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1 IMPERSONATING THE WITNESS: WHAT TESTIMONIAL FICTION CAN TEACH US ABOUT TESTIMONY By ERIC J. DOISE A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010
2 2010 Eric J. Doise
3 To Saara: You can read me anything In memory of Spot
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS For her sacrifice and patience, both of which were indispensable to the completion of this project, I would like to thank Saara Raappana I would also like to thank the director of this dissertation, John Leavey, for his intellectual rigor and graciousness, traces of which can be found throughout this work. The same can be said of my re aders, Kenneth Kidd, Dragan Kujundzic, and Maureen Turim, each of whose contributions made this dissertation possible. My parents, Pat and Charlotte Doise, with their life long dedication to all areas of my education, deserve at least as much credit as I d o. I have been and am fortunate to have two older brothers Corey and Jason Doise, who have always set high standards that I have felt compelled to reach. The additional support of their wives and children has been a great source of strength as has the encouragement provided by the Raappana, Dau, and Beeler families For their friendship, much needed throughout this process, I would like to thank Nathan Norsworthy, Josh Lesage, Reynolds LeBlanc, DH Thaggard, DW Thomas, and Matt and Jamie Miles.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 7 CHAPTER 1 FILM AS TESTMONY: ADAPTATION AND THE CONDITIONS OF TESTIMONY ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 9 Adaptation as Testimony ................................ ................................ ........................ 19 From Two, One ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 23 Adaptation as Translation ................................ ................................ ....................... 33 Film as Simulation and Deception ................................ ................................ .......... 43 Testimony as Prophecy ................................ ................................ .......................... 52 2 ......... 57 Distinguishing Between Autobiographical Genres ................................ .................. 60 Traditional Confessional Criticism ................................ ................................ ........... 67 Wordsworth and Autobiographical Poetry ................................ ............................... 71 Anne as Witness ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 76 Incestuous Sex(ton) ................................ ................................ ......................... 76 Little orphan Anne ................................ ................................ ............................ 89 Image and self ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 93 3 A BIT OF TESTIMO NIAL MISCHIEF: WITNESS AS DOPPELGNGER IN OPERATION SHYLOCK ................................ ................................ ....................... 103 Pipik as Reader ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 115 ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 122 No There There ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 130 4 THE SADNESS OF (NOT) SEEING: TRANSLATION AND TESTIMONY IN EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED ................................ ................................ ......... 134 Two Readings of Benjamin ................................ ................................ ................... 143 ................................ ................................ .......... 147 Reason for Hope ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 159 5 TESTIMONY AND SIMULATION IN RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH 166 The Precession as Procession ................................ ................................ ............. 169 The Plague as Prototype ................................ ................................ ...................... 173 Novel as Testimony ................................ ................................ .............................. 177
6 Novel as Fic tion ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 184 Novel as Simulation ................................ ................................ .............................. 186 Testimony as Simulation ................................ ................................ ....................... 198 6 HONEST LIES AND THE HONEST LIARS WHO TELL THEM: DECEPTION IN THE THINGS THEY CARRIED DECEPTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 202 The Truth as Lie ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 210 Negation as Lie as Truth ................................ ................................ ....................... 214 Testimony and Deceit ................................ ................................ ........................... 217 They Carried ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 221 Caught in a Lie ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 232 7 TESTIMONIAL FICTION AS PROPHECY ................................ ............................ 242 The Muselmann as the True Witness ................................ ................................ ... 249 Testimony as Archive ................................ ................................ ............................ 254 Archive/Te stimony as Prophecy ................................ ................................ ........... 261 Spectrality of the Archive/Testimony ................................ ................................ ..... 268 Spectral as Necessity ................................ ................................ ........................... 274 8 A CONCLUSION TO COME ................................ ................................ ................. 278 WORKS CITED ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 292 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 299
7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy IMPERSONATING THE WITNESS: WHAT TESTIMONIAL FICTION CAN TEACH US ABOUT TESTIMONY By Eric J. Doise May 2010 Chair: John Leavey Professor of English Major: English This project examines American literary texts produced pri marily after World War II and an American film that I define as testimonial fiction because they feature characters as a testimony. These texts are read through the le ns of deconstruction and psychoanalysis, leading to a two fold conclusion: (1) a fictional text is free from the rigid (2) because of their very fictionality, these texts reveal the in a manner the latter cannot. The work open s with an examination of Adaptation directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman, exploring how our understanding of film can be particularly useful in setting out te ction, performance, and futurity. The following chapters develop concepts introduced in this section, beginning with an investigation of Anne Sexton poems that utilize a speaker named Anne or some variation thereof, show ing the necessity and complexity of understanding the witness in Operation Shylock highlights the multiplicity
8 of the speakers and the refore the distance between them and the author. The fourth Everything Is Illuminated finds testimony and translation to be rootless because they precede the original event or text, respectively, they build on In the fifth chapter the technological simulation found in Radio Free Albemuth expands this rootlessness to reality by establishing the simulate d reality that texts produce. The penultimate chapter identifies the deception and fiction ality of testimony as revealed by Deception and Tim The Things They Carried forming the reality that their res pective texts are Finally, the prophecies in Goodbye to Berlin and Prater Violet show primar y concern is with the future to come not the past and that impossibility was not birthed by the concentration camps but was uncovered by
9 CHAPTER 1 FILM AS TESTMONY: ADAPTATION AND THE CONDITIONS OF TESTIMONY As Elie Wiesel famously noted, we live in an age of testimony, an era ushered in by the Holocaust, not because testimony could not be found prior to this event but because the Nazis plan to eradicate all witnesses highlighted the importance of their attestations. The testimonial responses to this attempted annihilation are nearly limitle ss, including those by Wiesel. This heightened attention towards testimony has spread to testimonies responding to other traumas: apartheid in South Africa, incest, spousal and parental abuse, to name just a few, and the forms these accounts take is also v aried: talk show appearances, documentary films, testimonio, newspaper columns, fiction, and poetry. In response to the genre's eruption, an equally expansive list of academic studies have followed. The concentration is particularly high in Holocaust studi es, where writers such as Lawrence Langer, Michael F. Be rnard Donals, Dori Laub, and Shoshanna Felman, to name just a few, have written books on the subject. The same is true of trauma studies, whose popularity in literary studies is due at least in part t o the attention placed on testimony. This field includes many of those working primarily in the field of Holocaust studies as well as Cathy Carruth and Janet Walker, among others. The abundance of such studies has (been) driven (by) p hilosophy's and pscyh attention to trauma and testimony since the appearance of theory in the 1960s. One such work is Jacques Derrida's Demeure, a reading of Maurice man's near death experience at the hands of Nazi soldiers, an account that resembles an event Blanchot wrote of in his letters. In Demeure Derrida traces the classical view
10 of testimony as an autobiographical account that relates one's first hand experience of an event, a retelling that in practice and etymology has connections to both the religious and legal. This perspective on the genre, Derrida notes, carries with it several happene d to me, to me, to me alone, the absolute secret of what I was in a position to itself art, including the genre of literature, a word which implies the presence of crea tivity. However, this seemingly clear delineation is obscured by the fact that one can bear witness only if there is an other 1 to receive one's testimony, to witness the witness. We can see this requirement in the legal and religious contexts of the genre, both of which require that the testifier share one's experiences. The necessity of a receptive other assumes that this other can not only receive the tell the truth or goes so far as to simulate the oath itself, either with a view to deceiving or with a view to producing a literary work, or, further, by confusing the limit between the witness of the witness must be able to identify a false testimony or literature from a testimony told in good faith. In fact, the only way one can intentionally testify to something that is not true while not bearing false witness is through literature, w hich one can signal by example, by being published in a collection that clearly says: this is literature, the 1 Although, Derrida notes that Blanchot was attentive to the possibility of a secret testimony, which we can see in his establishment of the Neuter. However, even the Neuter has the dead as audience, and while such an exchange seems impossible, we will see that it shares this impossibility with all testimony.
11 narrator is not the author, no one has committed himse lf here to telling the truth before testimony's exclusion of literature that we have already witnessed; however, one must ask, along with Derrida, if this foreclosure can be successful, if this announcement of fictionality is ever clear enough. One reason for this undecideability is the matter of form, for as Derrida notes, no structure exists that clearly signals a text as fiction or non fiction. One need look no further than the novel for evidence of such a lack, for it can borrow the form of any genre that we might usually associate with nonfiction: the letter, the diary, an academic study, the biography and autobi ography, etc. For this reason, one can read the same tex t as a testimony that is said to be serious and authentic, or as an archive, or as a document, or as a symptom or as a work of literary fiction, indeed the work of a literary fiction that simulates all of the positions t ha t we have just Therefore, we can never eradicate the possibility that we are reading fiction when we believe ourselves to be reading testimony. This haunting signifies that we can never be sure of the foreclosure by which testimony is defined. es that we find in this utterance all the requirements of and for testimony. It is given in first person singular and testifies to an action experienced and performed by the witness, who therefore claims to have done something while simultaneously providin g evidence to
12 event, to the moment one witnessed. A testimony is possible only beca use of the position the testifier occupied at the moment he or she testifies to having witnessed. ction. For instance, the use of first person singular and the necessity of testifying to an instance mean that the witness must be singular. However, the singularity of neither the speaker nor the event can be maintained. In the case of the former, this un iqueness is else who occupied my position would be able to claim the same perspect 41). Similarly, even if the event is singular, it must be repeatable if one hopes to share it with an other. In fact, the very ability to testify of having experienced an event requires this iterability, a repetition that is significant for two r easons. First, the singular instant that one bears witness to must also be universalizable if one hopes to find a receptive techne is hat makes the sharing of testimony, fiction and lie, simulacrum and literature, that of the right to literature insinuates itself, at the very origin of truthful testimony, autobiography in good faith, sincere confession, as exclusivity of the two is a fiction, but we also witness that the two are birthed at the same moment and place They are able to haunt one another because they depend upon the same machine for their existence.
13 We find, then, a list of aporias and the ones we have already witnessed should not be considered exhaustive timony impossible. It purports to be singular, but its attempts to share this singularity make it multiple. It must be pure of fiction if it is to be testimony, yet it depends upon fiction for its being and can never fully separate itself from this corrupt ing force. Furthermore, its attempts to preserve the event to which it speaks alter the occurrence through this re presentation by introducing techne, which brings with it the possibility of fiction. Despite these impurities, the temptation to read testimo ny as unsullied remains because of our understanding of it as that which opposes fiction, as that which gives voice to witnesses who often have no other medium of speaking, yet as I will argue throughout this work, this approach to testimony does not equip unheard testifiers so much as it ignores the fact that testimony allows us to hear their attestation while also replacing their voice with that of their fictional doppelgngers. It is for this reason that I seek to undertake a reading of testimony through testimonial fiction, a perspective made possible by the fiction is a superior genre and that testimony should be abandoned. No doubt, reading testimony would provide advant ages that reading testimonial fiction cannot, and what benefits do exist from this approach are a result of the assumptions we carry to these genres and not something naturally deficient or preferable in either. However, because this project takes its basi s from reader practices that might not be necessary, I also hope to alter these notions of testimony and testimonial fiction through this close examination.
14 As implied earlier, no study of testimony or testimonial fiction would be complete without a consid eration of trauma, and for that reason, I will also utilize work from the field of trauma studies, including those first on the scene such as Jacques Lacan and Sigmund Freud and more recent arrivals such as Carruth, to facilitate this analysis. My consider ation of trauma will not be confined to traumatic events, although these moments will be considered, particularly since testimonies and testimonial fictions tend to appear most often as responses to such occurrences. Rather, I would like to consider also t he trauma a witness faces because of his or her performance as witness, an agony that results from the impossibility of appearing as a singular witness and the impossibility of both retelling and preserving the event. These unconquerable obstacles arise fr om problems of memory, language, and identity that can be found in several, if not all, forms of communication but are highlighted by the concerns and emphases of testimony and testimonial fiction and their readers. As a result, in each chapter I will deta il the traumas that can be found in these three locations: the event, the speaker, and the retelling. Of course, this trinity cannot be fully separated as our understanding of each is possible only through an understanding of their counterparts, and this i The texts I have chosen share a few similarities. All feature a main character who shares the name of the author. One reason for such a decision is simply to reduce the number of testim onial fiction texts that can be included in this work to a more manageable amount. More importantly, a shared name removes simple dismissals of similarities between the fictional character and his or her authorial counterpart by noting t necessarily refer to the author's name or that word games such as
15 anagrams, see Vladimir Nabokov's Vivian Darkbloom in Lolita may point to the author's name, but indirectly and thus in a manner different from that which occurs in testimony. However, the use of narrators with an eponymous name renders such protests null and, as will be established, shows that this indirect referentiality is in fact a characteristic of testim ony that testimonial fiction en a c ts. In addition to the shared name, the physical biographical information we are given often closely follows 2 the lives of their respective writers. The texts all have a publication date after World War II, with the except ion of Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin, which appears just before the Nazis begin their crusade to conquer the world. This decision is in part due to the heightened attention and production of testimony that follows the war and the Holocaust. Sim ilarly, this period has seen an abundance of fictional texts featuring characters and authors with shared names, and this project is a response to this proliferation. That is not to claim that this borrowing of the authorial name is a phenomenon specific t o postmodernity as such characters date back at least as far as Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Nazis, co However, because of the proliferation of testimonial fiction in the wake of the Holocaust, I have chosen to restrict the period this project examines to that which follows that tragedy. 2 Because these are fictional texts, the lives of the fictional characters inevitably deviate from those of the t the background information, at the very least, is usually a near or exact repetition of the
16 In addition, I have rest ricted this discussion to texts produced in the United States, the one exception again being the work of Isherwood, who would emigrate from Europe in 1939 and settle in America for the remainder of his life. Testimonial fiction featuring a character who sh mentioned above, several non Americans did so before World War II, and this trend continues in the post World War II world. Milan Kundera appears in the Czech/French 979 novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. The Polish writer Tadeusz Konwicki includes an eponymous figure in the 1982 work The Polish Complex. British writer Jeanette Winterson writes of the experiences of a Jeanette in her 1985 novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. This form of testimonial fiction, then, is not specifically American, which might make t h e choice to read only American literature peculiar. However, I choose American texts not genre but because of it, for the lack of a genre specific to the time and place will allow me to establish that issues seemingly specific to a new testimonial form are in fact characteristic of testimony itself. For instance, testimonio which is specific to Latin America and the political upheaval there starting in the 1960s, often features a witness who is either illiterate or does not know English, requir ing the help of a writer and/or translator, introducing the problem of multiple voices and translation. The temptation then, is to attribute the condition of multiplicity to this specific testimonial genre and not the act of testifying; h owever, as we will see in Sexton's poetry and Philip Roth's Operation Shylock and have already briefly discussed, this multiplicity is not specific to testimonio but is the re appearance of a condition of testimony. Furthermore, the problem of translation, its losses and gains, is
17 another of testimony's provisions, 3 as we will see with Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated. Al uniquely American, post Holocaust American literature has seen a flood of such texts, so many that discussing anywhere near all of them in one work is impossible. As a result several suitable texts had to be left by the wayside. These include but are not limited to Paul Auster's City of Glass, Lunar Park, I Am Not Sidney Poitier and A History of the African American People (Proposed) by Stro m Thurmond, As Told to Percival Everett and James Kincaid, Roth's The Plot against America, and Kurt Vonnegut's Time Quake and Breakfast of Champions The absence of these texts is the result of little more than the arbitrary exclusions that occur in any s uch project. In some ways, this project is an extension of other works on testimony and Testimony. This 1992 work by a literary critic and clinical psychiatrist, respectively, was an early entrant in the narrative and history, between art and memory, between speech Particularly useful to my work is their look at context not merely as a place out of which nd Laub, my goal in treating the context as another textual production is to see how the act of testifying alters an event as it retells it or even if alteration is a proper description as it implies an original moment that 3 In fact, Derrida notes in Demeure that all testimonies, in their need to be universal, call for translation but also resist it because of the nec essity that they be singular.
18 can be changed. The ways in whic h they examine and locate this rewriting play a major role in my approach. Their blending of psychoanalysis and deconstruction, for instance, both reflects and helped shape my concerns with the unknowability of testimony and how it affects our understandin However, this work also differs from Testimony in some significant ways. While Laub and Felman focus almost exclusively on responses to the Holocaust, that event occupies only a portion of this pr oject, and my concern is largely with responses to circumstances that follow much later the 1993 John Demjanjuk trial and a decades later search for a person who helped save a Jew from the Nazis. As a result, their subject matter does not focus solely on A merican texts. In fact, because of their emphasis on the Holocaust, their attention is directed primarily toward response s from Europeans. Furthermore, while Laub and Felman read fictional texts such as Albert The Plague and The Fall their analysis also extends to nonfiction works such as the critical writings of Paul de Man during the Nazi occupation and Shoah. In fact, my emphasis on fictional texts poetry as fiction is different from any book length discussion of testimony and trauma of which I am aware. For instance, Walker, like Felman and Laub, examines testimonial fiction Kings Row ents Freud, Steven and several made for TV movies, but the majority of the films she discusses are documentaries, Shoah, Capturing the Friedmans, and Errol Mr. Death.
19 Adaptation as Testimony Ha ving explained the parameters of this work, I would like to use the rest of this chapter to introduce the issues and texts I will discuss in the chapters that follow by looking at Adaptation the 2003 Spike Jonze The Orchid Thief In so doing, I will illustrate how film encapsulates the problems and conditions of testimony and reveals the distinction between it and its fiction counterpart to be all but indistinguishable T his chapter then, will serve as both a discussion of film, specifically Adaptation, and how that medium provides a useful perspective in reading the fictionality of testimony as well as an introduction of issues to be followed up on more thoroughly in the chapters that follow One re ason I would like to start here is that our understanding of film, even at the most banal level of our comprehension, is well suited to reveal some conditions of testimony, whether written or filmed. For instance, he director to the most important figure in cinema for many scholars, the common perception of film is still that of a medium cast is obvious even to the most untrained e ye while the credits that precede and follow the film speak to the work of, depending on the film, a small group or multitude of people necessary for the film to exist. This knowledge applied to written testimony can illuminate that the witness in such a w ork can never be singular, even if the genre calls for this characteristic. On the other hand, our understanding of film can pose greater problems in seeing the conditions of testimony than does its written counterpart. For example, while some may overest tact to the reader, the fact that a written testimony usually uses words to convey images and
20 emotions might limit this estimation. Moving images, on the other hand, mimic the real world more persuasively, allowing for a greater seduction of the audience into thinking that they are viewing an event, not a projection of its recording. Documentary footage unfold events. A book, with its lines of words and sometimes still photographs, cannot deception mak e revealing this mystification especially profitable. If documentary footage, despite its resemblance to reality, fails to capture and re present wholly a moment from real life, then surely print on a page fails at this endeavor as well. Adaptation as we will see, presents a scene that reveals this seduction as fraudulent and is one reason why I have chosen it. In addition, as a contemporary American film that bears witness to a screenwriter albeit often absurdly, who resembles and shares the name of the actual screenwriter, thus taking its own creation as a central narrative motivation, it lays out some aspects of the scope of this project. In order to develop this argument, I will now turn to Adaptation ability to reveal the charact eristics of testimony. The movie tells of the struggles of Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicolas Cage) to adapt a nonfiction book about the orchid and its history into a feature film. This character is based on the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, 4 who worked wi th Jonze on Being John Malkovich as well. Much of the film takes to overcome his inability to gain any momentum on the writing of the script. As the 4
21 film progresses, he tu rns to his twin Donald (also played by Cage), the more popular but less responsible of the two who attends one screenwriting workshop before producing a low screenplay. The brot hers follow Susan (Meryl Streep) to research the film and discover, in an illustration of the absurdity that marks much of the film, her affair with the orchid hunter John Laroche (Chris Cooper) and their operation that turns the flowers into a drug that t hey can use and sell. book. We first see a black screen as the names of the cast appear at the bottom. A voice over by Charlie laments his physical appearance, his procrast ination, his unhappy life, and his use of clichs, a monologue that also plays as self deprecating humor by Kaufman. Documentary style footage on the set of Being John Malkovich follows, using titles to announce John Malkovich as an actor in the film, Thom as Smith as first assistant director, Lance Acord as cinematographer, and Charlie Kaufman as screenwriter. With the exception of Charlie, these parts are all played by the people who bear these names in the non filmic world as well. All of these names also appear in the credits of Adaptation fictional twin Donald is listed as a screenwriter, a credit usually reserved for people who are or were actually alive. The boundary between fiction and nonfiction is further obfuscated when Cage as Charlie is praised for his script for Being John Malkovich by ie as the main character and frequent narrator presents the movie as a testimony with Charlie as witness.
22 As a film about its own creation, Adaptation fits into a long list of reflexive films, a genre Robert Stam discusses thoroughly, along with reflexive literature, in Reflexivity in Film and Literature. These movies, including 8 Rear Window, Man of Marble and a number of Godard films, highlight their own constructedness by featuring characters and/or actors who point to the principal creators of that film, highlighting the economic situation in which the film is made, putting on screen the mechanical apparatuses necessary for making the film, and/or carrying out several other storytelling strategies that uncover the unreality of film. In so doing, the fictions, and our nave faith in fictions, and make of this demystification a source for new themselves as natural texts that pres that art can be a transparent medium of communication, a window on the world, a mirror As we will see, the testimonial fictions discussed throughout this project carry o ut moment without altering it, or that such an encapsulation is ever possible. When they do operate as mirrors, it is as those in a fun house, whose distortion is not u nique among unique to it. However, our expectations of fiction make such a rhetorical move more likely to be successful in such a work. As Stam notes, even if the cr eator of a text hopes the reader or spectator, in short, who transforms cardboard miniatures into imposing towers, who turns verbal representations into a novel or
23 While Adaptation resists such transformations by calling attention to the process that led to its creation through a fictional version of this formation, it also brings to the surface etamorphosis. By borrowing those filmic and narrative signifiers that announce a film as nonfiction and by taking the appearance of a testimony in doing so, Adaptation as well. The film, then, is not sim ply another reflexive text highlighting the workings of fiction. Rather, it sheds a light on the fictionality of nonfiction, specifically testimony. While it often does so absurdly and thus without the earnestness we often associate with testimony, or perh testimony to remain free of fiction is equally fatuous. From Two, One Adaptation resists the a forementioned attempts at transformation and highlights Cage and Charlie are not the same person, that Charlie and Kaufman are not the same figure, and that Donald is a fic tional character and thus not a co screenwriter, the credits and documentary footage in Adaptation encourage us to read these characters against our knowledge, just as testimony often presents its speaker as if it were the same figure as its author. The fa ux documentary scene reveals that the supposedly non fiction film genre is forever haunted by fictional elements that stand in the way of a pure nonfiction film. Michael Renov argues along these lines when he writes that the documentary tatus of all discursive forms with regard to its tropic or figurative character and that it employs many of the methods and devices of its fictional
24 lead us to discou documentary footage in Adaptation is due not only to the presence of Cage as Charlie. Even Smith, Acord, and Malkovich are representations of themselves. We see not them but their repr esentative image. Each member of this trio plays the role of a fictional character. They appear as themselves, or as if they were themselves. The only difference between them and Cage is that their characters happen to share their name. Stam writes that in question that cannot be answered, for the film refuses to separate the two. One does not annex the othe r so much as they unite to form a new land one in which the inscribed and therefore rendered inaccessible as nonfiction. This creation exists in part because cinema is una ble to produce anything else. As Stam notes, many film theorists, including Jean Louis Baudry, have noted that because it utilizes the perspective common to the works of the Quattrocento, the camera conveys the world already filtered through a bourgeois i deology which makes the individual subject the focus and origin of meaning. The code of perspective, furthermore, produces the illusion of its own absence; as if it were actually the world. (12) must still confront the larger point: that the camera alters that which it records. Regardless of how little editing or staging goes into a film, the eve nts it portrays can never be untouched or pure, only as if they are. Such an observation may seem elementary and too well established to merit mentioning, but its consequences are important to what follows.
25 For instance, if we take note of the transformati on the camera seeks to hide, we to is accurate, her points of emphasis are misguided. For instance, she points to the multitude of people who work on a film as evidence that an autobiographical film cannot exist since the prevailing conception of autobiography is that such works are produced by one person (304). While films such as Sherman in which Ross McElwee is subject, director, producer, editor, cinematographer, and camera man, call this assumption regarding film production into question, the point is moot because no text can ever be produced by one person. Books have editors, publishers, type setters, etc. Even if these positions were all filled by one person, the work would still be impossible without a culture from which it emerges, without interactions with other people, and without an audience. This multiplicity is in addi tion to the plurality we have already witnessed in a testifier. Similarly, when Bruss points to other problematic features of film existence outside of the film, the barrier bet ween the non filmic audience and the work, opposed to one that precedes it she does not reveal the inability of film to present autobiography but the impossibility of any purely autobiographical works, including testi mony. seems to be shattered by film; the autobiographical self decomposes, schisms, into almost mutually exclusive elements of the person filmed (entirely visible; reco rded and
26 can conclude with her that the medium of film cannot produce autobiographical works because of inherent problems within this lexical system. Reflexive films have established this inability. For instance, in The Cameraman most of the footage shot by department, is either of events he accidentally starts or of Buster saving a drowning woman w boutade that all films ical systems, for as we have already seen in and will continue to see in Adaptation, we can extrapolate that this inadequacy in film also reveals the inability of all mediums to produce nonfiction texts or of nonfiction texts to exist as such. As we will screen can never be the pure representation of the person who has written him or her, the reader. Wh ile autobiographical texts such as testimony seem to use real life to produce an autobiographical subject, this subject in turn determines the author, disrupting the temporal order autobiography depends upon. The witness is both subject and object, a dupli city that Stam notes is in keeping with the etymology of reflexivity, which comes from the Latin reflexio/reflect e re, meaning to bend back on (xiii). We can see this doubling in reflexive verbs as well, which put a single entity as both the doer and receiv er of an action. In other words, in a reflexive testimony, the witness both reports his or her experience and creates the him or her who experiences it. Given de
27 much as the latter determines the former, we must conclude that all autobiographical works, including testimonies, are necessarily reflexive, although they highlight this reflexivity to different degrees. We see a similar reflection in the audience, which is suppo the subject but also produces the subject, which in turn produces the author even though the latter should precede the former. Therefore, the subject is never simply one perso n who is both it and its producer. To apply this specifically to testimony, the producer of the testimony and the witness who appears in the text are never simply one, and not only due to the inverted process of production de Man notes. Just as Bruss argue s that the figure on the screen and the one behind the camera, even if they are the same person, can never be one, a writer and character, even if it is an autobiographical one, are not unified. Thus, while film and literature 5 differ in their technical pr oduction, materiality, and other characteristics, they are equally inadequate, along with all other forms of communication, at presenting a written figure and writing figure who are simply interchangeable. The exchange in both mediums will always include a remainder that cannot be accounted for. As we will see in the poetry of Sexton, the act of self observation necessary to produce a testimony splits the witness into subject and object, observer and observed. purpose because it plays on the very assumption that the confessional poet and his or her speaker are the same figure. In to observe and be observed, to serve as subject a nd object. In the same poem, 5 While this separation may be problematic, it is useful for the purposes of this discussion.
