By Mieke Bal, Jonathan Crewe, Leo Spitzer
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Additional info for Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present
The term is meant to convey its temporal and qualitative difference from survivor memory, its secondary or second-generation memory quality, its basis in displacement, its belatedness. Postmemory is a powerful form of memory precisely because its connection to its object or source is mediated not through recollection but through projection, investment, and creation. That is not to say that survivor memory itself is unmediated, but that it is more directly connected to the past. Postmemory characterizes the experience of those who grow up dominated by narratives that preceded their birth, whose own belated stories are displaced by the stories of the previous generation, shaped by traumatic events that they can neither understand nor re-create.
11 The image has become the consummate space of projection: while Rymkiewicz's narrator contends that "the boy's face . . betrays nothing," and Dawidowicz describes him as "frightened," Korwin writes: your face contorted with fear, grown old with knowledge beyond your years. . All the torments of this harassed crowd are written on your face. But the boy from Warsaw is only one of numerous children displayed in the photographic discourses of memory and postmemory. Anne Frank's image and her story are utterly pervasivethis to the great distress of commentators like Bruno Bettelheim who find it problematic that this young girl's strangely hopeful story should for a generation have constituted the only encounter with the knowledge of the Holocaust, an encounter engendering the type of Page 12 adolescent identification we see in Marjorie Agosín's book of poems.
While Huyssen's case studiesthree instances of monumentalizing acts of memory in Germany in 1995are continuous with site-specific concerns addressed in Part II, the thrust of his essay is a reconsideration of the wholesale rejection of the monumental impulse in current aesthetics. 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.