By Michael F. Bernard-Donals
The Holocaust provides an enormous problem to those that might signify it or educate it via fiction, movie, or old bills. Even the tales of these who have been there offer just a glimpse of the catastrophe to people who weren't. among Witness and Testimony investigates the problems inherent within the legal responsibility to undergo witness to occasions that appear not only unspeakable but additionally unthinkable. The authors learn movies, fictional narratives, survivor tales, and the museums at Yad Vashem and the USA Holocaust Memorial Museum with a view to identify an ethics of Holocaust illustration. Traversing the disciplines of background, philosophy, non secular experiences, and literary and cultural idea, the authors recommend that whereas no account competently presents entry to what Adorno referred to as the extremity that eludes the idea that, we're nonetheless obliged to testify, to place into language what heritage can't contain."
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Extra info for Between Witness and Testimony: The Holocaust and the Limits of Representation
Though such an examination may not tell us much about the events, it may be able to suggest how to construct a narrative account of history that suggests some of the resonance of its events without conveying the thing in itself. On such an accounting of history, the task would be to understand the narrative as evidence of the problems of the historian's method, drawing "attention to a historicity inhabiting the very presupposition that history is the fundamental mode of being" (Bennington and Young 8).
Events of history are heterogenous because their interpretive significance and their effect upon the participant's and the observer's lived lives are by definition incommensurable. As with the mystical notion of the divine, in which the material and the immaterial, the sacred and the terrible, are commingled, any point of history is a disorderly intersection of moments-of pleasure, pain, logic and chaos-that resist narrative closure. Representations of such historical moments will show the pressure of this historical incommensurability, despite their attempts to do otherwise, in their effects upon readers or their figural displacements, but they don't provide access to-stand in for-the events.
We need not worry that the feeling of the sublime will lose something if it is exhibited in such an abstract way as this, which is wholly negative as regards the sensible. For though the imagination finds nothing beyond the sensible to support it, this very removal of barriers also makes it teel unbounded, so that its separation from the sensible is an exhibition of the infinite; though an exhibition of the infinite can as such never be more than merely negative, it still expands the soul. Perhaps the most sublime passage in the Jewish Law is the commandment: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven or on earth, or under the earth, etc.
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