28 frustrating attempts to read the poem as simply an admission by Sexton. Her use of incest reminds the reader of the difficulty that prohibition pos es for various binaries, by extension blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction. We see a similar move in patriarchal figures, including the use of images associated with Holocaust victims, and victor and oppressor through the benefits she sees as a result of war profiteering. younger version of herself in order to illustrate the impo ssibility of capturing and then re presenting oneself, even through a mechanical apparatus. These poems argue that any autobiographical act reveals the subject as a multiplicity and as object. Autobiographical figures are large; they contain multitudes. W is credited as a co screenwriter despite the fact that Kaufman has no brother, much less argue for an understanding of the screen/writer as a figure of multipl icity. Even if the director is viewed through the lens of auteur theory, such a proposition is in keeping with the dominant view of the medium, which tends to require a group of people during both production and post production. Even when only one person is listed as the screenwriter, film scholars and even most film fans understand that the actors and actresses, director, camera operators, and editors are also scribes in the sense that their work helps determine how the text is recorded and/or presented to its audience.
29 Adaptation imaginary writer who resembles the character playing the actual writer. As Maureen Turim n Reminiscences the self or the self can record the other and the world, but the self cannot simply capture where McElwee sits in front of a running camera or holds the camera in front of a mirror, he still captures, in the former, an image of himself that reveals his absence behind the machine and thus his inability to control it while performing as subject o r, in the latter, Mirror Stage as Formative of the I image is to ignore the distance between this spectral figure and o neself, resulting in misplaced faith in a coherent, unified self and the possibility of a coherent, stable narrative. This ignorance follows the same logic as the moviegoer who transforms a ld this misguided perspective, then, assume a real whose foundation is fantastical, and as we will see, in the case of identity formation, the result is a reality with its basis in unreality. Adaptation, like all reflexive works, works against this unquest ioned faith by presenting the making of the film. The film alludes to 8 whose fictional director, Guido, never actually directs abandon his film. What we do witness [in the film] generally is the agony of preproduction choice making: consultations with the screen writer, financial haggling with the producer, the casting of major and minor roles, the projection of screen test s 0 4).
30 Similarly, we see the agony of the writing process for Charlie: the uncomfortable meetings with a studio representative, the hope as he begins work on the screenplay, the despair as that beginning proves to be a false start. Certainly this agony is an exaggerated one, perhaps a self mockery by Kaufman through a play on the well established tortured artist archetype, but underneath this humor lies something larger. hope s. While satirizing the notion of the artist as socially inept and void of self the film imitates these problems in a manner that calls attention to the film as simula tion, in part through its acts of derision. In doing so, Adaptation refuses to allow its audience to lose itself in the film as reality, frustrating the hopes of any viewer who came to the film with the goal of losing him or herself in it. As Stam argue s, texts that carry out this operation "break with art as enchantment and call attention to their own factitiousness as textual constructs" (1). In the case of autobiographical films, these texts also, by connection, break with the concept of the stable se lf by revealing it to be a fictional construct that relies on the same misinformed logic that sees art, whether autobiographical or not, as accessible and coherent. Adaptation does so by playing on the aforementioned difference between an image of a human and the person it represents. In one case, Charlie stands in his living room listening to his recorded notes on the adaptation. As he looks into the window, distraught over the comically bad ideas he hears his voice espousing, Donald walks into the living room, praising Robert McKee, whose Story Seminar he has been
31 provides close ups of his seminar workbook and name tag, presumably from the perspective of Charlie. Next, a s hot similar to the one of Charlie just before his brother on the name tag emphasizes t heir relation, their shared genetic material is greater than that of simple blood relation. Charlie and Donald are twins, meaning their DNA is identical. These two characters are both the same and different people, a concept extended to Charlie through his reflected image that he appears to be addressing in the one respectively, or as both referring to him. Just as the identical twins look the same and have the same genetic mak e up yet are different people, Charlie and his image appear to be the same person, with the latter based on the former, but are different figures. hotel room in New York. After deciding someone must interview Susan but that Charlie is too timid to do it, Donald offers to pose as his brother while talking to her. A two shot portrays them facing one another, each seated on a front corner of a bed, as if one were irror image with the exception of the clothes and vice versa. The similarity impossibility of this demand is revealed by the image of Charlie in the blank television scree motif of reflections is introduced by Donald, who tells his brother that he created a s eries of broken mirrors in his screenplay The 3 to symbolize the fractured identity of his
32 main character, a person with multiple personality syndrome who is simultaneously a serial killer, investigating policeman, and potential victim. Again, the film rev eals the problems in reading a testimony as a straight experiences, but it does so absurdly, a style that matches the type of logic necessary to hold to the perspective it undermines. One argument we can propose based on the use of mirrors in Adaptation is that the voice of the screenwriter and the narrative voice do not emanate from the same figure. Even in autobiographical documentaries, a distance separates the two regardless of how closely they resemble one another. Therefore, we can argue with least accessible to filmic recording. The self is perhaps not an event or a series of events at all. The self is created in film through the mediation of the proce sses of narrative and symbolic written testimonies do not rest on a phenomenology of vision, they too do not capture the self but instead create it through narrative an d representation. to bear witness. As Phillipe Lacoue another (be it a Operation Shylock illustrates the otherness of the witness through the use of a character named Philip Roth and his doppelgnger as they vie for rative of the novel revolves around questions of identity and the possibility of establishing it through these two characters and the trial of John Demjanjuk, who is accused of being the Ivan the
33 argument seeks to establish and build on the unreliability of documents and eyewitnesses to properly identify Demjanjuk as the cruel guard, the novel speaks to the problems this otherness presents for a genre that requires a singular witness. However, the novel extends the fictional authorial character and an impostor of that character, Roth reveals that this identity production never ceases, for the existence of one imi tator signals the possibility Labarthe, subject is in desistance (175) As we will see, the fact that this word is a noun that signals a process implies that this process will continue indefinitely. The identity will always be forming, resulting not in an identity or a knowable plurality of identities but an ever increasing population of them. A daptation presents this forever re production not and all autobiography, is not only self reflexive but also selfs reflective. 6 Adaptation as Translation fidelity to the literary text. In these accounts, the piece of literature is an original that must be copied, sometimes taking into account the difference in lexical sys tems and genres. Recent analyses of the text adaptation relationship have questioned this formulation, a development no doubt due in part to the rise of film studies as something other than a field to be explored as a minor part of English studies. These n ewer 6 singular yet plural condition of the testimonial subject.
34 approaches mirror development in translation studies, where post structural theorists have argued for the translated text as a growth in the life of the text that is translated rather than a copy that must be faithful to the original. For example, Jac ques Derrida in Le Tour de Babel pointing to translation not as an act of replication but one of reproduc tion. As we will text. Thus, translating is not a matter of faithfully imitating a text in a different language but of revealing this version that is a part of the or iginal. From this perspective, translation is not a traitorous act that threatens to obfuscate a text but one that uncovers a previously undetected portion of it. Dialo gics o Stam writes that he prefers to view adaptation as a matter of intersemiotic transposition, with the inevitable losses and gains typical of any transla mistranslation because they signal changes to the original text, Stam notes in Reflexivity Every artist is inserted within a tradition, constantly betrayed and constantly renewed, tradurre e tradire is validated text. Just as a translation of a text signals regeneration, a film adaptation represents an extension of the
35 itional notion of n, is not secondary to that which it seems to follow. Such a notion presumes a stable system of signs and texts that are foreclosed entities whose identities can be easily distinguished from those they seem to oppose. However, this assumption does not hold of unstable signs, which makes bracketed identities impossible to uphold. With this a superior authentic original: it is the growth of the original text. It is the written narrative placed in a new world; thus, it must adapt to it s new surroundings. The copy and the original are the same text, rendering this opposition meaningless. Adaptation struggles to adapt The Orchid Thief As Charlie explains to studio represe ntative Valerie New Yorker be artificially plot able to hear doubt about things as intellectual as the sweat on his forehead; the absurdity of his concern is highlighted by shots of his head which alternate between his scalp as he imagines it soaked with large beads of sweat and as Valerie sees it free of any visible perspiration. The ridiculous nature of this concern is matched by
36 his preoccupation with a strict, fundamental devotion to the text as original source. These contrasting shots reveal his worries to be unnecessary con cerns based on assumptions proven to be false, just as his concern to produce a pure adaptation is not only unnecessary but also absurd because it is a preoccupation with the impossible. His es, where the expectation involve retelling the written narrative as it appears in the book. When Valerie asks exactly what that means, Charlie replies that he do cram in sex or guns or car chases, you know, or characters, you know, learning profound life lessons. Or growing, or coming to like each other, or overcoming obstacles to succeed in the end, you know? I mean, the proach early in the film assumes that The Orchid Thief is a rule book that must be consulted and followed in detail. His view is that an accurate copy equals a good adaptation. Producing an adaptation that is not like the book his logic goes, amounts to r uining it. The viewer, however, does not see the entire book, only a picture of the orchid on its followed by a shot of Streep as Susan on the inside back flap. These two shots contain the two perspectives on film adaptation I have discussed. In the older approach, fidelity
37 then copying the written narrative is faithful not to the text but to some imagined authoritative version approved by the author. In such a sce nario, the author would be the writer of the film with the screenwriter serving as his or her voice. This hypothetical However, the adaptation that the audience sees follows the thinking of Ray and others with similar notions. In fact, this version is hinted at by Valerie, who remarks that love in the movie. Acco rdingly, the film becomes a story about Susan and Laroche discovering the hallucinatory properties of the orchid and then using Native Americans to harvest the flowers from a preserve because U. S. law allows them to do so. Laroche learns to manufacture a powder from the flower that they can use and sell as a drug. When Charlie and his twin brother Donald discover this operation along with the affair between the married Susan and Laroche, a car chase that ends in gun shots and an alligator attack ensues. Th forges a respect in Charlie for Donald that was largely absent beforehand. In dramatically altering the plot of the book, Adaptation functions similarly to films like Clueless and My Own Private Ida ho Adaptation comments on that which prece des it historically and thereby creates a new moment in
38 y out clumsily and fantastically, these characteristics are also part of the reflexive film tradition. Stam points out that clumsiness that we cannot but notice the ca the very whimsicality of the formulation points up the ludicrious inadequacy of the conventional ways of authenticating a Adaptation, these visible strings and perhaps it is no coincidence that one of the major characters in Being John Malkovich is a puppeteer are the overused tropes and narrative turns of identical yet vastly different brothers, the professional woman gone bad in search of an emotional experience, and the timid hero finally finding the strength and courage to act. ght the absurdity of not only Hollywood schlock but likeness were possible or would even be entertaining. 7 In other words, the conventional way of adapting a book is so inad equate that it would result in a narrative no more ludicrous than twin brother screenwriters playing detective, following a New Yorker reporter and her illicit lover only to discover they are harvesting 7 One is reminded of another Kaufman, Andy. The comedian would read The Great Gatsby to those audiences who demanded his stand up be one long performance of Latka, his famous character from Taxi. After some extensive reading, he would offer to play a record instead, which would turn out to be a recording of him reading The Great Gatsby. T his anecdote is particularly fitting because the demands of some moviegoers for a faithful adaptation are so exact that one gets the feeling they could be satisfied
39 orchids because they have d iscovered how to turn them into an illegal drug similar to cocaine. However, the film stops just short of checking off every element of a stereotypical Hollywood film. As we will see shortly, the hero does not seem to win back the woman he loves but was un able to tell. As a result, he never has sex, although we are privy to his fantasies, which include just about every female character in the narrative and end with his masturbating to these imaginings. These imagined trysts are so ridiculous that the viewer is aware they are not happening in the diegetic world before the camera reveals Charlie alone in his bed in various states of undress. Not only has Charlie not gotten his girl, but none of the major romances survive since both Laroche and Donald are dead at the end. Kaufman is willing to play to the Hollywood type but will go only so far. While he shows his hand for much of the film, he keeps some tricks hidden, as if to prove the absurd elements of the film are intentionally inane by stopping just short o f writing a movie that is as preposterous as possible. Not only will the audience not get the faithful translation they may have expected, but they also will be refused the neat, happy ending they may have expected. Kaufman is willing to stray from the ori ginal in order to resist the reductive expectations of the audience, but not so far so that another set of diminishing prescriptions are filled. und in the written text. In the aforementioned hotel room then reads the following passage from The Orchid Thief : Sometimes this kind of story turns out to be someth ing more, some glimpse of life that expands like those Japanese paper balls you drop into water and
40 there was a time all you saw in front of you was a paper ball and a glass of water Adaptation ) When Charlie responds that the paper ball is just a metaphor, Donald answers that it is thumping it for emphasis. Although Donald may be correct t hat it is not explicitly in the book, he is incorrect in that, based on his reading, the book does include it even if it does not clearly identify it. The film takes this kernel and allows it grow, extending and expanding on this portion of the written boo k. The film also picks up on this notion of fidelity and reproduction in the sex lives of the characters. For nearly the entire movie, Charlie is unable to tell his friend Amelia Kavan of his feelings for her. Amelia tires of waiting for him to do so and s tarts dating another man. As already noted, the only place he is able to communicate his attraction to women is in fantasies. Throughout the film, he imagines himself having sex with Susan, Valerie, and the waitress at a diner he frequents. In the shots th at follow these visions, Charlie is masturbating. His solitary and thus unproductive sex life is contrasted with that of his brother, who is intimately involved with a make up artist he meets on the set of Being John Malkovich The state of their sex lives is significant to this discussion of adaptation when we remember that Donald is the one who encourages Charlie to expand on this metaphor that is not fully realized in the book. through perhaps code for a complex postmodern narrative, 8 which he claims Charlie is better at than 8 m that all instances of postmodern cultural production carry some element of reflectiveness strengthens this reading (xv).
41 anybody. Marty makes no mention that the story should expand the life of the bo ok, that the same manner that his sex life does. Throughout the aforementioned conversation, Marty occasionally interrupts the discussion when he notices women walk ing outside his text his sex life, a t least as much dies, Charlie heeds his advice on the adaptation and pens a script that exp lores what the inspiration for the above metaphor might be. His productivity is illustrated by a shot of him at his typewriter, busy at work on the script. The next scene is of him and Amelia relationship with her boyfriend, Charlie kisses her. Stunned, she tells him that she is with someone else and does not understand why he is expressing his feelings now. He answers that he loves her, a sentiment Amelia returns before leaving. In the next shot, Charlie has figured out the end of the script. While he has yet to have sex, the kiss and expressed love present the potential for reproduction in the future although it does not appear it will be with Amelia, who gives no hint that thei r love for each other will be consummated, and immediately following this exchange, the possibility of the realization e, which is to say its own life
42 If, as Charlie discovers, an adaptation is an extension of the life of the text it adapts, then no original as such exists. The film does not follow the text it adap ts because it is a part of that text. Similarly, testimony should not be viewed as a genre that seeks to faithfully and wholly reproduce the events it speaks to. As we will see, this perspective is especially problematic in the case of testimonies to traum atic events, for trauma, by definition, keeps the witness from taking in the experience the first time it occurs. A testimony that recounts such moments, then, represents the first time the witness experiences them. These narratives cannot re present the o riginal events because they create them as they present them. The testimony constitutes both the original and its copy, thus making those two labels meaningless, just as a translation does so because it is both part of its orig inal and that which follows i t. We will see the similar functions of the testimonial and translation acts in Jonathan Everything Is Illuminated which features three narratives without locatable origins that depend upon translation. The novel allows the reader access to lived before the Nazis wiped the shtetl off the face of the earth. The text also presents letters from his Ukrainian guide, Alex Perchov, wherein Alex comments on, among other search for a woman named Augustine, a retelling written in broken English. All three of these narratives spring from an origin that is missing. In the case of river that results in the drowning of Trachim B but the mysterious deliverance of his
43 important traditions without an identifiable origin. The search for Augustine, whom his family thinks may have saved his lost grandfather from the Nazis. Howeve r, all he has to go on is a name on the back of a photograph of a girl with no verification that the name and image are linked. Not only does Jonathan fail to find Augustine, but we know of this failure before we know of the search as one of two accounts in the novel also exist free of their beginnings. When one considers that these three texts depend upon translation for their existence or dissemination either his t one can draw a connection between the forever lost origin of a translation, because the translated text is part of that whi ch it transforms, and the inaccessible origin of a testimony, bec ause of the alterations to the original event necessary for such a text to exist. Film as Simulation and Deception Just as translation and adaptation give the appearance of an original that has never existed, documentary films often present images that app and the play of light that is a movie. These images seduce because they seem to show reality unfiltered when in fact they present a recorded version of it. They attempt to simulate reality and make the viewer forget that he or she is watching a technical production. Adaptation unveils this simulation with its incorporation of the documentary like footage at the beginning of the film, an uncovering that is especially significant
44 because the footage documents the making of a different film, Being John Malkovich in a studio. In filming a simulated documentary on the set of a Hollywood production, the capture reality no better than does a film recorded in a studio. In fact, we can compare a documentary with the production of a Hollywood film in the diegetic world of Adaptation which later shows both Charlie and Donald on the set of Being John Malkovich but not in documentary style footage this time. J ust as in the scene at the beginning of the film, we witness the machinations of filmmaking. John Cusack and Catherine Keener, in costume for Being John Malkovich talk on the set for the 7.5th floor with its short ceiling in between takes. Our view of the m is through the same absent fourth wall that the camera peers through, emphasizing the constructedness of the set and scene. While Cusack and Keener are no longer in character as Craig Schwartz and Maxine Lund, respectively, they remain in character as Jo hn and Catherine. We know that they play fictional characters who look like them and share their name because Cage in the same scene plays Charlie and Donald while up artist Caroline Cunningham, w ho is talking to John and Catherine. The same confluence of fiction and beginning of Adaptation surfaces in this scene. Once again, Adaptation frustrates attempts to vie w not only fiction films like itself as reality but also nonfiction movies. The film is able to simulate the genuine authenticity of the documentary because the latter is no more genuinely authentic than a feature film shot in a studio and then heavily edi ted, even including effects that allow
45 Cage to appear in the same shot as two different characters. The most significant difference between these two scenes is that the first is presented in a style that pretends to re present reality wholly intact, free o f doctoring, while the latter freely admits to such alteration. The manipulation by documentaries is different than that of fiction films because by usually foregoing the use of the controlled studios and sets the latter tends to utilize, documentaries pre sent themselves as spontaneous captures of ha attracted and constantly pay tribute to documentary techniques. These films put the ha notes, though, this manipulation is at least as seductive as that of fiction films. The effec t of documentary techniques is still often a deception of the audience made possible by the expectat ions associated with the genre. Therefore, a Hollywood film like Adaptation does not ruin the documentary effect by adapting it. Instead, it reveals the doc umentary to be a simulation of a film genre that, because the medium cannot re present reality without transforming it into fiction, has never existed as such. It does so by adopting the signs of documentary the hand held camera, grainy footage, and unscri pted moments, or at least moments that appear unplanned and using them as the signs of a faux documentary. Signs lead to more signs, a self production that calls to mind the work of Jean Baudrillard on simulation, which posits that the third order of simul ation is not one that points back to the reality that produces it but reveals that no reality as such exists, that the simulation is the
46 reality. This process is that of reflexivity: an agent creates itself, becoming both subject and object, both producer and produced. genre as nothing more than a simulation establishes similarities between it and testimony, which claims to record the events it speaks to but in fact creates t hem in its attempt to recall them. This inability to remember reality and nothing more reveals that pure reality does not exist, that any appearance of its existence is merely a simulation that covers its absence. Because of this revealed lack, Baudrillard in Simulacra and Simulation contrive to give them the feeling of the real, of the banal, of lived experience, to reinvent the real as fiction, precisely because it has disappeare Adaptation does so through its borrowing of documentary filmmaking techniques and narrative moves common in nonfiction films. Radio Free Albemuth reveals the simulation of testimony by telling the story events. As a work of science fiction, it incorporates machines of simulation and fantasy lands. Included in the former is a satellite that, depending on which theory one puts credence in, broadcasts the voice of God, transmits the message of aliens from another world, and/or seeks to possess humans by sending these aliens down to occupy the bodies of earthlings. In any proposed theory found in the novel, the purpose of the satellite is to counteract and eventually topple the dark force that rules the Earth and prevents all humans from communicating directly with God /the aliens representative in Radio Free Albemuth is the president of the United States, Ferris
47 Fremont. With the help of the Russians, this ruling power shoots down the satellite, Nicholas can no longer be sure if the satellite is a simulation of God or God himself, for he has been operating as if the messages from the satellite are from God. The calls into ques tion His transcendence and existence as God. In other words, the characters in the novel can never be sure if they were hearing from God or a simulation that retroactively created God. As we will see, this confusion could be seen as similar to that of the events it speaks to signals a simulation that creates the reality it seems to preserve. This creativity is particularly evident in the case of traumatic events, which are accessible only if they are re created, which is to say that a testimony to a trauma cannot be a re creation because it signals an initial forming of the event. As a product of simulation, Adaptation depends upon deception throughout its narrative. After the hotel s cene in which Donald offers to interview Susan as Charlie because the latter is too nervous to do so himself, the following scene shows be sure which brother we are witnessing, and Charlie in one scene, he can pass for him at any time. While the film announces this deception to its audience in this case, i t may do so in order to build credibility that it can take advantage of, allowing Donald to appear as Charlie without announcing the deceit.
48 If we witness the film being honest about a lie, then perhaps we will be less inclined to question the reliability of other scenes. This motif of lying continues in the interview scene. The brothers realize Susan is being dishonest based on her responses to the questions posed by Donald as Charlie. denies it, claiming only the normal intimacy that develops between interviewer and redundancy of this phrase could be a means of emphasizing the untruthfulness of the a nswer: it is such a lie that it deserves to be named one twice. However, if we read these words literally, we have a deception that is deceiving. From this perspective, one can argue that Donald suspects Susan of offering one misleading statement so that s he can conceal another situation. The audience can only guess what is this underlying issue. Perhaps she hopes to indicate that she is attracted to Laroche by weakly denying it in order to hide her affair and involvement in drug running. Regardless of what she this lesson to the Charlie Donald situation confirms the previous suspicion that the announced impersonation in this case could be a cover up for other such instances. Furthermore, the film shows how telling the truth can be an act of deception and thus a lie. When Donald returns to the hotel room after meeting with Susan, he tells that maybe her responses were too right because they were true, Donald argues that statements is what reveals the intended deception behind them. She answers the
49 questions fo rthrightly in order to evade the truth about her relationship with Laroche, which the Kaufmann brothers and the viewers discover when Charlie catches Laroche and the writer taking drugs and having sex. This revelation not only discredit s Susan, whose decei t on this issue calls into question any of her statements throughout the film. In addition, because she uses honesty to mislead Donald and Charlie, she casts doubt can work together, any assumption necessary for honest communication cannot be adhered to with much confidence. If a truthful statement can be a vehicle for clothin g. This deception resides in the structure that narratives bring to events. Whether self proclaimed as fiction or nonfiction, storytellers impose an order that cannot be found before their arrival. Theorists such as Roland Barthes and Jean Paul Sartre have noted that all narratives suffer from the logical fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc As Stam argues, all stories, then, are lies, and their tellers liars: Confusing mere consecution with real consequence, narratives impose laws of cause and effect on a wo rld characterized by mere recurrence. the modernists [such as Barthes and Sartre] go so far as to suggest that all stories are lies. Not only are all stories lies, furthermore, but all human beings are liars, for they are all story tellers 9) Wh ile I will later complicate this definition of the lie by considering issues such as intentionality and lies that are announced as lies, the fact that testimony and testimonial fiction both mislead in this manner should inform reading and writing practices If narratives, by the very performance that allows them to function, mislead, then the demands of an audience for a witness to testify to the event as it happened essentially makes witnessing impossible. Awareness of such an invalidation should not only temper
50 demands so that he or she can testify without striving to do the impossible and feeling guilty when failing to do so. The film, then, is a study of not merely the artifice of all film genres, although it does question the seduction of films both fictional and nonfictional by revealing the simulation inherent to cinema. In addition to this uncovering, Adaptation also looks back at itself, an observation that in turn questions the concepts of communication and meaning it, and all uses of any lexical system, seems to be founded on. As Minh ha argues, a work of self reflection such as Adaptation else but work and void. Its gaze is at once an impulse that causes the work to fall apart an ultimate gift to its constitution; a gift, by which the work is freed from the first and th ird ellipses added). The film allows us to see the site of film adaptation, which turns out to be an indeterminable abyss. Deception The Things They Carried rien tells what makes a true war story and proceeds to violate these guidelines through narrative strategies he employs while telling what he claims are simultaneously true and invented war stories. In fact, this announced deceit and these contradictory st atements, like in Adaptation Tim is speaking, further shedding light on the instability of the witness figure and thus testimony and on our inability to delineate t he fictional from real in any of these texts. In
51 I the I who, at the moment, formulates the statement is lying, that he lied a little before, that he is lying afterwards, or even, that in sa ying I am lying he declares that he has the intention of The Things They Carried, we cannot be sure distinction is possibl e. This lie calls into question not only the reliability of the novel and its characters but also the dependability of communication in general. of deception. The fict ional Philip Roth announces a deceit to a fellow character and, ther e b the fictional account we read is in fact a narrative of real keep his affa ir a secret. This admission, however, is a truthful one that seeks to deceive confession can be an attempt to satisfy an analyst in order to throw him or her off that which is repressed. In this case, Philip admits to deceiving his wife in order to conceal present real events and, therefore, to be a nonfiction genre. Just as the deception in novel has far reaching ramifications, the deception in Deception undermines our ability to distinguish between the truth and the lie because the novel uses one in order to do the other. These two concepts thought to be opposed are in cahoots in t his case, a conspiracy that we can never be sure is not operating. In uncovering the lies in the Roth
52 discovery also allows us to see all works of testimony, in the words o f Minh ha, as works and as voids. Testimony as Prophecy Finally, Adaptation although a fictional account of past events, serves as a archives these moments. As a stora The Orchid Thief the film attempts to preserve these events for future access. However, in its attempts to preserve the narrative, it re presents these moments, thereby changing them. While the archival effect may not always be as drastic or easily identifiable as in this film, which consciously points out these alterations, Derrida notes in Archive Fever that such changes are inevitable, citing the role of the first archive keepers as both protectors and interp reters of the law. Their latter function, which cannot be separated archived because such an action includes an adding to it, thereby transforming it into something els e. We have already discussed this augmentation when looking at the film as a translation of the book. As a reminder, because both translation and adaptation reveal a existed, thus changing our understanding of it. In Adaptation this addition surfaces in the adaptation process itself. Before we witness any of these events except for the final
53 his desire to do so, a revelation that becomes clear if we return to F an unrequested negation. Freud notes that if an analyst asks who a person in a dream not mother (235). By offering an unrequested negation Valerie never asks the writer what he does not plan to do in his screenplay, Charlie confesses to his plan, whether he realizes it or not, by protesting too much. This implicit admi ssion is not only a confession but is also a foretelling. Although Charlie prophesies the film that is to come, this prophecy speaks to the Adaptation eventually includes these el ements Charlie hopes to avoid, it also fails to provide the stereotypical Hollywood ending, with the hero righting all wrongs, the good clearly winning and the bad clearly losing, and the protagonist getting all that he desires. Not only, then, does Charli e seem unaware that he is foretelling the future, but that which is to come fulfills this prediction in ways that Charlie could not have known had he been aware of his repressed desires. Once he utters the prophecy, it works independently of him. The proph et may make the prophecy, but the reverse is true as well. Again, we witness a relationship whose subject and object cannot be determined, for both are also the other. The prophet and witness have much in common. For instance, much like the witness, the pr ophet both exists and is canceled out by that performance that makes him a prophet. Every prophecy must be written in the broadest sense of the word, and in the case of Adaptation, we have two writers. The fulfillment of the prediction requires events that will also lead to the end of half of that
54 tandem. Donald dies in the car crash that occurs just as the perfect ending seems to be beginning, with the brothers escaping relatively unscathed while the evildoers Susan and Laroche suffer the consequences of t his existence impossible. The prophecy both needs its creator to exist, evidenced by ion without a prophet once it is unleashed, as we see will be realized but also is unable to guarantee his or her presence at that realization. 9 Furthermore, Adaptation explicitly notes the re writing that occurs in every the screenplay. Whether he is at his typewriter or talking into a voice recorder, we witness several failed beginn listens to them. Implicit in this feature of the film is that each viewing of it is a witnessing of a different text. The writing of the script continues with every watching. As a result, the text is continually added to, meaning that we will never see a film that is stable, wholly determined, and unchanging. This version of the movie is promised but can only be promised; it will never arrive. We can do no more than look ahead to the foretold moment th at we will never witness. In this sense, Adaptation will always speak to its impending arrival but never realize it. It forever prophesies this moment to come. Its viewers will always b e witnessing its being written. We see this in the final scene of the f ilm. As Charlie exits a parking garage after his meal with Amelia he realizes the ending of his script; however, we never see him 9 place but was never present ther e.
