By Mieke Bal, Jonathan Crewe, Leo Spitzer
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The dreams and fantasies of a child of survivors of Nazi persecution during World War II growing up in Eastern Europe in the 1950s were dominated by The War: Where would I have been, then? How would I have acted? The door bell rings in the middle of the night, the Gestapo is at the door, what Page 8 do I do? The imbalance of Novak's image speaks to me most forcefully: in remembering my childhood, I too feel as though I were crouching in the corner of a bare room populated by larger-than-life ghosts: my parents' younger selves during the war, and those who were children like me and who had to face dangers I tried hard to experience in my imagination.
Positing, and indeed, endorsing, the seductiveness of the monumental, he relates it to memory as a transgenerational act in public culture. But a paradox emerges: the proliferation of monuments produces invisibility, making monuments a kind of historical waste, the opposite of what they aim to be. Christo's wrapping of the Reichstag is analyzed as an example of the ambivalences of the monument. In the end, Huyssen argues, it made the invisibility of themonumentalReichstag visible. Leaving the artworld for the public, political one, Ann Burlein's "Countermemory on the Right: The Case of Focus on the Family" offers a much-needed and quite rare critique of the increasing social force today of the Religious Page xvi Right.
Thematically, the essays in the book have been divided into the following parts: (I) Helpful Memories, (II) Dispersed Memories, and (III) Memories for the Present. These parts not only organize the essays in this book but correspond roughly to current areas of interest in the field of cultural memory. In Part I, Helpful Memories, acts of memory are examined as a way of countering the destructive effects of collective and individual trauma. The four chapters are closely related, all dealing with trauma and the difficulty of remembering.