as both German and Jew. At the site of this split two ruptured stories come together: Arendt’s personal journey and the political catastrophe that shadows, though it does not quite overtake, her life. This is, in other words, not simply (as Felman reads it and conceptualizes it) a story of the relation between grief and justice, but also, I would argue, a story of the complex relation between grief and politics.

The Meeting of Two Perspectives While Arendt, the German Jewish refugee who has become a U.S. citizen and a reputed American author and professor, travels to Jerusalem through the trial, Felman, equally a well-known university professor in the United States and a world-reputed author, goes back to the trial, and hence to Jerusalem, through Arendt. Originally, Felman was confronted with the Eichmann trial in its real-time historical occurrence through the daily broadcasts of the proceedings over Israeli radio. But she was very young then, and not terribly impressed by it. As an adult however – living and teaching many years later in the United States – Felman revisits the trial through Arendt’s book (in English) and, having also watched, in parallel, documentary films of the trial and reviewed some of the live videotaped testimonies, which this time affect her deeply, feels compelled to respond to

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Arendt’s criticism. While her thematic, theoretical response takes place primarily as a critique of Arendt’s argument against the Israeli prosecution – that is, as a defence of the vision of the prosecution and of the judgment of the Israeli court – there is also, as I have suggested, a different kind of motivation – an unconscious existential resonance with Arendt’s own unconscious, untold story – that permeates and inadvertently steers Felman’s own writing. Shoshana Felman was born in Israel to a family of European origin for whom departure and return had already taken on a powerful linguistic significance: her maternal grandfather had moved the family at the beginning of the twentieth century (before the First World War), from Russia to Palestine, insisting (having made an oath) that from the point they set foot on Israeli soil they were to speak nothing but Hebrew. (Hebrew was then not a living, spoken language, but a language of the scriptures that was mastered only by a few enlightened, educated Jews who could read and write it. The oath to speak with one’s own family only Hebrew when the family members naturally knew and spoke only their native tongue, was a political decision to participate in a then revolutionary effort towards the revival of the Hebrew language, its transformation from a dead to a living, spoken language that would be able to assume its role as the national language of the Jews). But, like Arendt, Felman in her turn leaves her homeland and the language she was raised in, Hebrew, not as a political Jewish refugee, but as an Israeli Jew choosing to go to Europe to pursue her education. In geographical parallel to Arendt’s itinerary, Felman also lands in France, where she completes her advanced literary degree and is born as a writer and a literary critic, writing with complete French fluency on French authors and thinkers, contributing to French periodicals and publishing her first three books in France, versed in the culture and the language she has existentially absorbed and emotionally and intellectually assimilated as a second native tongue. Like Arendt, however, Felman eventually leaves France for the United States, where she joins an academic French Department and continues her reflection and research on French literature, French thought and French psychoanalysis, although she now begins to write in English. In this shift of languages (and continents), her first book, published originally in the United States and written originally in English, is a study of the psychoanalytic language of a French theoretician: Jacques Lacan and the Adventure of Insight: Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Thought (1987). It is not, however, until her 1992 book, Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History – co-authored with an American–Israeli psychoanalyst, Dori Laub and focusing on the relation between speech and trauma through a study of testimony in literary and cinematic responses to the Holocaust – that Felman will first write on Jewish history. What she finds in Jewish history as she returns to it is a collapse of and demand for witness.

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But it is only ten years later, when she writes on Hannah Arendt and the Eichmann trial, in the last two chapters of her 2002 book, The Juridical Unconscious that Felman’s writing – for the first time ever – turns back upon her homeland, Israel. Like Arendt, she writes about her homeland not in her native tongue but in the cultural language of her second country of adoption, the United States: like Arendt, she writes in English, and looks back at the Jewish question through the mediation of her American and European perspectives and her American and European identities. Felman’s theoretical work on witness will eventually, then, return her, in writing, although not in her native tongue, to Israel. But at this site – the site of the law – she will discover a collapse of consciousness and a call for justice. It is through this discovery that she articulates the possibility of a mute testimony – a testimony linked essentially to an unspoken and, to a certain extent, unspeakable (traumatic) history. Felman, Israeli-born, whose life and education passed through France to the United States and who now lives and writes in the United States, thus returns to her homeland in her thought and in her writing, through her encounter with the German Jewish refugee who is seeking, in the trial in Jerusalem, an answer to her own past. Where Arendt inadvertently and silently encounters, in the trial, a split in her own story – a mute story of political erasure and of exile and loss, from which her powerful political insight and political thought emerges – Felman will consciously articulate a theory of historical trauma and of its legal remedy through justice, by analysing the unconscious impact of the trauma on the conscious dealings and proceedings of the law. Felman’s insight into trauma, I would argue, as developed in her discussion of the Eichmann trial and in her theoretical highlighting of the relation of traumatic history to justice, could not itself emerge in its full conceptual scope, outside her own reading of and her own unconscious resonance with, the silent story that lies behind Arendt’s critique of the trial, thus, speaking of Arendt’s relation to Benjamin, Felman thus begins, unconsciously, to tell of her own relation to Arendt, a story that links the displacement and survival of each writer (the successful escape of Arendt from Nazi Germany and her arrival first in France and then in America; the story of the Felman’s academic success in arriving in France and in America; the larger success of the Jews in returning to the state of Israel, which is at once Felman’s homeland and the place at which each woman thinker symbolically arrives in writing about the trial) with a story of departure that cannot be fully contained by the personal successes or by the theoretical articulations that characterize and crown each writer’s life and work. In this encounter between Arendt and Felman, then, not only do two personal stories meet — the story of the German refugee and the story of the Israeli who left Israel, each meeting outside their homelands and outside their mother tongues on the site of the trial of a Nazi perpetrator in Jerusalem

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– but also two bodies of theoretical thought: the political work of Hannah Arendt, originating in an insight into the political predicament of the stateless and the rightless through the annihilation of the legal person under totalitarian regimes; and the psychoanalytic and literary theory of testimony of Shoshana Felman, an insight into trauma and an illumination of the traumatic history of genocide. I would propose that, while Arendt herself explicitly shunned psychoanalysis, and did not focus her work on trauma, and while Felman is not explicitly and not primarily a political thinker but is rather a literary thinker and critic who focuses on psychoanalysis, trauma and testimony, the coming together of these two writers around the reading of this trial suggests a coincidence of these two dimensions, which need precisely to be read together. Felman’s reading of Arendt permits us to glimpse not only the personal, unconscious testimony to trauma that Arendt carries into her writing, but also, potentially, an unconsciousness within her political theory: Felman permits us to read in Arendt a theory that testifies to (although it does not articulate it as such) a political unconscious at work in the elimination of the political human being at the heart of the totalitarian system. Felman’s writing about Arendt’s personal trauma opens up onto a political trauma inscribed in Arendt’s writing. At the same time, Arendt’s work – reread through Felman and through what I have analysed as the unconscious resonance between their stories – points, potentially, to a political dimension within Felman’s own theory that permeates her understanding of the juridical unconscious. The political erasure of the human as Arendt thinks it through her work on totalitarianism, and the traumatic erasure of witness as Felman thinks it through her work on testimony, thus meet at the point of the law through their different visions of the trial in Jerusalem, where a key witness dramatically collapses on the witness stand, where the trial inadvertently testifies through its collapse of witness, and where nevertheless new stories of the Holocaust emerge and are articulated for the first time. While neither woman writer explicitly conceptualizes this coincidence, it is in this meeting of concepts, I would argue, that a certain future of thinking history and memory might take place.30

Justice and Writing As a critic of Arendt’s position, Felman comes to Arendt’s text as a defender of the legal vision of the State of Israel and of the stance of the Israeli prosecution. But in the very process of defending the Israeli positions in the trial, Felman hears in Arendt’s text an untold story and reads a subtext, a silenced layer of grief, an indirect testimony through which Arendt’s analysis of the trial becomes ‘a book of mourning’. Felman thus receives from Arendt’s speech a testimony that others have not heard and have not

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received. Felman, Israeli-born, in a certain sense attempting to return to her own lost history and her own lost homeland through her defence of the trial, ends up giving voice to the German Jewish refugee attempting to find, in the trial, the answer to her own split heritage and to the trauma inscribed in the gap between her languages: a linguistic split and cultural gap, which Felman intuitively recognises and with which, from a different position, she unconsciously identifies. In hearing this mute testimony, and in granting Arendt’s dissident thought the status of a creative and important participant in the legacy of the trial, Felman thus speaks for something unspoken, buried and erased in Arendt’s writing, and makes us see and hear Arendt’s own erased, restrained pathos and silenced grief, counteracting also the event of the book’s later silencing in the history of its repressive, falsifying, simplifying and reductive reception. This dimension of external and internal, selfimposed silencing related to Arendt’s work would have to be understood, I argue, both in terms of Arendt’s own understanding of political erasure and annihilation, and of Felman’s own concept of erasure (the erasure of the witness and the erasure of the human, notions that carry over, as we have seen, from Felman’s earlier book – Testimony – to The Judicial Unconscious). In giving voice to the erased, and in hearing what the text inscribes as muteness, the American–Israeli thinker of trauma and testimony does justice to the American–German refugee and Jewish exile, as well as to the political critic and political thinker’s text, in an entirely new and surprising manner that bears witness, I would argue, both to the trauma of Arendt’s past and to the experience of erasure at the heart of her political thought. This justice emerges, however, not only from the transference of the story of erasure from Arendt’s political experience (and perspective) to Felman’s psychoanalytic experience (and perspective), but also in the groundbreaking insight that occurs at this point of communication in the work of the two women, in the innovative theoretical understanding to which each of them gives rise. Both thinkers create new theoretical concepts out of their parallel (although different) cultural, biographical, historical and linguistic experiences. Both initiate new thinking at the very site of collective historical and political trauma. For Arendt, this creativity results in a new political theory; for Felman, in a new type of psychoanalytic or psychoanalytically inspired theory, including the new larger psychoanalytic vision of the relation between law and trauma, and the invention of the concept – the new conceptualisation – of the juridical unconscious. Both thinkers are, in this sense revolutionary: both bear witness to what is erased (or what remains unheard) in history through the very way in which they revolutionize their fields. Neither theory, however, is completely conscious of the full implications of its insight. Neither is completely articulated as a self-enclosed system of thought. It is precisely in the ways in which the theoretical work of each author carries traces of what within the theory remains unspoken –

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and in the ways in which the two bodies of work unwittingly illuminate each other – that the truly revolutionary potential of each thinker, I would argue, begins to emerge.31 The newness and the power of Felman’s work on trauma and testimony is thus recreated, I would suggest – and done justice to in its own way – through its encounter with Arendt’s political thought. A certain form of justice takes place between the two writings. It is this form of justice that the present essay tried to underscore and to bring out. Felman hears trauma in Arendt’s political thought and helps bring to life an unseen dimension of Arendt’s thought. Likewise, I believe, a reading of the notion of traumatic testimony as proposed by Felman, in the light of Arendt’s notion of political erasure, could teach us about the as yet un-grasped dimensions of traumatic pasts. The meeting of the two writers – and of the two bodies of thought – thus does justice in a new way to history itself. In this meeting, and in the testimony that this meeting gives us, I propose, we might also see a possible pathway towards the study of trauma and politics together. The understanding of such a notion and of such an opportunity of justice lies, however, in the future to which the event of this encounter – and of the political and traumatic relations to history – will have transmitted its as yet uncharted historical testimony.

Notes 1. Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub. 1992. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History, New York and London: Routledge. For explicit discussion of the ‘crisis of witnessing’ see for example pp. 200–201 and 206. 2. See Shoshana Felman. 2002. The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge, MA and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1, and more generally pp. 1–9 and their relative explanatory notes, pp. 171–82. 3. See Hannah Arendt. 1963. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, New York and London: Penguin Books, especially p. 252. The topic of the banality of evil is discussed in Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, Chapter 3, ‘Theaters of Justice: Arendt in Jerusalem, the Eichmann Trial, and the Redefinition of Legal Meaning in the Wake of the Holocaust’, especially pp. 107–10. 4. On the erasure of the concept of the human being see Arendt to Jaspers in Lotte Kohler and Hans Saner (eds) Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers, Correspondence: 1926–1969, (trans. Robert and Rita Kimber), quoted in Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 108. With regard to the annihilation and eradication of political groups and individuals, see Hannah Arendt. 1951. The Origins of Totalitarianism, San Diego, New York and London: Harcourt, especially Chapter 9 and the chapters that follow. Arendt suggests that in totalitarian states there is first the killing of the

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5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.

28. 29. 30.

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juridical person in man, then the murder of the moral person, then the killing of man’s individuality (pp. 447, 451 and 454 respectively), terminologically defined as the murder of the moral person, the annihilation of the juridical person and the destruction of the individuality (p. 455). The groups upon whom this is perpetrated tend originally to be the groups of those who (after WWI) have become stateless and rightless, although in the world of terror other groups or persons become included. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 107–8. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 108. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 108. See Felman, Juridical Unconscious, 112, discussing Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, 19. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 121–32. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 125. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 123. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 123. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 127. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 126. Felman uses the notion of ‘erasure’ in her book Testimony (1992) as well as in The Juridical Unconscious (2002) to describe what happens to the witness during the Holocaust. This is juxtaposed, I will argue, in Felman’s reading of Arendt, with Arendt’s notion of the killing, murder or annihilation of the individual (or group) as a political, legal and individual subject in totalitarian regimes. One of the interesting questions raised by the encounter of the two writers is the way in which Felman’s notion of erasure can shed light on Arendt’s notion of annihilation and vice versa. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 131. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 136. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 146. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 146. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 147–8. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 156. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, 224; quoted and discussed in Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 158 ff. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 157. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 158. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 160. Felman, The Juridical Unconscious, 159. H. Arendt. 2000. ‘What Remains? The Language Remains:’ A Conversation with Günter Gaus, in Peter Baehr (ed.) The Portable Hannah Arendt, New York and London: Penguin Books, pp. 3–24. Arendt, ‘What Remains? The Language Remains:’, 12–13. Interview of Shoshana Felman by Cathy Caruth. (To be published) Felman and Arendt meet in another way as well, I would suggest, although this story must be taken slightly beyond the narration provided by Felman, in what remains unaddressed in her text on the trial and on Arendt, the post-trial history of the reception of Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. When Arendt’s trial reports came out (first in the New Yorker then in book form in 1963), Arendt was

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vehemently attacked, in particular by the American Jewish community, as well as by Israeli circles and by Jewish friends around the world. (On the controversy triggered by Eichmann in Jerusalem see for example Elisabeth Young–Bruehl. 1983. Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World, New Haven: Yale University Press, and Hannah Arendt. 1978. (Ron H. Feldman, ed.), The Jew as Pariah, New York: Grove Press). Indeed, the essay that Felman quotes to demonstrate Arendt’s emphasis on the importance of storytelling – ‘Truth and Politics’ – was originally written, as Arendt noted, as a response to the controversy surrounding her book. (See ‘Truth and Politics’ in Hannah Arendt. 1954. Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought, New York and London: Penguin, p. 227, author’s note.) The essay is, in fact, primarily about what Arendt calls the ‘modern lie’ and its manipulation and distortion of truth in the political world, both in totalitarianism and, somewhat differently, in democratic societies — the lie aiming at eliminating without any trace the factual reality it claims to represent but in effect wishes to deny or to erase. Arendt seems spurred to write this essay, in part, because of the way in which her own Eichmann book was systematically falsified throughout the controversy. It was, for example, summarised incorrectly in a special issue of the journal of the Anti-Defamation League, ironically entitled Facts and circulated among Jewish intellectuals, who then attacked her on the basis of the falsified summary. (See Facts, July–August 1963, Volume 15, No. 1, ‘A Report on the Evil of Banality: The Arendt Book’, Published by the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai B’rith. This piece appears to have been the basis, along with a later book by Jacob Robinson. 1965. And the Crooked Shall Be Made Straight: The Eichmann Trial, The Jewish Catastrophe and Hannah Arendt's Narrative (New York: Macmillan), of many refutations of – and attacks on – Arendt’s book. See also Hannah Arendt, ‘The Formidable Dr. Robinson: A Reply’, included in The Jew as Pariah.) Arendt was said to be anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli (which she was not) and to blame the Jews for not resisting their annihilation (which she did not); she was consequently shunned by the Jewish community and her book, influential and translated into many languages, was not translated into Hebrew by any Israeli press for about 40 years (until 2000). Arendt must have thus experienced again, in the United States, through the Eichmann controversy, a potential erasure of her thought, if not of her person, a threat she had believed she overcame in leaving Germany. This experience of attempted erasure of her thought within Jewish and Israeli circles must also, I would suggest, be added to the event that Felman names as the event created by the Eichmann trial and Arendt’s book together. It is true that Arendt’s vision and critique of the Eichmann trial nowadays prevails, beyond the attempts at its censorship and its erasure. Nevertheless I would suggest that Felman’s passionate, complex response to Arendt, her critique of Arend’ts argument but also her intuitive, empathic understanding of the layers of silence within Arendt’s text, are also, in their own way, an enactment of justice, a (not fully conscious) attempt to do justice to what remains half-erased (silenced both from within and from without) in Arendt’s writing and thought. 31. It is perhaps not an accident that the word ‘revolutionary’ plays a significant role in Felman’s vocabulary in the first of her two chapters on the trial, when she describes both Arendt’s insight into the Holocaust and the pathbreaking status of the Eichamnn trial: ‘I will argue in what follows [Felman writes] that the

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Eichmann trial is, at the antipodes of Arendt, historiographically conservative but jurisprudentially revolutionary. Arendt, on the contrary, is historiographically revolutionary but jurisprudentially conservative’ (The Juridical Unconscious, 122). The notion of the trial as jurisprudentially revolutionary is repeated later when Felman describes the transformative effect of the trial on the victim: ‘In this sense, the Eichmann trial is, I would submit, a revolutionary trial. It is this revolutionary transformation of the victim that makes the victim’s story happen for the first time, and happen as a legal act of authorship of history. This historically unprecedented revolution in the victim that was operated in and by the Eichmann trial is, I would suggest, the trial’s major contribution not only to Jews but to history, to law, to culture – to humanity at large’ ( JU, 126). The notion of revolution is, in fact, central to Arendt’s own work – it represents the political enactment of man’s essential and unique capacity to begin something new – and Felman remarks in a footnote that Arendt will publish her book On Revolution right after her book on the Eichmann trial, suggesting that the trial’s innovative power may have subtly inspired some of Arendt’s thinking about revolution. But Arendt’s work on revolution also stands in a complex and perhaps even paradoxical relation to her previous work on totalitarianism, which traces the ways in which political systems can come to eliminate the capacity of origination that is essential to the political (and the human). The notion of the revolutionary for Arendt (as the political site of creation of the new) is thus inseparable from the notion of totalitarianism (as a radically new political system that eliminates the new). I would argue that Felman’s use of the notion of the revolutionary has at least two functions in her first chapter on the trial: first, it is a reflection of the peculiar innovative capacity of each writer and the resonant conceptual and personal stories of innovation that link the (political and psychoanalytic) insights of each, and second, it binds the innovative force of each writer’s theoretical work with the theorised and untheorised traces of erasure and trauma that lie behind their writing and thought.