55 pen the ending. Instead, his voice over explains what he will write. The composing of the screenplay is never fully realized. writing of the script is an infinite process. Charlie does not make much progress on the screenplay until he decides to write himself into it as he adapts the book. As a result, we see not only his moments of writing but also his recording of these moments of writing. At one point, he transcribes notes he has recorded on an audio cassette so that he can record the act of his recording the notes, revealing that the writing of the writing of the script is an infinite process. There will always be another Charlie to record. Thus, the writing of writing moves toward that moment when the final layer of the palimpsest will be finished but never arrives there. In fact, it will never even get closer. This eternal i ncompleteness is heightened by the final shot, which focuses on sunflowers in the foreground as out of focus traffic blurs by in the background in a sped up sequence. The flowers open and close, rise and fall with the comings and goings of days and nights, but there is no end to the flowers or the traffic. Both show no signs of stopping, of providing a definitive conclusion to the narrative. The rise and fall of the flowers calls back to a planned beginning that Charlie later abandons when he envisions the opening of the script as the birth. As he narrates the development of the planet in a voice over, accompanying images show the planet as a chaotic, churning sea of magma. Dinosaurs and their end, the Ice Age and its culmination, and the beginning o f the Grand Canyon and its sinking are among the shots that follow. Among this montage is a shot of flowers germinating and dying much like the sunflowers. These moments illustrate the impossibility of finishing any narrative. The end of one era or life al ways leads to the beginning of another that, like a translation
56 entity. The shots that make up this montage and the flowers that close the film provide no closure. R ather, they indicate the impossibility of such a thing. They point to a continual process of change, to death and rebirth, to a future. We see this look ahead in the testimonial fiction of Christopher Isherwood, namely Prater Violet and Goodbye to Berlin In both works, a fictional Christopher extermination. Serving as a record of the political atmosphere of the time, these texts archive those moments through testimoni al fiction. They store not just the events that occurred but also what those occurrences portend. Isherwood anticipates the coming violence and destruction, the extermination of undesirables, the establishment of concentration camps, and the use of trains to transport people there. Furthermore, Christopher prophesies the muteness that will surround attempts to bear witness to the Holocaust and the accompanying revelations of the state of testimony. The novel also reveals that the impossibility of testifying exists before the Holocaust in the failed attempts of the witnesses in these narratives to preserve and re present these events via their testimony. Through their failures, we can witness that the aporias of testimony did not surface with the Holocaust bu t instead were illuminated through the struggles of prisoners in their attempts to testify to life in Nazi Germany and, more specifically, the concentration camps. Without further delay, then, I would like to proceed to these aporias, to bear witness to th e conditions of testimony, even if such an act implicitly promises a comprehension and realization it cannot deliver.
57 CHAPTER 2 UNEQUIVOCALLY UNEQUI S AS TESTIMONY Life Studies, M. L. Rosenthal writes the mask. His speaker is unequivocally himself, and it is hard not to think of Life Studies as a series of personal confidences, rather shameful, tha t one is honor bound not to the poet reveals matters that are usually off limits in public disco urse. 1 Lowell will also later identify the poems as being therapeutic, a characteristic he labels a weakness (154). em and that an archive can record these moments successfully and without blemish. Similar analyses, examples of which I will discuss shortly, dominate the study of writin g poetry at the suggestion of her therapist. Her poems are often seen as mimetic representations and thus archives, of intimate affairs of the poet and thus narcissistic and wrought with emotion. In fact, just as even our understanding of rather banal elements of film made for a productive look at testimony and testimonial fiction, rather basic principles of poetry provide a useful counterargument to approaches such as isregards the writer speaker division. As we will see, later confessional criticism begins to take this separation under consideration, but often in a 1 and madnesses, the suicide attempts, the self Anne Sexton: The Artist and Her Critics ed. J. D. McClatchy (Bloomington, IN: U of Indiana, 1978) 248.
58 manner that recognizes it but then elides it in order to arrive at conclusions that require a reading of productive misreading. reduc tive approach. Jo Gill, 2 for instance, notes in that her poetry: shows an acute and self conscious interest in its own poetic processes, in language and its limitations, in the indeterminacy of the subject, and in the unreliability pe rhaps even the undesirability of reference. Its primary subject is not the life and suffering of the historical Anne Sexton. Its subject is writing. Yet this textual self consciousness has not, hitherto, been recognized. (35) Likewise, Walter Kalaidj i an, in The Edge of Modernism : American Poetry and the Traumatic Past labels Sexton a postmodern poet whose confessionalism is performative (165). a chapter of her dissertation, writes that (223). In this chapter, I would like to extend the endeavors of Gill Kalaidj i an and Love k as testimonial fiction and as illustrating the conditions of testimony. Of course, to do so requires me to justify placing a confessional poet into a discussion of testimony and fiction, neither of which might seem appropriate at first. However, I will a rgue for just this recontextualization by showing how tenuous is the distinction between testimony and confession and by focusing on the fictionality of the 2 I would like to thank Gill for her willingness to share her work with me.
59 oto postmodern characteristics. 3 Neither work as poetry or confessional. Rather, I hope to offer perspectives that bring to light the traumatic experience of being female in a patriarchal world but also to the trauma of testifying because of the violence, deferment, and failure of language. I argue tha t these poems challenge the traditional expectations of confessional poetry by ostensibly meeting these assumptions while subverting them. Additionally, I will show that her poems present images that perplex views of her poetry as simplistically mimetic an d even the assumption that simple mimesis exists. In order to carry out these readings, I will address the following questions: How can we distinguish between confession and testimony, and how does the answer to this question impact the way we read these g about who the confessor/witness in confessional poetry is or is not, and to what event does he or she speak to? More specifically, through what means do confessional poetry an d its speakers provide access to this event, and what does this access reveal about answer, how should we read this resistance? 3 poetry counterpart in the more explicitly performative confess project, whether Sexton was a postmodern poet or simply anticipated postmodern poetry is not as significant as the self reflexivity and performativity found in her poetry.
60 Distinguishing Between Autobiographical Genres In what is often credited as the first written Western autobiographical work, St. Augustine recounts his life with an emphasis on his need for the grace of God, his adherence to various philosophies, and his conversion to Catholicism in Confessions The text illustrates how tightly entwined are the autobiographical genres of autobiography, testimony, and confession. Confessions resembles most autobiographies by accounting for significant events in his life from childhood to adulthood. In the text, St. Au gustine confesses to deeds such as theft and lust that are usually not revealed publicly while testifying to the grace and power of God. If this demarcation of the two seems poorly drawn, it is because the two are easily conflated. We can chalk this confl requirements, for as Leigh Gilmore notes, the genre is characterized less by a set of formal elements than by a rhetorical setting in which a person places herself or himself within testimonial conte xts as seemingly diverse as the Christian confession, the scandalous memoirs of the rogue, and the coming out story in order to achieve as proximate a relation as possible to what constitutes truth in that discourse. (3) The only distinction between autobi ographical subgenres is content, and as we shall see, this difference can be difficult to locate. The definitions of autobiographical genres provided by literary scholars illustrate this lack of formal requirements and a confusion of terms. In 1980, Donald J. Winslow, for instance, defined confessional literature as initially being an acknowledgment of sins Confessions however, the genre becomes worldly, eventually turning into a primarily psychological genre (3). Testimony, on t he other hand, provides personal evidence. Winslow gives texts by the Quakers in the seventeenth century as examples (41). For C. Hugh Holman, writing in 1986,
61 bear wi tness or make a covenant (501). J. A. Cuddon, in 1998, explains confessional giv e affirmation or bear witness (906). While the primary function of the two may seem distinguishable, a close examination reveals how these purposes can be difficult to separate. All three critics above tie confession to personal or private matters that ar e made public and testimony to witnessing. However, when we consider that eyewitnesses in trials are most valuable when they can reveal information that forensics and experts cannot, we see that testimony often relies on a revelation of personal experience s. 4 Shoshana Felman However, if confession recounts matters that are generally hidd en or private, then a confessional narrative must also rely upon a unique first hand perspective. The use of the two in religious matters further blurs the line, for a testimony that speaks to the intervention of a divine being almost always incorporates o /or impotence. ascribes to confession detail common assumptions made of testimony: both are oft en seen as autobiographical, truthful, and therapeutic. While the information imparted 4 This tendency does not hold in the case of expert witnesses, those who explain, for instance, how the entrance and/or exit wound of a bullet indicates where a shot was fired from. This exception, however, does not negate the fact that testimony is often dependent upon a revelation of perso nal information.
62 lic might be seen as a sign of humility and meekness while a willingness to testify to a witnessed crime or other traumatic events is often seen as a willingness to relive or he testifier to reexperience a horrific experience. Due to its association with the revelation of shameful, 5 personal information, the speaker of confessional poems is often seen as functioning as a witness. Because of the sensitive information often found in these texts, Judith Harris argues that in tion, then, to our sense of the confessional poet with this notion of irreducible presence that Goodman and, as we will see, McClatchy attribute to confessional poet ry, the quote remains useful in that it reveals that testimony and confession are wrapped up in each other. One who confesses also attests to having witnessed those events he/she speaks to, so we can conclude that the act of testifying constitutes confessi on, which is not to privilege the former. We could just as easily argue that confession constitutes testimony, that one who bears witness cannot do so without confessing, for even the act of testifying is itself a confession of having seen and testifying. 5 Confessions in which his sinful past is evidence of his need for redemption. This shared trait makes one consider how similar are this need for salv ation and the need for a therapeutic healing often associated with confessional poetry.
63 Finding a clear difference between the two genres proves impossible as they will always coexist. A differentiation between the two depends upon a reading strategy that favors one function over the other. For the purposes of this chapter, I will be approach ing texts that could be considered c onfessional as instead testimony not because such an approach is better or more correct, but because scholarship on ir te stimonial functi on. By doing so, I seek to extend but also reposition recent works such as those by Gill and Kalaidjian, both of which appear within the last five years. In fact, te stimony studies following the Holocaust. As we have already seen, autobiographical subgenres are similar to the point of being indistinguishable, which makes a new approach to any of these subgenres useful in reimagining the others. We can see this effect among other writers, through the use of trauma studies. This chapter, then, is another step in that progression, which has already seen trauma studies move from testimony to confession. 6 Here, I am proposing for a combination of these approaches in order to see what we can learn by viewing confession as testimony. not a reading of her work that ignores those literary characteristics traditionally important to poetry and poetry criticism: rhyme, line breaks, meter, rhythm, etc. Rather, I we will see in a discussion of an essay by Paul de Man, this fictionality appears in all 6 is not restricted to testimony and confession.
64 autobiographical texts, not just autobiographical poems. Like the confession testimony distinction, the fiction autobiography demarcation depends upon a mode of reading that favors the mimetic function of autobiographical works at the expense of attention to the problems such a re presentation inscribes. This fictionality can be found in the uneasy difference between confession and testimony that Sigmund Freud locates In The Interpreta tion of Dreams Freud first illustrates his method of dream interpretation by relating his dream about Irma and then using it as an example to reveal that dreams are not divine, prophetic messages what Freud calls the pre anci or codes waiting to be translated which Freud says is a prevalent approach at the time of his writing but wish fulfillment. He comes to this realization after listening to patients relate ideas they associated w ith their dreams, teaching him that a d ream may be interpolated in the psychic concatenation, which may The next step was to treat the dream itself as a symptom, and to apply to it the method of interpretation which had bee n worked out for such symptoms. (13; emphasis added) We must n ote that while Freud offers a method of dream interpretation, this method is nothing more than his analytic schema applied to dreams as if they were any other confession. In other words, for Fre ud, dreams are confessions. This equivalence, as theory of psychoanalysis clinical confession as well. For Freud, the dream i s a symptom, something to be interpreted. While this point may seem too obvious to be of much use, its significance lies in the fact that the the confession. By extension, we can conclude that the confession does not simply state the tr uth but points to it, to that which lies behind it although de
65 Man will show us that settling on what is behind and what is in front in autobiographical writing is an impossibility. The meaning or event that the confession signifies can be found only throu gh analysis. If the confessor fails to speak directly to the truth or event he addresses, Felman explains in a commentary on witness to a truth that nonetheless continues to escape him, a truth that is, essentially not availa ble truth, the witness (as Felman notes, Freud uses der Zeuge here) not only testifies to that truth but also produces it. The confession, then, is a testimony to a constructed truth, b testifies. As narratives that both found and are founded by a creation, testimony and confession are literary from the outset, a condition that traditional readings of confessi onal texts miss. With the literariness of the confession and testimony in mind, we can conclude that presenting those events, a point I wil l address later. However, consideration of their pretense. Kalaidj i to truths that she does not own and that are not reducib le to any naturalized or fixed shift, forcing the reader to always question whether what he or winning book Live
66 or Die in 1966 (229). This poem, which announces no difference between itself and between her and her two grown sons upon the arrival of their weddings despite the fact that Sexton had no sons. Sexton testifies to this play w ith veracity when she explained Two possibilities arise from this response: First, the possibility that a Sexton poem presents fictional events as real forever haunts every text of hers; readers can never be sure which they are reading. This visitation, we will see, frequents all testimony. Second, we mus must treat her response with the same skepticism. Perhaps Sexton just said that she elicits more questions than it does answers, for unless we are prepared to bridge the gap between the poet and her speaker, the sentence resists interpretation. If Sexton and the character in her poem are not interchangeable a condition Sexton implicitly their respec tive father figures differently then we have two antecedents for one first person singular pronoun.
67 ma refer to these two masks that Sexton creates and dons, placing us in the realm of the fictional ional poetry We can also address this complication as an illustration of the multiplicity of the which would make the first reading strategy viable, removes the possibility for any one Traditional Confessional Criticism To sufficiently discuss the concerns of traditional confessional poetry would require space only a work devoted to tha t genre or one of its writers 7 could afford, so I would instead like to provide brief glimpses at a few essays and reviews contemporary to Rosenthal in order to more firmly establish the critical view of the genre at the time I will follow these readings with a look at two examples that appear decades later but contain traces of this logic even while complicating the perspective less than complimentary review of To Bedlam and Part Way Back appears in 1961, opening with a descrip tion of the feels tempted to drop them furtively into the nearest ashcan, rather than be caught with them in the presence of so 7 orementioned work the most extensive discussion of these readings.
68 collection (64). Again, the assumpti on here is that these poems mimic and thus record her past and her courageous response to it. The collection archives a past with no remainder escaping its preservation. the Tr written with C. B. Cox, presents confessional poets as deranged people whose poetry provides an outlet for their abnormal vision and personal and pr ivate world the hell in which the psychotic personality lives finding its celebrate de critical eyes on this genre as a location for deranged artists to share through poems that preserve t hem, the intimat e, painful moments of their lives The poems are nothing more than a revelation of who the poet truly is. This analysis of the genre has entrenched itself in American literat ure studies, although surfacing in more nuanced approaches. For e xample, nineteen years later,
69 nal poems because of the therapeutic from his or s more important than the self expression The Compulsion to Confess that to describe the impulses behind the expression that a d into another entity altogether by the poetic but the transformation the poem carries out. It does not make the impulses available or point to the motivation but instead makes clear that a metamorphosis has taken place. In 1988, ten years after McClatchy, Jenny Goodman argues that Sexton counteracted her suicidal urges. In a footnote that appears early in the essay, f the first person in the poems to be discussed as referring to the poet herself; at the same time, first person
70 ways infinitely never be uncovered since it could never be distinguished from the workings of, among other elements, language. Rather than abandon reading intention altogether, however, because pure intention is, at the very least, inaccessible, we can read authorial intention with its corruption in mind an activity we will undertake in another chapter We can read consequences of reading in this suited to such a pursuit because they play on this mode of reading while also frustrating it. Of course, to state as much assumes that we have some access to auth orial intention, whether it be pure or not, so we realize quickly that this aporia cannot be avoided or left behind. Instead, we will attempt to read despite the impossibility of doing so. Second, the etymology of assumption that the poem reveals that which is behind the mask, but instead, the text bears witnes s to the existence of the mask. To be fair, these are just two of an untold number of writings on the genre that emerged in the wake of Rosenthal and his intellectual cohorts, and even these writers express an awareness that the connection between the poet and his or her speaker is at least a little fuzzy. We have already seen that Goodman recognizes the difference between Sexton and her poetic personas, even if she mostly elides the discrepancy. destructiveness and her attempts to liberate herself
71 from (71). As we will see shortly in t that even as they shape the art that describes them, so, too they are modif ied by that realizing the 36). nre as both re However, he sees this realization as coming from a writing that is therapeutic and uses a chronology with e writing after the emergence of literary theory in the 1960s, most notably Michel The History of Sexuality, but as we will see shortly, this insistence on revelation and the lifting of the mask does not go far enough. Wordsworth and Autobiographical Poetry The presence of this mask problematizes all autobiographical writing. What traditional criticism takes as a more direct referentiality than that found in fiction the text points directly to the author turns out to be a camouflage for its complexity. De confession, his analysis is useful to my discussion becaus e it questions this belief in a simpler referentiality that critics of autobiographical genres traditionally hold. De Man notes that while such a reading assumes that life produces autobiographical works, one
72 technical demands of self (69), determines the life it presents. The former approach holds that a reader need only retrace the signifying chain from the text to the writer in order to locate its meaning, but de Man argues that since the demand s of autobiography discourse and language alter the life re simply a referent at all but something more akin to a fiction which then, however, in its own turn, acquires a degre determined as simply fiction or autobiography, for the fiction autobiography distinction is one that cannot be distinguished. This distinction between the genres is generally dependent on the factua lity of the events reported and the shared proper name of the writer and a character. Because a noun is thought to be proper if it can refer to only one entity, it seems to follow that if the name on the title page and the name in the text 8 are identical, then the two have become one. Philippe Lejeune, one well known critic who holds to such a view, notes identity that is sealed by the proper name And this is true also f or the one who is writing he reasons, is the speaker both within and outside the text; a n autobiography features an author, narrator, and character united by an autobiographical contract agreed upon by the writer and reader. 8 Su ch a statement, of course, assumes that the title page lies outside the text, that the title page of a work of fiction is, unlike the rest of the book, factual. Pseudonyms and supposedly found texts, such as Don Quixote teach us that this assumption can b e a hasty one.
73 A proper name, however, does not seal a contract, as Lejeune suggests. Rather, a signature may be read as authorizing an agreement to read the proper name as such, as recognizing a particular discursive practice. Lejeune bases his definition on a title page is not the proper name of a subje ct capable of self knowledge and understanding, but the signature that gives the contract legal, though by no means signature of the proper name with the proper name itsel f, we still must confront a ity to guarantee this contract. How to Do Things with Words He notes that while a signature point s to the absence of the signer, it is assumed that the autograph maintains his or her former presence and will continue to do so. The signature will be read as insuring, for an indefinite period of time, the presence of that person who has signed and thus is the absolute singularity of a signature event and a signature form: the pure only possible b ut occurs every day, he notes that this reproducibility is also what makes the retention impossible a consequence that we will see play an important factor throughout this project For a signature to function, it must be readable, which means it e a repeatable, iterable, imitable form; it must be able to be detached from the present and singular intention of its production. It is its sameness which, by corrupting hor,
74 narrator, and speaker even as it disbands the trinity. That which insures the agreement is the very force that invalidates it. De Man furthers his discussion of autobiography by turning to William Essays upon Epitaph s which quotes and comments on epitaphs by Wordsworth and other writers. The central metaphor of this collection, De Man notes, is the sun crossing the sky, reading the epitaphs and thereby making them visible and accessible. The star grants the stone a v oice in an example of prosopopeia (75). Because the reading of the epitaphs and, therefore, our knowledge of acquisition of a voice, the implication is that autobiography cannot exis t without prosopopeia and is dependent upon a trope. This tropological function, however, is not unique to autobiography. As de Man points out, all language, which cannot make present the object to which it refers but only re presents it, shares this quali ty. Gilmore, insubstantial, ghostly. It recedes into the medium (language, and here the rhetoric of What we must conclude, then, is that all language depends upon prosopopeia; all the dead speak, the symmetrical structure of the trope implies, by the same token, that story is ng that person silent, so
75 what we are deprived of is not life but the shape and the sense of a world accessible only in the privative way of understanding. Death is a displaced name for a linguistic predicament, and the restoration of mortality by autobi ography (the prosopopeia of the voice and the name) deprives and disfigures to the precise extent that it restores. Autobiography veils a defacement of the mind of which it is itself the cause. (81) The muteness of language necessary to produce an autobio graphy gives birth to a mutation of the life it re presents, not the life itself. Along with the problem of language comes the problem of memory. We can The Prelude for evidence. First published in 1799, this long autobiographical poem covers fourteen books, beginning with the climb up several mountains. The text attests to its dependency on memory in the fourth book, when th e speaker notes that one who looks over the edge of a boat to the bottom of the lake may see wonders such as fish, flowers, and other beings one finds in a body of water but may also be confused because he or she cannot part The shadow from the subst ance, rocks and sky, Mountains and clouds, reflected in the depth Of the clear flood, from things which there abide In their true dwelling; now is crossed by gleam Of his own image, by a sunbeam now, And wavering motions sent he knows not whence, (IV. 269) The physical reflection by the water becomes a metaphor for the mental reflection by the murkiness makes the on looker unable to determine not just what is shadow but
76 Fur thermore, in a moment that recalls Narcissus, the person gazes over the boat 68). Impartial observation and objectivity are impossible; subject and object are intertwined. Poet Billy Collins w rites that because of this self reflective quality of autobiography, one cannot see the past without also seeing the present and in it the mirror image of the self. The observer is an ingredient in the observed. This triple vision so well reveals the com plicated nature of a poetry based on memory that it might act as a signpost, a warning for poets who assume that the past is easily accessible and that their play in the country garden day school of nostalgia is a sufficient form of poetic activity. (89) E ven if we are not poets, we would do well to keep this caveat in mind as we turn to a reading of Sexton. In fact, when a poem seems to grant easy access to the past is when a reader should be especially suspicious of this effect, for it is at this moment t hat we are most likely to ignore that the poet has been muted, that the text has presented only reflections of reality, and that it fails to grant access to the life of the poet. As we will see, this inability to provide unmediated access to reality and to the poet is not the fault or a shortcoming of the text but a condition of access to an event. Anne as Witness Incestuous Sex(ton) humously. Like the other two texts I will examine, this poem features a speaker named Anne 9 with no last name. 10 Because 9 10 Sexton does, however,
77 the family name is traditionally patronymic in Western culture, its presence would signify the speaker as subject to a masculine power. In the first two poems I will look at, this power serves to imprison and control the speaker through sexual and financial means. Just as names are often seen as connecting a writer to his/her past, the lack of one can communicate an attempt to disrupt this connection: In autobiography, the name becomes a symbol of not only the past to which one may lay claim but the past and family that claims you. Such a symbol (and such families) may well be more threatening than comforting. After all, not everyone w ho writes autobiographically ends up embracing the name as a signifier of familial belonging. Some write in order to destroy the claims upon them made by families, communities, and past experiences. (Gilmore 129) name, then, functions as a signal that we are not feelings and a similar past, they are not simply Sexton manifested in the text. Rather, they are an attempt to break free of a power and a past from which Sexton suffers. The narrative begins on May 20 th which is one of the days on which the vernal spends nearly the same amount of time above an d below the horizon for every part of n, speaks to a sameness of the two polarities day and night, an equivalence that permeates the poem. Early in the poem, priest / or is it a priestess? / Both, one 27). Finally, the leaves
78 inside/outside are removed by the voices existing both within and exterior to the leaves The coffin both seals dy from the external and opens up to it. Life and death can be found in a call for death coming from a verdant yard. The window image furthers this breakdown of dichotomies. In the third s tanza, the hey call, though I sit here / sensibly behind m 22). As the growing suburbs that sprouted after World War II, an environment with the ostensible advantage of being safer than most urban areas. Sexton, however, makes clear that this protection also serves as impri of a city, but it also ensnares her, providing no escape from the hazard of the outlying and eat salami. / I turn on THE song of THE LADY / 32). In fact, the isolation itself seems to be the ions about what makes the body attractive follow; its presence alone makes it hard to resist. Furthermore, the window reiterates the collapse of the subject object polarity that we saw earlier in The Prelude Large box windows, Gill notes, were not only co mmon in the suburbs, but the views they provided were a selling point. What the speaker realizes, however, is that the transparency of the glass not only allows her to see out s ow speaks to
79 simultaneously subject and object of the narrative, both the person observing and the person being observed. Windows then, stand figuratively for the confessional text which seeks also to integrate the inside and the outside, self and other, subject and reader, penitent and confessor. Testimony carries out a similar synthesis by making the audience a witness and by passing on the trauma that it might bear witness to, for as Dori Laub notes Witness, or the Vicissitudes of Listening in order for a witness to testify, the listener owner of the traumatic event: through his very listening, Likewise, the audience to a testimony also serves as testifier, with the witness in an ever shifting of positions What may seem simple, a narrative pointing to actual events, turns out to be in finitely complex and muddled. This attempt at integration, at transpor ting the outside into the inside of the poem, is a trace. We are reminded of the demands of the poetic form and its effects on the material it reports when we consider that a voice less entity, the leaves, addresses the speaker throughout the poem, early o prosopopeia gives voice not only to normally silent objects but also to the dead, for the / the generation of women, 46). dead, but this body the leaves only highlights that a poetic embodiment is decidedly
80 no more accurate than their manifestation as vegetation. It would still be a re presentation of t heir body, not the b ody itself. In the sixth stanza, we shift to a dream of incest on July 4. While asleep, the speaker envisions her grandfather, on his birthday, caressing her neck and breast while the leaves fall with the sound of stones, escaping their cages on the Americ an Day of Independence. Here, Sexton presents fictional information a birth date that corresponds to neither of her grandfathers 11 as if it were fact, playing on the expectations of her audience. At the end of the stanza, the speaker awakes, followed by the 72). We can read this dream as being a event. However, trauma is constituted by an initial lack of comprehension. Carruth explains, in a comment that highlights the instability of the subject object dichotomy, occurs], bu t only belatedly, in its repeated possession (4). Thus, a dream or vision of the event will be experienced as if it were happening for the first time. These re membrances, then, are not symbolic but are the return of the trau ma (Carruth 5). 11 New York Times New York Times 3 Apr. 1940: 29.) Combine that information with the fact that he was born in 1862, and it is impossible for his birth date to be July 4. A World War I draft regis tration card for a Louis Harvey from Needham, MA, has his birth date as 15 Sept. 1872. While it is possible this card designates a different Louis Harvey, Harvey did spend most of his life in Wellesley, which was a part of Needham at the time of his birth Townsman places his death on Mon., 27 Sept. 1943, at the age of 71, which is consistent with the above birth date. Many thanks go to Mary Durda at the Wellesley Free Library for her assistance in gathering this information.
