In Praise of Forgetting

Historical Memory and Its Ironies

Author: David Rieff

Publisher: Yale University Press

ISBN: 0300186665

Category: Philosophy

Page: 160

View: 8206


The conventional wisdom about historical memory is summed up in George Santayana’s celebrated phrase, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Today, the consensus that it is moral to remember, immoral to forget, is nearly absolute. And yet is this right? David Rieff, an independent writer who has reported on bloody conflicts in Africa, the Balkans, and Central Asia, insists that things are not so simple. He poses hard questions about whether remembrance ever truly has, or indeed ever could, “inoculate” the present against repeating the crimes of the past. He argues that rubbing raw historical wounds—whether self-inflicted or imposed by outside forces—neither remedies injustice nor confers reconciliation. If he is right, then historical memory is not a moral imperative but rather a moral option—sometimes called for, sometimes not. Collective remembrance can be toxic. Sometimes, Rieff concludes, it may be more moral to forget. Ranging widely across some of the defining conflicts of modern times—the Irish Troubles and the Easter Uprising of 1916, the white settlement of Australia, the American Civil War, the Balkan wars, the Holocaust, and 9/11—Rieff presents a pellucid examination of the uses and abuses of historical memory. His contentious, brilliant, and elegant essay is an indispensable work of moral philosophy.

Memory Laws, Memory Wars

Author: Nikolay Koposov

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 1108419720

Category: History

Page: N.A

View: 8600


A major contribution to our understanding of present-day historical consciousness through a study of memory laws across Europe.

The Stakes of History

On the Use and Abuse of Jewish History for Life

Author: David N. Myers

Publisher: Yale University Press

ISBN: 0300228937

Category: History

Page: 192

View: 6737


A leading scholar of Jewish history's bracing and challenging case for the role of the historian today Why do we study history? What is the role of the historian in the contemporary world? These questions prompted David N. Myers's illuminating and poignant call for the relevance of historical research and writing. His inquiry identifies a number of key themes around which modern Jewish historians have wrapped their labors: liberation, consolation, and witnessing. Through these portraits, Myers revisits the chasm between history and memory, revealing the middle space occupied by modern Jewish historians as they work between the poles of empathic storytelling and the critical sifting of sources. History, properly applied, can both destroy ideologically rooted myths that breed group hatred and create new memories that are sustaining of life. Alive in these investigations is Myers's belief that the historian today can and should attend to questions of political and moral urgency. Historical knowledge is not a luxury to society but an essential requirement for informed civic engagement, as well as a vital tool in policy making, conflict resolution, and restorative justice.

Forgetful Remembrance

Social Forgetting and Vernacular Historiography of a Rebellion in Ulster

Author: Guy Beiner

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 019106632X

Category: History

Page: 768

View: 5762


Forgetful Remembrance examines the paradoxes of what actually happens when communities persistently endeavour to forget inconvenient events. The question of how a society attempts to obscure problematic historical episodes is addressed through a detailed case study grounded in the north-eastern counties of the Irish province of Ulster, where loyalist and unionist Protestants — and in particular Presbyterians — repeatedly tried to repress over two centuries discomfiting recollections of participation, alongside Catholics, in a republican rebellion in 1798. By exploring a rich variety of sources, Beiner makes it possible to closely follow the dynamics of social forgetting. His particular focus on vernacular historiography, rarely noted in official histories, reveals the tensions between professed oblivion in public and more subtle rituals of remembrance that facilitated muted traditions of forgetful remembrance, which were masked by a local culture of reticence and silencing. Throughout Forgetful Remembrance, comparative references demonstrate the wider relevance of the study of social forgetting in Northern Ireland to numerous other cases where troublesome memories have been concealed behind a veil of supposed oblivion.