12 Trauma and Resistance in Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers Anne Whitehead

The events of September 11, 2001, have readily been accommodated to the discourse of trauma.1 As the towers of the World Trade Centre collapsed, people stood watching on the streets of New York City, unable to believe that the events were indeed happening. Media networks broadcast the attack worldwide even as it unfolded on screen. Subsequently, footage of the falling towers was continuously replayed, indicating a need to repeatedly relive the event. As Jenny Edkins points out, the events of 9/11 had ‘exposed the contingency of everyday life and the fragility of the taken-for-granted safety of the city’.2 People returned to the events in an attempt ‘to overcome the shock and surprise of what had happened’.3 Nevertheless, it is important to open up the discourse of trauma surrounding 9/11. For New Yorkers, the attack on the World Trade Centre was, as Neil Smith observes, a profoundly local event: ‘the planes hitting, the towers aflame, their awesome, inconceivable collapse, acrid poisonous smoke billowing up Broadway, paper floating over to Brooklyn, ash on the pavement’.4 It subsequently became clear that this was also a global event: although both on American soil, the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon were international icons of global financial and military power: so that 9/11 was simultaneously a local and a global event, yet it was quickly figured or conceived as a national trauma. The days and weeks following the attacks were marked by a powerful nationalising of grief and anger. The national outpouring of sympathy to New York (‘we are all New Yorkers’) carried with it a strong sense that every citizen was equally affected by the threat. Neil

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Smelser has notably argued of 9/11 that ‘[with] respect to the dimension of time alone, the traumatic process was truncated’. From the moment of the attacks to the recognition that they constituted a national trauma was, he argues, ‘a matter of short days, if not hours’. The scope of the trauma and the identity of the victims were immediately established: ‘there was an instant national consensus that it was a trauma for everybody, for the nation’. There was no significant divergence from this consensus and little evidence of social division around 9/11. For Smelser, ‘[this] wave engulfed the small expressions of difference from the extreme right and the extreme left’.5 There was, however, little automatically national in the scale of the attacks. Neil Smith points out that ‘[much] effort went into their reworking … for nationalist purposes’. The importance of the recognition of 9/11 as a national trauma lay in the ideological preparation for war: ‘nationalism is the discourse of war under modern capitalism, in which the national state has cornered a monopoly on violence’.6 The surge of patriotism in the aftermath of 9/11, evident in displays of flag-waving across the country, asserted American sovereignty and was closely allied to Bush’s declaration immediately after September 11 that America was in a state of war. The problem, of course, was precisely that America was not in a state of war, at least as the term has conventionally been defined. After 9/11, distinctions blurred between the state of war and the state of peace, as America entered into a permanent state of emergency. In this essay, I am interested in reading In the Shadow of No Towers as a text that seeks both to register the shock of September 11, and to make visible the inscription of 9/11 into state-organized acts of commemoration and the rhetoric of war. In its deliberate chaos and fragmentation, Spiegelman’s work is seeking to hold open what Slavoj Žižek has described as ‘the unique time between a traumatic event and its symbolic impact’.7 Unlike the Maus volumes, In the Shadow of No Towers was consciously written as an act of political resistance, and it was no coincidence that Spiegelman’s book tour coincided with the lead–up to the American election in 2004. Throughout the work, Spiegelman insistently refers to Art as a victim of trauma. Following 9/11, the Bush administration has repeatedly laid claim to victimhood and used that position to justify war and aggression. I argue that Spiegelman’s identification of Art as a victim seeks to open up the discourse of trauma surrounding 9/11, allowing us to question who constitute the victims and who is responsible for the victimising. Smelser has argued that these questions are particularly urgent in the context of September 11, precisely because ‘both the victim and the guilty were so immediately and unequivocally established in the public mind’.8 Spiegelman articulates an alternative narrative of 9/11, and I will argue that the importance of In the Shadow of No Towers lies less in whether his story represents the ‘true’ or ‘correct’ version, but rather in suggesting that it is possible to redo, or to undo, the narrative, and that we do not yet know or understand the events of 9/11.

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After-images of a Building Although the Twin Towers disappeared from the skyline of Lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11, they left behind them a ghostly imprint, an intense awareness of their absence. Andreas Huyssen has observed of the unexpectedly haunting visual impact left by the destruction of the towers: ‘I’ve been surprised at how persistently the afterimage of the twin towers hovers in my mind’.9 The front cover of In the Shadow of No Towers powerfully visualises the ‘afterimage’ to which Huyssen refers. Spiegelman depicts a black cover from which the towers of the World Trade Centre emerge as barely perceptible shadows or ghosts, printed in an even deeper black. The vertical format of the book mirrors the proportions of the towers, so that a visual connection is immediately established for the reader between the buildings and the dimensions of the page. Spiegelman’s attentiveness to the shape and form of the Twin Towers in his overall design of the volume is undoubtedly influenced by the work of early comics artist, Winsor McCay. Little Nemo in Slumberland, which began in the New York Herald at the close of 1905, depicts the dreamscape of a young boy, Nemo, who journeys nightly to the baroque and surrealistic realm of King Morpheus, only to wake up — often distressed — in the final panel of the page. McCay was an outstanding draftsman, and his work explored the narrative and design significance of the panel’s shape and size. Plate VI of In the Shadow of No Towers reproduces a page of Little Nemo that was published on September 29, 1907. The sequence depicts an oversized Nemo and his companion, a Jungle Imp, lost amid the tower blocks of Lower Manhattan. They make their way to the South Street piers along the East River, chased by Flip the clown, who knocks over tall buildings in his haste. As Spiegelman acknowledges in ‘The Comic Supplement’, the narrative sequence provides an uncanny prefiguring of collapsing buildings ‘near to where the twin towers would fall 94 years later’. However, the page also assumes particular significance for Spiegelman in visual or graphic terms. The ‘splash panel’ extends horizontally across the top of the page, giving a majestic perspective view of the skyline of New York at night, as Nemo and his companion rest on the roof of a tower block. As the reader progresses down the page, Nemo and his friend descend the towers to the streets of the city, and the panels stretch vertically to accommodate the shapes of the buildings. The final panel extends horizontally to reveal the cityscape of Lower Manhattan from ground level and in the inset panel Nemo is back in his bed, awakened by his mother. The page celebrates the architecture of McCay’s beloved New York, but it also takes on its own architectural form and structure. The outlines of the panels are reflected in the shapes of the towers, which are in turn mirrored and multiplied by the rows of windows. The comic–book page, with its rows of squares or panels, is dizzyingly refracted in the buildings of McCay’s

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drawing, which is suggestive of a complex interplay between the comic book, buildings and architecture. McCay’s vertical panels, which stretch to contain the tower blocks of New York, find a poignant echo in Spiegelman’s repeated images of the glowing tower. If McCay’s artwork celebrated the heroic period of skyscraper building in New York between 1900 and 1930, Spiegelman mourns what has often – if perhaps prematurely – been regarded as the demise of the skyscraper, in his ghostly rendering of the last image that was seen of either tower. In ‘The Sky is Falling!’ Spiegelman points out that this was for him the ‘pivotal image’ of the morning of September 11 and, failing to capture it in paint, he seeks to render ‘the vision of disintegration digitally on my computer’. The glowing tower, which appears on almost every page of the work, acts as a key signifier of trauma, for it has a haunting quality and ‘remains burned onto the inside of my eyelids several years later’. The image also assumes significance because it represents personal experience, as opposed to the media images of the event. This was, Spiegelman comments, precisely an image ‘that didn’t get photographed or videotaped into public memory’. The glowing tower becomes iconic of proximity to the event; a direct, personal and unmediated access to it. The initial images of the glowing tower establish it as a signifier of Art’s trauma. In #1, the tower extends vertically down the right side of the page, broken up into individual panels. The sequence documents the moment-tomoment collapse of the north tower. Art contrasts the almost imperceptible movement of time in the panels with the passage of chronological time: ‘Many months have passed. I guess it’s time to move on’. He is caught between trauma time and chronological time: ‘I guess it’s about September 20th’. In #2, the towers again appear in individual panels, extending horizontally across the bottom of the page. This moment-to-moment sequence reinforces the slowing of time, as the towers gradually disappear from the frame and only blue sky with a trace of smoke remains. In #3, the left side panel extends vertically to reveal a full view of the glowing tower. This is repeated in #4, with a more faded vision of the tower. Read in conjunction with each other, they underline Spiegelman’s point that although ‘events fade’ they nevertheless remain: ‘he [Art] still sees that glowing tower when he closes his eyes’. If the early images of the glowing tower suggest the lasting personal trauma of the morning of September 11, the later images reflect the new ‘traumas’ caused by the ‘hijack[ing]’ of the event by the Bush administration.10 In #5, the image of the tower distorts and fades as it is coopted into the nationalist agenda of war and used as political capital for the election. In contrast to the searing image of the tower in earlier pages, Art observes: ‘I’ve gotta shut my eyes and concentrate to still see the glowing bones of those towers’. The ‘splash panel’ of #7 develops this critique as the

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disintegrating tower merges into the stripes of the American flag. Spiegelman points to the narrow nationalist agenda that has emerged out of 9/11, the ‘provincial American flags’ that ‘sprout[ed] out of the embers of Ground Zero’. It seems particularly important in this context that the glowing tower is established in the early pages of the volume as a signifier for the trauma of those who were in the vicinity of Ground Zero. In ‘The Sky Is Falling!’, Spiegelman insists on the surprisingly local nature of the trauma, so that the ‘intensity of response’ lasted longer in Lower Manhattan than in uptown New York, while ‘all New Yorkers were out of their mind compared to those for whom the attack was an abstraction’. Spiegelman resists the narrative of national trauma, which has been used by the Bush administration to underpin and legitimate the pursuit of war. The glowing skeleton of the tower deliberately contrasts with the iconic media images of the burning towers, which Spiegelman digitally reproduces in the volume, and powerfully suggests that there are alternative ways to tell the story of September 11.11

Falling Bodies In #2, Spiegelman’s description of the Twin Towers as ‘arrogant boxes’ gestures towards a widespread dislike of the buildings, particularly among New Yorkers. The ‘arrogance’ of the towers was partly associated with their construction, which demonstrated a disregard for the civic use of the space. ‘Arrogance’ was also reflected in the architectural design of the buildings. Beyond their sheer scale – at over 1,300 feet, they dominated the Lower Manhattan skyline – the towers represented the epitome of the corporate structure. Reflecting each other in perfect symmetry, the buildings had no front, back or sides. Each face presented the same neutral screen and they were designed to be seen from a distance as pure façade. In his discussion of the World Trade Centre as corporate building, Mark Wigley has indicated that the structure represents ‘a kind of bodiless body’. As implied in the word, the ‘corporation’ is an abstract body, a body composed of many bodies which are ‘networked together into a single organism’. The corporate building makes visible an invisible collective network on a particular site, but it also ‘veils the actual bodies of those whom it networks together’. For Wigley, then, ‘the corporate building is nothing more than a screen that conceals the body. The occupants of such a building are irrelevant’.12 The anonymous gridded facades of the Twin Towers concentrated attention on the surface of the buildings, rendering the interior invisible and mysterious. Although there were ‘internal spaces occupied by workers’, the design of the World Trade Centre deliberately subordinated the interior of the building to ‘the polemic of the outer screen’.13

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On September 11, 2001, the collapse of the Twin Towers represented the simultaneous destruction of buildings and bodies. The distinction between the two was lost, as both were terribly compacted in the ruins at Ground Zero and dispersed as grey ash in the air. In the aftermath of 9/11, the formerly invisible and anonymous occupants of the towers took on a new visibility, their faces covering the city in pasted photographs of the missing. As Wigley observes, the dead of 9/11 ‘had their horrifying disappearance marked by a sudden visibility’.14 In marked contrast to this, the media coverage of 9/11 was characterised by a notable absence of bodies. This was in part due to the nature of the deaths: most of the bodies of the victims were never recovered. Edkins points out, however, that it was also a form of censorship: such remains as were found at Ground Zero were removed ‘well away from the gaze of the cameras’.15 The pictures of people jumping to their deaths from the windows of the burning towers, which were aired on the first day of the attacks but subsequently withdrawn, formed a notable exception to the predominant absence of death from the coverage. The falling bodies remained in the public imagination as an important focus for visualising the reality of the deaths at Ground Zero, at a time when the media coverage, as Robert Jay Lifton has pointed out, ‘brought [Americans] into the experience in a way that was both vividly actual and unreal’.16 In #4 of In the Shadow of No Towers, Art observes that although he was in the vicinity of the towers when they collapsed, he only saw the falling bodies ‘on tv much later’. Although he did not personally witness the falling bodies, he points out in #6 that they nevertheless remain with him: ‘He is haunted now by images he didn’t witness … images of people tumbling to the streets below’. Falling bodies surface and resurface throughout the book, forming, alongside the glowing tower, another key signifier of Art’s trauma. In #6, this connection is made explicit, as Spiegelman comments: ‘He [Art] keeps falling through the holes in his head’. This is visualised in the left side panel, which shows Art falling down the façade of the World Trade Centre. The panel is in the same position on the page as the glowing tower in #3 and #4, indicating that the collapse of the tower makes visible its former occupants, as they jump from the windows in a final, desperate act. However, Spiegelman also depicts at the base of the tower the dazed figure of the early comic-book figure Happy Hooligan, landed amid the rubbish and detritus of the city. For Spiegelman, the collapse of the towers has specifically made visible the economic disparity and social inequality of New York City. Next to the figure of Happy Hooligan, he observes: ‘In the economic dislocation that has followed since that day, he has witnessed lots of people landing in the streets of Manhattan’. Many who lost their jobs in the World Trade Centre were kitchen, delivery or janitorial workers. A number of those were illegal immigrants who did not ask for aid or assistance. Spiegelman provides us with an alternative narrative of 9/11, which questions our

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definition of the ‘victim’ of the event. He seeks to include in this term the long-term social and economic impact on the workers, the immigrants, the poor and the homeless of New York City. The other key trope of falling bodies that runs through In the Shadow of No Towers derives from McCay’s Little Nemo. Each of McCay’s pages ends with an inset panel of Nemo awakening – often distressed – from his dream, usually to be comforted by his mother or father. In the bottom right inset panel of #6, Spiegelman’s Nemo has fallen from his bed and awakened. He recounts a nightmare of a world in which the Attorney General of America, John Ashcroft, pushed him out of a window. He is reassured by his mother: ‘Hush! You fell out of bed, sweetie!’ However, the reality to which he awakens is as strange and threatening as the dream. His mother wears a gas mask, but his face is uncovered, suggesting, as in the dream, that the person who is there to protect and provide security not only fails to do so, but paradoxically represents a threatening presence. In #7, the bottom right inset panel again shows Nemo fallen out of bed and this time he is crying. This image forms part of the sequence ‘An Upside Down World’ and Spiegelman accordingly prints the panel upside down on the page. He makes clear that, if McCay’s Nemo awakens from a surrealistic and nightmarish realm to reality, his Nemo awakens to a reality that is as unreal as the dream. The sequence of panels depicts Art inhabiting a topsy-turvy world, which represents post-9/11 America: ‘When those planes hit I got knocked into some alternate reality’. In the final panel, the gas mask of the mother has transformed into the nightmarish figure of a Republican marcher. It seems that it is no longer possible to awaken from the nightmare of 9/11. Spiegelman is not simply suggesting that we reverse our usual understanding of dream as fiction and awakening as reality, for both dream and reality are equally nightmarish and unreal. Rather, he seems to locate the traumatic unreality of post-9/11 America in the very moment of transition between waking and sleeping. It is in the movement from one to the other, or in the suspension between the two, that Spiegelman invites us to encounter the dislocation and disorientation of what he terms in ‘The Sky is Falling!’ the ‘New Normal’.17

Narrating 9/11 From the very outset of In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman disturbs and disrupts the narrative of 9/11. He begins by telling a different history, which calls into question when the event began, as well as suggesting that there are alternative ways to retell the narrative. The inside front cover of the volume reproduces a newspaper page from The World that is dated September 11, 1901—exactly a century before the attack on the World Trade Centre. The

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headline of the newspaper reads ‘President’s Wound Reopened’, and refers to the shooting of President McKinley. The century-old newspaper is concerned with the familiar themes of terrorism, state security and networks of conspiracy, suggesting that the past resurfaces in the present. More than this however, the newspaper headline calls into question who has been ‘wounded’ by the 9/11 attacks; is it the President’s ‘wound’, suggestive of a national trauma, or is it more properly located elsewhere? The headline also raises a further question; namely, what ‘wound’ of the President has been ‘reopened’ by these attacks? In its undoing of the narrative of invulnerability, 9/11 most evidently ‘reopens’ the ‘wound’ of Vietnam. The associations called up by the newspaper page therefore suggest that 9/11 is not straightforwardly singular, but a repetition, which calls up previous instances of trauma. In his drawings of Art as a mouse, Spiegelman refers intertextually to his Maus volumes.18 The surfacing and resurfacing of Spiegelman’s Maus persona suggest that 9/11 and its aftermath keep bringing back thoughts of his father’s experiences in the Holocaust. In Maus and In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman is concerned with the incoherence of war, with arrogant political regimes, and with a confrontation with mass murder — although necessarily at very different levels and scales. In #4, Art’s immediate response to the attacks is filtered through his father’s experiences of the Holocaust: he reflects on Kristallnacht as he considers his paradoxical desire to remain in New York, even though it is not safe. In #3, likewise, Vladek’s experiences surface as Art – in the persona of Artie from Maus – compares the indescribable smell in post-9/11 Manhattan to his father’s description of the smoke in Auschwitz. As his cigarette burns and smoke gradually fills the panels, it is unclear whether this signifies the choking presence of death or an attempt to conceal and mask its all-pervading smell. Nevertheless, Spiegelman makes it clear that Bush’s ‘war on terror’ is not a war of the same order as the Second World War, but a distraction from and displacement of the real issues. In #7, Art questions what ‘war’ is being fought by America. He points out that the ‘stars and stripes’ are less a ‘symbol of unity’ than a ‘war banner’. However, he refers here not to the conflict in Iraq but to an internal ‘war’ within a nation that is deeply and painfully divided between Republican and Democrat: ‘We’re actually a nation under two flags!’ In this context, 9/11 provides both a rallying point and a distraction: ‘Nothin’ like the end of the world to bring folks together’. It is uncertain how long this impression of unity will last and it is also evident that domestic tensions have not dissipated or disappeared but have, if anything, worsened: Art now inhabits the ‘dark indigo heart of the Blue Zone’. In #8, Spiegelman counts the cost of the war in Iraq in relation to domestic politics. Art is dressed as a cheerleader but finds himself unable to ‘get with the program’. He cannot participate in the national mood of celebration and the soldiers in the background of the first three panels

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transform to the skyline of New York in the fourth as Art returns to the continued suffering of his city. Behind Bush – in the guise of Uncle Sam – it is not the statue of Saddam that is toppled but the Statue of Liberty. This indicates that, in pursuing a nationalist agenda, Bush has effectively abandoned New York City, but also suggests that the price of the ‘war’ has been American civil rights and liberties. Arguably the most famous image from In the Shadow of No Towers is the ‘cartoon’ of Art at his work desk in #2, wearing a mouse mask and flanked by a member of Al-Qaeda and Bush. The representative of Al-Qaeda suspends a bloody sword over Art’s neck, while the flag-waving Bush holds a gun to his head. The caption reads: ‘Equally terrorised by Al-Qaeda and his own government’. The most obvious reading of this frame is to view Spiegelman as paralleling the Bush administration and Al-Qaeda, so that each mirrors the violence of the other. However, Spiegelman makes clear that he is primarily concerned with ‘[i]ssues of self-representation’. In the sequence that overlays the panel, ‘Notes of a Heartbroken Narcissist’, it is the bearded Art, rather than Bush, who visually mirrors the member of Al-Qaeda; an association reinforced by the mirror that he holds in his hand. The series raises questions about what it means to be anti-Bush in America. If he does not identify with the politics of Bush, is he then identified as an ‘enemy’ in the new post-liberal politics of fear? In the context of a political system that operates on a dichotomy of inclusion/exclusion, Art occupies an uneasy ground between establishment and enemy. The mouse mask and the mouse persona suggest that Spiegelman is unavoidably reminded of his father’s experiences: the threat of violence comes from those who are supposedly there to protect as well as from without. Spiegelman’s references to Maus establish a complex dialogue between his own experiences and his father’s. He critiques the rhetoric of war that has surrounded 9/11 and he draws attention to the politics of fear and exclusion in post-9/11 America. The mouse persona is suggestive of the past surfacing in Art’s mind rather than establishing deliberate or concrete historical parallels. It acts as another important device through which Spiegelman opens up the discourse of trauma around 9/11, suggesting that 9/11 is at once both singular and a resurfacing – with important differences of level and scale – of previous traumas.

Conclusion In this essay, I have sought to reflect critically upon the cultural inscription of 9/11 as a traumatic event, through a reading of Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers. Spiegelman’s focus throughout the volume is on the political changes in America that have resulted from 9/11 and its aftermath. In interview he has unequivocally declared: ‘there are forces in the

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American government that are using the events of September 11 to justify an agenda that seem[s] to include the curtailing of civil liberties. I think personally we’ve lived through a peaceful coup d’état’.19 Spiegelman’s observation in ‘The Sky is Falling!’ that ‘[new] traumas began competing with still-fresh wounds’ makes it unclear whether, for him, trauma is located in the events of 9/11 or in the subsequent government response. This corresponds to Edkins’s argument that trauma necessarily involves not only a situation of powerlessness but also a betrayal of trust: ‘What we call trauma takes place when the very powers that we are convinced will protect us and give us security become our tormentors’.20 Throughout In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman demonstrates to us repeated acts of betrayal. His narrative of 9/11 seeks to make visible the political and ideological investments which underpin the memorialisation of the event in American social, political and cultural life. Spiegelman’s text also offers a reflection on the nature of political resistance. The text dramatises a traumatic shock; Art is undone as a subject by the events of 9/11, and it is from this position that he speaks. In an important sense, then, Art witnesses from a position of not knowing, of not understanding, and this complicates straightforward notions of political agency.21 One of the most challenging frames of In the Shadow of No Towers appears in #2 and represents Art taking on the persona of the Ancient Mariner, compelled to repeat the story of 9/11 to anyone who will listen. His insistence that ‘the sky is falling’ is met with dismissal: ‘they roll their eyes and tell me it’s only my Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’. The implication here is that there is no need to listen to the witness, because it is too soon after the event and he is too emotionally unstable to be able to formulate his own political views. However, this assumption is powerfully contested and critiqued by the remainder of the volume, which is premised on Spiegelman’s conviction that testimony to trauma can hold open the events of 9/11 by focusing attention precisely on their unknowability and incomprehensibility. Although it is important to sound a note of caution in relation to Spiegelman’s project, by recognising that such an unsettling or complication of dominant narratives can in turn be recuperated by or reabsorbed into the hegemonic, I would nevertheless finally underline the value of Spiegelman’s invitation to his readers to both reflect upon and respond to the political implications of traumatic witness.