81 But is the traumatic event only one of incest? Certainly, such an incident would not be unlikely. From her controversial session with Dr. Martin Orne, whose supposed criticized, to her admission of attempting to rape her daughter, a confession her daughter has confirmed, such a reading would not be the first connection between Sexton and incest. Traditional confessional criticism might conclude, then, that we have bor but such a reading is problematic due to both the effects of language that we have th e poem to nothing more than a retelling of sex between family members would be to ignore how incest resonates within fields such as anthropology and psychoanalysis, for incestuous desire but also an entire nexus of social relations and (17). Take, for instance, Claude Lvi Elementary Structure s of Kinship a 1949 text that focuses on the incest prohibition and the problem this interdiction causes for the nature culture binary. Because the incest taboo is universal Lvi Strauss finds it in all cultures but also cultural it is instituted and enfo rced by rules and t hus not spontaneous and natural inseparably combines, the two characteristics in which we recognize the conflicting features of two mutually exclusive orders. It constitute s a rule, but a rule which, alone 9). A
82 cultural polarity is undermined as Derrida notes in Of Grammatology from the confidence placed in the difference between the two analyses that the scandal We have, then, not simply another polarity disrupted but a divide upon which a sys tem is based. Furthermore, this rupture comes not from an external force but from the very law that makes the structure possible. More accurately, the structure is built nnot Of Grammatology 267). Thus, the origin of the structure is a whirligig, to borrow a term of which in turn constitutes the prohibition. Because the two distinct concepts upon which the nature culture binary is founded prove to be dependent upon one another, the differ ence reveals itself as fictive. We find a similar fiction in the appearance of th consciousness the name is called proper, it is already classified and is obliterated in being made It is already no more than a so called 9). A name is proper only if it designates one entity, a unique function in language. Of course, one could argue that poem, for instance, could refer to any of the multitud es of Annes. That problem, however, could be addressed with the invention of a new name for every person. It is an
83 Derrida notes, the proper name, which he claims makes language possible, 12 is always already proper only in name, for its uniqueness can be understood only by the ways in which it is similar and dissimilar to the rest of language. Its incomparability can be known only via comparison; like the incest taboo, th e proper name establishes itself as different from other uses of language by defining them as different, a distinction that in t urn determines the proper name. inability t this failure by presenting a character that shares her name in a genre that is read as presenting the life of the poet but with pseudo facts that undermine any such reading. Thus, Sexton not only questions patriarchal rule by speaking to the often abusive expr necessary to any testimony, the poem denies the genre a firm foundation. 13 But even if we are to connect this dream of incest with the eruption of language, a patriarchal structure, we must still address why the dream is of the grandfather. If we remember that nam ing is generally a patriarchal function, this connection of incest to language is fortified by a phantasm that implies a familial male authority figure. Such a 12 Des Tours de Babel Acts of Religion (New York: Routledge, 2002), 109. 13 testimony, we could start with any nu mber of other words and arrive at the same breach.
84 role would be filled by a father figure; however, the grandfather speaks to that which engenders and empowers the father. He is that which makes the father possible, both as a physical entity and as an authoritative figure. The grandfather hands down nominative authority, makes naming a possibility. This role resembles that of the incest s in producing the nature The incest prohibition is something which escapes these concepts probably as the condition of their possibility. It could perhaps be said that the whole of philosophical conceptualization, which is systematic with the nature/culture opposition, is designed to leave in the domain of the unthinkable the very thing that m akes this conceptualization possible: the origin of the prohibition of incest. (284) a name of his choice, in giving all names, the father would be at the origin of langua ge, and that power would belong by right to God the father. And the name of God the father empowering the father. He is father of the father, God the grandfather. Citing Voltaire, D The very name of God is confusion; thus, we should not be surprised at the instability of the proper name, at the chaos that results from its inability to point to a uni que being. trauma of the violence of language, for how is one to testify to trauma if the proper name, which insures testimony, defers presence and sows confusion? W e find the connection between language and incest in psychoanalysis, also. In Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis [prohibiting incest], therefore, is revealed clearly enough as identical to an order of
85 Language. 14 For without kinship nominations, no power is capable of instituting the order of preferences and taboos which bind and weave the yarn of lineage down preferences and taboo s, possible just as a structure makes all language possible. In fact, this law is a consequence of this meta structure. Considering the role incest and its prohibition plays in these discourses that profess to investigate the fundamentals of Western culture and humanity, Sexton does not simply recount and transform a personal experience into an event in a poem when she writes of an incestuous e xperience. The text also speaks to the abuse of patriarchal power and the failure of the proper name and language while uncovering the dependency of social and cultural power on fictional creation stories. Furthermore, even t one exists in this case, would speak to these shortcomings, for it would have taken place in a culture produced by this fictional of language and the deception of cultural myths as is our reading of a fictive transformation of it, for the origins of those laws that make our understanding of the real possible are fictive. Such a conclusion, of course, does not negate or make insignificant the trauma of a victim of i Altho ugh the speaker sobs just before waking, she still needs tissue after she awakes. 14 langage langue
86 Thus, we have not only the image of the grandfather carried over into wakefulness, but also a dream like this one is to wake to the realization of having survived. Further, waking from this type of dream, which is like a reenactment of the trauma, allows the dreamer to feel fear, which helps her begin to integrate the experience into her memory and (61). The return of the traumatic may produce anxiety and trepidation in the traumatized, but only by experiencing these emotions can one begin to process the moment and begin to heal the wound that trauma inflicts. The danger that the speaker f ears and her inability to hold the binaries that most people tend to believe exist result from this incestuous encounter, which, because it is traumatic, destroys her ability to make sense o The Plague or a Monument to Witnessing therefore cannot be assimilated by or integrated into, any existing cultural frame of ref aforementioned reenactment of the trauma inducing moment is necessary if the speaker is to combat its resistance to assimilation. This renitence can result in testimony that is not empirically accurate, a has slept through all of Independence Day, awaking at six the next morning. Or has she? While the poem begins on May 20, we are notified of th e shift to July only in a dream, so while it may appear that the speaker awoke at the end of the previous stanza, the fact that we are still in July raises doubts as to the veracity of this date. As
87 mentioned already, dreams of the traumatic event are some times indistinguishable from the event itself. In fact, we cannot speak of trauma until the consequent damage damage done that defines and gives shape to the initial event, the damage done (185). What we have, then, is a relationship similar to the one de Man proposes for a life and the autobiography that retells that life. Just as he argues that what is traditionally assumed to come second in that cause effect chain the life also functions as the cause, we find the origin of trauma that which determines it, defines it as trauma in that which comes last. If how a person experiences an event decides whether that event is traumatic or not, then this experience determines the event that produced the experience. As a result, the event does not follow normal temporal rules. Laub explains that inflicts the damage as being in the past, it is a past that is never made present because it cannot be grasped at the time of its unfolding and because it is not shaped until its return. For this reason, herefore something somehow nothing, a figment of the imagination or a purely mythical event, but rather that it disruption and the aforementioned incomprehensibility are reflected by the bare trees that populate the end of the poem, for summer should be a time of full vegetation, not naked tree limbs. The imagery and the calendar are incongruous, illustrating the i nterruption of the normal unfolding of time. The speaker foresees her future in this image, realizing that her female ancestors
88 have left their cages forever those wiry, spidery branches for me to people someday soon when I turn green and faithless t o the summer. (85) This faithlessness will spring, like her forebears, from her resistance to production during a time of fertility. The green of summer signals infidelity towards the season n turned topsy turvy by trauma. The poem not only illustrates how the traumatic resists our usual means of comprehension but also bears witness to the usefulness of testimony in resisting this [t people not having stored a surplus of images so that the sheer number of them would in crease their chances of accessing the appropriate images. Rather, nothing could have prepared these people for the situations they encountered. Thus, it is often necessary to create new imagery that bridges their existing knowledge with the incomprehensibl e event. Because fictional discourse allows for the invention of people, images, etc., that did not exist before, it can be an especially useful tool for responding to trauma. Felman to duplicate or to record events, but to make history available to the imaginative act whose historical traumatic event, which is extrahistorical, can be accessed throu gh nonhistorical means such as the creation of a fictional world in which vegetative life is at odds with summer.
89 Little o rphan Anne 45 Mercy Street 15 from the play and movie Annie 2). We enter a world, then, where blindness reigns, where foresight and careful consideration are forg otten. As we read, this world reveals itself to be even 6), the exclamation point giving an orgasmic characteristic that nd War II America and to t he ostentatious wealth of a certain elite and it asks about the Anne 75). In a theme that runs throughout the poem, these and other ethically compromised actions that led to vic tory are justified tautologically by pointing to the outcome as proof that the actions were noble. For instance, while the speaker was an orphan, Daddy 15). Never i s the badness of these nations quantified in any way other than their loss. that war, / when you sang me the money songs / Annie, Annie 21). The 15 erary 45 Mercy Street, Anne Sexton: The Complete Poems (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), 4 79 80.
90 signs of testament to the colonialist motives behind war profiteering. At this point, we learn that th e benefits of the war come not only at the expense of those 30). The speaker protests too much, turni ng to Daddy for reassurance that her virginal blood has not been spilled, that she remains innocent of carnal knowledge. She continues this attempt to convince herself: And all the men out there were never to come. Never, like a deluge, to swim over my bre asts And lay their lamps in my insides. No. No. And his tempestuous bucks Rolling in them like corn flakes (39) d not ejaculate on her breasts, did not explore her insides. The one exception is her roll in the money with Daddy in an image that unites the financial gain made off soldiers who did bleed and the incestuous relationship between the speaker and her addres not only an exception but also something that is of inconsequence and fair. Her sexual encounter with her Daddy is just. It was just a sexual encounter with her Daddy. Thus, the same logic that justif ies his reaping the benefits of the deaths of soldiers justifies this incestuous act. the speaker also seems to find its warrant in th e fact that he can exert it. The bala nce to
91 Anne 75), an inequality that we see in the name the speaker uses for the male figure. He is not er biological father but more importantly is a figure of male power. The speaker fails to challenge his logic or abuse because he has imposed his logic. If he holds the power, it is because he deserves to. im that females are silenced. In fact, the place from which she testifies is that of all witnesses: death. After emphasizing In Memoriam refers to the speaker, who, through an act of prosopopeia, testifies to her survival until the penultimate stanza, whereupon she testifies to her death. This speaking corpse, however, is not an exception but t he rule, for a witness can testify only from life in tells of a Frenchman who escapes death at the hands of Nazi soldiers when the Russians attack his would be killers. Th is character ends the testimony by remarking French here reads that this instant is always en instance or always pending, imminent; it waits on the man. Derrida, in Dem eure, someone who tells us in many ways and according to every possible tense: I am dead, or I will be dead in an instant, or an instant ago I was continues, explaining that a witness must be
92 [his/her own] death 16 both of these phrases designate a situation that cannot occur, they also signal that all testimonies must be fictional; otherwise, no testimony could sur vive this impossible situation. The cause of Jap speaker swallows (43). Gill argues that she ingests the enemy because she has learned home and Anne 76). In its attempt to escape, the creature kicks out her life ends just as her ability to see, a crucial part of being a witness, does. Mor e importantly, the cause of death comes from within. This internal violence speaks to the singular. The speaker reaps the rewards of American colonialism while also dying at the also shares a self with the Nazi o mind the trains that transported Jews to concentration camps. I am not proposing that her victimhood is the same as that of the Jews or that her guilt is the same as the Nazis and Japanese. R ather, I am arguing that her role is dependent upon others who occupy this same 16 the survivor therefore has had a death encounter, and the death encounter is central to his or her Trauma: Explorations in Memory Ed. Cathy Carruth (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1995) 128.
93 Anne 39). In other words, her status as singular witness can be known only by who she is not. The singularity of the speaker is alw ays determined by a plurality. Image and s elf The Death Notebooks Sexton highlights the multiple identities that can be found both in the reproduction of a person and in a glimpse backwards. The poe character Anne as a young girl, although the fact that the image was recorded when While the narrative re lates Anne looking at the picture and the period of time during which it was taken, the text does not allow easy access to this moment. The poem bye two images in that series are clearly connected because they are of clothes. The smile, then, does not radiate out from the soul, her personality, or any other location that co uld autobiography, according to de Man, necessarily affect and effect the re presentation of the life it recounts, the staging of this photo, which calls for a happy subject a nd special clothes, alters Anne This representation, therefore, is not representative of the seven year old Anne but only of her as she appears at this moment. Timothy Adams, in Light Writing as Life Writing remarks that we must always be aware of the possibility that a picture has been manipulated, either through staging or editing, to deceive its audience. For this reason,
94 he argues that posed pictures should always be considered fictional because they Perhaps a more accurate argument would be that posed pictures make clear the unreality that is true of all photographs, for pictures are a form of language just as much as words are. Both require an observer to read them as communication and to make meaning out of them; both also take part in various discourses that make demands on the material communicated and on those receiving this communication, demands that ofte n determine what is sig nified. The initial image in the above series, however, is especially puzzling. To which grape is the speaker referring? A piece of fruit, unlike a bow or a dress, would be a strange addition to this image. Perhaps the most significant part of the line is that we are looking at not just a grape, but the heart of the grape, the portion that contains the seed. Certainly, the seed is part of the grape, but it also can exist outside of the grape. Like a fetus, it can eventually become a separate entity. Its rel ationship with the whole, then, is complex: both a part of and separate from the grape with the promise of another grape. So even if we claim that the smile does surface from within, we must also admit that the inside does not simply exist inside, just as 17 that the center of a closed structure is never only within the structure, meaning the structure can never be sealed. From the very first line, then, we learn that th is reproduction of the speaker as a child can offer no unimpeded path to what the smile reveals about the person pictured. 17 thing within a structure whi ch, while governing the structure, escapes structurality. This is why classical thought concerning structurality could say that the center is, paradoxically, within the structure and outside it Writing and Difference (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1978) 278 93.
95 Rather than giving us some sense of what seven year old Anne was like, the image actually complicates our understanding because it il lustrates that this self is infinitely complex. 18 Any entry the image might offer is further walled off by its decay. The second stanza describes the image as a peeling, aging artifact, comparing it to a cancer ridden being, a rotten flag, and a moldy veget able. Cancer harms its host by turning the cells of own cells. Simila rly, mold attaches itself to some living being, often produce, and feeds on it, decomposing the matter in the process. More importantly, a colony of mold features cells with identical nuclei. This plurality, then, forms one organism. Its one identity is mu ltiple. Like the vegetable, the flag is in the process of decomposing, the raising a question: If it has already been separated into parts, how is it still a flag? We should have pieces of a flag, yet the cloth maintains its identity as one, a single object made up of disconnected sections. This aporia is not unique to this image Rather, it is constitutive of all autobiographical writing. As we have already seen with de Man, the demands of autobiographical discourse shape any identity that such a text re presents so that what hat character that emerges from 18 We will witness another photograph that complicates as much as or more than it clarifies in Everything Is Illuminated.
96 representation and trauma offer a strong case for seeing that in the very con dition of autobiography (and not the obstacles it offers for us to overcome) there is no transparent language of identity the presentation of an authentic self impossible The posing and dress of a young Anne are unique to this situation. Additionally, the decay and the subsequent deterioration of production of the image and the eff ects of time on it affect our ability to read it. If we keep in mind the concept of a single identity made up of a plurality, it can aid t the image and the girl are not identical but also that the speaker and the girl are distinct. While the seven year old girl is arguably a part of who was not who she has been, testifies to the flimsiness of the connection. The verb tense is not the present perfect, which would imply a causal relationship with the future, or the past progressive, which describes an action continuing into the present. Instead, the past simple is used, a tense that communicates an a ction whose beginning and end took place in the past. This moment is frozen, removed from the normal rules of temporality, an effect that defines a traumatic moment. Furthermore, the implication is that who Anne was does not extend to this moment of observ ation. This multiplicity not only is in keeping with the function of images and the effects of time, but it also exemplifies the effects of trauma. Lifton notes traumati
97 reveals proves to be illustrative of trauma and its effects, in this case the splitting of an identity, a cleaving that in part provides the distance Anne needs in order to look back at herself. because it results from the sight of something, the illness can be seen as a mental we can conclude that the event was traumatic, evoking fear and th us the need to strike. In opening the dress in the image, Anne peers into the crotch of the image and sees a child bent on a toilet seat I crouch there, sitting dumbly pushing the enemas out like ice cream, letting the whole brown world turn into swe ets. (34) The crotch of the image of the child is equated with excrement; sexual and scatological the disgusting and the desirable become one. The child in the image t ransforms the sordid revelations, and she is simultaneously seized by her own anxiety about, and Anne the excretory
98 Her survival depends upon an alteration of the world, one that substitutes candy for gloom. Because she cannot bear the world she knows yet ne eds to survive, she must transform it. We should note, however, that this change seems to be a passive responding to the trauma that threatens her existence. Because s he cannot process the traumatic event, she must convince herself of a world where it did not happen. She and pleasing, and her bowel movement is this testimony. As s he eliminates the notes that when applied to humans, it can also mean more specifically, bereft of the power of speech, from astonishment, grief, or some ment Because language escapes her, proves useless to her, she must bear witness to this shock through some other means. This desperate act also serves as a reminder that not all testimonies that cannot be validated or that can be disproved with empir ical proof should be seen as deceitful. Rather, it is likely that these texts merely bear witness to the astonishing effects of a traumatic event. rethinking what confession s ignifies and entails and by conceding its discursiveness, contingency, and finally its indeterminacy that we can begin fully to understand her Similarly, Love concludes the crucial role played by figure in both generating the poems and structuring, while not
99 to this new awa reness the uncertainty and fictionality of her poems which reveal that testimonies are texts that produce the identities that produce them. The factuality of testimony is nothing more than a reading strategy, and the possibility that such a work has been doctored always haunts any attempt to read the mimesis of a testament as simple. Even if no intentional tampering occurs, the demands of language transfigure Moreover, cultural demands make an alteration even more likely. We must remember that Sexton first started writing poetry for its therapeutic value, and we can see in the above statement about her having forgiven her father that the expectation was not for just any poetry but for works tha t addressed and resolved familial conflicts notion, he r statement also makes clear the pressure she must have felt to produce such poems, the presence of which could support a backward logic: because her writing would make progress, and poems about her coming to terms with her past wo uld be evidence of improvement. In fact, we can se e this dyn amic in her experience not just as a patient but also as a poet. Much of her formal training came from workshops with John Holmes, W. D. Snodgrass, and Lowell, all three of whom are connected with the rise of confessional poetry in America. Kailadj i an spec ulates that as confessionalists, this trio likely expected therapetuc role with the literary f ather figures of Holmes, Snodgrass, and Lowell, Sexton
100 style and content, then, may have formed out of the desire to please these patriarchal figures. If we accept suc h a hypothesis, we can attribute the understanding of the requirements of confessional poetry to these relationships, a comprehension that would make possible her deft play on the expec We can see similar pressure placed on w itnesses. A trustworthy testifier, the assumption goes, can provide an account more accurate than a historian or analyst, but re usually refers to hard data : what happened, when, where, and to who m Laub gives the example of the woman Hol ocaust survivor who claims to have seen all four chimneys at Auschwitz blown up by resisters when in fact only one had been toppled. An audience of historians used this inaccuracy as an indication that her account was not to be trusted. However, the woman may have actually been bearing place right in front of her own eyes. And she came to testify to the unbelievability, precisely, of what she had eyewitnessed this bu rsting open of the very frame of how overwhelmed she was by her Holocaust experience, so instead, she, albeit not consciously, transformed the event into one that more accurat ely reflected its to the trauma of incest or abuse, what it finally transmits is the inability of the witness to comprehend the traumatic and the failure of language to cap ture and portray the traumatic as it happened even while it appears to be counteracting these shortcomings.
101 After all, even if a text appears to give unfettered access to the event it portrays, it does not; it just writes that it does. Which is not to clai m that a text could do anything other than claim to provide an unabated path, for the only means of entrance is through a mediating agent. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that the event does not exist without negotiation. As I established through Fre confession or testimony and the event it points to are created simultaneously. One cannot exist without the other, a dependence that traditional confessional criticism misses. The most signific ant consequence is not so much a blindness that renders the un reality of confessional poetry invisible, although this is an indirect consequence. Rather, these critics fail to see that it is reality itself that fails to live up to their notions of the rea l. In other words, their readings mistake the real that produces these texts as a finish line when in fact the event, which inspires its representation, is in turn given birth to by the confessional text and thus also calls for analysis, a call that can ne ver be fully answered. The unreality of reality leaves a number of issues unsettled, the most obvious being what constitutes reality if, as this chapter has shown, it is produced by those signs or symptoms thought to point back to it. Also, if genres like confessional poetry and testimony, both often considered to function as mediums for the recording and preservation of past events, produce these moments, then how does this generative characteristic alter the way we view the function of the archive? For no w, we must leave these considerations with the promise that the time and place appropriate to their consideration will arrive in the future. Instead, in the next chapter, I would like to
102 and speaker by examining a novel that carries out a similar move but to a greater degree.
