Coincidence. She is in a room beside Adolf Hitler…. Anne Frank is about our current struggle to engage the past shorn from nostalgia, disavowal and kitsch. Stuck in the throat. A chicken bone stuck in the throat. A wish bone that won’t snap and they can’t swallow it or spit it out. Stuck with the jews. And though its been tried, the destruction can’t seem to be mystified either.
Like Picasso’s cubism, we are always left with piecing together the sum of destructions, making sense out of nihilism and the near annihilation of the human figure. I suppose there is a sacred lurking somewhere, trying to find a crack in the foundation and seek the light of day; maybe by plumbing the depths it will be found. But where to begin? For she is the transformation of the individual into symbol. A point of departure for mourning. A seemingly graspable symbol that engulfs human sorrow.
…Madame Tussaud’s wax museum in Berlin has opened a new exhibit featuring a figure of Anne Frank, the teenage girl whose diary has come to symbolize the story of countless Jews who were forced into hiding in an attempt to escape the Nazis. In the museum, she is portrayed sitting at a desk, smiling, with a pen in her hand. The key to her diary, as well as a copy of her favorite book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and magazines relaying the latest trends in theatre, lie by her side. The exhibit also includes a simulation of her room, with flickering lights and background noise of voices and laughter.Read More:http://www.ejpress.org/article/56770a
Why Anne Frank continues to compel, even fascinate has partly to do with her as a symbol of the conscious version of the eternal in the present that seems a central locus of the jewish view of the world. Anne Frank is a gesturally intense figure, always breaking free from the stasis with bursts of unconscious feeling. The attributes of the modern condition: a morbidly rootless wandering jew who is inwardly homeless and simultaneously physically isolated. Anne Frank is the modern condition; a figure haunted by a meaninglessness, a figure imprisoned by meaninglessness though her unconscious struggles and agitates against it.
So, Anne Frank is significant; a symbolic monument that both dictates and shapes the parameters of memory as it wanders over porous borders. She is a symbol that freezes in a moment of time, a snapshot that encapsulates a trauma that is overwhelming. Today, we are never asked to remember her as who she really was, but what each of us insists she represents. And she signifies our present struggle to encounter the past, while satisfying a need to mourn, to catalyze this process of alchemy that would liberate the spirit even though the enormity of the holocaust is a guarantee it can never be mourned in its entirety, just fragments, splinters of a broken mirror, dust from the tablets, dust from the cross…
Frank was an outsider as a jew, part of the basic common experience, the eternal wayfarer, the prodigal son and daughter who understood that no reaching and enacting of conformism could ever ensure that one’s position as a member of larger society would ever be safe and secure. And, like Kafka, and Chagall, Freud etc. this tenacious grip of social alienation provided a freedom and critical consciousness permitting her unique creative way.
Levi’s true position on optimism about human nature was much the same as Anne’s as well: it is not justified, but we need it in order to survive. But his readers, like hers, need something more positive, and ascribe it to him in the teeth of all the evidence, just as they ascribe it to her. Prose should not be surprised; it just shows that Anne was right (and so was Levi).
Thirdly, If This Is a M
as been accused of the same universalising of the Holocaust as Anne Frank’s Diary, with more justification. Levi was the first to say that, for its industrial methods and scale, the Nazi Holocaust was unique in human history; but that its motives were not unique, and nor were its lessons. These are distinctions that Prose fails to make….
…She also runs together universal and anodyne. What is wrong with the film of Anne Frank’s diary is that it is anodyne, not that it is universal. If This Is a Man is universal; but God help anyone who opens it expecting something anodyne.Read More:http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/anne-frank-the-life-the-book-the-afterlife-by-francine-prose-2038681.html