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Notes 1. I would like to thank Professor Cathy Caruth and Dr Jenny Edkins, whose rich and productive dialogue on trauma and politics, held at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 20 May 2004, prompted many of the questions with which I am concerned in this piece. I would also like to express my gratitude to Jane Kilby for her thoughtful editorial comments and suggestions. 2. J. Edkins. 2003. Trauma and the Memory of Politics, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 227. 3. Edkins, Trauma, 225. 4. N. Smith. 2002. ‘Scales of Terror: The Manufacturing of Nationalism and the War for U.S. Globalism’, in M. Sorkin and S. Zukin (eds), After the World Trade Center, New York and London: Routledge, 97. 5. N. J. Smelser. 2002. ‘Epilogue’, in J.C. Alexander, R. Eyerman, B. Giessen, N. J. Smelser and P. Sztompka (eds), Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity, Berkeley: University of California Press, 280. 6. Smith, ‘Scales of Terror’, 104. 7. S. Žižek. 2002. Welcome to the Desert of the Real, London: Verso, 4. 8. Smelser, ‘Epilogue’, 282. 9. A. Huyssen. 2003. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 159. 10. A. Spiegelman. 2004. In the Shadow of No Towers, London: Penguin, #4. 11. The digital images of the towers are reproduced in #1 and #2. 12. M. Wigley. 2002. ‘Insecurity by Design’, in M. Sorkin and S. Zukin (eds), After the World Trade Center, New York and London: Routledge, 75. 13. Wigley, ‘Insecurity by Design’, 76. 14. Wigley, ‘Insecurity by Design’, 83. 15. Edkins, Trauma, 225. 16. R.J. Lifton. 2003. Superpower Syndrome: America’s Apocalyptic Confrontation with the World, New York: Nation Books, 143. 17. My discussion of Spiegelman’s location of the traumatic unreality of post–9/11 America between waking and sleeping makes reference to Cathy Caruth’s reading of Freud’s dream of the burning child. See C. Caruth. 1996. ‘Traumatic Awakenings (Freud, Lacan, and the Ethics of Memory’), in Unclaimed Experience: Trauma Narrative, and History, Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 91–112. 18. A. Spiegelman. 1986. Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History, London and New York: Penguin. Art Spiegelman. 1991. Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began, London and New York: Penguin. 19. P. Tabelling. 2002. ‘I Thought We Were in the Middle of Armageddon’, www.dwworld.de/dwelle.cda.detail.artikel_drucken/0,3280.1. Last accessed 21/12/04. 20. Edkins, Trauma, 4. 21. My observations on the importance of not knowing in relation to witnessing are indebted to Caruth’s observations in an unpublished diaolgue; see footnote 1.

13 Facing Losses/Losing Guarantees: A Meditation on Openings to Traumatic Ignorance as a Constitutive Demand Sharon Rosenberg

Subjecting theory to incident teaches us to think in precisely those situations which tend to disable thought, forces us to keep thinking even when the dominance of our thought is far from assured. Jane Gallop, Anecdotal Theory People don’t understand dead. They think it is all or nothing. I used to move between live and dead several times in the course of a day. Sometimes the transition was as brief and unremarkable as a sigh or a sentence. I must not speak … of the dead. I must pretend … I know nothing of their existence. I must do laps of living beside [you]. Camilla Gibb, Mouthing the Words

Introductory Orientations Moving between Live and Dead: Incident 1 I first read Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub’s Testimony: Crises in Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History (1992) in the context of a graduate seminar. I was in the early years of a doctoral programme, taking a newly offered course on history and memory focused on the Nazi genocides. I used

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to remark, with a slight shrug and a forced lightness to my tone, that it took me a year to ‘recover’ from reading Testimony, and its companion texts by Friedlander, Young, LaCapra, among others, took me a year to figure out how to begin to put myself back together after taking that course. I have slowly … cell by cell, breath by breath … come to acknowledge that I was lying. To myself at least. As I worked hard not to admit that recovery and self-coherence were necessarily false promises: tricks of the mind to suture over all that bleeding. Historymemory. Livingdead. Publicprivate. Presentpast. Nationalglobal. Individualcollective. Selfother. Reasonaffect. Dichotomies that had held fast began to crumble under the weight of reading, viewing, talking, writing (in relation to) testimonies and their legacies. Not unlike the other students of whom Shoshana Felman writes, I too was ‘at a loss, disoriented and uprooted’.1 That was almost fifteen years ago. But, the sense of loss, disorientation and unsettlement that this incident indexes for me have neither disappeared nor been forgotten. Rather, as I have participated in and attended numerous conferences, read new and often compelling work, written and published, taught my own courses, and begun supervising graduate theses in ‘the area’, what I am continuously struck by is a haunting paradox at the crux of what it means to undertake ‘study’ of traumatic events and their legacies in the contemporary university. I have struggled to put words to this haunting paradox, endeavoured to make sense of it and to think and write in relation to it, for years now.

Moving between Live and Dead: Incident 2 (a compilation) Perhaps you2 also first came to Holocaust or trauma and memory studies through your discipline location: Education, Sociology, English, Fine Arts, History, Women’s Studies, Political Science? You aren’t a direct survivor (although already this is a precarious distinction: scholar is not a survivor, survivor is not a scholar). You are perhaps interested in art, film, video, literature, museums, monuments and how these shape and are shaped by the remembrance of histories that ‘live on’.3 Or maybe you are studying historical renderings of the Nazi genocides, policy implications of the AIDS pandemic, rebuilding after genocides in Rwanda or Bosnia, or the events of 11 September 2001 in the U.S.A. and its military aftermath in Afghanistan and Iraq (among some of the most notable but by no means only events of mass suffering in the twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries): and you cannot but stumble into questions that leave you faltering. Or maybe you do not quite know why you devote yourself to studying memories of degradation and human suffering. But you do know that nights are hard, that time slips, that forgetting can be necessary to getting by – but it is rarely

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tranquil. For inseparable from what are broadly recognised and articulated as historical events of mass violence are the everyday violations of the ‘regimes of normal’4: capitalism, gendering, racialisation, colonisation, heteronormativity, ableism and their associated subjectifications. For me, it was the ‘Montréal massacre’ – that early evening on 6 December 1989, when a lone gunman walked through the School of Engineering at the Université de Montréal in Québec, separating the women from the men. Accused as feminist, 14 young women were murdered that night, before the gunman killed himself. 5 The troubled and troubling memorial inheritance of this event in Canada has been a pre-occupation of mine since that night.6 I will not tell you much about that work here. But I will say something (later). The scholarly expectation is that we ‘move on’ to new work, do not get ‘stuck’ in the old. But haunting does not let go quite so easily.

Thinking between Live and Dead In distinction to when I first began to read and work in the area of what has come to be known as ‘trauma and memory’ studies, there is now a burgeoning field. Books are impossible to keep up with; in the last few years, titles added to my shelves include: Witnessing Beyond Recognition (2001), The Juridical Unconscious (2002), The Archive and the Repertoire (2003), 9/11 in American Culture (2003), Witnessing AIDS (2004), Loss: The Politics of Mourning (2003), An Archive of Feelings (2003), The Touch of the Past (2005), Postcolonial Melancholia (2005), Killing Women (2006), Empathic Vision (2005), Violence and the Cultural Politics of Trauma (2007). And these are simply a handful of pertinent titles; key ‘history and memory’ into a university library database and it is likely you will call up hundreds of titles. Courses proliferate – under names such as ‘Trauma Theory and Literary Testimony’, ‘Memory, Trauma, and History’, ‘Education, Historical Memory and Civic Life’, ‘Studies in Cultural Memory’, and my own recent graduate offering, ‘Violent Loss, Memorialisation and Sociality: Deliberations on Relations Between Living and Dead’ – both as part of degree programmes and as specialised course offerings. Conferences multiply: in the last few years in the U.K. alone, for example, there have been three major international conferences: ‘The Politics of Cultural Memory’ (Manchester 2004), ‘The Future of Memory: An International Holocaust and Trauma Studies Conference’ (Manchester 2005), and ‘The Afterlife of Memory: Memory/History/Amnesia’ (Leeds 2006). Not only are there now specialised journals, notably, History and Memory and Holocaust and Genocide Studies, but work in this area is also well received in journals ranging from Feminist Theory to Critical Inquiry to Topia: A Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies. Were I to cast a wider net, search in languages other than English, look specifically at domains of cultural production, research Holocaust-specific works, I am sure that this gesture to a burgeoning field could be expanded many times over.

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Given that we now are in the midst of this proliferating cross-disciplinary field, a field that is not without its debates but has a certain legitimacy in the contemporary academy, I am increasingly convinced that it is necessary to attend not only to historical events of mass suffering and destruction and their attendant memorial practices (a substantive concern of the field), but also to the very terms on which trauma and memory studies is being rendered as a field of inquiry in its scholarship and through its public pedagogies. It is this that marks the haunting paradox I opened with: on the one hand, such scholarship is turned towards thinking through issues such as the limits of representation, the problematics of mimesis, the complicated workings of ‘fact’ and ‘interpretation’, the crisis of witnessing, transgenerational legacies, the incommensurable facing of losses, and so forth. On the other hand, such undertakings of research and thought are rarely marked in writing (or presented papers) by the demanding burden and trouble of their encounter. What I am grappling with, in other words, is the disjuncture I perceive between the experiences I have undergone (and witnessed) in encounters with remnants and representations of trauma and the version of those encounters that are rendered in publicly circulating texts, in which the demands of scholarly distance tend to prevail. If we start from the position, which I do, that there is much that disciplines and demands this distancing detachment (to which I will return), then it is insufficient to read such scholarly practice as a simple matter of a ‘choice’ undertaken by individuals. Rather, I wonder: might it be productive to read such detachment as a symptom of trauma and memory studies in the contemporary university? If we read it as such, what might we learn about the work of this field – both as a subject area and for subjects who are forming themselves as scholars partly in and through these inquiries – and how it might be approached otherwise? By way of meditating on such questions, I will (re)turn to Cathy Caruth’s insights regarding trauma and ignorance, bringing these together with Shoshana Felman’s readings of ignorance as a passionate interest in not knowing what may implicate us. Arguing that encounters with remnants and representations of trauma demand that we pass through these two modes of ignorance, I will then turn to readings of texts by Elizabeth Ellsworth, Patti Lather, Judith Butler, and moments from my own work. I will be careful in my consideration of what it might mean to pass through these two modes of ignorance; I am not suggesting that scholarship should (or should only) be marked on these terms, but to the extent that such unsettlement remains ‘privatised’ (in sideline conversations set aside from the domain proper of the work), I have a sense that not only are individual scholars hampered, but also that the import of the field itself is delimited.

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Understanding and Ignorance I begin with insights offered by Cathy Caruth, in her introduction to Trauma: Explorations in Memory, published over a decade ago. To recall, in that introduction, Caruth writes: The phenomenon of trauma … brings us to the limits of our understanding: if psychoanalysis, psychiatry, sociology, and even literature [and now we might add, cultural studies, feminist and queer theory, education, among others] are beginning to hear each other anew in the study of trauma, it is because they are listening through the radical disruption and gaps of traumatic experience.7 This radical disruption might make it possible, Caruth continues, ‘to speak to each other through the new ignorance that trauma introduces amongst us’.8 Caruth does not state what she means by a new ignorance, but I think that we can take her initially to refer to the common-sense understandings of ignorance as not knowing or a lack of knowledge. She does, of course, elaborate a notion of trauma, returning to Freud and remarking that he, in encountering ‘the onset of ‘war neuroses’ from World War I’, was ‘startled’ by the character of returning traumatic dreams.9 I want to pick up here on the very idea of being startled and put it into relation with the notion of a (new) ignorance. If we take seriously that encounters with traumatic remnants and representations are startling, how is it that scholars of trauma and memory have so little to say about what it means to be so startled – as scholars, for scholarship? Or, if trauma is a radical disruption to the familiar terms of speaking and listening (in the academy), brings us to the limits of understanding, and constitutes a (new) ignorance amongst us, then are we not faced with the inexorable question: how is a field to think (about) itself when its condition of possibility, what brings it into existence, is a demand of (a new) ignorance or a loss of what can be counted on as ‘knowledge’? Indeed, what I am coming to wonder is: might the loss of knowledge that trauma produces (a loss that is not ‘one time’ but understood here as constantly renewed) need to be read as a constitutive demand on and of the field and its practitioners? On these terms, as a constitutive demand, falterings in knowledge and attendant efforts to speak, write, listen, and read become not an aside to the real work of studying trauma and its formations of memory, but the conditions of its possibility. It is here that I find myself sliding between a lexicon of trauma and one of losses: for in encountering the remembrance of those who have died violently or the memories of those who are still among the living but have suffered atrocities, we are encountering not only losses that are readily recognizable as such (lives, bodies, capacities …), but also losses to normative claims for knowledge acquisition as a rational and

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objective practice. Hence, the slash in the title of this essay, between ‘facing losses’ and ‘losing guarantees’: if my reading of Caruth here has any purchase, then it may well be that (facing) losses and losing (guarantees) are indelibly bound: that what it means to study trauma is also always a matter of what it means to face losses, for the scholar, who, in the process, must feel the guarantees of what she thought she knew slip away, at least provisionally, to let something else happen, to allow in some other thought, to be open to what that facing does to the certainty of scholarship. So what is it that interrupts, displaces or perhaps forecloses on such facing per se, or an elaboration of such encounters in scholarly venues? I suggest that we can read these interruptions, displacements and foreclosures as symptoms of both the demands of the modern academy and of the liberal humanist subject. Let me speak to each. First, in relation to the modern university – a university that is largely now, in the early twentieth century, constituted (if somewhat unevenly) by the demands of instrumental education, outcomes measures, and work expectations that leave little time for difficult thought or conversation10 – we must recognize that there are limited conditions to support being startled and to tolerating what we cannot readily grasp a priori as knowledge. In the machinery of this university, with its continuing institutionalised demarcations of thought into discipline boxes and faculty strictures (despite the heralding of interdisciplinarity), in which we are expected to remain at some distance from what we study, where knowledge is associated with progress (knowing more, knowing better), it is difficult indeed to encounter the limits of understanding, to attend to radical disruption, to allow ourselves perhaps to fall regularly, if only for limited time, into disorientation, to reckoning with losses … and in so doing to open ourselves and our scholarship to the social and psychic wounds of those who have died violently. This is a terrible strain; I have felt it for years. Indeed, steeped in such disciplining demands myself (as we all are, albeit with variance), I have previously endeavoured to interpret such difficulties as idiosyncratic, biographical, a distracting nuisance, not the real work of trauma and memory studies. However, after years of this work I realize that I am sounding weary. I am. I find this quite excruciating work to do and yet I cannot seem to do otherwise. I have come to think that the kind of scholarly subject and performance demanded by the modern university is what is partly at issue here. This is a subjectivity that is not unique to the university, but has broader resonances with the disciplining of liberal humanist subjects. I have begun to wonder if there is more to Caruth’s notion of a ‘new ignorance’ than is at first apparent? In pondering this question, I have found it productive to turn to an interpretation of ignorance inspired by Lacan and his interlocutors.11 For example, Roger Simon, working with Felman’s discussion of Lacan’s ideas, writes that: ‘In Lacan’s view, ignorance is not a simple lack of

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knowledge but rather something that has to be understood as an integral part of the structure of knowledge held by a person at a given point in time’. Simon continues, ‘Thus, ignorance is understood [as] ‘an active dynamic of negation, an active refusal of information’ [Lacan in Felman] … this active refusal is an excluding from consciousness of whatever it does not want to know’, and, later, ‘the refusal – to acknowledge one’s own implication in the information’ [Felman].12 I want to draw out three ideas here in particular. First, I note that the structures of knowledge and ignorance work at the level of the individual psyche, but of an individual in time (which we might take to be both historical time and a time in a person’s life). Thus, if we are to take up ignorance as a refusal, in this case in regard to trauma and memory studies, then we must reckon with the constitutive demand of traumatic ignorance as passing through ‘the biographical’ (an idea to which I will return). This is because ignorance as a refusal is a shielding of and for the self, for the self’s intactness (as a scholar, but also more broadly); second, when we are encountering that which shatters normalised terms of intelligibility, when we are endeavouring (not) to open ourselves and our scholarship to the social and psychic wounds of those who have died violently, the insight of active non-implication may indeed be necessary to continuing on (to completing a dissertation, achieving tenure, etcetera). Third, we might argue that listening and speaking to each other, reading and writing ourselves, through traumatic ignorance can neither be disavowed nor overcome: rather it is a fragile and vulnerable undertaking — and one that, as already noted – the prevailing discourses of the university little prepare us nor support. Elizabeth Ellsworth, working also with Felman’s work on Lacan, offers further thought in this regard. She argues that attending to the workings of the unconscious, with its ‘passion for ignorance’: makes for a ‘knowledge that does not know what it knows and is thus not in possession of itself’ (Felman). It makes for knowledge that is indirect – and made unrecognizable by its passage through societal prohibitions and symbolic substitutions … Knowing can no longer be believed to be a direct result of observation, empathy, careful listening, objectivity, selfreflection, exchange, communication or even (maybe especially) understanding. Felman (1987) quotes Lacan: ‘Interpreting is an altogether different thing than having the fancy of understanding’.13 Two ideas here are especially noteworthy: first, ‘societal prohibitions and symbolic substitutions’ mean that knowledge cannot be understood as direct: indeed what we think we know is far less secure than might first appear (in part, because we must actively refuse what we cannot bear to know and it is this that structures what we can know). Second, the necessity of interpretation

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over ‘the fancy of understanding’ suggests, in line with much post-foundational critique, that what we think we know passes through discursive constitution of the (un)intelligible. Translating these ideas into the field of trauma and memory studies, we might anticipate a need to attend to the ‘prohibitions’ of the late modern academy, with its discipline-specific contours that both produce and limit ‘appropriate’ scholarly practice. And, further, we may need to foreground in scholarship the necessary, fragile and always failing work of interpretation, as we endeavour to negotiate what we can(not) bear to know of our implicatedness in studies of trauma and memory. Reading Caruth (following Freud) and Felman (following Lacan) together here, I suggest that the field of trauma and memory studies might be facing a particular dilemma, a dilemma that I would urge us not to read as a problem to be solved (it cannot be) but as one that demands from its practitioners creative risk in thought and practice.14 The conditions of this dilemma, as I am coming to think (on) it, are thus: all learning at the level of the psyche (if we follow Felman, Simon and Ellsworth through Lacan) is structured by a passion for ignorance, an ignorance that is an active (but not conscious) refusal to know and particularly to know one’s implication in what is being presented for learning. Learning (of) trauma is its own ignorance (if we follow Caruth through Freud): a loss produced by radical disruptions in understanding and knowledge not only for individuals but also for the field of study itself (and thus might be understood as an ignorance of study).15 For those of us who work in this field, then, we must learn to attend and respond to two registers of ignorance in which the present itself is at stake. To put it in coarse terms: if studying trauma is a study in what we cannot readily grasp, know or understand (Caruth), and is also a study of what we cannot, at the level of individual psyches, bear to know about what we are studying in relation to ourselves (Felman), then I think we must orient ourselves concurrently through two ignorances: an orientation towards others (including their texts) and an orientation towards ourselves (including our own texts). These are orientations to being open to encountering ignorance(s), not as ends in and of themselves, but as necessary demands on encountering – and communicating the encounters of – traumatic remnants and representations. How we might do this is a daunting prospect, but a question to which I turn for the remainder of this essay.

Interpreting, Faltering, Being Startled The initial idea of this essay is one I first articulated about two years ago, for a conference panel.16 Since then, in stops and starts, I have been struggling to write, to create the space for these thoughts I find arduous to mark onto paper, for publication. I am faltering under the weight of this task. Haunted by imagined readings that declare there is no issue for the field, that this is

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simply self–indulgence, that I have no right to speak, that I do not know of what I speak, that these are not the real issues of learning (about) suffering, that my worries are small and should be kept to my self. Imagined readings that keep me from writing. Sometimes for days. Other times for weeks. I am faltering in the face of the demand I have posed. Some hours I find a relation to the ideas of this essay. Some days I cannot. As I endeavour to speak to others about the essay, I stumble, hesitate, cannot find the words. I am faltering because in each sentence I do not know how to proceed.

