Memory, image and detail

ANDThis week I have read a couple of books on memory that complement each other.

The first is titled the traumatic memory and is written by Sabin Egilior (Dado Ediciones, 2022). The author brings us closer to traumatic memory as that particular form of elaboration, materialization, conservation and transmission of the collective memory of the tragic events of our history that is based on the witness, on the testimony of the experience lived directly in the first person. Egilior defends a multidisciplinary approach to a phenomenon “multiple and autonomous at the same time, which affects the person but also the group”. It is not so much a “historical or factual reconstruction of what happened, but a new construction (of) something previously unspeakable and unrepresentable to which, however, it is possible to give shape at a given moment”.

The author, a doctor in audiovisual communication and with extensive experience in documentaries and recordings of memory, is interested in the forms of materialization of that traumatic memory, very especially interested in the possibilities of the audiovisual medium for that purpose. The book reviews some comparative historical experiences (especially rich is its comparison of the different approaches used in Shoah by Claude Lanzmann, focused on death and its emptiness, and that of the visual memory project led by Steven Spielberg, more open to redemption and life after the traumatic experience) to end in the experiences of recovering the historical memory of the victims of the Civil War and the Francoist repression carried out by the Aranzadi Science Society (not by chance, the book is prefaced by Francisco Etxebarria) and by the Gogora Institute, always defending the audiovisual medium as an autonomous form -and not only vicarious or dependent on the written form – with its own unique capacity to collect and transmit experiences and emotions, and to store them for that memory after the witnesses.

The second book is a perfect complement, focusing on another equally powerful form of memory: that of details. Joseba Eceolaza in ETA: the memory of details (Ediciones Papeles del Duende, 2022) does not intend to collect a list of cases, or testimonies, or make a horror story. In the same way that Egilior wonders about the possibilities of the audiovisual to serve memory, Eceolaza investigates the power of detail –an apparently non-central element of the story– to hit us with a truth of cruelty that does not fit in the judicial file. , which extends beyond whoever pulled the trigger and which constitutes a complementary form of horror, humiliation, fury and hatred. “In the details we find the dimension of dehumanization,” Marta Buesa advances in her prologue.

“Telling and leaving it in writing constitutes a moral and political duty that cannot be postponed so that the following generations know this memory of the details” and to this end Eceolaza neither allows nor allows us easy exits. It demands of us the duty of memory to look at ourselves in the mirror of what we did and what we did not do. “Our first offense was not looking in time,” she says, wondering over and over again, where was I? What did I do? His moral look at the past is incorruptible and forces the reader to do the same, “even if it is unpleasant, even if our first imposition is to forget as soon as possible”.

Facing the cult of violence, facing the culture of hate, “the subversive potential of memory is based – defends the author – on its ability to project conciliatory and pacifist values ​​into the future”. He hits ceolaza with phrases of aphoristic power: “Oblivion is ruin”; “Speaking of the dead contains a lot of life”; “When it is named, it is actually called.”

Both books tell us about the duty of memory and its triple aspect towards the past, the present and the future. Necessary readings. he

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