where shall i seek you

The plausibility of Elie Wiesel asserting the importance of the holocaust as comparable and of equal significance to the events of Mount Sinai does seem like poetic lyricism gone amok and the elevation of the tragic to fetishised narrative of religious and messianic dimensions seems like willing into being a catastrophe as prelude to redemption. The propriety of the holocaust, the owner of the narrative is meaningless; and despite Wiesel’s best efforts, the dead cannot speak to us and we are faced with the problem of articulating the trauma inflicted by the holocaust of which language is too crude, primitive and simply inadequate and tends toward making it a sort of communal activity so that it loses the personal and individualistic element.

---Larry Rivers Erasing the Past II,1988 Pencil and color pencil on paper 26 1/2 x 28 1/2 This image used as a New York Times Magazine cover in 1986. In this drawing, the stars remain indelible, despite the erasure technique. Again, the artist, although not directly connected with the Holocaust, suggests the problems of memory, not only for victims, but all Jews. The Yellow Star was imposed on the Jews of Europe. Identification succeeded because non-Jews went along with it.--- Read More:http://chgs.umn.edu/museum/exhibitions/witnessLeg/empathizers/rivers/

Still, the Frankl’s, Wiesels aside- at least Primo Levi understood the idea of symbol defining the parameters of memory- anything that draws people into an engagement with the bitterness of a history that must not be dispatched to pop culture obsolescence has merit. Always a struggle against forgetfulness that somehow our “enlightened” society seems to engender. Still, there is no doubt the holocaust created a unprecedented psychic trauma for Jewish consciousness, overwhelming the identity of the group and in the individual veering between melancholia and mourning that deeply rattled traditional world views and the questioning of the stability of a people in their host countries. Much more than a fixed historical event.

( from http://www.arthistoryunstuffed.com/tag/max-horkheimer/) – see link at end: …It was the goal of Theodor Adorno to refuse identity and to demand that non-identity be recognized. Other Holocausts would come, he predicted accurately. To resist the false “positive” is to insist upon the “negative” and to reintroduce the invisible term back into visibility of the (moral) dialectic….

---Larry Rivers Erasing the Past I, 1986 Pencil and color pencil on paper 26 1/2 x 28 1/2 This image deals with a drawing of a Holocaust survivor from a photograph. However, Rivers manipulates the drawing to become a memory piece by erasing parts of the drawing. Note that this becomes a metaphor for the problems of Holocaust memory by survivors. The images from the past can never disappear; yet at the same time, the whole story cannot be told.--- Read More:http://chgs.umn.edu/museum/exhibitions/witnessLeg/empathizers/rivers/

…The book ends on an elegiac note of mourning and guilt, for the author and philosopher and musician has arbitrarily survived the Holocaust. Adorno had recurring dreams of being sent to the gas chambers and found himself not just a Survivor but also an alien in his own homeland. Written in 1966 Negative Dialectics is not just a critique of Western philosophy after the end of the Enlightenment it is also a document of morality. In his parting thoughts, Adorno wrote these famous lines:

After Auschwitz, our feelings resist any claim of the positivity of existence as sanctimonious, as wronging the victims; they balk at squeezing any kind of sense, however bleached, out of the victims’ fate. And these feelings do have an objective side after events that make a mockery of the construction of immanence as endowed with a meaning radiated by an affirmatively posited transcendence….

---George Segal created The Holocaust as a memorial to the horrific events of World War II. Using his signature technique, he posed live models and cast them in plaster. Segal based the installation on photographs of the concentration camps that were taken immediately after liberation. But he added a degree of order and organization to the piles of corpses seen in those pictures because he found the Nazi disregard for the dead so offensive. Segal once said, "In any culture, if a human being dies, there's an elaborate, orderly ritual that accompanies the burial. The body is laid out in a straight line. Hands are crossed. There's a burial case and a prescribed, almost immoveable succession of events that involve the expression of grief of the family, the expression of love, the expression of the religious beliefs in whatever civilization. It's a prescribed order, and if a modern state turns that order topsy-turvy and introduces this kind of chaos, it is an unthinkable obscenity."--- Read More:http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/1985176alabout

…Our metaphysical faculty is paralyzed because actual events have shattered the basis on which speculative metaphysical thought could be reconciled with experience…the administered murder of millions made of death a thing one had never had to fear in just this fashion…That in the concentration camps it was no longer an individual who died, but as a specimen—this is a fact bound to affect the dying of those who escaped the administrative measure.

Genocide is the absolute integration…Absolute negativity is in plain sight and has ceased to surprise anyone….

---However, as the story goes the history of this unfortunate city of Lidice is colored with the blood of 192 men whose massacre was conducted here in 1942 by the Nazis. This all happened for taking

revenge for Reinhard Heydrich who was the deputy Reichsprotektor of the then Nazi German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The story was never ended here as the rest of the population of Lidice was sent to Nazi concentration camps where many women and nearly all the children were also murdered.---Read More:http://www.thelovelyplanet.net/lidice-shall-live/

…Perennial suffering has as much right to expression as a tortured man has to scream; hence it may have been wrong to say that after Auschwitz you could no longer write poems. But it is not wrong to raise the less cultural question whether after Auschwitz you can go on living—especially whether one who escaped by accident, one who by rights should have been killed, may go on living. His mere survival calls for the coldness, the basic principle of bourgeois subjectivity, without which there would have been no Auschwitz; this is the drastic guilt of him who was spared. By way of atonement he will be plagued by dreams such as that he is no longer living at all, that he was sent to the ovens in 1944 and his whole existence since has been imaginary, an emanation of the insane wish of a man killed twenty years earlier. Read More:http://www.arthistoryunstuffed.com/tag/max-horkheimer/

Jewish identities has been severely haunted, spooked and shaken by the trauma of the Holocaust. Especially when the trauma has been displaced, projected internally within family units,  or outright repressed to guard an illusion of stability and life as meaningfully coherent. By the same measure, the ghosts, the phantoms of the Shoah do not accept this status quo for long. They are like indecisive Golem representing looming trauma with a hint for closure and redemption. Id doppledangers exist, these ghosts can serve as disconcerting doubles, challenging the concept of fear and guilt; a kind of tango that provides distance yet draws us near the trauma. Free will or some form of parasite infection  resulting in bizarre behavior dragging the individual to where he could be most vulnerable?


… Hear me, who stand
Circled and winged in vortex of my kin:
Forego the complete doom! The winnowed, spare!
Annul the scattering, and end! And end
Our habitats on water and on air!
Gather the flames up to light orient
Over the land; and that funest eclipse,
Diaspora-dark, revolve from off our ways!
Towered Jerusalem and Jacob’s tent
Set up again; again renew our days
As when near Carmel’s mount we harbored ships,
And went and came, and knew our home; and song
From all the vineyards raised its sweet degrees,
And thou didst visit us, didst shield from wrong,
And all our sorrows salve with prophecies;
Again renew them as they were of old,
And for all time cancel that ashen orbit
In which our days, and hopes, and kin, are rolled.
( A.M. Klein, The Elegy)

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