Some time after I write these words, I come across others, penned by Jung to Freud,17 that send a chill through me. Commenting on another ‘she’, Jung writes: ‘One must say: desinat in piscem mulier formosa superne [what at top is a lovely woman ends below in a fish] … She has … fallen flat in this paper because it is not thorough enough … Besides that her paper is heavily overweighted with her own complexes’.18 The ‘fancy of understanding’ expressed in these comments, in the voice of (hegemonic masculine) authority, with its trace, as I would read it, of a certain disdain of femininity, calls forth in me a sense of vulnerability that is an effect of the kind of undertaking I am taking in this essay. For I cannot presume to know my own ignorance, my interpretations are no guarantee of truth. I have given (and will go on to give further) expression to (some) of my own complexes, providing terms, for those who wish to read as such, for dismissal. And yet, if I (we) take seriously Caruth and Felman, I cannot not produce a text that is vulnerable, for this is some of what is at stake when history, suffering, interpretation, ignorance, wounding are at stake: when we are bereft in the face of what is so difficult to bear. While this is not its only term of reckoning, the kind of reckoning I am endeavouring here, thus, must pass through the biographical. Not to become the project unto itself, such that the violent losses, injuries, and deaths – of others – fall away or to the side. But, because, I am coming to suspect, it is each of our own implication in what we cannot bear to know that gives body to the structures and relations of knowledge, structures and relations that allow for the prevailing modes of power to work (so well) in and beyond university walls, academic journals, conferences. To find and articulate terms for interpreting that vulnerability as social and intersubjective, terms on which we might be better prepared to encounter the ignorance(s) of studying trauma, I am currently finding purchase with work by Ellsworth, Lather and Butler, which will be discussed in some detail below.19 I am also searching through the archive of my writing, reading it now not as biographical idiosyncrasy, but as of potential use in drawing out a particular mode of inquiry20 and what Irit Rogoff terms ‘criticality’. She explains: ‘[criticality operates] from an uncertain ground which, while building on critique, wants nevertheless to inhabit culture [for my purposes, thought] in a relation other than one of critical analysis; other than one of illuminating flaws, locating elisions, allocating blames’.21 It is not my intent to

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be prescriptive in the inclusion of excerpts from my own work or through the specific writings of others from which I draw. Rather, what I am seeking are some initial terms for a public conversation about the stakes of the field of trauma and memory studies, when those stakes are about the demand to encounter ignorance(s) and its attendant vulnerabilities. Or, in other words, I am endeavouring here to give some texture and substance to the implications of the more abstract argument of the opening pages of this essay. Let me turn first and again to work by Ellsworth who offers generative thought to both registers of ignorance outlined above. At the end of the introductory chapter to her book Teaching Positions, in the very last lines, she tells her readers that she began writing the book in order to think on her discontent with her experiences of teaching and being taught. She writes, ‘I was seeking an answer for the question: How should I teach?’.22 Notably, Ellsworth does not answer this question, observing instead that the theorists she is reading in the book, particularly those who work psychoanalytically, displace the notion of the should. Citing Felman again, Ellsworth notes that: ‘Teaching is impossible … and that opens up unprecedented teaching possibilities’. Rather than read this impossibility as a problem, she embraces the idea, translating it into the last line of her chapter as: ‘Teaching … as giving what I do not have’.23 I understand Ellsworth to be arguing that the prevailing approaches to teaching are impossible because they do not correspond to the contemporary dilemmas of our time: dilemmas that, in the context of this essay, we might mark as the repetition and legacies of trauma and their concomitant ignorance(s). The teaching that she is referring to as impossible is that which is largely understood as the passing on of pre-packaged and authorised knowledges, to be neatly and correctly returned to the one who teaches as evidence of learning, with clearly delineated beginnings and endings. While certainly there remain commitments to and demands for this kind of teaching, Ellsworth is arguing for a very different pedagogical orientation and one that I think is particularly pertinent to those of us who work in trauma and memory studies. In particular, I want to dwell on her notion of ‘teaching … as giving what I do not have’ and turn it not towards classroom teaching (the arena that is thought first and foremost as pedagogical), but to that other prevailing and pedagogical public arena in which we, scholars, most often find ourselves: conferences and other such public-speaking engagements. If we are oriented to such realms through the co-occurring ignorances outlined above, then what is in front of us is thought we may not know how to think together: that is, the thought of being startled, of faltering knowledges, of radical disruption, of losing guarantees. To translate Ellsworth’s phrasing, ‘to give what one does not have’, it seems to me, is to reckon with two ideas simultaneously: one, that thinking in public is giving in the sense of giving over to the moment, to being with, to how thought moves in a room in unanticipated and perhaps surprising ways. Second, what is being given is

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engagement in a practice of thought that cannot guarantee where it is going or what is being passed on, but instead is constitutive of an opening into thought: for Ellsworth (through Felman) reminds us that the thinker does not possess knowledge, own it, hold it on her own, to be dealt out in appropriate portions (although this is the prevailing fantasy of knowledge-as-mastery and detachment). What she can give, instead, is thinking in public as a kind of unknowable-in-advance practice of interpretation that we may not be easily prepared for and that may, moreover, disrupt, unsettle and put into difficult question what ‘we think we (should?) know and say’, about trauma, about memory, about legacy, about … I have been working with these ideas from Ellsworth in recent talks,24 including them as part of my introductory comments, in an effort to constitute some terms for an opening into thinking with others in the room, differently.25 Also, as I read back through the archive of my earlier work, I find it instructive now to read it through the notion of giving what I do not readily have to thought. The excerpt below is illustrative of how I have tried to symbolize this orientation. Excerpt #1 over and over I find myself struggling to stay close to what drives and sustains this writing; frequently moving to another place that is informed by the grit and the messiness and the day–night dreams and the body terrors and the burst outs and the giving (a)way. producing writing that bares the traces of these knowings but does not touch them, live with them. writing memory: from here. writing memory: back there. and yet it is only when I allow myself to foreground these places (pushing back the voices, the knowledge, the fears that shut them down) that it seems possible to breathe space into the writing; to remember not as a way to stitch the present into the shape of the past, but to remember as a way of repatterning the past, present and future.26 Re-reading that passage in the context of this essay’s deliberations, I remember with visceral intensity my struggle throughout the writing to give expression (in the terms articulated here, not terms I had at the time) to the messy, complicated and fragile work of interpretation over the fancy manoeuvres of (mastered) understanding. I undertook this struggle in part at the level of the theorizing I put forth, and in part at the level of textual representation: I note in this excerpt, for example that all the sentences begin in lower-case (I used this strategically when I wanted to evoke more of an urgency to the flow of the words) and that there is an interruption of phrasing in a smaller font. The latter was an effort on my part to signal thoughts that I did not know how to give myself over to, thoughts that I knew to be ‘prohibited’ both historically and in the writing-present. What I also had some confidence in, however, was that the writing was going to be first encountered by those who were oriented

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to listening in ways not foreclosed by the expectations of prior knowledge or the demands of clear and unequivocal understanding.27 So the preparedness I am seeking here, in this essay, has to do not only with thought, but also with material conditions and social relations that open spaces in the modern university for encountering ignorance(s) generatively. An individual scholar’s willingness to risk thought is necessary, but so are situated institutional struggles against the dictates of instrumental education, and an intersubjective sociality that helps to constitute the possibility of such struggles. Patti Lather offers us another opening here, through her notion of getting lost as a methodological approach.28 While Lather is exploring these issues in relation to ethnographic work, I want to suggest that her insights are helpful also for facing losses and theorizing trauma (indeed, Lather suggests as much in the opening paragraph, referencing her work with HIV–positive women29). Lather argues for a methodology of ‘getting lost’ as a way of introducing a hesitancy to knowledge, for knowledges that ‘stumble’ rather than purport to build (from) steady ground.30 For Lather, coming to understanding ‘too quickly’ is a problem for thought, arguing that the best thing that might happen for thought is that we get lost. Rather than efforts at certainty, mastery and control, then, Lather expresses an interest in how getting lost might ‘both produce different knowledge and produce knowledge differently’.31 Her essay ends with this line: ‘Here we are all a little lost, caught in enabling aporias that move us toward practices that are responsible to what is arising out of both becoming and passing away’.32 For those of us grappling with how to encounter, engage, listen, speak to and write about violent losses and trauma, the fleetingness of what is gestured to here seems both useful and appealing: a way of undertaking scholarly work on terms far more consistent with how traumatic traces ‘appear’ than enlightenment paradigms allow for. As I ponder Lather’s comments again, in the context of this essay’s substantive concerns, I have in mind excerpts such as the one above, in which I was endeavouring to mark moments when ‘I’ was ‘getting lost’, unable to face what was before me: in that moment, difficult memories of a deadened self, a self whose intactness was crumbling as she endeavoured to bear and write witness to the massacre of fourteen women unknown to her prior to their deaths. As I read it now, in opening myself to the traumatic ignorance produced by that massacre, I was opened to my own ignorance: to what I had previously been unable to know and to bear about my own traumatised subjectivity and how it shaped my living (at least, to what I was able to bear about being opened then). These are ma(r)kings of vulnerability: they were then, and they are now. But, in taking seriously what was happening to me psychically and viscerally as I undertook analysis of feminist memorialactivist responses to this murder of women (murdered as ‘feminists’, an identificatory category with which I held an attachment), I was endeavouring

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to carefully work through a process of bearing witness to an event of terrible loss when one brings to that loss one’s own terrible suffering. I argued that the rupturing effect of these murders was, paradoxically, their utter distinctness and their deep familiarity in a social that largely tolerates (albeit unevenly) a degree of normative everyday violences against women. Working with my own biography, I endeavoured to understand something of how to bear witness to these others and to myself. Taking seriously Felman’s notion of feeling myself ‘appointed’ as an ‘involuntary witness’,33 and reading now through Lather, I was both endeavouring to produce different knowledge and to produce knowledge differently. My biography was forced into these reckonings; I did not experience this as a matter of choice. Ellsworth has offered us the notion of giving to thought what we do not readily have to give; through Lather, I have suggested that there might be something significant in getting lost and staying with that lostness for thought and marking it in our scholarship. I learn more about this practice, by turning towards and learning from Judith Butler’s recent work. I have in mind, in particular, an essay included in the edited volume, Loss: The Politics of Mourning, and her text, Precarious Life, both of which speak specifically to what it might mean to live with, after and in relation to violent losses. First, I want to pick up on her notion of a breakage in thought. She observes: ‘It is not as if thinking ceases [after deliberate acts of violence that render humans anonymous], but after such an internal break, it continues, and that continuation is founded and structured by that break, carries the break with it as a signature of its history’.34 I read Butler to be arguing that such breakages in thought cannot be simply ‘mended’, but are – indeed, must be – a mark on how thought is to be thought after and in response to such rupture (where the break becomes its signature). It strikes me that there is something quite important to dwell on in this idea, particularly if we are to trace it in relation to arguments put forth to this point. That is, if we are to be open to encountering ignorance(s), then on what terms might thought be thought and written differently, so that its internal break is remembered and held and attended to (rather than sutured over)? Butler signals yet another idea that is helpful here: ‘being undone’. In short lines appearing as their own paragraph, Butler writes: ‘Let’s face it. We’re undone by each other. And if we’re not, we’re missing something’.35 She makes a lot of this undoing in her chapter, as she grapples with loss, grief, desire, and the avowals and disavowals of our differently–felt vulnerability of mutual constitution. Butler is concerned with the high, particularly racialised, stakes of such concerns in the aftermath of a 9/11 America. She is turned towards the task of the public intellectual, I am turning towards the work of trauma and memory studies, thinking with and through her words, asking: might allowing ourselves to be open to being undone, as scholars in face of violent losses and trauma, be a necessary part

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of the encounter with ignorance(s)? If we allow ourselves to be undone by the violent events and the dead and the ruins and the unidentified remains of those who we are endeavouring to develop thoughtfulness in relation to, then in what ways might that undoing be translated into what and how we interpret and represent our interpretations of events of mass suffering, destruction and loss? What conditions and relations of the contemporary university might support such openings and their effects, so that we might bear to dwell with our implication in what we cannot bear to know? Might changes in scholarship be part of producing such conditions and relations? These are the kinds of questions that have compelled my writing on the memorialisation of Ground Zero in New York City, following the events of 9/11. I came to realize that what I could not say loomed much larger for me than anything I could; that, indeed, I was critical of coming too quickly to knowledge. As I considered prevalent public and political responses to those events, I was most struck by how that presupposition of knowledge as what we can, should or must have, as the grounds of action, was having devastating effects. I wondered how those of us working in the field of trauma and memory studies might offer different ways of thinking after the breakage of thought that was 9/11 without participating in the suturing over of that breakage. Here are some of my deliberations: Excerpt #2: … we must begin from the position that there can be no stance of innocence in regard to theorizing loss, rupture, memorialisation and sociality. This non-innocence is marked by complex and complicated psychic and social identifications, identifications that find naming in, but cannot be reduced to, particular identity positionings … [Further,] as those giving serious attention to the breakage of thought, we need to be nervous about relying too readily on our toolkit of concepts developed elsewhere, for simple ‘application’ – even if that elsewhere is another event of violent death … [Lastly] I suggest we must begin from the position that any writing on the events of 9/11 and their aftermath both comes too soon and too late. Too soon, because the grief is still raw for many, remains remain unidentified and unburied, loss and rupture are still damp to the touch.36 Too late, because the U.S. government acted immediately with a heavy military hand, and everyday we hear reports of more atrocity enacted in the name of retaliating for the dead. This then is a fragile writing and speaking moment, caught in the paradox of its own inadequate time.37 As I reflect on inadequate time – in face of urgencies to respond – I am reminded of Francine Prose. Writing after and in relation to the Nazi genocide of European Jewry, she starts her essay: ‘Whenever I write a sentence of this, I feel the dead enter the room’, and then a few lines down,

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‘We believe we owe it to these dead to keep them in living memory; we feel this is important, although their death is painful to write about and is never greeted by anyone as welcome news’.38 I anticipate that much of what I have articulated here may not be welcome news for many (I cannot say that I frequently welcome it), but I do think Prose’s calling forth of an obligation, feeling the dead enter the room, is critical to what it might mean to be bound to the breakage of history and to that breakage as a signature of scholarship in trauma and memory studies.

Coming to an End, Holding Open Openings The deliberations of this essay are founded in a paradox that I have not resolved (I suspect cannot and perhaps should not be resolved), but that I am endeavouring to think on – and welcome further thought in regard to – because I have some sense that we are missing something crucial without such public, vulnerable, undertakings. What I am worrying on is that trauma and memory studies are being too readily incorporated into the normative and hegemonic projects of the modern university. Caught between the scholarly demands of mastery, detachment, and a certain certainty, on the one hand, and the psychic demands of distancing ourselves from what we cannot bear to know, on the other, trauma and memory studies is a fragile and fraught scholarly endeavour that must continuously encounter — and fail to encounter – a loss of knowledge and a refusal of the implication of that loss. I have argued that we are not making enough of that fragility, fraughtness and failure in scholarship. The effects of this neglect are multiple: there are effects for each ‘generation’ of scholars who enter this domain of study; there are effects for each of us who work in the field; there are effects on the field itself and its possibilities for interrupting suffering, violence, destruction, hatred; there are effects for the work of intellectuals more broadly in these times, when the urgencies of learning how to respond to traumatic events and their legacies are ever pressing. It is for another essay to explore some of these effects, but at minimum I am suggesting that to orient trauma and memory studies as and through an encounter with two ignorances is to cast these studies in a radically different direction than we hold to be normative, in which learning is primarily understood as learning facts, about what happened, so as to ensure it does not happen again.39 Remembrance as learning, on the terms I am suggesting here, must push us into what we cannot (bear to) know, into the vulnerabilities of encountering ignorance(s). Learning how to do this, its textures and contours, its disorientations and claims, is the ground of possibility, is what we pass through in order ‘to know’. For, I am not saying that there is nothing that can be known in regard to events of mass destruction, suffering and their attendant memorialisation. I am

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not suggesting that trauma and memory studies become a field solely and simply of self-introspection (for, at minimum, this would negate the ethicalpolitical demand to attend to the trauma suffered by others). Rather, I am arguing that the study of trauma and memory calls for encounters with ignorance(s) as a condition of possibility for how ‘we’ might ‘be’ in relation, to cite Wendy Brown, to ‘what lives on’ after violent death and destruction, ‘what is conjured from it, how past generations and events occupy the force fields of the present, how they claim us, and how they haunt, plague, and inspirit our imaginations and visions for the future’.40 I am suggesting we might find generative possibilities, for more livable lives,41 in creating scholarship (and hence public conversations) that encounters ignorance(s), gives over to thought what we do not readily have to give, gets lost in facing what is difficult to bear, and allows openings to being undone by traumatic encounter. At stake is vulnerability, yes. But can we afford to orient otherwise?

Acknowledgments For their engagement with the formative version of this essay, my thanks to Amber Dean, who not only provided research assistance but also was a valuable interlocutor on this essay and its difficult demands, and to Judy Davidson, who listened patiently, lovingly calling my grapplings into intelligibility. I am grateful further to the insights of Susanne Luhmann, whose reading prompted a subtle but significant shift, and to the engagement by the editors of this volume, in particular Jane Kilby. The substantive concerns of this essay are connected to a project for which I am fortunate to have SSHRC funding, entitled ‘Opening the Present to the Violently Dead’.

Notes 1. S. Felman and D. Laub. 1992. Testimony, New York: Routledge, 48. 2. The ‘you’ to whom this essay is addressed, who I imagine will find most resonance with the kind of deliberations I am undertaking, are those who work in the area of trauma and memory studies. That said, it is not necessary that scholars of trauma and memory will feel the impact of what they are studying in the ways I have indicated here. Moreover, there may be ways in which these deliberations resonate for scholars who work in other areas altogether. I am curious about that dynamic of resonance and difference. 3. I have in mind here, for example, Caruth 1996; Felman and Laub 1992; Hesford and Kozol 2001; Simon, Rosenberg and Eppert 2000; Van Alphen 1997; Spiegelman 1992a, 1992b; Young 1993, 2000. 4. M. Warner (ed.). 1993. Fear of a Queer Planet, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

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5. Over the years, I have made different decisions, based on particular political and ethical reckonings, on naming the dead. In this time, I would make arguments for naming all of the dead – the women murdered and their killer, for he too demands our attention as a subject who suffered (albeit differently, both in terms of our attention and their suffering). Subjected to death were: Annie St Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Anne-Marie Edward, Anne-Marie Lemay, Barbara Daigneault, Barbara Maria Klucznik, Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Maryse Laganière, Maud Haviernick, Michèle Richard, Nathalie Croteau, Sonia Pelletier. The perpetrator of these killings was Marc Lepine. 6. See Braithwaite et al. 2004; Rosenberg 2004a, 2003, 1998, 1997, 1996; Rosenberg and Simon 2000. 7. C. Caruth. 1995. Trauma, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 4, emphasis mine. 8. Caruth, Trauma, 4, emphasis mine. 9. What startles Freud is how, in the returning traumatic dream, one finds ‘the literal return of the event against the will of the one it inhabits’. Caruth, Trauma, 5. 10. See for example, Giroux 2007; Nelson and Watt 2004; Readings 1996. 11. For prompting me to think in this direction, I extend thanks to Judy Davidson, who, upon reading an earlier version of this essay, asked me to consider if there may be a relation between traumatic ignorance as a constitutive demand and a notion of ignorance as a will not to know. 12. R.I. Simon. 1992. Teaching Against the Grain, Toronto: OISE Press, 95. 13. E. Ellsworth. 1997. Teaching Positions, New York: Teachers’ College Press, 65–6, emphasis in original. 14. As I write this, I have in mind these words by Biddy Martin, who asks: ‘Where in our universities and in our professional worlds is the not known treated creatively? Where do we find curiosity, risk, and a sense of responsibility to Thought?’ (1997: 129). 15. Indeed, it may well be that the demands of scholarly performance map well on the demands of actively, if not consciously, refusing what we cannot bear to know. My thanks to Susanne Luhmann for this insight and to Amber Dean, who wonders if a will not to know may be a ‘necessary response [to ignorance as a constitutive demand on the scholar of trauma and memory studies], if one wants to continue to survive / succeed in the academy’ (personal communication, April 2006, emphasis in original). I hope to develop this thought further in a separate paper. 16. The panel, entitled ‘Ruptures of Trauma, Politics of Containment: MemorialActivism and the Fraught Figure of Feminism’, was proposed to and presented at The Future of Memory: An International Holocaust and Trauma Conference in Manchester, U.K. (2005). The other panel members were Amber Dean, Claudette Lauzon and Kate Bride. My thanks to each of them and to Jane Kilby for her encouragement and support of this work (if not her agreement) at the conference. 17. Jung is commenting on Sabina Spielrein (former patient of Jung’s and, at the time, psychoanalyst in her own right), specifically her paper on the death drive, apparently written ten years before Freud’s read–as–seminal study was published. See Avery Gordon’s discussion in chapter 2 of her Ghostly Matters. 18. A. Gordon. 1997. Ghostly Matters, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 40, ellipses and translation in original Gordon text.