Susan Sontag: Later Essays

Author: Susan Sontag

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9781598535198

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 946

View: 7090


An unprecedented collection of the controversial later writings of the greatestand most provocative critic of our time. Susan Sontag was the most influential critic of her time. This second volume inLibrary of America's definitive Sontag edition gathers all the collected essays andspeeches from her last quarter-century, brilliant works whose subjects, from theAIDS epidemic, 9/11, the Iraq war, and the perverse allure of Fascism to painting, dance, music, film, and scintillating literary portraits of such writers as WalterBenjamin, Roland Barthes, Antonin Artaud, Machado de Assis, Jorge Luis Borges, Nadine Gordimer, Joseph Brodsky, W. G. Sebald, Marina Tsvetayeva, and RobertWalser, bear enduring witness to passionate curiosity and expansive intellect. Shebrings to every subject an unwavering focus and intensity, and a deep commitmentto "extending our sense of what a human life can be," as she said on accepting theJerusalem Prize in 2000. An account of her 1993 residence in war-torn Sarajevo tostage a production of "Waiting for Godot" becomes a meditation on the meaning ofculture: "Culture, serious culture, is an expression of human dignity-which is whatpeople in Sarajevo feel they have lost." "AIDS and Its Metaphors" marks a furtherdevelopment of the central ideas of her classic "Illness as Metaphor," while"Regarding the Pain of Others" explores eloquently the troubling moral issues surrounding photographic depictions of violence, cruelty, and atrocity."

Never Forget National Humiliation

Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations

Author: Zheng Wang

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 0231520166

Category: Political Science

Page: 312

View: 1212


How could the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) not only survive but even thrive, regaining the support of many Chinese citizens after the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989? Why has popular sentiment turned toward anti-Western nationalism despite the anti-dictatorship democratic movements of the 1980s? And why has China been more assertive toward the United States and Japan in foreign policy but relatively conciliatory toward smaller countries in conflict? Offering an explanation for these unexpected trends, Zheng Wang follows the Communist government's ideological reeducation of the public, which relentlessly portrays China as the victim of foreign imperialist bullying during "one hundred years of humiliation." By concentrating on the telling and teaching of history in today's China, Wang illuminates the thinking of the young patriots who will lead this rising power in the twenty-first century. Wang visits China's primary schools and memory sites and reads its history textbooks, arguing that China's rise should not be viewed through a single lens, such as economics or military growth, but from a more comprehensive perspective that takes national identity and domestic discourse into account. Since it is the prime raw material for constructing China's national identity, historical memory is the key to unlocking the inner mystery of the Chinese. From this vantage point, Wang tracks the CCP's use of history education to glorify the party, reestablish its legitimacy, consolidate national identity, and justify one-party rule in the post-Tiananmen and post–Cold War era. The institutionalization of this manipulated historical consciousness now directs political discourse and foreign policy, and Wang demonstrates its important role in China's rise.

The enchanted loom

chapters in the history of neuroscience

Author: Pietro Corsi

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA


Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 383

View: 6349


In 1747, Julien Offroy de La Mettrie anonymously published a pamphlet that scandalized Europe. The Dutch government, the most tolerant in Europe, decreed its destruction, and made every effort to learn who wrote it. La Mettrie fled to Berlin, where he was forced to live in exile for the rest of his life. His crime? He had argued that thought was produced by the brain--a dangerous assault, in the eyes of his contemporaries, on the soul. Not for the last time, the science of the human mind had outgrown human imagination. Written by an international team of scientists, The Enchanted Loom offers a sweeping look at the history of neuroscience from the philosophy of Aristotle to the advent of Artificial Intelligence. This collection of accessible, intriguing essays is supplemented by over 350 spectacular illustrations, many in color, with thorough and informative captions written by the scientists themselves. The authors discuss Descartes's contributions to thought about the brain, alongside brilliant artistic studies of the central nervous system that he and masters like da Vinci executed. They show how phrenology--the long discredited study of skull shape and mental faculties--actually represented a breakthrough in thinking about localized brain functions, and how the advent of the microscope and other equipment led to new discoveries. The contributors bring the story up to the present day, unfolding the emergence of the modern neurosciences, advances in molecular biology, and the debate over how infants learn language. In addition, the book offers a short history of computers and recent thought about whether the mind works like computer software. Noted contributors include Larry Squire, writing on memory; Solomon Snyder, discussing psychopharmacology; and John Dowling on vision. Colorful, intelligent, informative, The Enchanted Loom offers an authoritative and enjoyable look at the history of a complex and fascinating science.

The Prose Writers of America

With a Survey of the Intellectual History, Condition, and Prospects of the Country

Author: Rufus Wilmot Griswold

Publisher: N.A


Category: American literature

Page: 552

View: 3157