Module C – History & Memory "It always begins in blackness, until the first light illuminates a hidden fragment of memory...." . Karen Yager – Knox Grammar School. Conceptual Approach. What have you discovered about humanity and life? What are your thesis statements?. Rubric.
Module C – History & Memory"It always begins in blackness, until the first light illuminates a hidden fragment of memory...."
Karen Yager – Knox Grammar School
What have you discovered about humanity and life?
What are your thesis statements?
In your answer you will be assessed on how well you:
The Suggested Approach
Title: Signifying the Mouse
Representation: Semiotics: striped uniform; large eyes – despair; hands open and pleading
Representation: Salient image of the fence
‘Come and see…
The key is the forgotten heart, the murdered prayer, the death of memory.
It opens the blessing or curse.
Come and see.
‘History burnishes particulars, brushes them clear of individual faces…everything personal, individual, is swept away in time’ Anne Roiphe, The Legacy of Memory.
“Their stories were like the Siberian night sky as it appears now above the train, streaking starlight between spaces of darkness; and this is where their tales petered out, into an infinite darkness they called the Annihilation. They left a legacy of fragments, a jumble of jewels and ashes, and forests of severed family trees which their children now explore and try somehow to rescue”(Arnold Zable, Jewels and Ashes, pp.23-24).
Unable to Work by David Olère
Chagall’s ‘White Crucifixion’
Jan Komsky’s ‘Round-up’
We saw the spirit of the Holocaust in Cambodia, in Tamil, in Kashmir, at My Lai. Wherever there is a refugee camp, faces pressed against the wires, the Holocaust is there” (Anne Roiphe, ‘The Legacy of Memory’).
Before stepping into a taxi
a young girl struggles to take the city with her:
Warm, sticky air bathing the street market,
comforting scent of fragrant rice,
pungent odour of dry fish,
raw flesh hung on butchers' hooks,
squawking of chickens in rusty wire prisons,
crescendo of rickshaws, scooters, bicycles;
the city she will no longer call home.
As she speeds away, the city recedes into memory,
as does the rolling countryside,
once dotted by women tending to the paddies,
children splashing among water buffalo.
Now, echoes of distant missiles pierce her memories,
murders of crows dive into reddened fields.
The faces of Angkor watch sadly
as their city crumbles,
as another one of their children flees,
taking nothing with her but me,
gently growing inside.
Dali’s ‘Premonition of Civil War’
In exploring the complexities between history and memory, it becomes evident that no matter how close we get to the historical truth of events, only memory can attempt to bring us closer to the reality of tragedies that confound representation. This idea is represented in Mark Baker’s biographical memoir, The Fiftieth Gate, Roman Polanski’s film, The Pianist, as well as Polanski’s documentary on the making of the film, A Story of Survival. In these three texts, history creates a context and a foundation for the understanding of the Holocaust. However, history is not enough to convey the reality of the experience, therefore the composers turn to memory to provide their audiences with an emotional understanding.
History, the process of documenting events, has traditionally been represented as the authoritative, public and hierarchical representation of specific events. However, increasingly history has been perceived as a ‘construct’ rather than an absolute ‘truth’. The postmodern era has seen a proliferation in new forms of discourse leading to a democratization of the ways in which history is recorded. Memories, our personal recollections of the past, have been increasingly valued as a means of complimenting and validating recorded history, leading to a powerful and symbiotic interplay. Although filtered through time memories offer a highly emotive and subjective representation of specific events, personalities and situations.
Although history is perceived to be more credible than memory, in actuality, both the former and the latter act as an interdependent and interconnected continuum in which they aid in the verification of the credibility of particular situations. Both Mark Baker through his text The Fiftieth Gate, as well as John Pilger’s documentary titled Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia, through literary, audio and visual means of representation, exemplify not only the abhorrence of genocide, but also the concept that history and memory act in a symbiotic relationship, amplifying the stark and confronting reality of these situations.