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19. Other notable works that might be read as on the periphery of the field of trauma and memory studies, but which I think are generative on terms that I am outlining here, include: Avery Gordon, Ghostly Matters; Patti Lather and Chris Smithies, Troubling the Angels: Women Living with HIV/AIDS; Elizabeth Ellsworth, Places of Learning: Media, Architecture, Pedagogy; Patricia J. Williams, Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor. Perhaps there are other texts that beautifully take up what I am grappling with here, and I simply do not know of them. I would welcome being so directed. 20. I further note that readers of this essay in process have had quite strikingly different responses to the inclusion of excerpts from the archive of my writing. For one reader, this is a necessary element to the essay’s development, for moving beyond critique to some sense of how else we might write trauma and memory as scholars. For another reader, the same excerpts were unnecessary, interruptive and difficult to bear. I have my own concerns too: about appearing prescriptive, and that the use of the biographical may be miss-read as individualised rather than an index to the discursive workings of the social at the level of what we commonly name ‘the individual’. I have (I suspect, inadequately) negotiated these differing demands by using fewer excerpts and shortening those that remain. 21. I. Rogoff. 2005. ‘Looking Away: Participations in Visual Culture’, in Gavin Butt (ed.), After Criticism, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 119. 22. E. Ellsworth, Teaching Positions, 18. 23. E. Ellsworth, Teaching Positions, 18. 24. See, for example, Rosenberg 2005a, 2005b, 2004a. 25. I have felt supported to offer thinking in these ways at conference papers over the last few years in particular. I am grateful to those who have heard the work as a certain opening into thought and have encouraged that opening through their responses. In addition to those already named, I note especially: Yasmeen Arif, Eleanor Chiari, John Clarke, Dina Georgis, Carrie Hamilton, Melissa Jacques, Catherine Kellogg, Jane Kilby, Claudette Lauzon, Noam Leshem, Tanya Lewis, Katherine McKittrick, Diane Naugler, George Pavlich. 26. S. Rosenberg. 1997. Rupturing the ‘Skin of Memory’, Toronto: Ph.D. diss., Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 13. 27. I extend gratitude here to Roger I. Simon, Kari Dehli and Deanne Bogdan and also to Cathy Caruth. 28. P. Lather. 2000. ‘Getting Lost: Feminist Efforts Towards a Double(d) Science’. Presented at Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theorizing, Dayton OH. Subsequent to the writing of this essay, and as I am undertaking final revisions, Patti Lather has published a collection of essays (2007) that is a substantive development of the ideas she initially put forth in the paper that I reference here. I anticipate that it will be an important resource and inspiration for elaborating on the ideas I sketch in this part of the essay. 29. See P. Lather and C. Smithies. 1997. Troubling the Angels, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. 30. Lather, ‘Getting Lost’, 4. 31. Lather, ‘Getting Lost’, 4. 32. Lather, ‘Getting Lost’, 5.

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33. Felman and Laub, Testimony, 3–4. 34. J. Butler. 2003. ‘Afterword: After Loss, What Then?’, in D.L. Eng and D. Kazanjian (eds), Loss. Berkeley: University of California Press, 468. 35. J. Butler. 2004a. Precarious Life, London: Verso, 23. 36. Interestingly, as I was working on an earlier version of this essay, I read a review of the then soon to be released Universal Pictures film, United 93. This film depicts a version of the events on United Airline flight 93, in which passengers and crew fought back, before the plane went down in Pennsylvania. Controversy regarding the film stems in part from this sense of it being still ‘too soon’ (see Houpt, 2006: R1, R7). 37. S. Rosenberg. 2004b. ‘Re–building (for) the Future on the Remains of the Dead’. Presented at The Politics of Cultural Memory Conference, Manchester, U.K. 38. F. Prose. 1989. ‘Protecting the Dead’, in D. Rosenberg (ed.). Testimony, New York: Times Books, 98, 98–99. 39. R.I. Simon, S. Rosenberg, and C. Eppert (eds). 2000. Between Hope and Despair, Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. 40. W. Brown. 2001. Politics Out of History, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 150. 41. J. Butler, Precarious Life; J. Butler. 2004b. Undoing Gender, New York and London: Routledge.

14 Activist Memories: The Politics of Trauma and the Pleasures of Politics Carrie Hamilton

Since the 1990s it has become a truism to say that academics in the Humanities, especially in the United States, Britain and other predominantly English-speaking countries, are obsessed with memory. Within this wider memory boom there has been a particular focus on trauma. The ‘oxymoronic’ popularity of trauma1 has led one scholar to label it a ‘fetish’2 and another to write of ‘traumaculture’.3 While some stress the political utility of trauma in theorizing historical forms of oppression,4 more sceptical thinkers link the fascination with trauma to the rise of ‘victim culture’5 and even ‘trauma envy’.6 Notwithstanding their differences, what these different commentaries have in common is the insistence that the academic institutionalization of trauma needs to be historicized, and its politics scrutinized. Interestingly, given the growing attention to the politics of trauma, to date only a small number of scholars have asked how trauma theory may — or may not — be helpful in understanding politics itself. Whereas much has been written about the victims of past political conflict, few studies have focussed on memories of political protagonists.7 Some researchers have begun to analyse perpetrator memories as well as those of the victims of catastrophe and genocide. But the very assumption that memories can be divided into ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ underscores the force of trauma in shaping contemporary understandings of memory. What of the memories of political activists who cannot be categorized in this binary model? In the light of these concerns, I have been drawn to two recent studies of activist memories: Kristen Ross’s May ’68 and its Afterlives and Ann Cvetkovich’s An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public

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Cultures.8 While Ross argues against deploying trauma to explain the history of ’68, Cvetkovich defends the expansion of trauma theory beyond public events such as war and catastrophe, to include intimacies associated with the private, including lesbian sexualities. In this chapter, I take these two works as a starting point for a discussion of the usefulness of trauma theory for reading narratives of activism among participants in progressive political movements. Does privileging trauma, I ask, lead to the marginalization of activist memories, especially of those memories associated with mass movements for change, as Ross argues? Or does the interpretation of activist memories as traumatic point to the creative potential of trauma as a tool for collective transformation, as Cvetkovich’s work claims? I have chosen these two books not only for their radically different positions on trauma, but also for what they share in common. In their methodologies and theoretical frameworks these studies represent the kinds of innovative cultural history that is needed, I believe, to do justice to the passions of past political activism. Notwithstanding their differences, Ross and Cvetkovich are each concerned in their own ways to honour the pleasures, as well as pain and conflict, associated with activism. This chapter also concerns itself, therefore, with how to study activist memories in ways that incorporate the legacy of positive feelings associated with politics in an era where ‘the left’, revolution and activism itself are increasingly treated in academic texts as objects of mourning. This mourning, like trauma, has its own history, one that cannot be dissociated from the social and material conditions in which studies of cultural memory are produced. I close, therefore, with some thoughts on the future of memory that highlight the need continuously to reconsider, historicize and even criticize our own conceptual tools.

Queering Trauma In An Archive of Feelings Cvetkovich claims that contemporary understandings of trauma are restricted by being too closely associated with the idea of catastrophe, major public events and in particular ‘dead bodies’.9 In response, she proposes the expansion of trauma theory beyond public events such as war and genocide, to include intimacies usually associated with the private, including sexuality. Examining stories of AIDS activism and other ‘lesbian public cultures’ Cvetkovich ‘queers’ trauma theory by using it to explore not only everyday emotions around sexual trauma and mourning, but also relationships, community and intimacy. For Cvetkovich, the re-definition of the parameters of trauma involve, among other things, confronting ‘the apparent gender divide within trauma discourse’.10 This means taking seriously the traumas associated with sexism and homophobia

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and simultaneously questioning the private/public divide that allows major ‘public’ events to be categorized as traumatic, while more localized, ‘private’ traumas remain largely invisible. Critiquing the medicalization and pathologizing of trauma, including much of its use in relation to sexual abuse and therapeutic cultures, Cvetkovich argues that it is through the forging of new public cultures out of and around everyday traumas – for example, butch-femme sexualities, anti-racist queer cultural production or AIDS activism – that lesbians in the contemporary United States create their own ‘archive of feelings’. In her study of lesbians involved in ACT UP during the 1980s and 1990s, Cvetkovich uses oral history interviews to record memories of AIDS activism and its affects, including erotic energy and intimacy.11 She stresses the heightened emotional intensity associated with movements that engage in street demonstrations and direct action.12 This is the aspect of Cvetkovich’s reworking of trauma theory that I find most innovative and helpful. In highlighting the importance of political acting – in the double sense of performing and being active – she interprets trauma as productive, as moving into the future and away from victimhood, through resistance and the creation of radical ‘counterpublics’. But even as I admire this exploration of everyday forms of trauma and its implications for the theorization of the relationship between memory, feelings and activism, I am wary of Cvetkovich’s application of trauma to so many different areas of lesbian life and politics. The author is aware of the potential criticism of her work, that some might find her application of trauma too ‘loose’.13 My own concern is different, however. I worry that in trying to radicalize trauma theory by queering it, Cvetkovich overestimates, or at least overstates, its radical political potential. Ultimately, An Archive of Feelings is concerned with issues that have preoccupied feminist and lesbian activists and scholars for decades: the causes and consequences of sexual abuse and other forms of violence against girls, women and queers. What marks her study as different is the designation as traumatic of a range of experiences previously more commonly designated in feminist parlance as ‘oppression’, a word now widely out of use in English-language feminist and queer scholarship. In fact, the move from oppression to trauma may not be as new as it appears. As Jane Kilby notes, public debate about trauma can be linked historically to the new social movements of the 1960s and 1970s (including civil rights, second-wave feminism and gay rights) and the identity politics of the 1980s and 1990s.14 One of Cvetkovich’s aims is precisely to politicize trauma by taking it out of the realm of the private and away from medical discourses and practices, to transform it in the sphere of public cultures, and she does this well. But I think the choice of trauma theory as the framework for her book on lesbian public cultures is symptomatic of a certain repackaging of politics in academic, including feminist and queer, publications over the

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past several years. In an environment in which the links between academia and activism are increasingly tenuous, one way of presenting oppression and political resistance as serious objects of study may be to incorporate them into a wider body of academically-recognized theories that are not always – or not primarily – associated with radical politics.15 Although trauma has been associated in the Humanities with the study of political events and oppression, most notably the Holocaust, it is worth remembering its more diverse roots. Freud, for instance, first became aware of the problem of ‘traumatic neuroses’ in relation not to political acts of violence but to accidents, such as train disasters; this interest expanded to ‘war neuroses’ only later, after 1918.16 Unlike oppression, trauma does not necessarily involve a human agent as well as a victim. By focusing on the victim, trauma theory does not necessarily provide an understanding of the structures of political power, exploitation or abuse, nor of those responsible for them. Moreover, trauma, like other psychoanalytical concepts, is not inherently aligned to any particular political position, and can be exploited or employed equally by right and left. As Lauren Berlant has argued for the U.S. context, the ‘public rhetoric of citizen trauma’17 is historically linked to the rise of the Reaganite new right in the 1980s, and its claim to defend the rights of citizens defined as vulnerable victims, including foetuses, children and ‘the family’.

Trauma, Loss and Mourning If the genealogy of trauma sometimes seems to be blurred in contemporary trauma theory, so too does trauma’s relationship to other Freudian concepts. In An Archive of Feelings this is most evident in the continual shift between ‘trauma’ and ‘mourning’. The chapters on AIDS activism, for example, draw substantially on Douglas Crimp’s seminal essay ‘Mourning and Militancy’.18 Yet in Crimp’s article the link between trauma and mourning is problematic. Crimp argues that AIDS can either be interpreted as ‘a natural, accidental catastrophe’ or as a ‘result of gross political negligence or mendacity’.19 I interpret this ‘or’ as an acknowledgment that to define AIDS as a catastrophe (a term frequently associated with trauma in contemporary trauma studies) may actually lead to the de-politicization of its causes and consequences.20 Of course, Crimp recognizes the traumatic effects of AIDS on people living with and dying of it. But the problem with the related concepts ‘catastrophe’ and ‘trauma’ is that they focus attention on these victims at the expense of naming and holding accountable those whose ‘political negligence or mendacity’ actually increased the numbers and suffering of victims. My argument, therefore, is not that AIDS should not be considered traumatic, nor that there is no relationship between trauma and mourning. But Cvetkovich does not, in my view, offer a clear enough theorization of

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the relationship between these two concepts. Whereas all forms of trauma lead to mourning, the reverse is not necessarily true. Indeed, Freud’s essay Mourning and Melancholia, written just five years before Beyond the Pleasure Principle, where trauma is more fully explored, does not even mention trauma. Freud, of course, was interested in the reaction to the loss of a loved person or ‘abstraction’ – ‘a country, a liberty, an ideal’.21 An example of an ‘abstraction’ that can be lost – and therefore mourned – is political activism. Crimp, in his later essay ‘Melancholia and Moralism’,22 makes this point in relation to the waning of AIDS activism in the 1990s, and Cvetkovich talks of the need to mourn the ‘emotional intensities and disappointments’ that activism leaves in its wake.23 I want to take seriously the loss and therefore the intense emotions that accompany the demise of a political movement or ideal, and of individual and collective activism; but I think we can theorize such losses and affects without labelling all loss traumatic. Moreover, I want to consider how to remember — and to mourn — activism in a way that incorporates memories of pleasure and promise.

The Pleasures of Politics Like Cvetokovich, Kristin Ross is concerned about loss, in particular in relation to how the politics of 1968 has been remembered and forgotten in the French public sphere. In May ’68 and its Afterlives, Ross argues that the very ways in which memory has come to be understood in the western European and North American academic world has been conditioned and restrained by the study of the Second World War, and in particular by concepts such as trauma and repression. These categories, she argues, have ‘defamiliarized us from any understanding … of a “mass event” that does not appear to us in the register of “catastrophe” or “mass extermination”. Masses, in other words, have come to mean masses of dead bodies, not masses of people working together to take charge of their own lives’.24 Ross claims that notions such as trauma or repression cannot incorporate the wide range of emotions and associations, such as ‘pleasure, power, excitement, happiness and disappointment’, found in activist memories of the 1960s: The prevailing theories of social memory and forgetting – the catastrophe or ‘trauma’ school and the social identity school – were of little use in coming to terms with the vicissitudes of the memory of a mass political event like May. Even worse, their domination of the intellectual field and the ubiquity of their tropes – the grand figures of the Gulag or the Holocaust on the one hand or the stabilities of the habitus on the other – could perhaps themselves be seen as a symptom, a generalised reluctance to consider the very notion of politics or collective political agency in the present.25

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For Ross, these problems are far from academic. The amnesia and manipulation that she scrupulously locates in ‘official histories’ of May ’68 are intimately tied to the neo-liberal regimes of the past thirty years. In France, a handful of self-proclaimed leaders of May, along with certain state officials and self-styled ‘experts’, have successfully claimed a monopoly on the memory of May, thus allowing the events to become popularized as a short-lived, ultimately unsuccessful Paris ‘student rebellion’. Lost through this process are the radical roots and legacy of 1968: the coalitions of left intellectuals and workers, the movement’s national and international character, as well as its avowed anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism. By relating the conservative memorializing of May ’68 to the academic preoccupation with ‘the Holocaust and the Gulag’, Ross is ultimately asking another, broader, and equally political, question: what is lost when memory becomes too closely associated with trauma? One response is an appreciation for the importance of pleasure as a political factor, and for memories of happiness associated with activism. Ross stresses that taking joyful memories seriously does not preclude seeing May ’68 as something that was lived as a serious political movement.26 Indeed, one of the distortions of May ’68 that Ross contests is its popular image as only a festival, an image that fails to convey the fundamental, and radical, reality of 1968: that the pleasures of the movement arose precisely from the collapse of politics with the everyday, and with finding ways to make work itself an enjoyment.27 The role of memory in conceptualizing the pleasures of politics is summarized in Ross’s interpretation of the memoir of one former activist: … a multiform pleasure, one of physical and social transgression, of new friendships or complicities to be gained, emerges in her account and in those of other militants. This is pleasure … not as part of a revolutionary demand or slogan … pleasure not pursued as an end in itself nor even necessarily conceptualized at the time as pleasure.28 The memories of May ’68 cited by Ross’s activists echo in significant ways the testimonies of AIDS activists collected by Cvetkovich, particularly in their stress on the importance of the joys associated with the merging of politics with the everyday and the private: friendships, relationships and sexuality. But whereas Cvetkovich incorporates the memories of such experiences and the feelings of loss once they are gone, into an expanded theory of trauma, Ross argues that to privilege trauma in the study of memory is to risk forgetting the pleasures of politics. Ultimately, both authors seek a theoretical framework, and a public forum, for the expression of activist memories, in the context of a culture – including contemporary academic culture – that privileges the representation of certain forms of public memory associated with trauma, and which seems to be suspicious of attempts to bring

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pleasure into politics. In so doing, each author comes up against the ways in which contemporary academic associations of memory with trauma, loss and mourning shape understandings of both past and present.

Mourning Activism Like Ross, Cvetkovich is concerned that activists’ memories will be misremembered and stripped of their radicalism in existing histories.29 Moreover, she links directly her own history of activism and commitment to radical queer politics to her project of archiving lesbian trauma and history. Cvetkovich therefore locates herself within the politics of trauma, loss and mourning even as she archives them. Ross, in contrast, takes a more conventional and distanced, if by no means neutral, approach to her subject. Yet in her critique of the trauma paradigm Ross implies a loss beyond the pleasures of politics and beyond activist memories. In reading May ’68 and its Afterlives I get a sense of mourning for the solidarities and collectivities that allowed May ’68 to happen in the first place and that, presumably, also shaped the author’s own political and intellectual development. Ross is not alone in mourning the radical politics of the 1960s and the movements associated with it. In a recent issue of parallax, entitled ‘Mourning Revolution’, a number of academics reflect upon the predicament of the post–1989 left in the West. As Wendy Brown notes in her contribution, the job of mourning the revolution is complicated by the fact that there is no body to mourn; what she calls the ‘Euro–Atlantic’ left is actually mourning the death of a promise, and of a certain futurity.30 What strikes me in Brown, however, as well as in Ross and several other recent examples of ‘mourning’ the left, is the confidence with which the loss itself is proclaimed. In too many cases there is a seeming lack of self-reflectivity about the location of the loss and the perspective of the mourner. This is particularly so in work on memory, trauma and mourning written either in Britain or the United States, countries which scholars all too often take as shorthand for ‘the West’.31 Just as trauma theorists should perhaps be more critical about the historical and institutional processes by which theory is produced, those bemoaning the end of revolution would do well to consider whose death they are mourning. In an article aptly titled ‘Theoretical Afflictions: Poor White Folks Play the Blues’, Lynne Segal notes that ‘[In] place of political ideas and collective action, mourning and melancholia have never been more popular than they became in the 1990s’.32 Unlike Ross, Segal recognizes that political activism was not ‘lost’ in the 1990s; rather, it was often located in areas outside the radar (for example, anti-capitalist demonstrations in North America, Western and Eastern Europe, and Latin America) of those academics in the

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English-speaking world who were busy mourning the ‘new’ social movements. Segal reserves her harshest criticism for an article by Wendy Brown entitled ‘Resisting Left Melancholia’. In this essay, Brown explores the contemporary relevance of Walter Benjamin’s essay ‘Left Melancholia’, which, she says, ‘is Benjamin’s unambivalent epithet for the revolutionary hack who is, finally, more attached to a particular political analysis or ideal – even to the failure of that ideal – than to seizing possibilities for radical change in the present’.33 Segal takes Brown to task on a number of counts: for presenting ‘the Left’ in singular mode, for blurring the difference between Benjamin’s use of the term ‘melancholia’ and Freud’s psychoanalytic formulation, for getting bogged down in debates left over from the 1990s ‘Cultural Wars’, and for using ‘Benjamin to defend a position remarkably similar to one his words were so passionately coined to attack’.34 While she concedes that Brown is no doubt familiar with ‘the divergent connotation and context of Benjamin’s past political attachments’,35 Segal is critical of the way this particular article obscures the complexities of Benjamin’s politics and writings in order to suit a rather confusing political reading of the present. A detailed discussion of Brown’s and Segal’s differences, and of Benjamin’s work and legacy, lie far beyond the scope of this chapter. But I want to stress that Brown’s article is part of a wider trend in contemporary theories of loss, mourning, melancholia and trauma, one that privileges a particular reading of Benjamin’s work, focusing especially on ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, an essay often cited in contemporary trauma studies. The implications of this particular focus on Benjamin for understandings of memory are, ironically, summarized by Brown herself at the outset of her article: … Benjamin was neither categorically nor characterologically opposed to the value and valence of sadness as such, nor to the potential insights gleaned from brooding over one’s losses. Indeed, he had a well-developed appreciation of the productive value of acedia, sadness, and mourning for political and cultural work, and in his study of Baudelaire, Benjamin treated melancholia itself as something of a creative wellspring.36 It is worth noting that the article by Brown was (re)published in a 2003 edited collection entitled Loss: The Politics of Mourning, alongside a version of Cvetkovich’s chapter on ACT UP lesbians37 and Douglas Crimp’s ‘Melancholia and Moralism’. The volume incorporates many themes found in recent work on memory in American cultural theory. A quotation from Judith Butler’s Afterword, which again draws primarily on Benjamin, gives an idea of these themes:

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Many of the essays here refer to the sensuality of melancholia, to its form of pleasure, its mode of becoming, and therefore reject its identification with paralysis. But it probably remains true that it is only because we know its stasis that we can trace its motion, and that we want to. The rituals of mourning are sites of merriment; Benjamin knows this as well, but as his text effectively shows, it is not always possible to keep the dance alive.38 Melancholia as sensuality, mourning rituals as merriment: like Cvetkovich, Butler does not abandon pleasure, but incorporates it into theories of loss. My point is not to criticize Butler’s approach (and much less the work of Benjamin), nor any of the individual chapters in the Loss volume. Rather, I want to signal that this major volume, with articles and an Afterword by key contemporary cultural theorists, is an example of the ways in which certain theories of loss, mourning and trauma, especially as formulated in U.S. cultural theory, have come to dominate memory studies at the expense of other theories and approaches. Susannah Radstone voiced similar concerns some years ago in her introduction to the special forum on trauma in the journal Screen. Radstone worried that definitions of trauma associated with Cathy Caruth, Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub had come to dominate memory studies to such an extent that other understandings of memory, including popular memory or fantasy, were often not adequately explored.39 I want to pause for a moment to consider how the idea of fantasy may be relevant to the study of activist memories, particularly in relation to progressive political movements associated with May ’68 and its aftermath. In his contribution to the Screen forum convened by Radstone, German film theorist Thomas Elsaesser writes that: … trauma theory is trying to redefine important theoretical ground about the status of fantasy (once thought of as the motor of political action — the May ’68 slogan of l’imagination au pouvoir — now the engine that drives consumerism) …40 I interpret Ross’s May ’68 as, in part, a desire to reclaim the radical political potential of fantasy in the face of the neo-liberal attempt to turn the memory of May ’68 into a story of pre-consumerist, theme-park celebration of individualism. The fantasies associated with 1968 can be traced in particular in the quotations from written memoirs of protagonists speaking of their dreams – and subsequent disappointments – of change.41 Comparative studies of activism, for example Gilda Zwerman’s work on female armed insurgents in the U.S.A.,42 Luisa Passerini’s book on 1968 in Italy43 and Norma Mogrovejo’s research on lesbian feminist organizing in Latin America,44 highlight what Burgin et al. call the ‘force of fantasy’45 in political movements, by considering the relations between the imaginary

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and the real, sexual and political identities, family history and political commitment, eroticism, intimacy and community, attachments to the past and dreams of the future. A recent example from Argentina, a country whose history of imperialism, military dictatorships and disappearances seems to invite a reading focussed on loss and trauma, also points to alternative understandings of memory. Patricia Rojas describes the popular theatre and other projects performed by children of the disappeared: … the relationship between young people and memory can be much freer and less guilt-ridden (culposa) than for previous generations. There are many twenty-somethings who can recall past pain with joy and with their eyes on the present.46 The cultural forms chosen by some young Argentines – dance, theatre, rap music – are not a form of amnesia or a sign of repression, but rather an urge to ‘make history’ in their own ways, as an alternative to older forms of memory that they associate with a ‘passive attitude’.47 As Rojas writes, these young people are looking for ways to talk about the tragic past without melancholy.48 Similarly, in her innovative fictional documentary Los Rubios, Albertina Carri directs another young actress playing herself (Carri) in search of answers to the disappearance and murder of her parents under the Argentine military junta of the 1970s, and stages memories of her childhood and her parents’ kidnapping with Playmobile toys.49 Through their focus on the creative powers of memory, these second-generation Argentines trace their individual and collective tragedies and confront the agents of past atrocities, while simultaneously celebrating the promises, pleasures and playfulness associated with their parents’ progressive politics. I cite these examples by way of pointing towards the rich resources for the study of memory beyond, or at least in addition to, trauma theory. Other models include the innovative oral history of Alessandro Portelli50 and the popular memory work of Raphael Samuel.51 In the area of feminism, Rosi Braidotti, following Foucault, proposes the creation of ‘feminist genealogies’: ‘politically informed countermemories which keep us connected to the experiences and the speaking voices of the women whose resistance is for us a source of support and inspiration’.52 A feminist countermemory would not disavow loss, pain and trauma, but could provide an alternative to what Braidotti herself has identified as ‘the dominant ethics of vulnerability, suffering, empathy and mourning’ in contemporary feminist theory.53

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Conclusion: Whose Memories? Whose Feelings? Whose Loss? When I delivered the original version of this chapter at the conference ‘The Future of Memory’ in Manchester in November 2005, I was confronted with a question that highlighted some of the issues I have addressed above in relation to memory, politics and pleasure. One member of the audience asked (I am paraphrazing here) how Kristin Ross’s analysis of the pleasures of 1968 could be understood in light of the fact that the link between politics and the mass mobilisation of emotion was historically linked to Fascism. I was doubly taken aback by the question: first, because I had evidently failed to convey the complexity of Ross’s thesis, and second, because I had not predicted such an obvious objection. In an ensuing discussion, the audience member declared that as a historian of twentieth-century Europe, and in particular of Germany, where Fascism had so effectively mobilized people’s emotions for the purposes of authoritarianism and genocide, he had become convinced that politics should be rational. This argument points to a much wider dilemma that has haunted feminist and leftist scholars for some time but that has been overshadowed by the frequent association of politics and history with trauma. This is the question of the importance of emotion and fantasy in political life, and their productive and positive potential for radical politics. In short, the problem consists of reclaiming for politics a space beyond the rational, a space which, since the 1930s, has been overwhelmingly associated with the right, and more specifically with Fascism. There have been important moves to break the link between political passions and the right. Whether through rereadings of the life force in Nietzsche and Western philosophy,54 exploring the force of fantasy in political life,55 or analyzing the history of emotions in politics,56 recent scholarship has challenged in creative ways the idea that politics should be rational, and that when they are not they must be dangerous and violent. I see Ross and Cvetkovich’s books as contributing, in very different but equally valuable ways, to this work on creativity and emotions in politics. In answer to the questions I posed at the beginning of this chapter: trauma, as Cvetkovich’s book demonstrates, does not necessarily preclude an analysis of the pleasures and passions of past political activism. But, as Ross warns, the popularity of trauma has constrained contemporary understandings of memory and obscured alternative theoretical approaches. By arguing for caution in the face of the popularity of trauma, I am not therefore suggesting that we abandon the concept altogether. Rather, I am making a twofold proposal: first, that trauma and related concepts (including loss, mourning and melancholia) be defined and deployed in ways that make

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their own histories and politics more transparent; and second, that trauma not be allowed to displace other theories and models of memory. These issues are especially urgent for academics who are committed to progressive politics, but who may be tempted to mourn what has been lost rather than explore the positive legacies of past activisms. In the face of continuous laments about the loss of revolution and radical politics, and the relative lack of case studies of activist memories, there is ample opportunity to explore the richness of those memories, an opportunity that has not yet been lost.

Notes 1. S. Radstone. 2001. ‘Trauma and Screen Studies: opening the Debate’, Screen, 42 (2), 89. 2. K. Ball. 2000. ‘Introduction: Trauma and its Institutional Destinies’, Cultural Critique, 46, 1. 3. R. Luckhurst. 2003. ‘Traumaculture’, new formations, 50. 4. Ball, ‘Introduction’; J. Kilby. 2002 (Summer). ‘The Writing of Trauma: Trauma Theory and the Liberty of Reading’, new formations, 47, 217–30. 5. S. Radstone. 2000. ‘Screening Trauma: Forrest Gump, Film and Memory’ in S. Radstone (ed.), Memory and Methodology. Oxford: Berg, 89–95. 6. J. Mowitt. 2000. ‘Trauma Envy’, Cultural Critique, 46, 272–97. 7. There is, of course, often overlap between victims and protagonists or activists. My point is that trauma theory to date has focussed largely on such people as the objects of political violence. 8. K. Ross. 2002. May ’68 and its Afterlives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; A. Cvetkovich. 2003. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham: Duke University Press. 9. Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings, 3. 10. Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings, 3. 11. Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings, 190–1. 12. Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings, 187. 13. Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings, 56. 14. Kilby, ‘The Writing of Trauma’, 219–20. 15. I want to stress here that I am not accusing Cvetkovich of not being political or activist enough. Her close personal and political attachments to the activist cultures she writes about are movingly outlined in her book. My concern is not with the activist credentials of individual academics, but rather with the ways in which histories of activism are currently being theorised and conceptualized in much academic research. 16. S. Freud. 1984 (1920). ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’, in The Penguin Freud Library, vol. 11, ‘On Metapsychology’. London: Penguin, 281. 17. L. Berlant. 1997. The Queen of America goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship, Durham: Duke University Press, 2. 18. D. Crimp. 2002. ‘Mourning and Militancy’ in Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 129–49.

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19. Crimp, ‘Mourning and Militancy’, 133. 20. In a later interview with Cathy Caruth and Thomas Keenan, in response to Caruth’s question about how AIDS can be considered as ‘traumatic’, Crimp describes the trauma associated with AIDS as ‘a socially produced trauma’. C. Caruth and Thomas Keenan. 1995. ‘“The AIDS Crisis is Not Over”: A Conversation with Gregg Bordowitz, Douglas Crimp, and Laura Pinsky’ in C. Caruth (ed.), Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 257. 21. S. Freud. (1984). 1917. ‘Mourning and Melancholia’, in The Penguin Freud Library, vol. 11 ‘On Metapsychology’. London: Penguin, 251–2. 22. D. Crimp. 2002. ‘Melancholia and Moralism’, in D. Eng and D. Kazanjian (eds), Loss. Berkley: University of California Press, 188–202. 23. Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings, 230. 24. Ross, May ’68, 2. 25. Ross, May ’68, 3. 26. Ross, May ’68, 100. 27. Ross, May ’68, 102–3. 28. Ross, May ’68, 104. 29. Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings, 158. 30. W. Brown. 2003. ‘Women’s Studies Unbound: Revolution, Mourning, Politics’, parallax 27, 7. 31. Luckhurst, ‘Traumaculture’, 28. 32. L. Segal. 2003. ‘Theoretical Afflictions: Poor Rich White Folks Play the Blues’, New Formations 50, 142–56. 33. W. Brown. 2003. ‘Resisting Left Melancholia’, in Eng and Kazanjian (eds), Loss, 458. 34. Segal, ‘Theoretical Afflictions’, 144. 35. Segal, ‘Theoretical Afflictions’, 144. 36. Brown, ‘Resisting Left Melancholia’, 458. 37. A. Cvetkovich. 2003. ‘Legacies of Trauma, Legacies of Activism: ACT UP’s Lesbians’, in Eng and Kazanjian (eds), Loss, 427–57. 38. J. Butler. 2003. ‘Afterward: After Loss, What Then?’, in Eng and Kazanijian (eds), Loss, 472. 39. Radstone, ‘Trauma and Screen Studies’, 191. 40. T. Elsaesser. 2001. ‘Postmodernism as Mourning Work’, Screen 42(2), 194. 41. Ross, May ’68, 99–106. 42. G. Zwerman. 1994. ‘Mothering on the Lam: Politics, Gender Fantasies and Maternal Thinking in Women Associated with Armed, Clandestine Organisations in the United States’, Feminist Review, 47, 33–56. 43. L. Passerini. 1996. Autobiography of a Generation: Italy 1968. Hanover and London: Wesleyan University Press. 44. N. Mogrovejo. 2000. Un amor que se atrevió a decir su nombre. México: Plaza y Valdés. 45. V. Burgin, J. Donald and C. Kaplan. 1986. ‘Preface’ in V. Burgin, J. Donald and C. Kaplan (eds), Formations of Fantasy. London and New York: Methuen, 1. 46. P. Rojas. 2000. ‘Bailando sobre las cenizas’, Puentes 1, 8. My translation. See also E. Jelin. 2003. State Repression and The Labors of Memory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 90 and D. Taylor. 2003. ‘“You are Here”: H.I.J.O.S. and the

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51. 52. 53.

54. 55. 56.

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DNA of Performance’ in The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003, 161–89. Rojas, ‘Bailando’, 10. Rojas, ‘Bailando’, 8. A. Carri. 2003. Los Rubios. Argentina. A. Portelli. 1991. The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History, Albany, New York: State University of New York Press; A. Portelli. 1997. The Battle of Valle Giulia: Oral History and the Art of Dialogue, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. R. Samuel. 1994, 1998. Theatres of Memory, 2 vols. London: Verso. R. Braidotti. 1994. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. New York: Columbia University Press. R. Braidotti. 2005. ‘Vulnerability vs. Affirmation: contemporary feminist ethics’. Lecture presented at the London School of Economics Gender Institute, London (November). Braidotti, ‘Vulnerability vs. affirmation. Burgin et al., Formations of Fantasy; J. Rose. 1996. States of Fantasy. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Berlant, The Queen of America; Passerini, Autobiography.

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Notes on Contributors

Matthew Boswell is a Research Fellow in Memory Studies at the University of Salford. His publications to date have focused on Holocaust poetry written by non-victims, including John Berryman and Sylvia Plath. He is currently working on an interdisciplinary study of the representation of the Holocaust in literature, film and popular music, and a book about the band Joy Division. Cathy Caruth is Winship Professor of Comparative Literature and English at Emory University. She is author of Empirical Truths and Critical Fictions: Locke, Wordsworth, Kant, Freud and Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History. She has also edited and introduced Trauma: Explorations in Memory and co-edited, with Deborah Esch, Critical Encounters: Reference and Responsibility in Deconstructive Writing. Rick Crownshaw is a lecturer in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths, University of London. He has published a number of essays on Holocaust literature, museums and memorials, and has a forthcoming monograph, The Afterlife of Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Literature and Culture. Robert Eaglestone is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought at Royal Holloway, University of London and Director of the Holocaust Research Centre there. His publications include Ethical Criticism: Reading after Levinas (1997), Doing English (1999, 2002), The Holocaust and the Postmodern (2004) and (as co-editor) Teaching Holocaust Literature and Film (2008) and Derrida’s Legacies (2008). He is the series editor of Routledge Critical Thinkers. Gaynor Bagnall lectures in Sociology at the University of Salford. Her recent publications include (with G. Crawford, B. Longhurst, G. Smith, M. Ogborn, E. Baldwin and S. McCracken ) Introducing Cultural Studies, Second Edition (2008) and (with M. Savage and B. Longhurst) Globalization and Belonging (2005).

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Sara Guyer teaches in the Department of English and the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she is also interim director of the Center for the Humanities. She is the author of Romanticism after Auschwitz (2007) and has published essays in diacritics, Comparative Literature, SubStance, Studies in Romanticism, and Boundary 2, among others. Carrie Hamilton teaches History and Spanish at Roehampton University, London where she is also director of the Centre for Research in Sex, Gender and Sexuality. She is the author of Women and ETA: The Gender Politics of Radical Basque Nationalism (2007) and she has written numerous articles on cultural memory, oral history, gender and political violence and histories of activism. She is currently completing a monograph entitled Sexual Revolutions: Histories of Passion and Politics in Socialist Cuba. Jane Kilby is a Senior Lecturer in the School of English, Sociology, Politics and Contemporary History, University of Salford. She is author of Violence and the Cultural Politics of Trauma (2007) and is currently working on a second monograph, under the working title The Banality of Incest. Roger Luckhurst teaches at Birkbeck College, University of London. His latest book is The Trauma Question (2008). Sharon Rosenberg is Associate Professor in Social Theory and Cultural Studies, in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta in Canada. She holds a major research grant on ‘Opening the Present to the Violently Dead’. Key publications include (with R. Simon and C. Eppert, eds.) Between Hope and Despair: Pedagogy and the Remembrance of Historical Trauma (2000); with A. Braithwaite, S. Heald and S. Luhmann, Troubling Women’s Studies: Pasts, Presents and Possibilities (2004); and guest editorship of the journal torquere on ‘Memorializing queers/queering remembrances’ (vol. 6,2004/5). She has also published in journals such as Educational Theory, Feminist Theory, Hypatia, and Topia, and has an essay in Democracy in Crisis (forthcoming) that translates the arguments of her chapter in this volume into a practice of encounter. Antony Rowland is Professor of English at the University of Salford. His publications include Holocaust Poetry (2005) and Tony Harrison and the Holocaust (2001). For many years he and Jane Kilby have taught an interdisciplinary Holocaust studies module, which has been referred to as ‘the Salford model’ for such courses. He has also published a collection of poetry, The Land of Green Ginger (2008).

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Dan Stone is Professor of Modern History at Royal Holloway, University of London. He works on historiographical and philosophical interpretations of the Holocaust, comparative genocide, history of anthropology, and the cultural history of the British Right. His publications include Theoretical Interpretations of the Holocaust (ed., 2001); Breeding Superman: Nietzsche, Race and Eugenics in Edwardian and Interwar Britain (2002); Constructing the Holocaust: A Study in Historiography (2003); Responses to Nazism in Britain 1933–1939: Before War and Holocaust (2003); The Historiography of the Holocaust (ed., 2004); History, Memory and Mass Atrocity: Essays on the Holocaust and Genocide (2006), Colonialism and Genocide (ed. with A. Dirk Moses, 2007); Hannah Arendt and the Uses of History: Imperialism, Nation, Race and Genocide (ed. with Richard H. King, 2007); and The Historiography of Genocide (ed., 2008). He is currently writing a book on Holocaust historiography, and editing two books: The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History and The Holocaust and Historical Methodology. Susan Suleiman is currently the C. Douglas Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She is the author or editor of numerous books and articles on contemporary literature and culture, published in the U.S.A. and abroad, and has also published poetry and autobiographical works. Her books include Authoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre (1983); Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and the Avant-Garde (1990), Risking Who One Is: Encounters with Contemporary Art and Literature (1994), and the memoir Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook (1996). Edited volumes include Exile and Creativity: Signposts, Travelers, Outsiders, Backward Glances (1998) and the anthology Contemporary Jewish Writing in Hungary (co-edited with Eva Forgács, 2003). Her latest book is Crises of Memory and the Second World War (2006). Sue Vice is Professor of English Literature at the University of Sheffield. Her most recent works are Children Writing the Holocaust (2004) and Jack Rosenthal (2008). Anne Whitehead is Senior Lecturer in the School of English at Newcastle University. Her publications include Memory (2008) and Trauma Fiction (2004). She has also co-edited W. G. Sebald – A Critical Companion (2004) and Theories of Memory: A Reader (2007). James E. Young is Professor and Chair of the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is the author of At Memory’s Edge (2000) and The Texture of Memory (1993), among other works, and was appointed by the Berlin Senate to the Findungskommission that chose a design for Germany’s national Holocaust

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memorial, unveiled and dedicated in Berlin in May 2005. In 2003, he was appointed by the Governor of New York to the jury for the World Trade Center Memorial design competition, which in 2004 selected Michael Arad and Peter Walker’s design, ‘Reflecting Absence’, now under construction.

