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John Zaixin Zhang

 
 
 

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LaCapra on Trauma  

2011-06-01 21:25:35|  分类: 创伤 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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  LaCapra, Dominick. “Trauma, Absence, Loss.” Critical Inquiry 25.4 (1999): 696-727.

700

       “The distinction between absence and loss cannot be construed as a simple binary because the two do indeed interact in complex ways in any concrete situation, and the temptation is great to conflate one with the other, particularly in post-traumatic situations or periods experienced in terms of crisis.”

700-1

       “I would situate the type of absence in which I am especially (but not exclusively) interested on a transhistorical level, while situating loss on a historical level. In this transhistorical sense absence is not an event and does not imply tenses (past, present, or future). By contrast, the historical past is the scene of losses that may be narrated as well as of specific possibilities that may conceivably be reactivated, reconfigured, and transformed in the present or future…. Moreover, looses are specific and involve particular events, such as the death of loved ones on a personal level or, on a broader scale, the losses brought about by apartheid or by the Holocaust in its effects on Jews and other victims of the Nazi genocide, including both the lives and the cultures of affected groups. I think it is misleading [701] to situate loss on a transhistorical level, something that happens when it is conflated with absence and conceived as constitutive of existence.”

701

       “When absence itself is narrativized, it is perhaps necessarily identified with loss (for example, the loss of innocence, full community, or unity with the mother) and even figured as an event or derived form one (as in the story of the Fall or the oedipal scenario).”

702

       “The conversion of absence into loss gives rise to both Christian and oedipal stories (the Fall and the primal crime)… One might ask whether the conversion of absence into loss is essential to all fundamentalisms or foundational philosophies. In any case, the critique of ultimate or absolute foundations is best understood as related to an affirmation or recognition of absence, not a postulation of loss.”

       “Within the oedipal complex, the penis in woman is fantasized as lacking or even as having been once present in a totalized, fully integral or intact phallic mother; it would have been lost through some mishap that may also occur to men if they do not overcome castration anxiety in the ‘proper’ way by finding a substitute for the mother.”

706

       “Historical looses or lacks can be dealt with in ways that may significantly improve conditions—indeed effect basic structural transformation—without promising secular salvation or a sociopolitical return to a putatively lost (or lacing) unity or community. Paradise absent is different from paradise lost.”

712

       “The nature of looses varies with the nature of events and responses to them. Some losses may be traumatic while others are not…. When absence and loss are conflated, melancholic paralysis or manic agitation may set in, and the significance of force of particular historical looses (for example, those of apartheid or the Shoah) may be obfuscated or rashly generalized. As a consequence one encounters the dubious ideas that everyone (including perpetrators or collaborators) is a victim, that all history is trauma, or that we all share a pathological public sphere or a ‘wound culture.’ (As a recent public service message would have it, ‘Violence makes victims of us all.’) Furthermore, the conflation of absence and loss would facilitate the appropriation of particular traumas by those who did not experience them, typically in a movement of identity-formation that makes invidious and ideological use of traumatic series of events in foundational ways or as symbolic capital.”

       “Losses occur in any life or society, but it is important not to specify them prematurely or conflate them with absences. Historical losses can conceivably be avoided or, when they occur, at least in part be compensated for, worked through, and even to some extent overcome. Absence, along with the anxiety it brings, could be worked through only in the sense that one may learn better to live with it and not convert it into a loss or lack that one believes could be made good, notably through the elimination or victimization of those to whom blame is imputed. Conversely, it is important not to hypostatize particular historical losses or lacks and present them as mere instantiations of some inevitable absence or constitutive feature of existence.”

713

       “I have argued elsewhere that mourning might be seen as a form of working-through, and melancholia as a form of acting-out. Freud compared and contrasted melancholia with mourning. He saw melancholia as characteristic of an arrested process in which the depressed, self-berating, and traumatized self, locked in compulsive repetition, is possessed by the past, faces a future of impasses, and remains narcissistically identified with the lost object. Mourning brings the possibility of engaging trauma and achieving a reinvestment in, or recathexis of, life that allows one to begin again.”

       “Through memory-work, especially the socially engaged memory-work involved in working-through, one is able to distinguish between past and present and to recognize something as having happened to one (or one’s people) back then that is related, but not identical with, here and now. Moreover, through mourning and the at least symbolic provision of a proper burial, one attempts to assist in restoring to victims the dignity denied them by their victimizers.”

716

       “In acting-out, the past is performatively regenerated or relived as if it were fully present rather than represented in memory and inscription, and it hauntingly returns as the repressed. Mourning involves a different inflection of performativity: a relation to the past that involves recognizing its difference from the present—simultaneously remembering and taking leave of or actively forgetting it, thereby allowing for critical judgment and a reinvestment in life, notably social and civic life with its demands, responsibilities, and norms requiring respectful recognition and consideration for others. By contrast, to the extent someone is possessed by the past and acting out a repetition compulsion, he or she may be incapable of ethically responsible behavior.”

722-3

       “Historical trauma is specific and not everyone is subject to it or entitled to the subject-position associated with it. It is dubious to identify with the victim to the point of making oneself a surrogate victim who has a right to the victim’s voice or subject-position. The role of empathy and empathic unsettlement in the attentive secondary witness does not entail this identity; it involves a kind of virtual experience through which one puts oneself in the other’s position while recognizing the difference of that position and hence not taking the other’s place. Opening oneself to empathic unsettlement is, as intimated, a desirable affective dimension of inquiry that complements and supplements empirical research and [723] analysis. Empathy is important in attempting to understand traumatic events and victims.”

723

       “But empathy that resists full identification with, and appropriation of, the experience of the other would depend both on one’s own potential for traumatization (related to absence and structural trauma) and on one’s recognition that anther’s loss is not identical to one’s own loss.”

       “Everyone is subject to structural trauma. But, with respect to historical trauma and its representation, the distinction among victims, perpetrators, and bystanders is crucial…. But not everyone traumatized by events is a victim. There is the possibility of perpetrator trauma that must itself be acknowledged and in some sense worked through if perpetrators are to distance themselves from an earlier implication in deadly ideologies and practices. Such trauma does not, however, entail the equation or identification of the perpetrator and the victim. The fact that Himmler suffered from chronic stomach cramps or that his associate Erich von dem Bach-Zelewiski experienced nocturnal fits of screaming does not make them victims of the Holocaust.”

724-5

       “The belated temporality of trauma makes of it an elusive experience related to repetition involving a period of latency. At least in Freud’s widely shared view, the trauma as experience is ‘in’ the repletion of an early event in a later event—an early event for which one was not prepared to feel anxiety and a later event that somehow recalls the early one and triggers a traumatic response…. The traumatizing events in historical trauma can be determined (for example, the events of the Shoah) wile structural trauma (like absence) is not an event but an anxiety-producing condition of possibility related to the potential for historical traumatization. When structural trauma is reduced to, or figured as, an event, one has the genesis of myth wherein trauma is enacted in a story or narrative form which later trauma seem to derive (as in Freud’s primal crime or in the case of original sin attendant upon the fall from Eden).”

727

       “One may well argue that structural trauma related to absence or a gap in existence—with the anxiety, ambivalence, and elation it evokes—may not be cured but only lived with in various ways. Nor may it be reduced to a dated historical event or derived from one…. But historical traumas and losses may conceivably be avoided and their legacies to some viable extent worked through both in order to allow a less self-deceptive confrontation with transhistorical, structural trauma and in order to further historical, social, and political specificity, including the elaboration of more desirable social and political institutions and practices.”

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