The Novel as a Philosophy of Remembering

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The Novel as a Philosophy of Remembering

The remembering, the memorizing only seems to be a simple, one-way directed or a straightforward category. Remembering is a phenomena connected to the basic concept of existence, because the way (as well as the form) of someone’s remembrance is deeply connected to the individual profile of a person. The memory is not only or exceptionally led down to the empiric material, contained in the biography as a subordinated plot. We remember how we live or how we chose to interpret our living, our experience. The memory can also be active – to be built as a design, anticipatively – not only mechanically archiving (in a form of events, persons, adventures) in the “file” of someone’s memory.
Who do we remember? Ourselves, others? What do we remember? Events, words, objects, areas? How do we remember? Totally or partially, authentically or imaginatively? How much do we remember? Only the necessary, or series of details which transform the memory into entropy? In a vortex, which consumes us deeper and deeper to its invincible spiral?
“To remember – means to reconstruct – like in narrating – not to present a precise description of a certain event” – says Phil Mollon (2001:10) in the concise study dedicated to Freud and his discovery of the syndrome of “false memories”.
The memory stands in a close connection to the identity and the existence of human beings and their surrounding. “One subject depends on the affirmative view of the other” – says the philosopher Eduard Hirsch. According to the philosopher of religion Christos Yanaras “We recognize the beings while they really exist, that is if they arise from oblivion to unforgettableness, in the appearance of the phenomena.” (1997:55).
Remembering is one of the constitutive differential characteristics between humans and animals: only with the help of memorizing and predicting, as pointed out by the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, in the human, as opposite of the animal, happens a stratifying of joy and sufferings, which are the condenser of the reflection. The memory is a dreg on one side, and a source of reflection on the other (thus, of happiness and sorrow which come as its result).
In the necrologies, as a canonized genre of remembering and the announcement of someone’s death, very often we shall meet the phrase: “we couldn’t keep you away from death, but we shall save you from being forgotten”, or “ the memory and the love for you will last forever, loved ones never die”. Remembering these radical examples is the only possible guaranty, a solemn and publicly given promise in front of the deceased, that at least he will remain virtually alive, in the discourse of remembrance. In fact, the necrologies, as a title, very often have the idiom “In memoriam”.
The remembering is the only ontological compensation for the no-longer-living, loved, dear, important person. The commemoration (the requiem) as an act represents a ritual form of remembrance, a performance to reanimate the memory.
Besides these, there are other modalities of memory: the witness (as an actor of remembrance and an eye-witness of a certain event/incident form the past), the recollection (as a mental picture or a reconstruction of a past experience), the souvenir (as an artifact, a hard evidence, directly or associatively connected with a past experience, mostly traveling), the monument (as a monumental structure which holds the architecture of remembering), the memoirs (a literary genre, strikingly tied to the modus of memories), the museum (as an archetype location, aimed for institutionalization and storing the memories as certain objects from the past).
As for the art and literature – things remain more or less similar. With a significant addition that art represents highly sophisticated, aestheticaly formulated, shaped and complex stratifying articulation of remembering.
It seems that art is a special form of memorial, an active spiritual modus – through it the past-in-the present is revealed; the past as a still current presence, that is.
But, before we develop the discussion on the memorial of literature (its character) wider and applicably, we should add the discussion of the starting narration of the remembrance, or of the memory as a spoken act.
The memory is not a linear, one-way directed, transparent category, nor a mechanical transfer of the past – it is an already-done construction, an embodied retelling. Between remembering as a latent, fluid, selective, un-representing structure and remembering as a concrete, verbally articulating, manifesting, shaping structure – there is an undeniable gap, which is constitutive for the very discourse of remembering, that is for installing the remembrance exactly as a discourse.
“The memories are like literary works, they are created at the very moment of recalling, constructed from the psycho-dynamic conflict and serve the fulfillment of wishes and of self-mystification” – concludes Phil Mollon about Freud.
His complete scientific methodology, psychoanalysis, is based precisely on the psycho-pathologic effect of the memories and the hypothesis of remembrance as a priory ethnological factor in the formation of psychic problems and diseases. In fact, Freud thought that memories are always false – or supposed, imaginative, wishing, fantasizing – because they are (re)created in the very act or at the moment of recalling.
They appear because of the psycho-dynamic conflicts of the person, as an answer to the current problems in life of the one who is telling/recalling the memories – in order to fulfill one’s wishes or for self-mystification. They combine elements from different sources, no matter the authenticity or reality, as in dreams, applying games of words, metaphors etc.
It is the psychoanalysis of Freud, which is a systematically performed grip and a well-planed strategy of re-creation of the amorphous inarticulate remembering (which is latent, foggy, traumatic) into articulate/shaped memory (which becomes manifested, conscious, post-traumatic). Transforming of one’s own remembrance, the memory of its past “self” (of self-being) – to a memory, or on the other side, into a witnessing – as a memory of the past “you” (of the other/others).

2018-08-21T17:23:05+00:00 February 25th, 2008|Categories: Literature, Essays, Blesok no. 58|0 Comments