Index

A abuse conscious forgetting of memories of 137–8 ritual abuse 143 sexual abuse 137, 138–9, 149–50, 153, 204, 269 memory of, feminist politics of 140–41 traumatic abuse 142, 147 Adorno, Theodor 118, 195 Aesthetic Theory (Adorno, T.) 118 Agamben, Giorgio 47n1, 51n25, 116–17, 119 Al-Qaeda 243 Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire (1992) 199–200 Aleksiun, Natalia. 34n43 Almond, Darren 71–5 Anderson, Benedict 5, 41 Anderson, David 26 Anecdotal Theory (Gallop, J.) 247 Antelme, Robert 51n24, 116, 117 aporia 12, 116, 177, 258 appropriation 49n11, 151, 157, 163, 170, 173, 185, 195 Arad, Michael 11, 79, 92–4 The Archive and the Repertoire (Taylor, D.) 249 An Archive of Feelings (Cvetkovich, A.) 249, 268–9, 270 Arendt, Hannah 119, 133–4, 185–6, 189–90, 210

Benjamin and 223–5 collapse of witness into silence, perspective on 215–16 cosmopolitan perspective 210 departure, re-enactment of 219–20 history and law, perspective on 212–14 justice and writing 229–31 legal meaning, ‘banality of evil’ and 211–12 mute testimony of 220–23 perspective on Holocaust 214–15 political and traumatic erasures, testimony and totalitarianism, meeting of differing perspectives on 226–9, 232–3n30 revolution, work on 233–4n31 silent history 216–19 traumatic history and emergence of speech 212–14 universalist perspective 210 Argentina 276 Ariel (Plath, S.) 169 Armstrong, Louise 137–8, 140 Ashcroft, John 241 Assmann, Jan 19 Attridge, Derek 118 Augé, Marc 27 Auschwitz 19, 37–8, 41, 117–18, 120, 128, 158–60, 242 childhood trauma, literary innovation and 96, 97, 99, 102 Eichmann and 215–16, 217, 218, 219

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Index

Holocaust poetry 170, 172, 174, 177 Imperial War Museum North 70, 72–5 Austerlitz (Sebald, W.G.) 108 Australian Literary Studies 157 B Bad Faith (Callil, C.) 128 Bagnall, Gaynor 6–7, 53–78, 301 Baker, Bruce 29 Bakhtin, Mikhail 83 Barreneche, Raul 57 Barthes, Roland 102–3, 106 Bass, Ellen 40, 137, 138, 139 Baudrillard, Jean 64, 119 Bauer, Yehuda 125, 126 Bauman, Zygmunt 74 Beckett, Samuel 100, 107 Begley, Louis 107 Bell, D.S.A. 33n22, 33n23 Bellow, Saul 17 Benjamin, Walter 30, 35n61, 125–6, 188, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 228, 274, 275 Bennett, Jill 151 Berlant, Laurent 184, 270 Berryman, John 173 Bersani, L. and Dutoit, U. 50n21 Beyer Blinder Belle 89 Beyond the Pleasure Principle (Freud, S.) 190, 271 Bismarck, Count Otto von 200 Blanchot, Maurice 37, 47–8n2, 50n18, 106, 177 Bloch, Marc 36n64 Bloom, Harold 151 Bloxham, Donald 76–7n29 Bluecher, Heinrich 225 Blum, Andrew 41–3, 44–5, 48n4, 48n5 Boswell, Matthew 115, 116, 167–79, 301 Bourgois, Philippe 189 Boyarin, Jonathan 19 Braidotti, Rosi 276 Brandenburger Tor, Berlin 85, 88 Britzolakis, Christina 171 Broad, Perry 127 Brown, Wendy 273, 274

Browning, Christopher 119, 126–7, 130 Burgin, V., Donald, J. and Kaplan, C. 276 Burke, Sean 134 Bush, George W. 18–19, 236, 242, 243 Butler, Judith 140, 148, 151, 187, 193, 250, 255, 259–60, 274 C Callil, Carmen 128 Campbell, Sue 140, 141–2 Carri, Albertina 276 Caruth, Cathy 22, 140–42, 148, 185, 186, 187, 188, 190–91, 194–6, 209–34, 245n1, 245n17, 250, 251–2, 254, 255, 275, 301 Castanais, Alexandre 43 Ceausescu, Nicolai 23 Celan, Paul 171–2 Centre PasquArt Museum in Biel 56 Charcot, Jean-Martin 201, 203 childhood trauma, literary innovation and 95–109 authority of experience 108 bewilderment 96 calligrammatic representation 103–4 child Holocaust survivors 95–6, 96–7 communication, excess and lack of 102–3 crises of memory 95 distancing devices, biography and 100–101 ego splitting 104–6 experiment and existence 104–9 family erasure, expressions of 102 Fateless (Kertész, I.) 96 Federman’s Double or Nothing 99–104 fetishism 105–6 helplessness 96 hiding, experiences of 96 humour, horror and 102 imagination, constructive power of 107–8 modernist experimentation 107

Index

‘The Necessity and Impossibility of Being a Jewish Writer’ (Federman, R.) 106–7 neurosis and psychosis, difference between 105 Perec’s W or the Memory of Childhood 97–9 postmodernist experimentation 107 postponement 101–2 preterition 103–4 aesthetic implications of 106–7 privileged status of survivors 107, 108–9 remembrance of childhood 98–9 security to chaos, transformatory experiences 96 ‘sputtering’ 103 survivor as index 108–9 temporal dislocations 102 transitional place of child survivors 107 traumatic childhood loss, psychological response to 105 ‘voices-within-voices’ narratives 100 Childs, David 93, 94 Clinical Lectures on Diseases of the Nervous System (Charcot, J.-M.) 201 Coetzee, J.M. 169 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor 171 collective memory 4–5, 11–12, 12–13, 21, 22, 23, 24–7 elite use of, to perpetuate dominance 26–7 homogenisation of 11–12 monuments and memory 83, 87 selective nature of 25 visual artefacts, collective memory and 26 Comay, R. 35n61 Commandant of Auschwitz (Höss, R.) 120, 128 Confino, Alon 11, 26, 28 Confucius 20 Connerton, Paul 19–20 Connor, Steven 194 Constructing the Holocaust (Stone, D.) 119 Cook, Susan 49n8, 49n9, 50n22

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Coultas v Victorian Railway Commissioners (1888) 198–9 The Courage to Heal (Bass, E. and Davis, L.) 137, 138, 140 Crews, Frederick 138–41 Crimp, Douglas 270, 274 Critical Inquiry 249 Crownshaw, Rick 3–15, 69, 301 Cvetkovich, Ann 191, 267–8, 268–70, 271, 272, 273, 275, 277, 278n15 D Darquier, Louis 128 Davidson, Judy 262 Davis, Laura 40, 137, 138, 139 Dawson, Carrie 157–8 de Haan, Ido 22 de Man, Paul 48n3, 132, 151 Dean, Amber 262 deconstructionism 150–52 Defonseca, Misha 160–61, 162, 163, 165n16 Delbo, Charlotte 116, 128, 167, 187 DeLillo, Don 188 Derrida, Jacques 18–19, 50n16, 125, 151 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (APA) 204 Diener, Roger 56–7 La Disparition (Perec, G.) 97 Donitz, Karl 127 Double or Nothing (Federman, R.) 13, 99–104 The Drowned and the Saved (Levi, P.) 121 Dulieu v White (1901) 199 Dummett, Michael 162 Durkheim, Emile 24 E Eaglestone, Robert 116, 119, 120, 125–36, 157, 170, 173–4, 195, 301 Edkins, Jenny 235, 240, 245n1 ego splitting 104–6 Eichmann, Adolf 129, 133, 186, 210, 211–12, 214, 215, 220, 225–6 Eichmann in Jerusalem (Arendt, H.) 133–4, 185, 189, 210, 220–21, 222

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Index

Eisenman, Peter 56, 86, 87, 88 Eisenman-II, field of pillars 87–9 Elam, Y. 24, 32n15 Elizabeth Costello (Coetzee, J.M.) 169 Elkins, Caroline 26 Ellenbogen, Marianne 127 Ellsworth, Elizabeth 250, 253–4, 255, 256–7, 259 Elsaesser, Thomas 275 Emig, Rainer 53, 61, 63 Empathic Vision (Bennett, J.) 249 Erichsen, John 197, 200 Etkind, A. 35n48 F false memory syndrome 137–53 abuse, conscious forgetting of memories of 137–8 active interpretation 151 appropriation 151 communal consensus, challenge to assumptions of 149–51 context and testimony, tension between 142–3, 144 contextualization 149 The Courage to Heal (Bass, E. and Davis, L.) 137, 138, 140 cultural criticism, context of 149 deconstructionists 150–52 discourses, remembrance and power of 142–8 interpreter, power of 142 language 152 mimicry 151 parameters of reading, establishment of 149–50 postmodern criticism 150–51 power, mirroring of transformations of 143–4 psychoanalysis, recovered memory movement and 138–9 rational remembering 141 reader and text, relationship between 151–2 reader participation 150–51 reading, conceit of 148–53 real memory, question of 138–42

recovered memory movement 138–9 repressed memory 138–41, 145–6 sexual abuse memory, feminist politics of 140–41 sociality of memory 140–42 testimony as diagnostic of power 143–4 public and private aspects of 153 textuality of context 143 therapy and production of memory 138–9 traumatic memory, reality of 140–41, 145–8 traumatically absent memory 137–8, 152–3 Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memories Lost and Found (Terr, L.) 139–40 undogmatic disrespect, notion of 151 ‘words within words’ 148, 150 Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma (Tal, K.) 148–53 Young’s ‘Remembering Trouble: Three Lives, Three Stories’ 142–8 false testimony 157–64 categories of 157–8 credibility, judgment of 162–3 cultural imposture 157–8 embellished testimonies 159–60 ethnic imposture 157–8 false and real testimony, similarities between 163 Fragments (Wilkomirski, B.) 116, 157, 158, 160–64 imitation of credibility 163 invention 158–9 legal definitions of 161 philosophical definitions of 162–3 relevant beliefs 163–4 shared body of knowledge, concept of 164 Surviving with Wolves (Defonseca, M.) 160–61, 162, 163, 164 testimentary character 162

Index

testimony on which judgment was suspended 160–61 variety of kinds of 157–8 Fateless (Kertész, I.) 96 Faulkner, Paul 160, 162, 163, 165n16 Faulkner, William 107 Faust (Goethe, J.W. von) 171 Federman, Raymond 13–14, 97, 99–104, 106–7, 108–9, 110n8, 110n9, 110n13 Felman, Shoshana 30, 115–16, 116–17, 118, 121, 127, 141, 142, 144, 148, 151, 185–6, 194, 196, 209, 247–8, 250, 252–3, 254, 255, 256, 257, 275 collapse of witness into silence, perspective on 215–16 departure, re-enactment of 219–20 history and law, perspective on 212–14 justice and writing 229–31 justice structured like trauma 218–19 law and trauma, insight into 210 legal meaning, ‘banality of evil’ and 211–12 mute testimony of 223–6 origins and career 227–8 perspective on Holocaust 214–15 political and traumatic erasures, testimony and totalitarianism, meeting of differing perspectives on 226–9, 232–3n30 revolution, vocabulary of 233–4n31 silent history 216–19 traumatic history and emergence of speech 212–14 Feminist Theory 249 Fest, Joachim 131 Figlio, Karl 198 Fink, Ida 107 Finkelstein, Norman 20, 23, 26 Finley, M.I. 32n15 Fischer, Fritz 63 Fischer, Joshka 87 Fleming, David 59, 64 For Those I Loved (Gray, M.) 159, 163 ‘Force of Law’ (Derrida, J.) 125

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Forest, B., Johnson, J. and Till, K. 35n48 Foucault, Michel 127–8, 142, 196, 276 Fragments (Wilkomirski, B.) 116, 157, 158, 160–64 ‘Freedom Tower’ 93–4 Freud, Sigmund 98, 104–6, 186, 190, 191, 196, 202, 254, 255, 270, 271 Friedländer, Saul 172, 248 Fritzsche, Peter 11, 26, 28, 31 Fugitive Pieces (Michaels, A.) 108 G Gallop, Jane 247 Gaus, Günter 223–4 Gedi, Noa 24, 32n15 Gerz, Jochen 84=5 Gibb, Camilla 247 Giedion, Sigmund 79, 81 God 134 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 171 Goldhagen, Erich 130–31 Gourevitch, Philip 40, 43–5, 46–7, 48n4, 49n10, 49n12, 50n14 Graham, Helen 34n43 Gray, Martin 159, 160, 163 Gray, Peter 19, 21 Gross, Andrew 8 Grossman, David 135 Gubar, Susan 73, 170, 172, 175 Gurian, Elaine Heumann 61 Guyer, Sara 4, 37–51, 121, 302 H Halbwachs, Maurice 5, 24, 82 Hamilton, Carrie 191, 267–80, 302 Handelman, Susan 30, 35n61 Hart, Kitty 127 Hartman, Geoffrey 19, 26, 27, 30, 115, 121, 147–8, 195–6 Hartmann, Erich 74 Hatzfeld, J. 49n12 Haug, Frigga 151, 152–3 Henning, Michelle 70, 76n19 Herman, Judith 153, 203 Hess, Jonathan M. 24 Hilberg, Raul 74, 125, 131, 133

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Hill, Geoffrey 170, 173–7 Hillsborough disaster (1989) 199–200 Himmler, Heinrich 130, 131 Hirsch, Marianne 8–9, 27, 179n34 History in Transit (LaCapra, D.) 22 Hitler, Adolf 131, 169 Hochschild, Adam 27, 34n43 Hoffman, Eva 174–5 Hoffman, Michael 8 Hoheisel, Horst 85 The Holocaust: Critical Historical Approaches (Bloxham, D. and Kushner, T.) 76–7n29 Holocaust and Genocide Studies 249 The Holocaust and the Postmodern (Eaglestone, R.) 116, 173–4 Holocaust (NBC TV, 1978) 173 Hõlscher, Lucian 30 Holstein, Bernard (Bernard Brougham) 158–9, 160, 163 The Hooligan’s Return (Manea, N.) 22–3 Horowitz, Mardi 204 Horowitz, Sara 107 Höss, Rudolf 120, 127, 128, 129 Hudson, Kenneth 65–6, 70, 71 Hughes, Matthew 53, 62 Hungerford, Amy 7–8, 12, 13, 14, 50n21 Hurst, Damien 66 Hussein, Saddam 243 Hutton, Patrick 27, 29, 30 Huyssen, Andreas 3, 10–11, 18, 19, 64, 237 I identification concept of 174–5 empathetic identification 175–6 perpetrator testimony, identification with protagonists in 129 victimhood, identification with experience of 175–6 identity plural identity, challenge of 184 politics of, memory studies and 21 trauma and 12 If This is a Man (Levi, P.) 118, 167, 168

ignorance knowledge, ignorance and 253 learning of trauma, ignorance in 254 modes of 250, 254, 256 notion of (new) 251 question of 186 traumatic ignorance 253, 258–9, 263n11 understanding and 251–4 imagination, constructive power of 107–8 Imperial War Museum, London 57, 58, 59 Imperial War Museum North (IWMN) 6–7, 53–75, 76–7n29 access, iconic architecture and 53 aesthetics and aestheticisation 55, 65–6, 74, 75 air shard 57, 59 anti-iconic stance 61–2 anti-redemptive tone 63 artefacts and icons, engagement with 64–5 Big Picture Show 63, 64 criticisms of 53 disconcertion 59, 61 emblem of conflict 56–7 exhibition space 61–6 Holocaust and genocide, representation in 55, 66–75 imaginative projection 70–71 ‘Impressions of War’ 55 ‘Innovation with Mostly Nothing’ 64 media domination, criticism of 64 museum iconicity 62–3 Oswieçim railway station 73, 74 participatory experience 59–61 pivotal twenty-first century museum 55 playful discombobulation 7, 57, 59, 61–4, 75 postmodernist architecture 53, 56–61, 75 pretentiousness criticism 59 referentiality of building 57

Index

reflection 65 reification, process of 65–6 secondary witnessing 71–5 spectacle domination, criticism of 64 In the Shadow of No Towers (Spiegelman, A.) 186, 236, 237, 240, 241–3, 243–4 Inside the Third Reich (Speer, A.) 128 interpretation 254, 255, 257–8, 260 active interpretation 151 ‘fact’ and 250 Into that Darkness (Sereny, G.) 128–30 J Jacques Lacan and the Adventure of Insight (Felman, S.) 227 Janet, Pierre 201–2 Jewish Museum, Berlin 55, 57, 59, 64, 91 Joyce, James 107 Judt, Tony 20 Jung, Carl Gustav 255 The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century (Felman, S. and Laub, D.) 209–10, 215, 228, 230, 249 justice political unconscious and 209–31 structured like trauma 218–19 writing and 229–31 K K-Zetnik see Dinoor, Yehiel Kansteiner, Wulf 11, 12, 21, 22, 23–4, 25, 27, 28, 29, 31, 195, 196 Kant, Immanuel Kaplan, E. Ann 193, 194 Kapralski, Slavomir 34n33 Keitel, Wilhelm 127 Kertész, Imre 96 Kessler, Murray 77–8n32 Kestenberg, Judith 109n1 Kilby, Jane 4, 117, 137–55, 183–92, 262, 269, 302 Killing Women (Burfoot, A. and Lord, S.) 249

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Klein, Kerwin Lee 10, 11, 20–21, 23–4, 26, 27, 29, 31 knowledge hesitancy of 258 ignorance and 253 loss of 251–2 shared body of, concept of 164 structures of 253 Kogon, Eugen 171 Kohl, Helmut 86 Koselleck, Reinhart 31 Koshar, Rudy. 36n68 Krell, David Farrell 19 Kristallnacht 242 Kroll, Judith 172 Kugelmass, Jack 19 Kushner, Tony 76–7n29 L Lacan, Jacques 252–3, 254 LaCapra, Dominick 12, 13, 14, 20, 22, 24, 151–2, 195, 196, 248 ‘Lady Lazarus’ (Plath, S.) 171–3, 174 Landsberg, Alison 4–5, 6, 8, 10, 13 Langer, Lawrence 30, 117–18, 121, 164 language authority from 186 false memory syndrome and 152 of trauma theory 195–6 Lanzmann, Claude 117, 176 Lather, Patti 250, 255, 258–9 Latour, Bruno 204–5 Laub, Dori 30, 115–16, 116–17, 118, 121, 141, 142, 144, 151, 160, 194, 209–10, 227, 247–8, 275 Leger, F. 81 Lejeune, Philippe 98 Lerner, P. 196 Levi, Primo 70–71, 118, 120, 121, 126, 127, 158, 167, 174 Leys, Ruth 188 Liability for Psychiatric Illness (Law Commission, 1998, UK) 198 Libeskind, Daniel 53, 55, 56–7, 59, 61–2, 66, 90, 91, 93–4 Les lieux de mémoire (Nora, P.) 18 Lifton, Robert Jay 204, 240

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Lin, Maya 91 Linenthal, Edward 19 Literature of Life (Semprun, J.) 118 Little Nemo in Sluberland (Winsor McCay) 237, 241 Loftus, Elizabeth 161 Loss: The Politics of Mourning (Eng, D. and Kazanijian, D., Eds.) 249, 259, 274–5 Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) 89–92 Luckhurst, Roger 183, 193–208, 302 Lyotard, François 117, 195 M McCay, Winsor 237–8, 241 McDonald, Peter 169–70 McKinley, William 242 MacLeod, Suzanne 53 Maier, Charles 19 malforms 118 Manchester Art Gallery 61 Manea, Norman 22–3 Mapping Hoaxes and Imposture in Australian Literature (Nolan, M. and Dawson, C.) 157–8 Margalit, Avishai 19, 27 Marshall, Christopher R. 66, 70, 73 Massive Psychic Trauma (Lifton, R.J.) 204 Maus (Spiegelman, A.) 121, 236, 242, 243 May ‘68 and its Afterlives (Ross, K.) 267–8, 271–3 Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin 56, 84, 85, 87 Memorial Mission Statement, World Trade Center Memorial 90–91 memory and memory studies accidental nature of trauma 187–8, 190 aestheticisation of artefactual objects 6–7 affect and futurity of memory 8 ars memoria 17 cliché, horror and 23 collective memory 4–5, 11–12, 12–13, 21, 22, 23, 24–7

commemorative alignment 4, 31 commodification of 6 cultural memory 9, 12, 268 ‘detoxification’ of Vietnam memory 25–6 elite use of collective memory to perpetuate dominance 26–7 essentialisation of ‘memory’ 24 existential crisis 118 failure, critical significance of 186–7 fantasies of globalisation 3 frame conditions 115–16 future-orientation of 3–4, 8, 13–14, 28–31 future-reconfiguration, modernity and 3 historical narratives, totalisation of 20–21 historicity and memory 9–10, 27, 30–31 historiography and testimony 120–21 ‘Holocaust industry,’ Finkelstein’s polemic against 20 homogenisation of collective memory 11–12 The Hooligan’s Return (Manea, N.) 22–3 identity and trauma 12 identity politics, memory studies and 21 ignorance, question of 186 language, authority from 186 law and trauma, relationship between 185–6 literature, testimony and 118 malforms 118 memorative alignment 4, 31 Memory, History, Forgetting (Ricoeur, P.) 29–30 memory as ‘bedrock of history’ 28–9 memory ‘fixation’ 20 The Memory of Catastrophe (Gray, P. and Oliver, K., Eds.) 21 memory words, use of 20 meta-textual criteria 115–16, 119, 120