103 CHAPTER 3 A BIT OF TESTIMONIAL MISCHIEF: WITNESS AS DOPPELGNGER IN OPERATION SHYLOCK On March 7, 1993, Philip Roth published a column in the New York Times in which he reported having met an impostor of him in Jerusalem in January 1989. This imitator one that would be enacted by the Arabs this time. According to Roth, t his experience considered me exactly what I considered him: deformed, deranged, craven, possessed, an alien wreck in a state of foaming madness someone, in short, who isn't reall y Operation Shylock which tells the story of a Philip Roth in Jerusalem confronting his impostor, who masquerades as Philip and advocates a Jewish Diasp orism. been a common concern for his critics and, consequently, him. He has frequently thing more. As he tells Esther B. Fein, while he could never convince his audience that novels such as and Ghost Writer were fabrications, he finds himself unable to persuade readers that Operation Shylock tells of his actual experience s. Such criticism that he can write of nothing other than himself. Rather than conduct a fact as if such a simple distinction were possible
104 with his commentators as the primary motivation behind the novel, I would i nstead like to investigate an issue Roth raises in his New York Times column: the relationship between reader and writer. More specifically, what does Operation Shylock reveal about the exchange between a testifier and his or her audience, and how do the t wo shape each other? What can such a reading of the novel reveal about the ethics and roles involved in such an exchange? By answering these questions and others, I will argue that the identities of the witness and his or her audience are not just the mult iplicity we saw last chapter but an infinite plurality. An affect and effect of this infinitude is that the act of testifying is possible only through the use of fi ction, meaning that any access to the event we are provided is one of fictionality. This chapter, then, will establish the fictionality of all testimony so that the ramifications of this condition can be further analyzed in the chapters that follow. In dis cussing the importance of the Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at most, if n ot all, of the witnesses had never been afforded: listeners, whose presence against their past experience, to tell the story and be heard to in fact address the s ignificance of their biography to address that is, the suffering, the truth, and the necessity of this impossible narration (41). To merely speak, then, is not enough. Instead, witnesses need a person in w hose direction they can destine their testimony because, in the cases of those who testify to
105 definition, resists recording, the victim testifies to an event that has not yet been recognized, of the event is given birth to. The listener, therefore, is a party to the creation of knowledge de novo The testimony to the trauma thus includes its hearer, who is, so to (57). The listener, formed by the act of witnessing just as the w itness is, experiences memories and residues of his or her traumatic past. The listene victories, defeats and silences, know them from within, so that they can assume the not exchangeable for the victim, for to completely re move the distinction would be to remove his or her status as other, which makes the testimony and, to borrow a term Laub uses, re externalization of the trauma possible. For this reason, he or she must Otherwise, no other can occupy the place of listener, and the trauma is not re externalized because no address can be found. We should not assume, of course, that an identical relationship can be found in that of reader and w riter. While it is conceivable that a trauma victim could re externalize through writing to his reading audience, the immediate give and take
106 writer. Therefore, the reader ca Laub assigns the listener, the disjointed fragments of narrative as needed. However, the responsibility of the reader of a written testimony is the same: to confirm the testimony by being co owner of the trauma transmitted therein while remaining other. Similar to testimony, a book comes into being because it is read, for as Maurice Blanchot notes in then, that to re ad is not to write the book again, but to allow the book to be In this description of the reading process, we have nearly identical language to does the aud who listens to a witness creates the birth place of the testimony by receiving it and thereby Laub, the presence of an empathetic listener suffering, a condition that seems unavoidable given the traumatic nature of testimony enables the witness to avoid the entrapment of the traumatic that results from its resistance to comprehension by re This transmission a nd subsequent reception confirms what we have already seen at the end of the previous chapter: that no unadulterated event exists, that the event is always already altered. In this case, the event is registered only as it is conveyed, when it becomes infor mation to be relayed to another, at which point it is re possessed. It can
107 be recorded only after, however briefly, ownership has changed hands, even if the new owner, one empathetic to the witness, does not actively acquire the transferred event so much a r her inactivity but in his or her submissiveness to the work read, a submission that in turn accounts of both Laub and Blanchot, the one who receives the text must do so without claiming ownership of it. If this exchange is the only means of re externalization, as Laub claims, then the testifier must be witness both to his/her traumatic event and the trauma of the one who receives the testimonial account of it. In other w ords, while Laub is correct to argue that the listener is witness to both the witness and him/herself, the same holds for the one who first testifies although since testimony is possible only if a receptive audience is present and since that audience becom es witness the moment it functions as audience, audience divide but also the impossibility of a non fictional testimony, for a testament exists only after it has bee n signed over to another and then re Thus, any testimonial account is simultaneously that of the witness and his/her witness, both an original and a reproduction. reassertion of Tuch and Automaton
108 the repetition compulsion causes transference, what is transferred is not the real but a tuch and the return of it, the object that changes hands, automaton two Physics (53). As that whic h cannot be grasped, the tuch reality principle, the automaton replaces the real and attempts to cover the difference. Therefore, for Lacan, what is transferred is alw ays done so as effigy because the actual body is inaccessible (54), an inaccessibility that begins to answer the questions posed event does not conflict with reality but occurs in response to its inaccessibility. By extension, an archive, such as Operation Shylock, which seeks to record and make available Philip's encounter with his impersonator in Israel, does not inscribe and disseminate history so much as it transfers i ts likeness, a transference we will trace as this project progresses. repetition of the Instead, we replace the event with stand ins that come to function as the real, but because these impostors will eventually fail, we must substitute for these substitutions. In this sens reality system, however far it is developed, leaves an essential part of what belong s to
109 of Philip K. Dick. For now, however, what we will take from this substitution pattern is externalization of the event re affirms the real, thereby confirming the fictionality of the testimony, for the real is always a substitute for the Real. Testimony, then, pas ses along the trauma of unassimilability and, in this sense, puts the testifier and the audience in the same position. However, as agents of a process that reveals the fictionality of testimony, both also efface the other as author and/or audience of a non the experience that i s expressed in it and even beyond all the artistic resources which work exists bey ond anyone who may receive it, beyond any audience. For the reader/listener, such an erasure is unlikely to be painful, for he or she is always (Blanchot 193). Here again we witness the type of passivity does so as nothing more than a reader. He or she performs, but in a manner that renders him or her as perfo rmer all but invisible; the performance undoes the one who performs. For the author, however, particularly one who testifies to an agonizing event,
110 this effacement may be more devastating since to testify is often an attempt to maintain jectivity. However, this blotting out should not be seen as a threat. Rather, it is that which begins or ends the movement which exposes the creator to the threat of the ess ential is; and this transport is the same as the one which lifts the work to bei ng and makes of while reading removes the author as author, this eviction is a life saving one, for it rescues the author from forever solitude. If such a removal renders n on fiction is not simply because of the conflict between reader and author but also because the work cannot exist without it. Similarly, the witness and his or her a udience may struggle with one another, but this conflict is preferable to the impossibility of conflict due to a non existent audience. re is, in each survivor, an imperative need to tell and thus to come to know explanation of the situation: on of the survivor does, inhabiting the transmitted story as the survivor. In mistaking the
111 witness in the tes alt eplacing the one who triggers Much like the reader, the witness of the witness allows the testimony to be and, in so doing, rescues the testifier from the eternal abyss of solitude while protecting the act of t estifying. Likewise, testimony as fiction may seem to rob the attestation of some essential genuine or authentic characteristic necessary if one is to give it its due respect. this discussion, that a testimony is a re creation of an event, the original registration of able to the imaginative act engagement between consciousness and history, a struggling act of readjustment between the integrative scope of words and the unintegrated impact of the testifier must, if he or she is to be a testifier, imagine, perform, and readjust all n, this characteristic does not render the resulting narrative as useless historically. Instead, it manifests that history that is
112 If we take stock of the above, we see that a testimony is a fictional document that manifests the historical by creating it. In order for this testimony to be received, the listener must share the trauma of the testimony, making him or her a witness, which in turn al allows for an assimilation of the event based on the traumatic occurrence and created by the testimony and its transmission. Such an account is not simply a recasting of testim ony from the traditional view of it but also a consideration of history as a performative that creates history and thus makes history as such disappear the moment it appears. Likewise, one should not assume that the emphasis on the creative, imaginative ch aracteristic of testimony saps it of its power because it points to its inability to transport wholly intact the event to which it bears witness. Rather, it highlights the significance of the witness listener relationship since these figures come together event that it bears witness to. In fact, to deny the testimony its productive capability would be to render it impotent as such a denial would require the act of testifying to be nothing more than an act of pure, unadulterated recording, for it to act as an archive that preserves in a manner that does not alter, a requirement that it cannot meet. The primary difference between testimony and testimonial fiction, then, can be foun d in the expectations of the reader, for while the former is often treated as a historical document, it requires imagination and creation in order to present this event, characteristics more commonly associated with fiction. As Ellie Ragland puts it,
113 The history of a trauma becomes not so much an accurate rendering of an event, then, as the actual belief of hearers that certain events can and, indeed, have produced unthinkable, unsayable, unspeakable, buried memories. Likewise, in literary texts, certain symbolic insistences on the truths caused by a trauma whether known consciously or unconsciously by the author will remain buried in the density of language. (79 80) For Ragland, a testimony speaks not so much to the event it re presents as to a b elief in testimonial fiction is a useful tool for revealing the workings of testimony, not because testimonial fiction is by nature superior to its counterpart in any way but because assumptions of how testimony works often veil its machinations. This veil, again, not for any reason inherent to the genre, does not require as much heavy lifti ng when it comes to fiction. In the remainder of this chapter, I would like to capitalize on this advantage by further analyzing the relationship between testifier and audience through the interactions of Philip Roth and his impersonator in Operation Shylo ck As we will see, the novel uses these two characters to illustrate the paradoxical aspect of this interaction: figures so similar that they are difficult to separate at times but also figures that attempt to erase the other. In this sense, the novel see as multiplicity and raises the stakes. Philip, as the diegetic authorial character, fills a this multiplicity extends infinitely.
114 In addi tion, despite a subtitle that names the book a confession 1 the book relies heavily on testimony and discussions of testimony, particularly in connection to the court case in which John Demjanjuk is accused of being the infamous concentration camp guard kn own as Ivan the Terrible. While the narrative traces its beginning to a induced mania poetry, much of the testifying takes place in public situations such as a court room and/or speaks to his torical events such as the Holocaust and the formation of Israel, as well as the social relations tied to them. As a result, the novel is useful for analyzing how the multiplicity of the witness should form our understanding of the juridical and historical revealing these two to be dependent on fictions that tend to present themselves as nonfiction. quality but also the dangers of ignoring this aspect of the genre, a disregard t hat makes all testimony inadequate and powerless. Because of its concern with justice, particularly in regards to identification, juridical authority, and sovereignty, the novel is particularly relevant to a United States grappling with the proper protocol for the housing and prosecution of terrorist suspects, including how we identify who qualifies as terrorist. Operation Shylock seems to foresee these very challenges the gu alone makes the connection to terrorism impossible to miss, but only because these conditions have always already existed. Even the title alludes to these issues, invoking rom the hands of a 1 For a more extensive justification of discussing a confession in an analysis of testimony and testimonial fiction, please see the previous chapter.
115 Western system that disavows him even as it claims the right to govern him. Even if e presence of the self before the unspeakable secret; a testimony, because of the intransmissability of what it speaks about, that ca Pipik as Reader The novel opens with Philip Roth explaining to the reader that what follows (13). Before going to Israel and confronting his doppelgnger, Philip had suffered through a bout of severe depression caused by the pain killer Halcion, whi ch he had been prescribed after a knee surgery. In the midst of this manic phase, he learns of his double through a newspaper article that reports that Philip Roth had been touring Israel calling for a mass deportation of all Jews of European descent back to Europe in order to avoid a second holocaust. Philip soon takes a trip to Israel, where he foils the plans controlled portion of the Holy Land, attends Demjanjuk possibly meets with Yassar Arafat in the guise of the former as a spy for the Israeli government, a meeting that cannot be confirmed since that portion of the narrative is removed before the book goes to print. In their first non telephone conversation, Moishe Pipik, which is the name Philip and loved you r books like no one else. Not just once, not just twice
116 notes, an uncultivated lightness that many authors fear and/or despise (197). Rather, Pipik claim s to be a singular reader, a status that takes on added significance in light of how closely Pipik resembles Philip, down to the smallest detail: ragged enough for my periodic [wardr obe] overhaul and so too, I saw, was he There was a nub of tiny threadlets where the middle front button had come off his jacket exhibiting a similar nub of threadlets where the middle button had yet again vani shed from my jacket. And with that, everything inexplicable became even more inexplicable, as though what we were missing were our navels. (76) The uncanny resemblance grows more remarkable as the novel unfolds and Philip more closely observes him. Their b billfolds. Even the bottoms of their shoes wear in the same places. Philip notices that his he opposite side, leading him to believe that Moishe models himself after a photograph of Philip. Moishe is so successful that not only do others mistake him for Philip, but some mistake Philip for Moishe as Philip, handing him checks to help fund the call ed for diaspora. his Halcion days. Upon walking in on his double asleep, Philip notes that this is how he looks while asleep, what the women he sleeps with look at when they get out of bed: before my birth. No, not that tack. No, just a diffe rent person similarly embodied mind began to disintegrate. The word DISINTEGRATION seemed itself to be the matter
117 out of which my brain was constituted, and it b During one mental breakdown, he remembers slamming shut windows he had just opened as if someone else had opened them, repeatedly asking his wife, Claire, where Philip Roth was. Shortly after coming out of this one hu ndred day bout with a chemically induced depression, Philip places a call to Moishe, who, according to Philip, believe he has This feeling o f disintegration is typical of a traumatized person. Laub notes that a The result is that the individual may remember the traumatic event happening, but because it resists comprehension, that moment seems foreign. This enstrangement 2 challenges all traditional conceptions of self, for this moment that should be complete live core of his traumatic reality or with the fatedness of its reenactments, and thereby externalization mentioned above ne cessary. While entrapped, this enstrangement continues, with the traumatized re experiencing moments as if they were occurring for the first time. This 2 ostraniene Sher explains that the word is a neologis m combining stran [strange] and storon [side] with the prefix o ostraniene as a rom the network of conventional, formulaic, stereotypical perceptions and linguistic expressions (based on such T heory of Prose (Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive, 1990) xv xxi.
118 ng a split in the subject and a potential conflict between those two understandings of the event. and reader, witness and listener that we have already discussed. When Philip ridicules Moishe in the hotel room, effectively running him off, he realizes that Moishe is looking at the person who most reminded him of himself, the person he saw as the rest o f him, the completion of him the other whom he called himself, the person in whose service he had repudiated his own identity, and he saw instead, laughing at him uncontrollably from behind the mask 3 of his very own face, his worst enemy, the o ne to whom the only bond is hatred. (203 04) the diaspora. It is thus a battle over identity, a fight to stop a violent appropriation of uthor, seeks to maintain control of his name and its presence, his modest, passive gaze, interchangeable and insignificant, under whose light pressure the book appears written, apparatre into sight and something looking as if it were something it is not. Given the fictional character of testimony and the forever unstable status of witness and listener, we can 3 Moishe's own face as mask calls to mind and critiques M. L. Rosenthal's description of confessional poetry as lifting the mask of the poetic speaker, for his argument implies that an unmasked face awaits under the cover when in fact this visage is simply another mask.
119 see this quote as explaining the transmission of the testimony as well: it both appears and appears as if it were a n onfiction account. Furthermore, the verb can also refer to something breaking, in the sense of coming into being, or bursting open. The word, then, implies an irruption, an eruption, an interruption in the traditional understanding of a work, which assumes an easily distinguishable author and reader. The reading process, then, is a traumatic event, escaping our understanding of the writing process, going beyond the event that produces it and our methods of understanding. In the event of a testimony, the att empt to understand a traumatic event leads to more trauma because the listener must n seeks to remove the author from the work, but in doing so, he thereby creates an absence where he was to exist as reader. His action as reader is traumatic precisely because it will not allow him to exist as reader, just as a listener to a testimony becomes witness by listening, thereby losing his status as listener by listening. T his battle between author and reader, testifier and audience, extends to the name. One point of contention for Philip is that what he considers to be an abhorrent proposal is being spread in his name. For a while, he refers to his opponent as his double or impostor; however
120 (115). In Philip not simply because of potential mistaken identity but also because of a possible the threat, ultimately, of death. Philip therefore renames his counterself in an effort to deny his folkloric fall guy whose surname designated the thing that for most children was neith er here nor there, neither a part nor an orifice, somehow a concavity and a convexity both, (116). If the name were translated, it would be Moses Bellybutton, the last name invoking a body part that marks something that used to exist, an absence of that which once made a person part of another, once allowed one to live off another, just as Pipik the reader of the novel can appreciate, for we know so little about Moishe 4 we get little more background information on him than that he is a private investigator from Chicago who is instrumental in the formation and operation of Anti Semites Anonymous th at he seems to be a character with no past. The first name alludes to that Biblical figure who was prophet of and leader to the promised land but failed to arrive there, a characteristic testimonial fiction. 4 Moishe is not the only character whose identity is unclear. When Moishe, who is a private investigator, locates a fifteen year nch of fake identifies him as Ivan the Terrible is a KGB forgery.
121 More importantly for this chapter, as the figure credited with authorship of Deuteronomy and whose death is told in the same book, Moses is one who testifies to his own death, a requirement of all witnesses that we will discuss shortl y. These seemingly character that is his impostor: a person present but lacking presence. Again, we find the listener/testifier and Pipik. The former of both pairs is both present and absent, existent but negated by that very existence. the book, although we get reports on him via the lack of explanation for the disappearance makes any such conclusion unstable. In fact, we learn, in a letter fr om Wanda summarized by Philip, that Moishe is convinced that everything about [Philip] is a lie! That his success in life is based on a lie! That the role he plays in life is a lie! That misleading people about who he is is the only talent that little shit has! the fake, the irony a dishonest impostor and fucking hypocritical fake In response to this letter, Philip writes t do everything I can to make people believe that it was written by him, his way, a treatise on Diasporism that he would into account the possibility that the novel has been ghostwritten by Moishe as Philip impersonation is successful enough to fool other characters in the book, we readers
122 cannot be sure that the same has not happened to us, that Moishe has not disposed of The confusion that results f disappearance points not just to the battle between author and reader but also to the uncertainty surrounding the autobiographical subject, including those found in testimonies, or, as Philipe Lacoue Labarthe subject that writes itself [ ]: that writes about the subject, that is written about, that is written other inscribed The subject cannot be singular, for such an entity cannot exist outside itself, as would be necessary for it to write itself. Instead, the testimonial subject is a creation of the testifier, a product of self creation that births an entity not the self. Even the phrase Lacoue the subject of writing. The structure of this phrase, the x of y is one that recurs in Lacoue at is written, the subject who writes, and the material that the writing expresses. The phrase always simultaneously refers to these three (142). This inscription is not specific to writing but is found in any attempt at identity formation. We can see this connection if we turn, with Lacoue I as an identification in the full sense analysis gives to the term: namely, the tr ansformation that takes place in the subject when he assumes [ assume
123 this form situates the agency known as the ego, prior to its social determination, in a fictional emphasis added). The locus of the ego, then, is the imaginary. As Hurst notes, moreover, what is remarkable about such identification is the radical transformation (306). This other becomes the ego, the self. However, the gap between the self and the assumed identity does not vanish with this faulty assumption, which Lacan says armor of an alienating identity that will mark his entire mental development with its rigi d must live on with this self alienation. However, this matter could not be solved merely by having the infant not identify with the other and instead associate with some pure, internal subject that already exists, waiting to be discovered. Rather, this discrepancy exists because it is the foundation of the subject. As Lacan notes above, it is irreducible. There can be no one without, at the Labarthe writes that because the former keeps in mind the inability to integrate this discrepancy, that because this differe nce is inscribed in the specular relation itself, it is very likely that we are dealing here with a loss of the subject undermining in advance any constitution, any functional assumption, and any possibility of appropriation or reappropriation. This loss of the subject is imperceptible, however, and not because it is equivalent to a secret failing or hidden lack, but because it is strictly indissociable from, and doubles, the process of constitution or appropriation. (174)
124 The loss of the subject, then, i s necessary if the subject is to be constituted. It cannot from the mortal in sufficiency to which, according to Lacan, its prematuration has Labarthe 175). Lacoue significant for many reasons. First, because he chooses a noun and not its verb form in the past, we can con clude that this subject never moves beyond desistance. The process of cessation is never complete. It is always simultaneously occurring and held in abeyance, keeping it from ever having occurred. Furthermore, because we do not have an active, transitive verb, we can conclude that no outside agent ceases the subject. Rather, it is part of a process that constitutes the subject. The result is a self that is not only multiple; it is a forever shifting multiplicity. Lacoue Labarthe concludes and note here tha denotes an activity in progress, thus keeping in line with the conclusions above no essence of the imaginary. the subjec at least two figures (or one figure that is at least double), and its only chance of between (175). As Lacan shows with the mirror stage, Lacoue Labarthe illustrates that the autobiographical subject is never settled and is never one. Likewise, it never finds a proper re presentation, instead forever shifting between figures because none of them completely satisfies the nee d for identification.
125 identity, a refutation, as previously mentioned, that operates in Operation Shylock Derek Parker Royal notes that by creating a speaker who shares a name and history indistinguishable, and it appears that the subject writes the author as much as the ial productivity, extends to the reader embodied by Pipik, whose performance as Philip convinces even Philip at times. This imitation, of course, most likely has the opposite effect on the reader, who recognizes the tale as a tall one. Geoffrey Hartman, co mmenting on fictional tales that use the names of historical figures, argues that with suspend disbelief when known circumstances are denied or tinkered with. There is an existential, irreversible quality to those facts that renders clearly fictive insertions Shylock this implausibility is precisely the point as it reveals the disbelief readers must ignore in all testimonies, for events, even nonfic tional ones accurately reported, are always tinkered with in testimonies because, if for no other reason, language is incapable of fully and perfectly relaying them and the question of identity can never be fully answered. The event testimony gives access to, then, is one it can archive only by creating it and, by extension, the one who testifies. In Shylock Aharon Appelfeld comments on this inevitable altering in an interview with Philip, a response that I will reproduce despite its lengthiness because of its distillation of this matter: To write things as they happened means to enslave oneself to memory, which is only a minor element in the creative process. To my mind, to
126 create means to order, sort out and choose the words and the pace that fit the work the creation is an independent creature. away from the camp. But all my efforts were in vain. I wanted to be faithful to reality and to what really happened. But the chronicle that emerged proved to be a weak scaffolding. The result was rather meager, an unconvincing imaginary tale. The things that are most true are easily falsified. Reality, as you know, is a lways stronger than the human imagination. Not only that, reality can permit itself to be unbelievable, inexplicable, out of all proportion. The created work, to my regret, cannot permit itself all that. The reality of the Holocaust surpassed any imaginati on. If I remained true to the facts, no one would believe me. (86) Appelfeld better understand Appelfeld productive one, by Debra the real into the novel. Things are as they are, his presence seems to say, and not as diverge so greatly from what we imagine things to be, we would not recognize them. testament cannot help but be fictitious, especially when it re tells a traumatic event like the Holocaust, an event ungraspable because unbelievable both in its initial occurrence and any narrative testifying to it. This fictitiousness, though, does not render any testimony false. Rat her, it highlights the necessity of imagination both in creating and receiving testimony. When this tendency of testimony is ignored, when one demands of a testimony nothing but historically accurate facts and descriptions and discredits any testimony that
127 fails to meet this expectation, one privileges the reporting of events over the emotional reaction of those who witness them while asking the testifier to do the impossible: relay the occurrences wholly intact with no trace of transmission, archive withou t adding to or testimonies that fail to capture precisely happenings but of those who seek to refuse testifiers their status as faithful witnesses because of this inability. During the trial, his 1945 account of life at Treblinka, specifically about his account of a 1943 uprising. After Chumak, one of the defense attorneys, asks Rosenberg to ve rify his signature, thereby confirming that the testimony is his, he directs the witness to a passage that recounts the death of Ivan the Terrible, the very man Demjanjuk is accused of being. Rosenberg replies that some of the events he wrote down had been relayed to him by other inmates. However, this discrepancy becomes the focal point, with even the judge everything id not perform the impossible. After Chumak reminds Rosenberg that he had earlier stated that the memoir was true and asks if he wishes to retract that statement, Rosenberg replies that as the expression of what the boys who told him the story had wished w ere true, the narrative The written testimony, in other words, is an expression of what Rosenberg wanted to be true, of desires. In composing the narrative, he soug ht to create not simply a historical
128 reveals that the truth witnesses are expected to tell in court would be better described co questioning of the Holocaust survivor centers on the discrepancy as evidence that he bears false witness when in fact this inconsistency signifies a truth: his testimony can be credible only if it presents inconsistencies such as what happened and what one chooses to believe happened, what happened and what others reported as having an accusation Demjanjuk explicitly makes in the middle of the tri al Chumak privileges a cold, detailed account over one that speaks to the complex, incomprehensible experience of the witness and the sometimes irreconcilable truths, conditions that, we y unavoidable. that can hold up under questioning. The demand for congruity asks t he impossible from the witness and nullifies any psychological truth that conflicts with it. More importantly, the real itself. This expectation asks for a fictional version of events that can live up to because it is fictional or inconsistent or because Rosenberg is lying or misleading but because Chumak persuasively argues that th is incongruity renders the attestation incredible. The hypothetical testimony the lawyer invokes is not less fictional, just more the judge exemplify the polar opposite app roach to reading for which Blanchot calls.
129 Rather than allowing the text to be by freeing it from its author, they refuse to allow ccounts, highlighting that the document speaks to the desires of a past self. He sees the abyss and hopes to avoid it. To expect a contesting lawyer and a judge to behave otherwise is perhaps unrealistic and unfair since the two are merely upholding the ge nre demands as they have been institutionalized. However, their responses bring to the surface the inconsistency of them. letter of the law rather than its spirit, or rather because the letter of the law depends upon spirits for its inscription. While we should expect a level of histori cal accuracy from testimonies, to do so at the expense of listening to the event as experienced by the witness is to commit the ethical mistake of preferring accuracy over becoming an place outside the and therefore that a testimony of it will exhibit this same externality. As Dobozy explains, Operation Shylock is not so much interested in whether Ro senberg or Demjanjuk is to be believed or if either is on the right side of justice. Instead, it highlights This is not to ease Demjanjuk's guilt, but to cast the squ abbles of lawyers over the specific identity of a verified death camp guard as precisely that: squabbles, with no
130 or of any event for that matter, will ultimately b e a fictional rendering of ostensibly nonfictional events. If we accept that a pure event exists, we must also accept that any attempt to access that event distorts it, if for no other reason than because we must translate it into language. What seems more likely, and what we saw at the end of the previous chapter, is that the pure event is inaccessible because it does not exist, for in corruption of the event, then, is act ually an enabling that allows it to be. No There There The fictionality of Holocaust testimonies is highlighted by the fact that we were not testimony as the condition of fiction precisely because we did not experience the Holocaust, because we are not Holocaust survivors, because we speak of experience Operation Shylock illustrates, the testifier we usually associate with is no there there, but th ere are their theres. There can be no true testimony, then, if by that maintains that delineation, and one that transmits the pure event to which the witness attests. L acoue Labarthe explains that because of the inability of any autobiographical text to present, without complication, the writer/subject as one, wholly intact, autobiography g a movement at work everywhere in one form or another, and that makes every
131 autobiography essentially an allobiography novel of a dead cast all autobiograph y as heterothanatography, the presentation of a literal agony of a multiple other. Derrida reaches a similar conclusion regarding testimony, one that recalls Moses as writer of his own death. In Demeure, eak, to speak to us, not only of his death, but of his death in the sense of the Latin de in the sense of from Labarthe co ncludes that since While a witness cannot testify to his or her death, a testimony can testify to its very impossibility, to its inability to transmit an event as it happened, to its necessary presents the novel as fiction because he imagined the narrative too fantastical to be ven envision Operation Shylock misleadingly presented as a novel, being understood by an ingenious few as a chronicle of the Halcion hallucination that, momentarily, even I, during one of the more astounding episodes in Jerusalem, almost supposed it might Shylock is a nonfictional testimony, then the deception has been nullified by his revelation of it. He has lied while informing his audience of the lie. This confession, however, points to the purpose of the novel: sm at its most extreme, a vision of things so specific to the mind of the observer that to publish it as anything other than fiction would be the biggest lie of all. Call it an artistic creation and you will only be calling it what it more or less is anywa
132 (390 his life, for to do so would be to accept failure from the outset. Rather, Philip deceives while admitting it in order to call attention to his inability to tell s ome fixed truth, an announced deception that, as we will establish in a chapter to come, marks all testimony. The narrative truthfully comments on its inability to speak truthfully. The complication does not end there, however. The final page of the novel sentence paragraph that explains that the book is fiction and that with the exception of the interviews with Appelfeld and the court c disclaimer 5 appears in exactly the same type as the rest of the book (suggesting continuity of the tex placement not only suggests that it is part of the novel but highlights that all such disclaimers come within the cover of a fictional work, thereby raising the pos sibility that the legal notice itself is a work of fiction. Furthermore, we cannot be sure to which confession this note applies. Is it the work as a whole, whose subtitle names it a confession, that is lying? If so, what are we to make of the fact that th e note, as a part of the novel, is also fictional? In this case, we find ourselves in the unsolvable lying Cretan paradox. On the other hand, if the false confession is only the note that closes the book, that does not preclude the novel from also being a false confession. Regardless of the reading, we arrive at the same 5 This disclaimer, however, does appear within the narrative when Philip realizes that including it would eliminate any poten tial conflict with the Mossad (361).
