light gazing, ışığa bakmak

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

um pouco de 'Who Owns Auschwitz?'

"I don't think that this question is inevitably posed on the basis of dishonest motives. Rather, it expresses a natural longing, and the survivors, indeed, long for nothing else. Nonetheless, the decades have taught me that the only passable route to liberation leads us through memory. But there are various ways of remembering. The artist hopes that, through a precise description, leading him once more along the pathways of death, he will finally break through to the noblest kind of liberation, to a catharsis in which he can perhaps allow his reader to partake as well. But how many such works have come into being during the last century? I can count on ten fingers the number of writers who have produced truly great literature of world importance out of the experience of the Holocaust. We seldom meet with the likes of a Paul Celan, a Tadeusz Borowski, a Primo Levi, a Jean Améry, a Ruth Klüger, a Claude Lanzmann, or a Miklós Radóti.

More and more often, the Holocaust is stolen from its guardians and made into cheap consumer goods. Or else it is institutionalized, and around it is built a moral-political ritual, complete with a new and often phony language. Certain words come to be compelled by public discourse, and almost automatically set off the Holocaust-reflex in the listener or the reader. In every way possible and impossible, the Holocaust is rendered alien to human beings. The survivor is taught how he has to think about what he has experienced, regardless of whether or to what extent this "thinking-about" is consistent with his real experiences. The authentic witness is or will soon be perceived as being in the way, and will have to be shoved aside like the obstacle he is. The words of Améry prove their truth: "We, the victims, will appear as the truly incorrigible, irreconcilable ones, as the anti-historical reactionaries in the exact sense of the word, and in the end it will seem like a technical mishap that some of us still survived."

A Holocaust conformism has arisen, along with a Holocaust sentimentalism, a Holocaust canon, and a system of Holocaust taboos together with the ceremonial discourse that goes with it; Holocaust products for Holocaust consumers have been developed. Auschwitz-lies have appeared, and the figure of the Auschwitz con-man has come into being. Over the course of time we have come to know of one Holocaust guru, inundated with prizes for his achievements in literature and human rights, who gave first-hand reports of his indescribable experiences as a three- or four-year-old in the Majdanek extermination camp -- until it was determined that between 1941 and 1945 he hadn't left his bourgeois Swiss family's house, except perhaps to take a healthy stroll or sitting in his baby carriage. Meanwhile, we dwell in the midst of Spielberg's saurian kitsch and with the absurd chatter emerging from the fruitless discussions over the Berlin Holocaust monument. The time will come when Berliners -- along with foreigners who end up in Berlin, of course (above all, I imagine groups of assiduous Japanese tourists)--will stroll, sunk in peripatetic reflection and surrounded by the roar of Berlin traffic, through the Holocaust Park, complete with playground, while Spielberg's 48,239th interview-partner whispers -- or howls?--his own individual story of suffering in their ears."

Imre Kertész
some more here.

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