Index

methodologies of 4, 18–19 ‘middle voice’ on, need for 12–13 mnemotechnia 17 monumental memories 9 multidirectional nature of memory 28 narrativisation of artefactual objects 6–7 ‘national memory’ 18 nostalgic vision 24 obsession by memory 18, 19, 20, 267 obsessive commemoration 19–20 oral testimony 116, 118, 120, 121–2 overgeneralisation of trauma 11 overpersonalisation of memory 10–11 past and future, need for both 3 past events, teleological apprehension of 4 perfection of memory 18–19 perpetrator testimony 119–20 personification of texts 7–8, 11, 12 plural identity, challenge of 184 political implications of critical memory studies 26 politics of trauma theory 187–8 postmemory 8–9 postmodern approaches to historical representation 10 power relations and memory 26, 29–30 problems and opportunities for studies 28 process of memory 28 prosthetic memories 4–6, 7, 8 provenance of artefactual objects 6–7 re-forgetting, process of 119 reception of testimony 116, 117–18 responsibility, assignment of 188 retrospective witnessing by adoption 8–9 roots of memory in feeling 17 selective nature of collective memory 25 selective remembrance, active forgetting and 3

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self, Western conceptions of 183–4 solipsism of ‘confessional’ literature 23–4 ‘structural memory,’ approach of 20–21 suffering, trauma and 184–6 survivor memory, postmemory and 9 survivor testimony 120–21 testamentary aporia 116–17 testamentary blogs 122 testimony as cross-generic genre 117 future study of 115 status of 28–30 textualisation of contect 115–16 transference 6, 12–13 transformative memory 30 trauma as global phenomenon 183–4 and memory 8–11, 22, 191 trivialisation of suffering 23 universalisation of trauma 12 video testimony 115 violence 188–91 visual artefacts, collective memory and 26 vocabulary of 23–4 witness experiences, sharing of 7–9 ‘Memory Foundations’ 93 The Memory Wars (Crews, F.) 138–41 Micale, Mark 196 Michael, Anne 108 Miller, Steven 47 Minear, Richard 26 mnemotechnia 17 Modiano, Patrick 107–8 Mogrovejo, Norma 276 Montréal massacre 249 Monument Against Fascism 84 monuments and memory 79–94 ancient monumentality 81 Brandenburger Tor, Berlin 85, 88 collective memory 83, 87 counter-monument 84–5 design statement, World Trade Center Memorial 92

312

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Index

Eisenman-II, field of pillars 87–9 ‘Freedom Tower’ 93–4 genesis in historical time 83 governmental monumentality 82–3 group membership and monuments 82 heteroglossia, age of 83 ‘Jurors Statement,’ World Trade Center Memorial 93 Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) 89–92 memorial for murdered Jews of Europe, design competition for 84, 85–7 Memorial Mission Statement, World Trade Center Memorial 90–91 memorial processes, revival of 84 ‘Memory Foundations’ 93 modern monument, notion of 80–81 modern transformation of idea of monument 80 Monument Against Fascism 84 monumentality, demand for 79 naturalizing locus for memory 82 New England Holocaust Memorial 84 nostalgia for traditional values 82 past and meanings 79 postmodern revival of monuments 81–2 public art, political memory and 80 public ownership of national memory 83 ‘Reflecting Absence’ 93 reformulation of monument 79 status of monuments 80 symbols, universality of 81 Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, Washington, DC 91 Winter Garden of World Financial Center 92 World Trade Center site Memorial at ‘Ground Zero’ 79, 89–94 Moscarski, Kazimierz 128–9 Mott, Sir Frederick 202 Mourning and Melancholia (Freud, S.) 271 Mouthing the Words (Gibb, C.) 247

Mumford, Lewis 80–81 Murambi, Rwanda 4, 39, 40, 45, 46, 49n9, 50n22 N ‘The Necessity and Impossibility of Being a Jewish Writer’ (Federman, R.) 106–7 neuroses pension neurosis (renrtenneurose) 200–201 psychosis and neurosis, difference between 105 traumatic neuroses 200–201, 202, 270 New England Holocaust Memorial 84 New York Herald 237 The New York Review of Books 138 New York Times 41, 91 New Yorker 210, 225 Niederlands, William 204 Nietzsche, Friedrich 20, 134, 277 Night and Fog (Alain Resnais documentary) 37–8, 41–2 9/11 in American Culture (Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S.) 249 Nolan, Maggie 157–8 None of Us Will Return (Delbo, C.) 167–8 Nora, Pierre 18, 19, 24, 27, 28, 29 Norfolk, Simon 48n4, 49n12 Nyamata, Rwanda 4, 39, 40–42, 43, 45, 46, 48n4, 49–50n13, 49n9 Nyarubuye, Rwanda 4, 39, 42–5, 48n4, 49n12, 50n19 O O’Hagan, Andrew 24 Oliver, Kendrick 19, 21, 25–6 Oppenheim, Hermann 200–201 The Origins of Totalitarianism (Arendt, H.) 225 Oxford English Dictionary (OED) 193–4 P Page, Herbert 197 Pandora’s Hope (Latour, B.) 205

Index

Passerini, Luisa 275–6 The Past in Hiding (Roseman, M.) 127 Paterson, Don 170 Peirce, Charles 108 pension neurosis (renrtenneurose) 200–201 Perec, Georges 13, 97–9, 101–2, 107, 108 perpetrator testimony 125–35 Arendt’s Eichmann in Jesusalem 133–4 author function 127–8 confession 126 critical debate about 125–6 enforced confession 127, 129–30 epiphany, moments of 128–9, 131 evil, Arendt’s perspective on 133–4 explanation, perspective on 134–5 generic unity of 131 as genre 126–7, 127–31 internalist perspectives 132–3 legal testimony 127 memory and memory studies 119–20 mendacity and ‘factual’ truth, issues of 130–31 meta-questions about 134–5 moral incomprehensibility and 133 moral repugnance, issues of 126 protagonists, identification with 129 reliability of 125–6 revelatory authenticity 128 rhetoric as key to self-discovery 132 second person autobiography 132 source manipulation 126 survivor testimony, comparison with 127–9, 130 textuality 126, 127 time slips from past to present 129, 130 truth, internalist perspective on 132–3 A Personal Reflection of the Holocaust (Stummer, D.) 159–60 Pillemer, David .B. 34n33 Plath, Sylvia 119, 168, 169, 170, 171–3, 174, 177

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Polish Institute of National Memory (IPN) 26 The Politics of Nature (Latour, B.) 205 Popular Science Monthly 193 Portelli, Alessandro 276 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 187, 190, 193, 195, 198, 200, 203–4 Post-Vietnam Syndrome 204 Postcolonial Melancholia (Gilroy, P.) 249 postmemory 8–9 postmodernism architecture of 53, 56–61, 75 experimentation 107 false memory syndrome and postmodern criticism 150–51 historical representation, approaches to 10 revival of monuments 81–2 sense of reading 167–8 Precarious Life (Butler, J.) 259 preterition 103–4 aesthetic implications of 106–7 Prose, Francine 260–61 prosthetic memories 4–6, 7, 8 Proust, Marcel 107, 176 Puckett, Richard 29 Putnam, Frank 202 Putnam, Hilary 132–3 R Raczymow, Henri 107–8 Radstone, Susannah 10, 11, 275 Radunski, Speaker of Berlin Senate 85–6 Ramazani, Jahan 176–7 Rampe, Kevin 91 reading Holocaust poetry 167–77 authority in Holocaust writing 167–70 authorship and authority 169–70 connection 176 contradictory logic 177 dead, separation of living from 175–6 eloquence of poetic form 173 empathetic identification 175–6

314

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focus of contemporary Holocaust poetry 170, 171, 173 Hill’s ‘September Song’ 173–7 The Holocaust and the Postmodern (Eaglestone, R.) 116, 173–4 horror into kitsch, transformation of 171–2 identification, concept of 174–5 literature of testimony 167–8 memorialisation of childhood death 175–6 memory, metaphoric activation of 176 memory and poetry 170 meta-fictional writing 170 non-victim memory 168, 169–70, 175 personal experience, authority of 168–9 Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’ 171–3 poetry as occult 169 postmodern sense of reading 167–8 pursuit of aporia 177 rules for reading testimony 168 satire 172 shock and sensationalism, aesthetic of 172 survivor testimony 167–8 testimony, detachment of poetic writing from 169–70 victimhood, identification with experience of 175–6 wordplay, allusion and 172–3 Reason, Truth and History (Putnam, H.) 132–3 ‘Reflecting Absence’ 93 Reflections of Nazism: An Essay on Kitsch and Death (Friedlander, S.) 172 Relational Remembering: Rethinking the Memory Wars (Campbell, S.) 140 ‘Remembering Trouble: Three Lives, Three Stories’ (Young, D.J.) 142–8 Resnais, Alain 37–8 Rethinking History (Kansteiner, W.) 22 Les Revenentes (Perec, G.) 97–8 Ricoeur, Paul 4, 17, 18, 19, 22, 24, 27, 28–31

Robin, Régine 107, 108, 111n25 Rocking the Cradle of Sexual Politics (Armstrong, L.) 137–8 Rogoff, Irit 255–6 Rojas, Patricia 276 Rooney, Ellen 151 Rose, Gillian 168 Roseman, Mark 127 Rosen, Alan 126–7 Rosen, Norma 176 Rosenberg, Alfred 127 Rosenberg, Sharon 186–7, 247–65, 302 Ross, Kristin 191, 267–8, 271–3, 274, 275, 277 Rossington, Michael 119 Roth, Paul 134 Rothberg, Michael 27, 28, 169, 187–8, 189 Rowland, Antony 6–7, 10, 53–78, 115–23, 169, 172, 176, 302 Rowland, Charles 122 Los Rubios (Albertina Carri documentary) 276 Rwanda 38–47 gacaca courts 39 genocide, commemoration of 39–40, 46–7 Genocide Memorial Museum, Kigali 38 impersonality of genocide 47 massacre sites in 38–9, 40–42, 42–5, 46 memorials of bones 38–9 Murambi 4, 39, 40, 45, 46, 49n9, 50n22 Nyamata 4, 39, 40–42, 43, 45, 46, 48n4, 49–50n13, 49n9 Nyarubuye 4, 39, 42–5, 48n4, 49n12, 50n19 stench of genocide 39, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47 S Sachs, Nelly 171, 172 Samuel, Raphael 276 Sanford, Victoria. 34n43 Santner, Eric 195–6

Index

Sassoon, Siegfried 122 Schellenberg, Walter 127 Scheper-Hughes, Nancy 189 Schivelbusch, Wolfgang 197 Schlegel, Friedrich 106 Schroeder, Gerhard 87 Schwarcz, Vera 20 Screen 275 Sebald, W.G. 108 See Under: Love (Grossman, D.) 135 Segal, George 45–6, 50n21 Segal, Lynn 273–4 Selcer, Dan 47 Seltzer, Mark 193 Semprun, Jorge 118 September 11 (2001) 235–44 accommodation to discourse of trauma 235 after-images of a building 237–9 betrayal of trust 244 buildings and bodies, simultaneous destruction of 240 cultural inscription as traumatic event 243–4 dramatisation of traumatic shock 244 event and symbolic impact, time between 236 falling bodies 239–41 fragility of taken-for-granted safety 235 glowing tower, images of 238–9, 240 local event, also global event 235–6 memorialisation 244 mirrors of violence 243 narrating 9/11 241–3 national trauma 236, 239 In the Shadow of No Towers (Spiegelman, A.) 186, 236, 237, 240, 241–3, 243–4 ‘The Sky is Falling’ (Spiegelman, A.) 238, 239, 241, 244 traumatic process, truncation of 236 Twin Towers, shape and form of 237–8

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315

An Upside Down World’ (Spiegelman, A.) 241 ‘war on terror’ 242–3 World Trade Center, ‘bodiless body’ of 239–40 ‘September Song’ (Hill, G.) 173–7 Sereny, Gitta 125, 126, 128, 129–31 Sert, J.L. 81 sexual abuse 137, 138–9, 149–50, 153, 204, 269 Shalev-Gerz, Esther 84–5 Shatan, Chaim 204 Shephard, Ben 202–3 Shoah (Claude Lanzmann film) 117, 119, 120, 122n15, 176 Simon, Roger 252–3 ‘The Sky is Falling’ (Spiegelman, A.) 238, 239, 241, 244 Smelser, Neil 235–6 Smith, Neil 235, 236 Snodgrass, W.D. 173 Snyder, Timothy 33n23 sociality of memory 140–42 Speer, Albert 127, 128, 129, 130–31 Spiegelman, Art 121, 186, 236, 237–9, 240–41, 242–3 Stalinism 19 Stein, Gertrude 23 Steiner, George 168–9 Steiner, Jean-François 163 Steinlauf, Michael 19 Stewart, Michael. 34n33 Stier, Oren Baruch 19 Stocks, Claire 183–4 Stolen Soul (Holstein, B.) 158–9, 160, 163–4 Stone, Dan 4, 11, 17–36, 47, 119, 120, 303 Storrie, David 55, 62 Straus, Scott 47, 50n23 Strong, Roy 22 Stroop, Jürgen 128, 129 Stummer, Deli 159–60 Suleiman, Susan Rubin 13, 95–111, 303 Sun, Emily 47 Sunday Times 163

316

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Surviving with Wolves (Defonseca, M.) 160–61, 162, 163, 164 survivor memory, postmemory and 9 Survivor Syndrome 204 survivor testimony memory and memory studies 120–21 perpetrator testimony, comparison with 127–9, 130 reading Holocaust poetry 167–8 T Tal, Kalí 148–53 Taylor, Mark C. 77–8n32 Teaching Positions (Ellsworth, E.) 256 Tense Past: Cultural Essays in Trauma and Memory (Antze, P. and Lambek, M., Eds.) 142 Terr, Lenore 139–40, 141 testimony Arendt’s mute testimony 220–23 context and, tension between 142–3, 144 as cross-generic genre 117 detachment of poetic writing from 169–70 as diagnostic of power 143–4 Felman’s mute testimony 223–6 future study of 115 historiography and 120–21 literature and 118 literature of 167–8 oral testimony 116, 118, 120, 121–2 political and traumatic erasures, testimony and totalitarianism, meeting of differing perspectives on 226–9, 232–3n30 public and private aspects of 153 reception of 116, 117–18 rules for reading 168 status of 28–30 video testimony 115 see also false testimony; perpetrator testimony; survivor testimony Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History

(Felman, S. and Laub, D.) 194, 209, 227, 230, 247–8 Thatcherism 22 The Theory and Practice of Hell (Kogon, E.) 171 Todorov, Tzvetan 18, 19 Topia: A Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 249 The Touch of the Past (Simon, R.I.) 249 trauma 193–205 activist memories 267–8, 271–2, 272–3 Charcot’s codification 201 contemporary usages 196–7 cultural trauma 195–6 definition of 194 derivation of word 193–4 Dinoor, Yehiel (‘K-Zetnik’) 215–16, 216–18, 219, 220–22 Eichmann in Jerusalem (Arendt, H.) 133–4, 185, 189, 210, 220–21, 222 fetish of 267 Hillsborough disaster (1989) 199–200 history of 196 identity politics 203–5 imaginary claims of 199 The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century (Felman, S. and Laub, D.) 209–10, 215, 228, 230, 249 justice, political unconscious and 209–31 knot of 204–5 language of trauma theory 195–6 Latour on 204–5 loss and mourning 270–71 melancholia as sensuality 275 mourning activism 273–7 ‘nervous shock,’ law of 198–200 neurology 200, 201–2, 203, 205 ‘official histories,’ amnesia and manipulation in 272 oppression to, move from 269–70 pension neurosis (renrtenneurose) 200–201 physiology 201, 203, 204, 205

Index

political unconscious, justice and 209–31 politics, pleasures of 267, 271–3, 277–8 popularity of 267, 277–8 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 187, 190, 193, 195, 198, 200, 203–4 Post-Vietnam Syndrome 204 psychiatric harm 196, 199–200 psychiatry 200, 203–4, 205 psychical paralyses 201 queering of 268–70 rationality, reclamation of political space beyond 277 resistance and 235–44 self and other, potential to confuse 195 shell-shock 202 stress, physiology of 204 Survivor Syndrome 204 Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History (Felman, S. and Laub, D.) 194, 209, 227, 230, 247–8 transmissibility of 194–5, 196 trauma pedagogy 194 traumaculture 267 traumatic hysteria 201–2 traumatic neuroses 200–201, 202, 270 vicarious traumatisation 194 Victorian industrial modernity 197–8 war and 202–3 Workmen’s Compensation Act (1897) 197 see also Arendt; Felman; September 11 (2001) Trauma: Explorations in Memory (Caruth, C.) 186 trauma and memory studies 247–62 breakage of history, being bound to 260–61 burgeoning field of 249–50 cross-disciplinary perspective 250 detachment 250

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dilemma in, conditions of 254 disorientation 248 emotion in political life, importance of 277 encounters with ignorances and 262 engagement with 248–9 false promises 247–8 faltering under pressure 254–6 fantasy in political life, importance of 277 as field of inquiry 250 hesitancy of knowledge 258 ignorance, modes of 250, 254, 256 ignorance, notion of (new) 251 interpretation 254, 255, 257–8, 260 interpretation, ‘fact’ and 250 intersubjectivity 255–6 introspection 257 knowledge, ignorance and 253 knowledge, loss of 251–2 learning of trauma, ignorance in 254 live and dead, thinking between 249–50 loss, sense of 248 losses and guarantees, facing and losing 251–2 memorialisation of Ground Zero 260 mimesis, problematics of 250 Montréal massacre 249 public pedagogies of 250 remembrance as learning 261 representation, limits of 250 resources for 276 scholarship in 250, 252, 261–2 social vulnerability 255–6 societal prohibitions, symbolic substitutions and 253–4 being startled, notion of 251, 252, 256–7, 263n9 structures of knowledge 253 subjectivity 252–3 teaching, notion of 256–7 transgenerational legacies 250 trauma, limits of understanding and 251

318

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Index

traumatic dreams 251 traumatic ignorance 253, 258–9, 263n11 unconscious, workings of the 253–4 understanding and ignorance 251–4 being undone, notion of 259–60 university scholarship 252, 261–2 unsettlement 248 vulnerability 255–6, 261–2 witnessing 259 witnessing, crisis of 250 Trauma Fiction (Whitehead, A.) 162 traumatic memory, reality of 140–41, 145–8 traumatic neuroses 200–201, 202, 270 Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation (Rothberg, M.) 187 traumatically absent memory 137–8, 152–3 Traumatizing Theory (Ball, K., Ed.) 184 Treblinka (Steiner, J.F.) 163 Trimble, Michael 198 The Triumph of Love (Hill, G.) 177 Turner, Charles 204 Twilight Memories (Huyssen, A.) 64 U Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memories Lost and Found (Terr, L.) 139–40 Unclaimed Experience (Caruth, C.) 186, 194 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) 5–6, 55 An Upside Down World’ (Spiegelman, A.) 241 V van Lookeren Campagne, Annick 43 The Very Rich Hours of Count von Stauffenberg (West, P.) 169 vicarious traumatisation 194 Vice, Sue 115, 116, 157–66, 168, 169, 170, 303 Victorian industrial modernity 197–8 Vidal, Claudine 38, 48n6, 49n9

Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, Washington, DC 91 Violence and the Cultural Politics of Trauma (Kilby, J.) 249 On Violence (Arendt, H.) 189 von Papen, Franz 127 von Weiszacker, Ernst 127 von Wilcken, Dagmar 88 W W or the Memory of Childhood (Perec, G.) 97–9, 102 Walker, Peter 11, 79, 92–4 Weinmiller, Gesine 86 Weissman, Gary 9, 12 West, Paul 169 White, Hayden 116 Whitehead, Anne 119, 162, 186, 235–45, 303 Whitehead, John 90 Wiesel, Elie 115, 158, 167, 174 Wigley, Mark 239–40 Wilberforce, Richard Orme, Lord 199–200 Wilkomirski, Binjamin 157, 158, 160–61, 162 Williams, Bill 76–7n29 Winter Garden of World Financial Center 92 Witnessing AIDS (Brophy, S.) 249 Witnessing Beyond Recognition (Oliver, K.) 249 Wood, Nancy 19 Wordsworth, William 48n3 Work of Memory (Confino, A. and Fritzsche, P.) 28 Workmen’s Compensation Act (1897, UK) 197 The World 241–2 World Trade Center ‘bodiless body’ of 239–40 ‘Jurors Statement,’ Trade Center Memorial 93 Memorial Competition 11–12 Memorial Mission Statement 90–91 site Memorial at ‘Ground Zero’ 79, 89–94

Index

Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma (Tal, K.) 148–53 Y Young, Allan 204 Young, Donna J. 142–8 Young, James E. 11–12, 19, 62, 79–94, 115, 116, 118, 196, 248, 303–4 Z Zeebrugge Arbitration (1989) 198 Zelizer, Barbie 19, 25, 26, 28 Zertal, Idith. 34n43 Zerubavel, Eviatar 19, 24–5 Žižek, Slavoj 236 Zwerman, Gilda 275

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