133 conclusion: we cannot arrive at a definitive conclusion. The lack of closure mirrors positions as being always both. The note, then, is not a puzzle to be solved but an unsolvable problem foregrounding its lack of a solution. We can see, then, this note as an encapsulation of the witness audience relationship and its consequences as I have resemblance between actual events or persons and the events found in the novel are coincidental would be going too far in describing testimony as one can ascribe at least motivation or inspiration to these events. However, the description of the narrative as very language we can use when establishing the conditions of testimony. As we have seen, these conditions include an inabi lity to fully transmit an event that thus requires imaginative work to produce a narrative that is fictional. In addition, the genre features an instability in the identity of both testifier and audience that is particularly troubling to a view that demand s a historically accurate and consistent account that can be verified empirically This view renders all testimony fiction and false, just as the appended note claims for the novel. Just as this note resists any attempt to fully comprehend it, testimony, in cluding both the acts of testifying and being a witness to this attestation, escapes our attempts to define it, existing beyond any cognitive tool we may possess. As we will see in the chapter that follows, this resistance can be located in the inability o f the testimony to tether itself only to a pure, accessible event, a condition that reveals testimony as springing from an origin that cannot be located.
134 CHAPTER 4 THE SADNESS OF (NOT) SEEING: TRANSLATION AND TESTIMONY IN EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED In a sense, nothing is untranslatable; but in another sense, everything is untranslatable; translation is another name for the impossible. Jacques Derrida 1 The impossibility of speaking to the Holocaust has long been a fixture of Holocaust an d testimony studies. Dori Laub, for instance, remarks is the unique way in which, during its historical occurrence, the event produced no witness eradicate all possible testifiers but also from the inability of anyone to take a position outside the event, an exteriority he argues is necessary for one to witness. De spite this impossibility, or perhaps because of it, attempts to bear witness to the Holocaust abound. Laub attributes the abundance of these testimonial ventures to the fact that the tell and thus to come to know o (78). Survivors, then, must undertake the act of testifying if they are to know their traumatic experiences; however, because these experiences resist comprehension and because, as we saw in the previous chapter, testimony resists our means of understanding this necessary act proves to be an impossible one, throwing survivors into an aporia. They attempt the impossible because they must; should they wish to live on, they have no choice but to bear witness to that which resists all testimony. A necessary yet impossible trait can also be witnessed in translation. As Jacques Derrida attests in the epigraph, everything is both translatable and untranslatable. To be 1 See Jacques Derrida, Monolingualism of the Other; Or, The Prosthesis of Origin Trans. Patrick Mensah (Stanford: Stanford, 1998) 57.
135 more precise, everything is not only (un)translatable, but every text requires transl ation. Derrida, Paul de Man, and several other commenters have noted and we will inspect their readings of this essay shortly Benjamin uses Aufgabe which can be tran slated as translator. I call to this 1923 text because it occupies a critical place in the field of n the profession you de Man is one of two such commentaries I will invoke in order to explore this impossible s not only provides an insightful reading of the Benjamin text; it also illustrates what Shoshana Felman sees as an issue I will soon look at in more detail. Felman argues that his concern with translation serves as a testimony to the impossibility of testimony, addressing his own Des Tours de Babel, same Benjamin text. This pairing springs from the similar concerns and approach es of these two theorists, 2 making any discrepancies between the two all the more important. By relying primarily on these texts by Benj am in, de Man, and Derrida, I hope to analyze impossible necessities found in testimony and 2 For an exploration of the differences between Derrida and de Man, see Rodolphe Ga sch, The Wild Card of Reading: On Paul de Man (Cambridge: Harvard, 1998).
136 translation are the same. Is the failure of translation mentioned above the same failure testimony fails to overcome, or do they simply resemble one another? Do they face the same insurmountable obs tacle that requires conquering? In order to confront these questions, I would like to analyze Jonathan Safran Everything Is Illuminated connect with the only survivor of the family who saved his grandfat her fr om the Nazis. With little to go on besides a picture of the family with a message printed on the back, Jonathan 3 hires a driver and translator to help him locate the now defunct town Trachimbrod so that he can meet the woman he assumes is named Augustine a nd give are Alexander Perchov, a college student who must serve as a translator because the professional translators are celebrating the first anniversary of the signing of the I turn to this novel because its multiple layers of narrative, its fictional history, and its intentional the text representative of the experimentation postmodern fiction is associated with. Moreover, as more survivors of the Holocaust die, trips made with the purpose of ll necessarily be made which political strife often made such journeys impossible o r, at the very least, difficult in many ways. 3 author.
137 While a story of an American Jew attempting to connect with and make sense of Holocaust and Holocaust life is not uncommon, the structure of the plot is. The novel is split into three inte history of Trachimbrod. While not a pseudotranslation such as Don Quixote the effect of its structure is similar to those of such works in that, as Lawrence Venuti notes in The Scandals of Translation, One might object t hat an American novel in English is a strange place in which to talk about translation. It would appear that such a location, one seemingly removed from the field of translation, would have nothing to tell us about the act of transferring a text or its for m from one language to another. However, Russian, English, and Ukrainian are all spoken in the novel, with the latter two being translated by Alex, that his little br other can read it. Finally, he translates his own thoughts into English, a f act that his stilted, imprecise (V it cements t hat process into its structure. Likewise, a fictional text may appear to be an improper document to question regarding the functions of testimony. The novel however, ca n serve as a witness to the non fiction genre whose fictionality we saw last chapter, because it borrows so heavily
138 housed his grandfather. Additionally, Everything Is Illuminated features a character who trauma, which is a common characteristic of testimonies, but to a trauma produced by the Holocaust, an event whose res istance to eyewitne sses we have already witnessed. Furthermore, testimony invites us to perform such a reading. As previously discussed, t he testimonial condition, according to Derrida, is a universalizable singularity. To reiterate, b y this, Derrida means that the witness must be in a singular position, one that allows a perspective unlike any other. However, because any other person in that position could lay claim to the subsequent perspective, that singularity i s universal ( Demeure 40 41). In other word s, a witness cannot be replaced; however, his or her irreplaceability is always replaceable. Because this singularity is universalizable, it is given to repetition, which introduces techne This admission of writing as machine leads Derrida to conclude tha here, with the technological both as ideality and prosthetic iterability, that the possibility of fiction and lie, simulacrum and literature, that of the right to literature insinuates itself, at the very origin of truthful testimony, auto biography in good faith, sincere confession, as their esse Demeure 42). The fact that lies and simulacra, which testimony will dictate the course of the chapters that follow, but for now, I would like to focus on the fact that t he traditionally held dividing line between testimony and fiction proves to be shaky, at best. This wavering allows us to examine a testimonial fiction text for characteristi cs of testimony and as we will see in the chapters that follow, the
139 insinuation of the possibilities of the lie and simulacrum are also central to our look at testimony and testimonial fi ction Having established the potential fruitfulness of harvesting a faux translation and testimonial fiction for revelations of the translation and testimony condition(s), I would now like to establish the similarities between translation and testimony by exploring Testimony to counter forgetfulness. In what is now a well known sto ry de Man wrote at least 170 articles for the Nazi controlled Belgian newspaper Le Soir from December 1940 until November 1942 (Hamacher, Herz, and Keenan vii). These writings surfaced posthumously and included at least one column with an anti Semitic ton e and others that champion Nazi views of culture. 4 Les Juifs dan la Littrature actuelle invasion of Western literature since none of the best writers were Jews. Among the writers he presents as evidence are Gide, Hemingway, Lawrence, and Kafka. 5 As a 4 The thorough investigation necessary to provide an ethical judgm outside the scope of this essay. There certainly is no shortage of attempts at such a critique. For likely the largest collection of discussions of these writings, see Neil Hertz, Werner Hamacher, and Thomas Keenan (ed s.), Responses to Paul de Man's Wartime Journalism (Lincoln: U of Nebraska, 1988). For de Wartime J ournalism, 1939 1943 Eds. Werner Hamacher, Neil Hertz, and Thomas Keenan (Lincoln: U of Nebraska, 1988). 5 Why de Man included Kafka, a Jewish writer, has been a matter of much speculation. Alice Yaegar Le Soir and the Francophone Collaboration (1940 1942), Eds. Werner Hamacher, Neil Hertz, and Thomas Keenan (Lincoln, NE: U of Nebraska, 1989) 274. In the same collection, Derrid
140 6 y after he publishes Exercise du silence a Resistance journal that had been censored by the Nazis. After producing seven short essays and ninety three one paragraph reviews for Bibliographie Dechenne from 1942 1943 (Hamacher, Hertz, and Keenan viii), he p roduces only a Flemish translation of Moby Dick in 1945 and Les Dessins de Valry in 1948. For Felman, this self imposed near silence and accompanying turn to translation signal time testimony. His failure to re cord accurately the historical events through his journalism convinces de Man according to Felman, narrative act but had to turn upon its own possibility of error to indicate and war n us against ideological coercion is surreptitiously built into language, into the very discourse one is inadvertently employing and the very writing of which one believes oneself to be the and communicative acts, then, frustrate any attempt at fidelity in testifying to history, an obstruction that is unavoidable precisely because of the secretive way in whic h it embeds itself in language. Theory Now and Then (Durham, NC: Duke, 1991) 362. 6 pretender en avoir t les crateurs, ni meme avoir exerc une influence prpondrante su r son
141 This claim does not simply excuse all unethical, inaccurate testimonies, including any pro Nazi or anti Sem itic stances de Man may have taken, as being nothing more than an inevitable result of testifying for which the witness cannot be held responsible. one is in reali ty perceiving what one believes oneself to be perceiving or if one is in We have already poetry, w here the speakers resembled but were not simply Sexton, and in Operation Shylock, where the resemblance of Philip and Pipik made it impossible even for their fellow characters to know who was speaking in whose voice. Testimony, then, is always haunted by t he possibility that it is fiction or at least fictional, for speaking to something fictive creation. Language, then, is divided against itself, for its attempts to record factual events, to produce a historical document, always bear the marks of fiction. apparatre and Operation Shylock an eruption in it. division, This blindness, if it goes unseen, conceals the fact that the witness is divided against hi m or herself, that a testimony splits its witness rather than making him or her present, that language will not allow the manifestation of the person who testifies or the event he
142 or she speaks to but only a simulation of the two If testimony is to avoid glossing over the blindness it is prone to, the witness must share the task of the translator, which, without disposing of the body without reducing the original event to a false transp Witnesses and their audiences, then, must not see testimony as manifesting the original event that it bears witness to but as pointing to the very absence of that event by displaying its corpse. Testimony must attest to the fact tha t an event occurred and to its failure to make present that event; a witness communicates not the insight that testimony provides but the silence that has been quieted by language. In other words, testimony must announce its attempt to pass for reality, a proclamation that reveals at least as much about reality as it does testimony, a revelation whose significance we will further explore in the next chapter when we discuss the work of Philip K. Dick. w hich results from is to turn to translation and translation studies because of the suppression that as opposed to confession, itself becomes a metaphor for the historical necessity of for the act of translation produces a text that announces its dependence on another text that it interprets. Translation cannot relocate a text into another language wholly intact but must alter it, there by producing a new text, just as bearing witness can take place only through an act that creates the event it bears witness to. While both are, as we have seen, necessary, they are also impossible in that they destroy the thing they seek to preserve. To il lustrate the affinities between the two acts
143 essay in translation studies. Two Readings of Benjamin De Man presents at Cornell University in 1983 nine months before his death. He begins by announcing his abandonment of his original plan to provide conclusions to the previous five lectures he had given in the series, a leaving beh ind that is perhaps a foreshadowing Instead, after a brief discussion of the messianic in Benjamin, de Man declares his purpose for the lecture to be a determination of what Benjamin says in the essay in light of the failure of two capable translators, Ha rry Zohn speaks to the necessity of translation, but since Aufgabe can also be translated as he task of refinding what was there in the original ; emphasis added ). A translator, then, is doomed to failure as soon as he or she becomes a translator, yet his or her responsibility remains to translate. While this failure communicates a deficiency locate the position complete work could not be tra nslated. Translation, then, resembles philosophy, literary theory, and history in that in these genres reproduced but is to some extent put in motion de canonized, questioned in a way
144 which undoes its claim to canonic inability to produce a copy of the original, then, is not its downfall, for according to de Man, its goal is not one of mimesis but of disturbance. In this disruption, translation does not destroy the origin precedes translation because the original has already ceased to live, a passin g that translation illumina tes. Des Tours de Babel commences with an investigation of the multiple meanings the proper name Babel ac crues in the Biblical myth of the same name before picking up the Benjamin text. originate from a reception of the translated text but is a necessity that exists a priori th at the goal of translation is not one of communication but form, and that translation is not vival of it (115). These points lead Derrida to ask to whom or what the original is committed. If a commitment exists, with whom does he or she sign this contract, to whom is he or she indebted? Who enters into this contract, and what action does that agreement commit one to? I would like to address the latter two questions by return ing to the second of the his own language that pure language which is und er the spell of another to liberate the
145 language imprisoned in a work in his re his or her debt not by transferring content from one language to another, but by revealing the affinity between languages. According to both writers, the text being translated is the originary debtor because it first calls for translation. Derrida notes that eading for Th is lack, however, is not filled by translation if by that we mean a carrying over of meaning from one language to another. Rather, according to Benjamin, aptivated in the first debtor. Derrida, howev er, does not place the onus on the translator; rather, he claims that this metamorp hosis does not mark an instance of infidelity; no trust has been violated ls its need. Antoine Berman echoes Derrida when he notes the following in The Experience of the Foreign : absolute, as the Law still defines it, the translation is a priori present in a ny original. Any work, as far as one can go back, is already to several degrees a fabric of translations or a creation that has something to do with the as work. The possibility and injunction of translation do not define a text after the fact: They constitute the work as work and, in fact, must lead to a new definition of its structure. (184) If the result of this transformation, this movement that requires a new understanding of the constitution of the work, has always been a part of the original yet completes the e, in
146 fact, a part of one another. One can argue that an original exists, but it is no more original than that which seems to procee d from it. The text often deemed the origin of a translation process does not mark the genesis of this undertaking because t he This aporia should not surprise us if we consider that a contract by definition such a pact, for a first and a second must come together to create it, must predate it. two parties involved. We have already seen that the to be translated text is the first debtor, bu t in calling for translation and making itself a debtor, the original text simultaneously makes a debtor of the translator. The French words Derrida uses for le dbiteur, le premier demandeur (218). While demandeur petition is to request a right of an authority; it comes from, among other predecessors, the Latin which itself comes from petere to request or beg carries with it a connotation of an aggrieved one, one who demands justice. The original does plead for and request a translation and, as a result, is the first debtor, but it also calls for translation as if demanding a right, calling for that which it is owed. The translator, then, is beholden to the original the moment the to be translated calls for a translation, which is to sa y the moment it becomes a text. Because both parties of the translation contract are indebted at the same moment inability to find it. While the genesis remains undiscovered for de Man because it either
147 never existed or cannot be accessed, Derrida detects an infinite number of origins. 7 No any work, as fa r as one can go back, the beginning of this process, but we are also never near it. No look into the past will bring us any closer, for the origin has always already been inaccessible. We have and always have had access only to that which represents origination, to that which passes for it. As we will see in the three narratives that make up Everything Is Illuminated, the r, the event he or she speaks to, and his or her act of bearing witness. The inaccessibility of this origin further emphasizes present the past even he or she speaks to Since the narrative of Everything Is Illuminated depends upon translation and because the novel resembles a testimony, we should expect it to be like translation and testimony, haunted by origins that can never be found. Each of the three sections of the subject matter, for all three are either a retelling of o ne of these narratives or a discussion about the most effective way to recount them. Consider Augustine, 7 This realization speaks against commonly held views of translation and authorship that Venuti expression in a unique text, translation is derivativ e, neither self expression nor unique; it imitates another text. Given the The problem is not that translation is unoriginal, but that too much ori ginality exists. We have an excess of originality. See Lawrence Venuti, The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference (New York: Routledge, 1998) 31.
148 central to all three segments, even after the search for her ends uns uccessfully. In fact, we are aware of her absence before we know anything about her. Prior to meet ing Jonathan and learn ing J onathan, wherein he apologizes. I must eat a slice of humble pie fo r not finding Augustine, but you clutch how rigid it was. Perhaps if we had more days we could have discovered her. We could have investigated the six villages and interrogated many people. We could have lifted every boulder. But we have uttered all of t he se things so many times. (24) from the beginning The text first motivation. Even this haunting is troubled because uncer tainty afflicts the artifact. When Jonathan explains the significance of the picture to Alex and that he is looking for Augustine, Alex asks how he knows she is the little girl of the pictured family, to which n the back, see, here are written a few uncertainties. First, Jonathan can only g anything to do with the pictur he has no idea if his grandfather is the author of this line. These uncertainties are heightened when we read that Alex is certain that the man and the woman in the picture
149 Augustine who may no longer exist by using an image of a girl that may not be Augustine, the origin of t he narrative lacks certainty, an instability that pervades the entire novel. Due to the inscription of testimony and translation into the novel, we should not be surprised that a name plays such a primary role, and since the bearer of that name never appea rs and possibly does not exist, it is only her name that appears. For Derrida, it is names that the translation contract commits, for the obligation, he writes, a priori the bearers of the name, if by that is understood the mortal bodies which disappear behind the sur building the tower and renders them dumb. This impossible necessity, to translate the name of God is the condition of translation. In the traditional understanding, testimony, Defaceme concluding that life writing depends upon prosopopeia to make the proper name intelligible. Thus, what is made present is not the bearer of the name, whose life serves as the origin in this traditional view of autobiographical writings, but the name itself. What lives on in a testimony is the proper name, not its carrier. In fact, the name points to th presence.
150 terms. Brod, the central character of the historical narrative, explains to her father that it help but say it over and over, and wonder why you never thought it was strange that you should have that name, and that everyone has been calling you t hat name for your the Angel of Death will be confused when it comes to collect him. In the first instance, Brod considers the name as strange, foreign, to her. In the lat ter, she counts on the that fails precisely because Death comes not for the name but its bearer. Both instances point to the disjunction of the name and its bearer make present its bearer. We again see the absence of an origin surface when the town is unable to uncover items such as a grandfather c lock, a doll, and a skeleton key rise to the surface, the axle wagon either did or did not pin him against the bottom of name so that it can be labeled on a map, chooses Trachimbrod. In fact, for two years after his death, the village holds a contest that promises a reward to anyone who finds Thereafter, the town holds a festival highlighted by a search for sacks thrown into the water, signaling the end of any hope of recovering the corpse. 8 With the 8 Rabbi Menasha also decides that the risk of having to pay out multiple rewards due to th e pieces the corpse had likely broken into is too great.
151 Even the cau se of the wreck that led to the naming of the town remains a mystery despite the fact that onlookers were present for the accident. Sofiowka N, the mad man jumping fr on as the reason for the crash. we have no accounts of his behavior previous to the tragedy, we cannot know if his madness emerges at this moment or beforehand. Regardless, his list of disparate and mostly unlikely causes of the accident is likely not a result of insanity but of the problems of remembering that trauma presents to witnesses. Cathy Carruth, in a A trauma tic event e grasped only in the do not point to any lack in him or his account. In fact, it is possible that it is a surplus and not a lack that is the problem. He witnesses i grasped. Rather, as Janet Walker notes in Trauma Cinema these very memory can and do produce the very amnesias and mistakes in memory that are generally considered to undermine the inability to recall an event he had just seen marks not his
152 resistance to memory, which can result in the appearance of madness in it s witness and/or implausibility in testimonies recounting it. 9 Because of the desire to have a logical cause and effect, for events to make sense, the brain will often fill these gaps with events that did not occur. For Yankel, note on their welcome mat that read was his firs the a forgetting. The memory is too much to handle, but not rem embering is just as unbearable. keep it amongst crumpled papers, placing it near the melted candle wax, and working it out of his pocket while he sits outside, but the note continues to resurface. He eve n places it in novels that he hates, as if it were a bookmark, but it later shows up in books that he kept returning to him. It stayed with him, like a part of him, like a birthmark, like a limb, it was on him, in him, his hymn: I had to do it for myself can neither own nor disown the note. Just as quickly as he possesses it, he loses it, 9 discussed account of a group of historians who discredit a testimony by a Holocaust survivor because of an inaccuracy regarding the number of Testimony (New York: Routledge, 1992) 62.
153 only to have it reappear. Since he n ever assimilated the event, the note elicits the same feelings of despair that the first appearance of the note did, for Yankel notes that the continual return of the message is what keeps him from happiness (49). Because he does not wish to pass along his pain by informing Brod that he never knew her mother, he invents himself a wife, one who was just as beautiful and funny as Brod, one who died painlessly in childbirth. As Yankel creates his new wife, he falls in love with his c reation: He would wake from sleep to miss the weight that never depressed the bed next to him, remember in earnest the weight of gestures she never made, long for the un weight of her un arm slung over his too real chest, making nd his pain that much more real. He felt that he had lost her. He had lost her. (49) His imagination is so convincing that he often struggles to separate his invention from fact, thinking that this non depression and this not weight once existed. He attem pts to replace an event whose origin he cannot locate with a woman who never existed. In fact, it is this similarity a thing and person with no genesis that makes it possible for the substitution. While the return of the note reminds him that this wife nev er was, the her. Trachimbrod. As the Germans advance toward the shtetl, Menachem, the villa wealthiest resident, constructs a house so large that it is two homes connected, earning it the name The Double House. He loves the process of construction and the appearance of the house as it is being built so much that he has its unfinished look dr awn into the blueprints, complete with workers, scaffolding, and other signs of
154 fraction of itself suggest ive of a bottomless money pit always approaching but never improvement, but their status as signs belies the fact that this improvement will never be realized. While the evidence promises enhancement, the house p roves to be an infinite abyss that resists a completed renovation. If the completion is always promised but never reached, it is because the blueprints both reveal and react to the flux of the house. When Menachem has workers drawn into the blueprints, he has them pictured in various states of action, including change to the hous e opens an infinity in the blueprints, pushing the foundation for the house out of reach. While the extension of the house and the consequent alterations to its plan may not be perfectly analogous to the experience of a traumatic moment, the status of the house as it undergoes a perpetual renovation does speak to the experience of the traumat ized witness. As Carruth notes, the trauma is a repeated suffering of the event, but it is also a continual leaving of its site The traumatic reexperiencing of the eve nt thus carries with it the impossibility of knowing that first constituted it And by carrying that impossibility of knowing out of the empirical event itself, trauma opens up and challenges us to a new k ind of listening, the witnessing, precisely, of impossibility (10; first and third instances of emphasis added) Menachem continues to alter the house so that it can always be in a state of improvement, but the constant tinkering also changes the blueprint s, or what could be considered the origin of the house. Likewise, the traumatized witness continues to original site. In both instances, the origin consequence relati onship is distorted from
155 determine the plans that are to be followed. In the case of the testifier, the re experience of the event comes to define it because the first experience of it resists understanding. Just as the alterations to the building complicate our comprehension of the model on understanding of the event from which it seems to spring a disruption of the typical cause effect chain that we will witness in the next chapter In both the blueprints and the Double House and the testimony and its event, t he reach of that which is thought to its predecessor, givin g it a referential productivity. place cards and decorations. As the day turns to night, the Trachimbroders learn that the boom and wind come not from a meteorological storm but from a German blitzkrieg, for as Safran orgasms while making love to Zosh a, the house shakes with the reverberations of the German bombs and is illuminated by the light of the explosions. Although the Germans do not march into Trachimbrod for another nine months, as if roductive act, the trauma of the nearby attack and the promise of a similar attack on their shtetl paralyze the villagers, who are overcome with memory. These reflections offer no comfort, especially for the women. While the men congregate in the synagogue or their respective work
156 earches for Safran, whose love for his wife overwhelms his body and forces him to remain in bed, suffers from the same loneliness. His attempts seventeen years into a coherent narrative, something he could understand, with an stems from his inability to comprehend how the beginnin g of his life led him to this moment. Before marrying, Safran had several affairs with older women and a Gypsy girl his age, all of whom were attracted to his limp arm. He can recite the progress of his life: that he had been born with teeth, which forced his mother to stop breastfeeding, permanently damaging his arm because it did not receive the nutrients necessary for it her milk into a bottle? And why did an arm go de ad instead of a leg? And why would (260)? His recitation of the events of his life fails to shed light on why things began as they did, a dimness that spre ads to all moments of his life. memories are too numerous for them to comprehend, the deluge renders them unable to express themselves: tan gled in remembrance. Words became floods of thought with no beginning or end, and would drown the speaker before he could reach the life raft of the point he was part becaus e they cannot locate the genesis of their memories and words. Along with
157 the reader, the villagers witness the impossibility of knowing the traumatic event precisely because they are witnesses to a traumatic event. dfather experience this impossibility while trying to track down Trachimbrod and Augustine. As they approach the area where the town once resided, they ask the locals for directions, only to be ignored, told to go away, or informed that their search would seeming as if we were in the wrong country, or the wrong century, or as if Trachimbrod when they locate an old woman sitting on a s (117), they find an old woman sitting on the stoop in front of her house. After asking her anyone in the photograph that is supposedly of Augustine and being told that she had not, he inquires if anyone in the picture had ever witnessed her (118). Her answer is significant in many ways. Sh e is Trachimbrod in that she is the only Trachimbroder who resides in the area. She also is Trachimbrod in that she is the clothes from floor to ceiling and photographs that cover the walls. Additionally, boxes overflowing with items litter the place, all of them marked with words such as of the shtetl, she also cares for the only remains of the t own. The Nazis reduced the town to trinkets, knick knacks, and toiletries, items which point to a town that no longer exists. They are things divorced fr om their history, their origin.
158 While this disruption of a coherent, continuous narrative affects all t estifiers speaking to a traumatic moment, its specificity in Holocaust witnesses is particularly appropriate to this narrative In Holocaust Testimonies, Lawrence Langer discusses the recorded testimonies in the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testi monies, writing that consiste nt throughout these accounts is an effort to reconstruct a semblance of continuity in a life that began as, and becomes the controlling principle of these testimonies, as witnesses struggle with the impossible task of making their recollections of the camp experience coalesce with the rest of their lives. If one theme links their narratives more than any other, it is the unintended, unexpected, but invariabl y unavoidable failure of such efforts. (2 3) signals, among other things, the lack of a single origin for their autobiographical narrative. Their lives are split into a minimum of two storylines that cannot be united. memory overload the Trachimbroders experience is just the beginning of their bewilderment, for their suffering at t he hands of the Nazis has only been anticipated at this point. We witness the continuation of this suffering in the absence of the town, which former location. What they find is an empty, dark field where nothing grow s In is a monument to the village: a man sized stone with an inscription remembering those killed by the Nazis and writt en in seven languages. This memorial, which was established on the fifty year anniversary of the Nazi attack on Trachimbrod, serves as a reminder of that which no longer exists. As the scar of that which was but is now absent,
159 it not only awakens memories of those murdered but also emphasizes the inaccessibility of the past. It is a marker that signifies a void, a trace that resists tracking. Reason for Hope This inaccessibility may seem to be something to fear, and the Trachimbroders tend to react in this manner, especially in regards to Brod. Because she is delivered it up again, the women of the shtetl are glad to see her husband beat her, an abuse that results from a trauma the presence of a saw blade lodged in his skull. The narrator terrible hole, because of which they could never see her all at once, because of which they could n survivor of both the river and Trachim, she reminds the women of the abyss that is the be verified be traced and thus threatens their understanding of the town. life. After she surfaces following the crash, the Trachim reborn (16), temporarily keeps her in the synagogue until her adoptive parent(s) could be chosen. Because she sl eeps o n the male side of the synagogue, which is walled off from the females, the women of the shtetl can view her only through e emerged without need of gestation, leaping over
160 the beginning of her life. Jonathan, however, speculates that their dislike is more likely a result of their viewing perspective: From such a distance palms pressed against the partition, an eye in an absen t egg piece together mental collages of her from each of the fragmented views the fingers connected to the palm, whic h was attached to the wrist, which was at the end of the arm, which fit into the shoulder socket They learned to hate her unknowability, her untouchability, the collage of her. (20; emphasis added) Again, the lack of an identifiable origin not even a n ovum can be found renders her unknowable. The women can access only fragments of her at a time, making a comprehensive view of her impossible. Despite their gaze, she remains out of reach. We should note here that the problem, however, is not the distanc they cannot nurture her. Her eruption into their world, as if she were a chick who emerged from a space that should have been an egg, disrupts the ir understanding of the worl d and thus their societal role. the impossibility of knowing that they point to, we can see that this lack need not be a source of doom or hatred but can instead be one of hope if the absence is embraced. After she has to sequester her husband to protect herself from his uncontrollable rage, This is love that absence more th an anything? More, even, than you love his presence? her, longing for that which is not there is a source of appreciation, not despair. The negative space is to be lamented, but that lament is a purer love than any indebtedness to the filling o f that void. In fact, upon realizing that absence is the rule of life, Brod
161 In mentioning the hole, she invokes the hole cut into the wall that separated her and he r husband after the trauma to his head renders him powerless to control himself. The barrier protects Brod from the attacks he cannot stop, but the two communicate and all negative space cut out of the eternal solidity, and for the first time, it felt precious not like all of the words that had come to mean nothing, but like the last breath of a to treasure the impossibility of knowing, clinging to it in an attempt to survive a flood of incomprehensible memories that would swamp future Trachimbroders. reason for hop had it not been relie ved of previous chapter elf in The lack of one origin makes this enlargement 10 poss ible, for only because the translation is a part of the original can the translator free it. Otherwise, translation is reduced to a failed attempt at imitating an origin, at reproducing a n transgressing the limits of the translating language, in transforming it in turn, must extend, enlarge, and make 10 One example of translation resulting in a growth can be found in Martin Lut tradition of translation that regards translation as the creation, tran The Experience of the Foreign Trans. S. Heyvaert (Albany, NY: SUNY, 1992) 27.
162 growth of language but results in its germination. For de Man, following Benjamin, translation announces a death, but in do ing so, it he translation belongs not to the life of the original, the original is already dead, but the translation belongs to the afterlife of the original, thus urrection, however, is not berleben which means to survive or to live beyond. In other words, a translation does not bring the original back to life but is the afterlife of the original. 11 Translation does not allow the original to live on but is this very living on. In unveiling the death of the original, it also establishes itself as a new moment in the origin al that follows 12 discussion of the amphora Benjamin writes about when he, Benjamin, notes, Fragments of a vessel which are to be glued together must match one another in the smallest details, although they need not be like one another. In the same way a translation instead of resembling the meaning of the original, must lovingly and in detail incorporate signification, thus making both the original and the translation recognizable as fragments of a greater language, just as fragments are part of a vessel. (79) De Man points out gleichen to look alike, to equal, to resemble when in fact the word is folgen to follow or to succeed. 11 t he life nor the death of the text, only or already its living on Deconstruction and Criticism Trans. James Hulbert (New York: Seabury, 1979) 102 03. 12 Similarly, some of the Trachimbroders propose that Trachim faked his death in order to escape something They The difference, of course, is that de Man does not see the origina
163 Likewise, Zohn neglects to note that these fragments are broken. They are not merely a part of the vessel but are broken parts of the vessel. That is to say that vessel in the first place, or we have no knowledge of this vessel, or no awareness, no to speak of an original and its translation is problematic because both are parts of a part of a greater object that has never, at least practically, existed the greater language. Second, the displacement that we earlier credited to translation is more pro perly no land of origination simply traveler. Benjamin, in his effort to move translation away from a preoccupation with fidelity to the original, also highlights the generative possibilities of translation issues from the original not so much from its life as from its afterlife. [the] translation [of the important works of world literature] marks their stage of nd In order for this to occur, however, the translation must not cover the original, does not block its light, but allows the pure language, as though 80). Benjamin recommends a focus on the translation of the syntax to achieve such an
164 ely demolishes the theory of reproduction of transmission of signification, or on what might be called an accurate translation. Rather, translation should aim for the very thing that carries with it the potential to deny comprehension and knowledge. We are not far from This collapse, however, is what allows the inaccessibility of the traumatic event to speak to the impossibility of knowin g the event just as the absence of an origin testifies to itself. Felman finds this quality in de Man that follows his understanding of the the failure of languag forgetting the power to address us translation fulfills its purpose best when it calls attention to its status as translation by s hining on the original text. Because the translation is a moment in the life of the original, such an act also makes obvious the lack of an origin, but this lack makes vivor Our understanding of testimony should also focus on this impossibility, for only by listening while keeping in mind the impossibility of comprehending the traumatic event can we s grasp, that is always already out of reach. The silence that emanates from language may seem to be a reason for despair, but this hush works against forgetting by speaking to us, motivating us to remember the amnesia. While this reminding of a having for gotten is cause for hope, it also raises crucial
165 aid the witness in his or her re this event, proves to be inaccessible. The genre that seems to be a means of escaping the chaos of a trauma is ungrounded. From this unmooring, we can conclude that he past, for its birth cannot be traced there. The appearance to the contrary is rooted in something that only appears as a real past, and the presentation of this simulated reality amounts to a deception that covers the simulation. A view of testimony as concerned primarily with the past requires, reanimate it. We will uncover the consequences of this simulation and deception as well as the primary concern of testimony in that which is to come.
166 CHAPTER 5 RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH Fredric Jameson 1 n of testimony is perhaps the place where the right to literature is birthed, which he associates, in part, with simulacrum. In this chapter, I would like to investigate the consequences of such a finding on our understanding of testimony, but first, we mu st consider what we refer to when we speak of these representations and the process by which they function. In Simulacra and Simulation Jean Baudrillard lays out three orders or Baudrillard, this order resides in the utopian, where the gap between the real and imaginary is maximized In this bracket, we find the logic that undergirds those perspectives on testimony that consider a truthful testament as having no gaps or inaccur acies. In this view, testimony can manifest the real because language, memory, avoiding any imaginative faculties and sticking to that which happened and nothing mor e. Based on this logic, testimonies fail not because of any lack in the genre or the logic on which their standards are based but because of an inadequacy in the witness that can be avoided, an assumption that seems to underpin the line of questioning purs ued in the courtroom in Operation Shylock. While such a position is attractive because it posits that the obstacles to testimony and its witnesses can be circumvented, we have already seen these demands to be impossible to meet, thus confirming 1 Archaeologies of the Future (London: Verso, 2005) 376.
167 Baudrillard displacement from that which it represents as being an indication that communication is only hopeless would also be a concern of this order. The machine materializes the second order which features a reduction of the real imaginary gap (121). Here, according to Baudrillard, is the home of science fiction, which This class of simulation appears to be a reflection of reality. While the gap is decreased, the order of the p rocess remains unchanged; the simulacra follow the real world. We could also place much of utopian/dystopian literature, which is now often a subgenre of science fiction, here, for while the entries in this genre present a world that differs from the prese nt, these texts often call for a reading of these worlds as that which the current world might project. In other words, while they might tell of worlds whose production differs from that of the real world, utopian/dystopian narratives often retain the logi c of the real world. However, t he third order, which features a simulation of simulation, makes the s e projection s impossible by making fiction itself impossible, for if science fiction is both an imitation of the real and an anticipation of its future, sim ulation in its tertiary phase renders both of those actions futile. Models in the genre that anticipate the real often do itself (122). Thus, the real cannot be imitat ed because it does not exist and cannot be anticipated because what passes for the real is this anticipation Not only, then, does
168 the gap disappear, but the temporal relationship is disrupted. The simulacra anticipate the real. They wait on its arrival ev en as they stand in for it. produce a simulation that can appear as if it were the real: It is no longer possible to fabricate the unreal from the real, the imaginary from the gi vens of the real. The process will, rather, be the opposite: it will be to put decentered situations, models of simulation in place and to contrive to give them the feeling of the real, of the banal, of lived experience, to reinvent the real as fiction, pr ecisely because it has disappeared from our life. (124) Rather than produce narratives that highlight th e fabulous and fantastical science fiction must strive to provide narratives of the banal as if they were real, for according to Baudrillard, the real is precisely what is fabulous and fantastical in this age of simulated simulation. As an example, Baudrillard points to the work of Philip K. Dick, in whose which i s no longer an other, without a mirror, a projection, or a utopia that can reflect it simulation is insuperable, unsurpassable, dull and flat, with Radio F ree Albemuth with this insuperable simulation in mind as well as its simulation of testimony via fiction, which in turn re inforces the fictionality of all testimony we have already begun to trace I will argue that this fictionality is necessary because the real canno t be accessed while remaining real and therefore cannot be not simulated. The real event, then, cannot be reproduced in testimony because it is not made present until its appearance in testimony, which is to say there is no real event available, only an ev ent that comes to pass for the real post hoc via referential productivity. In other words, testimony produces the event not despite its failure to access the real but because it fails to do so. The
169 y can simulate only the appearance that it simulates something which precedes it. Therefore, the one who witnesses does not reflect the one located in the real who saw the real event. Instead, he or she precedes this past figure who has yet to arrive as pa st figure and never will be made available. However, before I turn to the novel I fictional elements all testimonies possess. The Precess ion as Procession Put succinctly, no longer possible, for we now have the signs of the real say of an operation of deterring every real process via its operational double, a programmatic, metastable, perfectly descriptive machine that offers all the signs of the real and short s of the real function in such a way as to not only collapse the difference between them and the real but also to destroy the binary of the from the end; there is a kind of contraction of one over the other, a fantastic telescoping, denote t hat which is pure, original, and authentic, producing signs that point back to it,
170 precession of the model of all the models based on the merest fact the models come first their circulation, orbital like that of the bomb, constitutes the genuine magnetic field ly illusion that is now possible is that the real is possible, that it precedes and produces its models. The real can exist only in the realm of the imaginative. a representation of that which comes before it but a waiting or preceding on that which it seems to signify. To use a term from the last chapter, it sur vives the origin that it can no longer locate. previous ages featured the presence of the real, that the contemporary era is the first in which the real no longer exists. Rather, this era is the first that makes present its absence, that uncovers that it is not hidden, that there is nothing to hide. It is the child who remarks o existed, its discovery introduces a wound, a trauma where the real was thought to between the sexe s in children, as serious, as profound, as irreversible: the fetishization of an object intervenes to obscure this unbearable discovery. Thus the fetishized history psychi cal trauma results not from an actual loss, as one cannot lose that which one never possessed, but from the sudden awareness of a gap that had gone unnoticed due to past attempts to cover it because of its insufferablility. This trauma results indirectly f rom actions meant to conceal a traumatic situation.
171 Our remembrance of the real, then, can be one of nostalgia only. Keeping in mind bearing this name this longing is for not only a lost time but a lost time that wa s never possessed to begin with. In Anthropology from a Pragmatic View he remarks that homesick Swiss soldiers may think they miss their homeland and may find this desire fulfilled upon returning there. However, the move has not so much cured the illness (69). Thus, instead of recognizing the longing as one for that which is inaccessible, they replace it with another illusion: that they have found what they were looking for. Because knowledge of this inaccessibility might be too much to bear, a fictio nal fulfillment covers it over. Nostalgia, then, is marked not only by a forgetting of the absence of the real, but also a forgetting that one has forgotten so that its deception can be maintained. In order for this secondary memory failure to succeed, the first memory failure must be covered simulation of that which is simulated. In other words, nostalgia produces that it can satisfy. The cure precedes the condition, which is to come, but also causes an amnesia of this precession. by an artificial memory (today, everywhere, it is artificial memories that efface the squarely in the realm of fiction, which is no longer possible because its presumed opposite, the real, no longer exists and thus cannot determine it. This fictional memory covers not only its own fictionality but also the fact that all memory has become fictional.
172 The loss of the real and memory coincides with what we know about testimony, particularly those testimonies that speak to a trauma. As w e have already seen, a moment is traumatic only if it resists comprehension, meaning that it exists outside what we think of as reality, including causal and temporal rules. Because such events cannot be possessed as they occur, victims re experience them as if they were happening for the first time, meaning that these moments are not produced or registered until they are the past but precisely registers the force of an exper ien (Carruth 151) or that which is to come Because of this temporal distance, the occurence, 2 the events cannot match what we consider reality. As Dori Laub notes in historical experience is maintained in the testimony only as an elusive memory that feels as if it no longer resembles any reality. The horror i s, indeed, compelling not only What this horror conceals, however, is that its subversion of reality differs from the distortion that accompanies non traumatic ev ents only in its flagrancy. All historical accounts of events do not describe events so much as they produce them; thus, like accounts of traumatic events, they and the events they narrate appea r simultaneously (Felman 93 94). 2 As we have seen in previous chapters, this formation of the event after it has occurred is not specific to traumatic m oments but is characteristic of all events.
173 The Plague as Prototype Accor ding to Felman, we can find a nod to the historical as creative agent in Albert The Plague narrative as testimony not merely to record, but to rethink and, in the act of its rethinking, in effect transform history in for the Holocaust because both exist outside of history and its epistemological frames. Camus, then, uses fiction to accomplish what history c annot, but all of witness, which the reader now historically becomes, the imaginative capability of perceiving history what is happening to others with the power of (108; emphasis added). Camus produces not a fiction that speaks to the real but one ictional, its model. The primary role of testimony in the wake of Camus is not simply descriptive or archival but also performative as it precedes and creates the real. This performance does not mean that Camus wishes to vacate the real. Rather, he seeks t o take into account the contingency of the real, for failure to do so, a denial of the hat history can be considered as a self contained whole with no referential residue and whose every
174 contaminating trace that the referential leaves on the historical i s to allow fictions to function as history anyway. If history as unadulterated account can exist only by denying the real and thus creating a fiction, then revealing its dependence on fiction differs only in that such a move confronts the illusion of histo ry as pure instead of reinforcing it. It is not a matter of choosing between deception or no deception but between a deception that goes unrecognized or one that announced itself as it deceives. From this analysis of The Plague, we can conclude that testifying involves bearing witness to the inadequacy of testimony to render history understandable. As Michael Bernard Donals and Richard Glejzer note in Between Witness and Testimony hat we glimpse in such moments is not history but the event as it precedes our ability to bring it in the very inaccessibility of its occurrence" (Carruth 8). Testimony, then, cannot reflect the events it see ks to narrate, but it can reflect this inability to grasp them. Bernard is the impasse between what we can imagine and the conventions available to us to (10; emphasis added). To admit that history requires a creative and lack, for even that which we imagine is not enough since nothing ensures our ability to communicate the imaginative. Registration of the event depends upon not only our ability to remember the events but also upon the ability of language and other communication tools to encapsulate and transmit that memory. Although, since
175 memory, as far as we know, doe s not exist without some form of language, these two obstacles are really just two parts of the same obstruction. For these reasons, non fiction is perhaps not the most effective genre in which to testify to events. As discussed in the previous chapter, th is ineffectiveness is not due to some inherent weakness or shortcoming in the genre. Rather, the expectations brought to, for instance, the non fiction testimony might make such a text prone to readings that see it as unproblematically recording and reflec ting a historical event that is accessible to the witness and the witness of the witness These expectations might allow the deception necessary to testimony to go unquestioned Instead, as Bernard Donals and Glejzer argue in a discussion of the need to be ar witness to the Holocaust despite the silen language of fiction with its ability to confound history, and with it our desperate need to name the events that comprise it in the name of reason is the best means that we With the state of the real, fiction, simulation, and memory in mind, I would now like Radio Free Albemuth tion because not simply because of its use of simulacra as it is hardly different from science fiction and utopian/dystopian texts in this sense. ics that unravel concepts in his work such as the fragility and constructedness of the real world an d per sonal identity, the latter a characteristic Jameson notes when he writes
176 the so 47). Concerns such as this have made his texts a central concern in the writings of some major postmodern literary and cultural Archaeologies of the Future 3 in which the essay cited above appe ars, including Welcome to the Desert of the Real. u nderstanding of reality make s Radio Free Albemuth a particularly useful illustration of Blade Runner Soon to be added to that growing list is Radio Free Albemuth, a film awaiting autobiographical novels such as VALIS. 4 Particularly useful is bility to illustrate the function of fiction that Baudrillard calls for by analyzing its use of second order simulation, mostly through technology, and the third order simulation that the former conceals. In addition, I will look at the novel as a retellin g of an event that it produces and thus precedes by examining its appearance as testimony despite its fiction status. By conducting this investigation, I will argue that Radio Free Albemuth 3 In this work, in fact, Jameson notes that although Dick was rarely read in English departments while he 4 A search of the MLA International the inclusion of his name is necessary to returns sixteen hits.
177 appearance as testimonial fiction actually reveals that no testi mony can exist unless it is fictional. Novel as Testimony Radio Free Albemuth follows the lives of the characters Nicholas Brady and Philip K. Dick 5 from their ordinary lives in Berkeley to their murder and imprisonment, respectively, after an attempt to o verthrow the American government. The work is split into a two paragraph prologue followed by three parts. The book end sections feature Phil as the narrator while Nicholas narrates the middle one. At the beginning of the novel, Phil introduces the reader to Nicholas, a record clerk who dropped out of the University of California because of either his objection to the ROTC requirement or clumsiness. 6 Nicholas, who later marries Rachel and has a boy named Johnny with her, experiences several visions he consi ders supernatural/extraterrestrial in nature, including one that informs him that his son has a strangulated hernia and needs progresses, Nicholas and Phil attempt to figure ou t who or what this extraterrestrial force is and what its existence means for Earth and humanity. They eventually discover that it contacts humans via a satellite known alternatively as Valis, an acronym standing for Vast Active Living System, and Aramchek which is also the name taken by the group of people who have been contacted by the satellite. The transmitted messages enlighten its recipients that the world they live in is not as it appears. Additionally, the 5 Due to th e confusion that could arise from the fact that this character shares the name of the author, I 6 At one point in the novel, Nicholas claims that he refused to fire his rifle during drills and had taken the firing pin out while cleaning it. He later explains, however, that his firing pin was missing because he had accidentally dropped it in the gun while cleaning it. He vacillates on this issue throughout the novel.
178 alien life form heals its recipients and t heir family members while providing a means to undermine the ruling powers of Earth, including American President Ferris Fremont. As a result of the aid from Valis, characters come to view the alien and its manifestation as the Judeo Christian God. Althoug h a work of fiction, the novel takes the guise of a testimony in several given that he asks Phil, a science fiction writer, not to use his real name if Phil uses the Radio Free Albemuth atte mpt 7 to depict the moments in his life known as the 2 3 refrain from giving a comprehensive summary of these events, 8 Dick gives a brief account of them in What If Our World Is Their Heaven? : has given every evidence of being God, including the words and everything. r species of life . They have been preparing us all this time, for several thousand years through our religion to accept them because they are really different from us. (qtd. in Lee and Sauter 182) Dick would continue writing o f these moments in an a ttempt to make sense of them, writings that include the novels The Divine Invasion and VALIS and his colossal journal 7 Although Radio Free Albemuth was published posthumously in 1985 and thus well after several other similar attempts, Dick turned in a draft of the novel, at the time entitled VALISystem A to Bantam Books in1976 only to set it aside in order to work on other novels. 8 For Weirdo 17 (summer 1986). It can also be located on several websites, including www.philipdickfans.com/weird.htm.
179 Exegesis Other details in Radio Free Albemuth of novels Phil writes to the potential trouble h e faces as a result of Harlan Ellison claiming that The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch was written under the influence of LSD. Evidence that Radio Free Albemuth is an attempt to write of these events can also be found in Fremont, whose career closely re sembles that of Nixon. Despite the general opinion that they are ineffective politicians, both Fremont and Nixon become president thanks in part to the assassinations of several prominent politicians, killings that Phil attributes to a conspiracy to get Fr emont in the Oval Office. Fremont, who like Nixon hails from California, enters the national political scene with a win in a Senate race by smearing his opponent, accusing her of being a homosexual, a tactic that mirrors eing a Communist. Dick implicitly makes this connection when Phil observes that while Fremont accuses his o pponent of being a view between communism and homosexuality [. .] 9 Fremont is named to a committee investigating un American activities just as Nixon served on the House Committee on Un American Activities. Like Nixon, Fremont spies on his political opponents to guarantee his succes never made public. While 9 Because the novel frequently uses ellipse s, when quoting the novel, I will designate those ellipses that mark material I have excluded with brackets. Those ellipses that are original to the novel will appear without brackets.
180 entity responsible for his mystical experiences was impeachment and subsequent resignation. testimony. For instance, when a Friends of the American People (FAP) agent, plain clothed government agents hired to keep an eye on citizens deemed dangerous, asks Phil to write a statement testifying to the political allegiance of Nicholas and his wife, he 64), a phrase Nicholas will use later a t the beginning of a chapter. This opening is reminiscent of a will, a testament marking yet another instance in which a witness testifies from the place of his or her death and thought to communicate the desires of the signe r. Both of these characteristics match testimony and how it is often read. s counteract attempts by those in authority to eliminate all witnesses to the events. In the novel, all members of Aramchek, once found, are either shot like Nicholas and Sadassa Silvia, a cohort of the two, or killed via toxin or disease given to them by the government, as they s eek to remove anyone who can bear witness to his corruption and the existence of Valis. Those political enemies who are deemed less dangerous, like Phil, are placed in prison or work detail for the remainder of their life, separated from the general popula tion characteristic of testimonies that speak to a traumatic event. As the two have more supernatural experiences, they struggle to explain the occurrences in a manner
181 reminiscent o f Sofiowka in Everything Is Illuminated. Their theories include dementia, stray radio signals, satellite transmissions from aliens, communication from a Nicholas in a parallel universe, bodily possession by Christian saints, the imminent return of Christ, and combinations of the above. Because the two pick up and drop theories so quickly throughout the novel Theories are like planes at LA International: a ne the reader ge ts the sense that the last one, which holds that Aramchek represents the state of humanity before an evil force began to take over and that the extraterrestrial entity seeks to reawaken humans until enough of them can overpower this dark force, is not the outside prison, and the narrative ends. This incessant juggling of theories bears witness to the trauma of these supernatural experiences. At times, the two speak of these ha ppenings in terms of violence: an invasion or taking over of the body by alien and/or spiritual forces, albeit seemingly friendly ones. When Nicholas refers to the experiences as an attempt to alert him that reality is not the reality he knows, we are remi nded of the trauma that what they are undergoing due to their inability to compreh end it despite repeated through resists the integration of trauma by maintaining it as that which it is impossible to make r a theory capable of explaining the supernatural experiences, then, is not a shortcoming on the part of Phil and Nicholas.
182 Rather, this lack of success is precisely what constitutes trauma, which, by definition, resists theories that will adequately accou nt for it in a way that gives it a place in reality. This failure exists even as the novel ends. After Nicholas and Sadassa are killed and Phil is imprisoned, he struggles wit h memory problems. He explains, I think Vivian Kaplan [a member of the FAP] stopp ed by to inform me that Sadassa Aramchek 10 sure; if so, I repressed it and forgot it and did not know it had happened. But sometimes in the later nights I woke up and saw a FAPer standing pointing a pistol at a small figure, and in those lucid moments I knew she was dead, that I had been told and could not remember. (206) ter all, we have no reason to believe that these instances of remembering are trustworthy given his earlier expressions of doubt concerning his memory. He thinks Vivian stopped by but is not sure. Additionally, his moment of lucidity makes little sense. If Sadassa is dead, how can Phil repeatedly wake up to her being shot posthumously? It seems more likely that he is unable to distinguish between his dreams and waking moments, which does not necessarily make his visions false. In fact, this lack of discernment characterizes trauma. Charles Shepherdson explains that traumatic past event s are repeated and not recalled because the traumatic event was never experienced as such, never made present in relation to a fut ure and a past, never given a place in any symbolic chain, or any network of protentions and retentions. What repeats is there something t a past that was never ent of the imagination or a purely mythical event, but rather that it happens without happening . (134) 10
183 confusion and the indeterminability it produces testify to the trauma he has undergone. with historical accuracy as Phil is. member the past into a m mind had the solemn task of rearranging past reality in order that I could go on, and it w is not rearranging the past. In fact, it implies just the opposite. The problem is not that this reconstruction does not occur, that his mind does not rearrange the past. Rather, it failure both to accurately re present past events and to do so in a way that allows one to understand it and continue as if the event occurred and stopped in the past is common to trauma. Belau notes that only through this failure can the traumatized g of the repressed returns, aprs coup to the scene of this failure, and a certain knowledge is forged. It is precisely such knowledge, however, that strikes the subject as traumatic ble to recall some elements of the traumatic past, to grasp some knowledge of it, this knowledge is partial success, which in turn marks its failure to complete the task. What is grasped
184 highlights what cannot be grasped and heightens the trauma. The failure to initially understand the traumatic makes possible the success that follows, which in turn produces failure. The traumatized finds him or herself entrapped in a circ le. While introducing this entrapment at the end of the novel may seem to heighten so, the novel avoids the temptation to easily dismiss the trauma. Ellie Ragland argues t by covering over the real of its suffering with images and words that seem to tame it, giving it the quality of mere 81). The novel does end with the pot ential of a future Valis victory. While Phil takes his lunch break from his prison work, he overhears a radio beyond the prison fence playing subliminal lyrics that suggest that Fremont is a part of the Communist Party and represents an internal Communist takeover of the country. Before being shot, Nicholas and Sadassa had conspired to release an album on Progressive Records, for whom they b oth worked, with similar lyrics provided by Valis before FAP agents seized all copies of the record prior to its press ing and shuttered the record company. As the novel closes, Phil realizes that Valis had at least two such albums in the works and that at least one made it to press. Although this turn gives Phil hope, it does not cover th e trauma and suffering that he Ni cholas, and novel, then, does not appear as mere art but instead emphasizes the inability of words to tame trauma. Novel as Fiction While Radio Free Albemuth borrows i n many ways from testimony, it also highlights its fictionality. In many cases, Dick plays on the name and experiences he
185 shares with Phil, as if to distance himself from the fantastical events through his double. For instance, when Nicholas tells Phil abo ut one of his first supernatural experiences, the latter responds that he is not sure he wants to hear about them because they are too fantastical for his brain to process. When Nicholas responds that Phil should be accustomed to narratives of this type as a science fiction writer, Phil remarks that the make an effective fiction (134; 85). This emphasis on the fictionality of his writings seems to be a case of protesting too much, especially when one considers that the events of the novel bear a remarkable resemblance to those Dick claimed to have experienced. In fact, the novel s eems to be a way for Dick to find an audience for a testimony that would otherwise likely be deemed too ridiculous to be true and in turn provide a means for him to re externalize these traumatic events. By presenting them as fiction, he can testify to the m while maintaining a semblance of sanity, a semblance he attempts to reinforce through Phil. After learning that Nicholas prefers the theory that an extraterrestrial is communicating with him instead of God, Phil thinks, I could not really give credence t o the idea that an extraterrestrial intelligence on another star system was communicating with him; I never took such notions seriously, perhaps because I was a writer of such things and was accustomed to dredging them up from my own mind in purely fiction al form. That such things could genuinely occur was foreign to my way of thinking. I did not even believe in flying saucers. It was a hoax and fiction to me. (24) By way of Phil, Dick seems to be defending his lucidity and his testimony. This narrative is not the ramblings of a crazy man, he seems to imply, for how could one who is so quick to dismiss the possibility of UFOs and alien communication be duped by
186 hallu cinations of the same? Dick appears to be testifying while distancing himself from the testimony as a defensive measure, a hesitancy that speaks to the difficulty Dick faced in coming to terms with the trauma of the 2 3 74 events. Novel as Simulation Regar fiction simulates testimony and, as we will see, reveals that all testimo ny is a simulation of itself while seeking to conceal this fact. The novel features two instances of s econd order simulation in the satellite and Disneyland, both of which also function on the third voice of God introduces the possibility that God is absent as evide simulation of the fantastical reveals that the values supposedly fundamental to American culture are a distraction from the actual fundamental values an d that all of the real is, in fact, made up of fantasy, a revelation made apparent by comparisons between Berkeley and Los Angeles. The connection between Valis and the Judeo Christian God appears throughout the novel. Nicholas dreams of Valis as the Roman sibyl peering into the minds of men and judging them. He tells Phil that early Christians saw this being as protecting the God fearing. Soon after, Phil proposes that Valis is actually Jehovah manifest. Later, ers are a result of the Fall after a vision in which he sees "an inferior agency creeping into our world, combating the wisdom of God; I saw it take over this planet with its own dreary plans and will, supplanting the benign will of God or Valis, as two continues when Nicholas, acting on instructions from Valis, baptizes his son and
187 gives him the secret name of Paul the persecutor of Christians who converted to Christianity after a visitation from Jesus as a blinding light in the sky (125). When Nicholas speaks of an entity taking over his body, Phil theorizes that this being is the spirit of one of the 144,000 dead Christians that will return to earth as mentioned in Revelation 7:4 and 14:3 ( 139 40). The voice from the satellite is also determined to be the burning bush that appears to Moses (174). When the Russians discover the satellite that has been communicating with Aramchek members and Nicholas, Phil, and Sasdassa realize that the Soviet s will operators along the communications network as divine, which meant they were not its manifestation, for although he considers the entities who utilize the mac hine machine and its operators and cannot figure how an immortal can be blown up. This be see him transposing the beings who communicate with him by means of the satellite with the communication machine itself. The presence of this second order simulation is both the departing and ending in writing his fiction, stopping here might be justified Christopher Palmer, for instance,
188 comments that we can find in these simula ideology there may be nothing more than another fabrication, but behind a secular lity with great intensity, Dick does posit an Michael Pinsky, in a discussion of VALIS argues that Horselover Fat, the main character of the novel whose name is a transla tion of sorts 11 remarks point to a real reality t At first glance, the simulation stops at the second order, which does imply that a simulation conceals a more advanced one, whether s to icons. As Baudrillard notes, while these sacred images are mean t to represent, among other beings, God, they may come to be Baudrillard credits the iconoclasts with the unveiling of this threat, for their and that these images were in essence not images, such as an original model would For Baudrillard, the oppositi on to icons comes not from the sacredness of the image of 11 Philippos which literally means German word dick
189 God or from the ensuing threat of an image misrepresenting God but from those annihilating truth that they allow to appear that deep down God never existed, that only the simulacrum ever existed, even that God himself was never anything but his own simulacrum from this came their u It might appear that misses the fac t that potential for effacing God might exist, it does not necessarily mean that simulacra produced God and the production ended there. I t is just as likely that a divine entity, as it came into being, brought with it the potential for si mulacra. However, i f God is transcendent, his simulation should be impossible; therefore, by bestowing upon icons the ability to simulate God, He also bestows upon them the ability to render him non transcendent a necessity if humans are to have the abili ty to have any understanding of that which exists outside the material universe In this case, the vulnerability of God presence exists the moment that God does, and if we accept the divine as hav ing always already existed, this vulnerability too has alw ays already been there. The effacement of God, then, could appear simultaneously with God and not with His simulation. Even if we follow this path not traveled, though we arrive at the same position: the ability of icons to efface God. In other words, rat her than missing this possibility, Baudrillard likely foregoes it because ultimately it is not a divergence. Given the effacement of the divine brought about by icons he e in the epiphany of his
190 We see this same enactment in Nicholas, who, after reading news reports of the representation. On the one hand, he understands that he has lost voice, but because this voice has come to stand in for God, its disappearance also marks for him, the absence of God. He cannot separate the two For Nicholas, the destruction of the means by which he accesses God carries with it als o the destruction of God. Like the icon worshippers, by imbuing the satellite with a divine characteristic, he bestows on it the ability to enact the death of God. This attack on the satellite, then, acts as if it were an attack on God. Nicholas finds it t hreatening not only because it interrupts his communication with God but because it introduces the possibility that no divine being is behind the satellite. It is possible that the machine simulated not just nd order of simulation to the third. We see similar effects of simulation in the world of Los Angeles. When the novel opens, Phil and Nicholas live in Berkeley, where Nicholas was born and raised. After fe and son on a vacation to Disneyland so that he can interview for a job at Los Angeles based Progressive Records, a job Nicholas accepts. Upon learning of the impending move, Phil, who is skeptical of e collection of religious and occult fears that by moving to t he Los Angeles area his friend would be exposed to other people like himself and hence would probably worsen rather than mend. Nicholas would be moving to an area which ill
191 defined the quality of sanity. [. .] Valis, most likely, would emerge into the with reality dwindled out of existence entirely ( 26) This concern is only strengthened by the fact that what convinces Nicholas to move is his realization that a barrio in Placentia 12 matches perfectly the area he had dreamed of and thought was Mexico. Di supernatural experiences. In addition, it is a locale whose simulation heightens the mode and worlds that feature pirates, princes and princesses, and other characters found in at religious miniaturized pleasure of real America, of the desires of Americans, including the implicit control found in the par and c learly marked queues. We can along with Baudrillard, consider Disneyland to be a Louise Marin, as noted by Baudr illard, has carried out an analysis of Disneyland his 1973 book Utopics Marin describes the organization of the park as utopic but also shows that this structure deg enerates into a representation of the myth and fantasy of 12 not being possessed but is instead being awakened or reminded of who he is. This concept i s similar to the Judeo Christian idea of salvation leading to a new man.
192 the formation and development of the United States. For Marin, while the park and its progression through t he plac e, a progression dictated by the map and paths of the park, (241). Marin notes that t he park features three limits: the outer limit (the parking lot), the intermediary limit (the ticket booths), and the inner limit (the railway). Because the parking lot forces visitors to abandon their cars, a machine whose existence determines the infrast ructure of most of the country and particularly the Los Angeles area, the outer limit functions as the unexplained/unexplainable voyage to the utopic land that we find in most utopian literature. Regardless of its details suddenly awakening to find oneself in a mysterious land after falling asleep or being knocked unconscious, surviving a shipwreck or plane crash only to find one self in some unknown land, etc. this voyage vehicular abandonment, the park alerts its visitors that they are entering a new world with new rules and new customs. This difference is highlighted by the ticket booths. As Marin notes, here the visitors simply buy tickets. Rather, they buy he intermediary limit, then, reinforces the necessary crossing of the abyss established in the outer limit. Those entering the park are not
193 simply consumers paying for a service. Rather, they are exchanging their everyday life for a fantastical, utopian wo rld. They are not customers but foreigners visiting a new land. The inner limit continues the neutralization of the outside world in that it demarcates the utopian world from it. The railways provide transportation only within the park, not to the ticket b ooth or parking lot. By cutting off contact with the rest of the world, the railroad designates this space as no place (244). These limits, then, introduce and repeatedly reinforce the fantasy of this world they have entered, thus leaving behind reality. A t the center of these limits, however, is the roundabout found at the end of Main Street USA, whose name speaks to both the ideological and spatial centrality of the c this conclusion on the fact that Main Street USA leads visitors to Fantasyl and since guests can just as easily access Tomorrowland or Frontierland from the circle. the road does lead to fantasy since all districts depend upon fantasy either through nostalgia, futurism, or imagination. This access to fantasy gains significance when we sitors see their reflections, but not the distorted mirror images like those in Fantasyland. Here, guests
194 Main Street, then, seems to reintroduce reality into this utopia, and as the center of it, Disneyland appears to be a land of fantasy with reality at its heart. As ostensibly real and dreams since early in the novel, Phil humorously tells be your destiny lies directly at the center of Disneyland. You could sleep under the Matterhorn ride and live (28). At first glance, the implication here is that Disneyland would make the perfect home for Nicholas as he chases these fantastical visions because both the theme park if Main Street is the appearance of the real in a 3 74 experiences, as the reality that survives s to kill it. fantasy when one considers the architecture and merchandise that constitute it. The buildings may not seem to be as fantastical as the futuristic Monorail or the castl e of Fantasyland. However, the buildings, which resemble nineteenth century homes, would of the West, because of their style (248). In addition, because of the goods f or sale in Tomorrowland, where the most advanced technological products of American science si mulation, it proves to be just as utopic as the rest of the park. Its apparent realism
195 emerges from the more obviously fantastical districts surrounding it. The hyper fantastical worlds provide a cover under which the fantasy of Main Street USA attempts to hide. Even this attempt to merge these unmixable elements, though, produces another deception. In presenting a thinly veiled simulation of reality amidst hyper simulated districts, Main Street USA furthers the distinction between reality and simulation. I ts presentation of a Main Street that is clearly not an exact duplication of an actual Main that exists outside the park. This utopian road implies that its basis can be found in the external world. Ins tead, this assumption hides that no such Main Street can be found. Just as the simulation of God bsence, the simulation that is America that is Disneyland . Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation. ( Baudrillard 12) Thus, these three limits that seem to close off the real world that Disneyland visitors have abandoned actually cover the lack of reality that the external world holds, that the idea of a real is as utopian as the theme park itself. We see plasticity of reality. Disneyland is a straw man, a distraction that emphasizes its own fanta sy in order to distract from the fantasy that is the real. For Baudrillard, in the case ildishness is everywhere that it is that of the adults themselves who come here to act the child in
196 wishes found in the magical park is a sleight of hand trick tha t misdirects attention away wish fulfillment and not free dom, democracy, hard wor k, etc. This cover up exists in the Orange County of Radio Free Albemuth which spawned that were as terrible as they were real more real than if they had been composed of solid than real quality, a hyperreal, belies the fact th e threat of a Communist takeover and the consequent loss of freedom that would entail distracts from the militaristic state he establishes and from his ties to States, backe d in fact by Soviet interests and his strategy framed by Soviet planners, is absence of a conflict. In this case, however, the simulation is of the second order, as atten tion is misdirected to a non existent threat so that the actual threat to freedom goes undetected. Even Phil notices the lack of reality in Berkeley, the other city in which the novel .]. And yet even to me Berkeley was not quite real but lost, as Nicholas was, in fantasy; all of Berkeley
197 y in the thrall of illusion, of Although Phil does notice the simulation that exists in this area, he discovers only a first order simulation, that of a political utopia. What i s significant is that we have an example of a first order simulation covering over the third order; whereas, in other instances, we have seen only the second order conceal. The unattainable idealism of Berkeley distracts from the real as an unattainable id eal. Reinforcing Disneyland as distraction is the fact that the only setting in the novel besides Los Angeles and Berkeley are the prisons in which Phil is held, the locations of which are never given. As the novel ends, Phil gazes at kids beyond the fence that contains him, hearing the aforementioned radio play. This scene implicitly contrasts Phil with the children, the prison with the free area the kids inhabit. As Baudrillard notes in a e to hide that it is the freedom the kids have in the world of Radio Free Albemuth hides the control Fremont and the nebulous organization that put him in power maintai n over the world. As and exterior of the prison camouflages that these two worlds v ary only by degrees. 13 The prison takes away all hope of freedom, but it does so in order to deceive those outside the prison so that they fail to recognize their lack of liberties. Any individuals 13 Discipline and P unish (New York: Vintage, 1995) 195 230.
198 who attempt to reveal this world wide incarceration are mad e to disappear, like the this one location hides the same absence that exists everywhere else. Even in cases where simulacra do not seem to precede the thing they simulate the simulation of God discussed earlier has far reaching effects when we consider its effects on representation. Baudrillard notes that all belief in the efficacy of representat ion depends upon an assumption meani ng, that a sign could be exchanged for meaning and that something could guarantee this exchange some language system in o rder to understand any appearance of reality, the attempt to read signs serves to hide that signs, if we are to define them as parts of a communication system that stand for and thus pass along meaning, cannot exist. Testimony as Simulation We find, then, in the testimonial fiction Radio Free Albemuth an abundance of simulation: that of God, American culture and cultural values, and testimony. In all three cases, the simulacra serve to cover the larger simulation: that they precede that which they supposedl y simulate and thus reveal the absence of that which ostensibly comes before them. At first glance, the revelation of this bigger simulation seems to be something to lament. Undoubtedly, a fresh awareness of this absence is troublesome, as evidenced by Bau trauma. However, it remains a problem only if we remain within the paradigm of a reality that ensures meaning. If we move beyond this perspective, we realize that the absence of a preced ing reality poses no threat sin ce its lack is not new; only our awareness of it
199 The possible disappearance of God, for instance, only makes faith, a quality any belief in a transcendent being must cherish, all the more precious. Disneyland as representati ve of American values and not childhood wishes does not render the idea of democracy impossible to attain, although it may be impossible to fully realize for other reasons, but instead emphasizes the need to make it as important as we might claim it to be. Similarly, the incarcerative function of society need not induce a mourning of freedom but rather communicate the importance that must be placed on this value if we are to work toward it. marks that person as he begins co mmunicating with Valis, thinks, Suppose Columbus had heard an imaginary voice telling him to sail west. And because of it he had di scovered the New World and changed human then, for that voice, since the consequences of its speaking came to affect (35) While this thought could easily lead one to a Foucauldian analysis of insanity, I would like instead to focus on this collapse of the imaginary and real. Even while maintaining the imaginary real dichotomy, Phil realizes that a fictitious entity with widespread effects on reality ceases to be a fiction. Likewise, one could ask, if we remain within this binary, if a real element that impacts nothing can be consi dered a part of reality. To return to an earlier example, if God does not exist, the impact His voice has had on human history makes him something more than imaginary. wheth er its existence can be empirically established but by its effect on the world which
200 can only be evaluated in the future For example, the voice Columbus would hear in the above supposition can be confirmed as real or imaginary only in the future events b y which one can judge its reality. imaginative, creative genre unable to record and re present a past event does not mean that event is lost to us. Rather, we become aware that the past we access i s simulacra not because it follows an original but because it functions as if an original ever existed. This precession does not mark a testimony as unable to live up to the demands of reality but testifies to it as being more real than the real, which has always been nothing more than an illusion. The search for and discovery of traces of precession need not lead to a hopeless nihilism where those who wish or need to witness must forever be frustrated by their failure to accurately bear witness. Instead, i t can highlight the difficulty of testifying and thus the courage necessary to undertake such an endeavor as well as illuminate the impossibility of re membering the past, alleviating pressure on witnesses to carry out the impossible. If failure is inheren t to the genre of testimony, then witnesses can succeed by producing testimony in spite of this deficiency. Testimony as simulation, then, unveils the absence of reality as such. Rather than the real producing its signs, the latter precede the former and s ignify themselves. Reality is its signs. With this precession established and having traced some of the ramifications of this anticipation, I would like to extend the ways in which it changes how we perceive testimony. In the chapter that immediately follo generic claim to looking back at a reality that it actually anticipates in the truth lie binary while undermining this dichotomy. Are testaments that give the appearance of providing access to a past that will never be prese nt deceiving? If so, can we justifiably label that
201 deception a lie, and how does this deception, whether a lie or not, alter our evaluation of the genre? In the consequent chapter, I will seek to further capitalize on the issues of temporality we have loca ted in testimony, especially the genre as a precession. As the prefix to this word implies, testimony, as that which anticipates the past it points back to, opens up to a future even as it seems to record and preserve that which appears to come before it. The speaker who ostensibly bears witness to a past experience in fact to come.
202 CHAPTER 6 HONEST LIES AND THE HONEST LIARS WHO TELL THEM: DECEPTION IN TIM THE THINGS THEY CARRIED DECEPTION As we have seen in Radio Free Albemuth a testimony is a simulation of the event it reports, thereby covering the absence of the event. In this sense, the genre is accurately re presents this event and thereby makes it accessible after the fact, so in most cases, this deception springs from g enre demands met by the witness and/or witness of the witness. We can surmise, then, that most testifiers do not intentionally the deception ou tside of the realm of th e lie: If I believe what I say, even if it is false, even if I am wrong, and if I am not trying to mislead someone by communicating this error, then I am not lying. One does not lie simply by saying what is false, so long as one believes in good faith in t he truth of what one believes (31) Therefore, it would be inaccurate to name a witness a liar simp ly because he or she testifies. the deception of generic demands we see in testimony does not amount to a lie, for as we saw last chapter, the genre depends upon a phantasm. These genre demands, then, do not pertain to either the true or the false . [It is] related, rather, to an irreducible species of the simulacrum or even of simulation in the penumbral light of a virtuality that is neither being nor nothingness, nor even an order of the possible that an ontology or a mimetology could account for or s If there is a lie to be found, it lies within the impl ication that these demands must be met if one is to produce a testimony. The assumption that a testimony must recall reality in a manner that is accurate and precise, that such a re presentation is not only possible but
203 required, is where we might locate t his falsehood. Such a conclusion might lead to a search for the origin of such expectations, but that search would require a look at, at the very least, the beginning of Western culture which would in turn require the assumption that this origin can be fou nd or even exists and as the chapter on Everything Is Illuminated attests, this assumption is not a safe one and its treatment of mimetology and the like, an investigation too extensive for this chapter to do justice to. While simulation and the demands o f literature are not equal to a lie, and we are chapter, they are related. We can find this connection in the Greek word pseudos which invention, but those three do not necessarily lead to a lie. Similarl y, while a lie involves lying between the two is an attempt to locate where the two converg e and diverge, assuming such a place can be found and defined. Any such search must begin with establishing where the lie lies. We have already noted, along with Derrida, that a lie is not merely that which misleads or communicates false information. While a lie does carry out these actions, the person who tells the lie must intend to do so, must knowingly provide misinformation. This condition leads intentional acts are destined to the other, an other or others, with the aim of deceiving them, harming them, misleading them, before any other consequence, by the simple fact of making them believe what the liar knows to be
204 an express pur pose: to convince its audience of something other than the truth. To summarize, the lying ac t must include a communicative act that the speaker intends to lead its recipient to believe something that the speaker knows is not true. The person who lies attem pts to substitute the false for the true with the hope that the substitution will go un detected. In doing so, the false information in the lie no longer points back to the truth that in s that because this substitute no longer refers to an original, not even to a flattering representation of an original, but replaces it advantageously, thereby trading its status of representative for that of replacement, the process of the modern lie is no longer a dissimulation that comes along to veil the truth; rather, it is the destruction of reality or of the original archive . (42) While a difference exists between the lie and dissimulation the former, unlike the latter, does not wish to hide t he truth but to destroy reality similar goals can be detected in th e lie and simulation. As noted last chapter, Baudrillard writes that the third order of Simila rly, according to Derrida, the lie hopes to destroy reality but by replacing it with an alternate reality that goes undetected. In the case of both, the appearance of reality must be maintained if the deceptive process is to be successful. Where we can dif ferentiate between the two is in the intentional quality of the lie. We can attribute the deception of simulation to metaphysics, a system of knowledge that insists on a reality that does not exist, at least not as metaphysics understands it. However, this deception is unknowingly encouraged by its adherents, who are themselves deceived by it. A liar, on the other hand, must be aware of the falsehood he creates and communicates but
205 carry on with the invention anyway. Next chapter, we will record the effects of deception on the archive and the fact that the act of replacing is in fact indispensable to the For now, however, we will continue to trace the workings of the lie by looking at some examples of the appearances it can assume. If this falsehood is to be believed, it must appear as if it were the truth. One strategy for creating this appearance is lying by stating the truth. For an example, I turn to the following joke discussed by Sigmu nd Freud in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious analyses of which by Freud and Jacques Lacan we will examine below: Two Jews met in a railway carriage at a station in Galicia. Where are you going? asked one. To Cracow, was the answer. What a liar you are! broke out the other. Cracow. So this type of lie, which, he notes, Alexandre Koyr calls second degree l ying and Arendt the modern lie, they ought not believe it, the credulous ones who believe they are clever, skeptical, or crucial part of the definition of the lie is not its content and for the moment we will assume that we easily distinguish between a but the intent to mislead, even if it is expressed in the very truth the teller hopes to replace. This intentional substitution for the truth is what constitutes the lie; thus, any act that seeks this goal falls in that category, regardless of its content. This shared appearance makes detecting the lie nearly impossible, but what removes any such possibility is that one can never prove that another intentionally
206 misleads. Derrida notes that because we can never prove always be impossible to prove in the strict sense, that someone has lied even if one lie, as one might expect, comes across as many problems as solutions. It is an enterprise doomed from the beginning. Another a problematic that has been traced throughout this work, even if this account is no t close to being comprehensive. While I have no interest in tracing the history of the lie, I would like to take advantage of the analyses that precede this chapter in orde r to uncover the relationship between testimony and the lie, a reading that is particularly pertinent given that Derrida and not at all with an epistemological one of tr In doing so, I testimony does not simulate a reality but a simulation of it: how can we distinguish between testimony and testimonial fiction if b oth operate as third order simulation? If the well, then what separates th e two genres? Moreover, do the impossible generic demands of testimony lead to lies, and if so, can we equate these lies with fiction? In functions, and how that signific ation simplifies and/or complicates our understanding of the two genres and their relationship, arriving at the conclusion that we cannot separate
207 the two simply by claiming that one lies and the other does not. This chapter, then, will focus much of its e nergy on demonstrating the inadequacy of a distinction via the lie in appears as if it were real and establish the necessity of deception in testimony so that we can mov e on to the archive and its dependence on a similar misleading. In doing so, I will consider what makes a witness truthful, what a truthful representation of the event testified to looks like, and what we should intend to mean by a truthful testimony. In o rder to examine this relationship with the testimonial problematic, I will look at The Things They Carried Deception The former consists of a series of short stories and notes that appear to be sequential given the shared n focus is primarily on the experience of Alpha Company during the Vietnam War as 1 Interspersed throughout the collection are narratives co ncerning the trials of company members as they attempt to reenter civilian life as well as commentary on stories that have been or will be told in the collection. Deception consists only of a number of conversations; even attributive phrases are absent. Ba sed on the dialogue, however, the reader learns the characters include Philip Roth, his wife, a number of his lovers, and a few other related characters. These conversations focus on the affairs of Philip an d how they affect his marriage. Even in these bri ef descriptions, the differences between the works are apparent, particularly in their content. A series of narratives about life as a soldier in the Vietnam 1 discussing Deception distin ctions will remain as long as they can be maintained.
208 War and the far reaching effects of that service might seem to be unrelated to a fictional series of maintaining them. However, w hat draws me to these two works is the similarities they hold despite these differences, namely their appearance as testimonies and how they com plicate the concept of the lie, particularly in regards to testimony. In addition to both works featuring main characters who share the name of their respective authors, both recounted in his collection, in which books that he wrote are attributed to Tim. Much of the collection retells traumatic events that Tim lives through, and even most of those stories that he did not experience are retold as they were told to him, thus fun ctioning as testimonies to his role as audience of a traumatic testimony. This collection has grown especially relevant as American wars and conflicts in the Middle East continue, drawing Vietnam and re entrance to civilian life by Vietnam veterans, 2 then, might be especially useful to consider as the end of the current wars are proposed, if not yet realized. Similarly, in Deception, Philip resembles Roth in several ways. Many n ovels are credited to Philip and the character frequently complains of critics of his work who describe him as misogynistic based on his female characters and claim that he is unable to write a novel that is not autobiographical, both of which are criticisms repeated objections to interpretations linking him to his protagonists, readers of 2 Work on these issues abounds. The most thorough attempt to establish the problems returning veterans faced can be found in Richard A. Kulka, et al, Trauma and the Vietnam War Generation (Levittown, PA : Brunner/Mazel, 1990). For an account of a psychiatrist working with Vietnam veterans after the war, see Robert Jay Lifton, Home from the War (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973).
209 Deception as he playfully overturns claims that the voicing of these objections through a ficti a reason for identifying the two, despite the manifest content of the utterances of both similarities and differences we have seen in witnesses and those they seemingly point back to. A scene in which Philip takes the stand in an imaginary court room reinforces this notion of the novel as testimony. This testimonial fiction both called and concerned with deception recalls recent controve A Million Little Pieces Love and Consequences. Discussions on these texts and the lies found in them tended to focus on the unethical deceptions they propagated while leaving unquest ioned the standards and demands readers hold nonfiction texts to. Both novels complicate the concept of the lie in the same way: by admitting to lying. In The Things They Carried the veracity m forty ago I walked through Quang Nagal Province as a foot soldier. Almost everything else is Deception after Philip tells his wife that the conversations he has jotted down in his notebook are between him and an imaginary character, we read his conversation between a female character in which he explains to her that he has deceived his wife by telling her that their actual conversations are an invention of his. These two sit uations raise a multitude of questions: Is a lie that is noted as a lie by the
210 liar actually a lie? As readers, how can we be certain which statement is the lie? This question becomes even more complicated when we remember that the person lying can be read as a cipher for the person who has created him. While a work of fiction usually should not be considered a lie since it does not seek to present itself as real, should we uphold this judgment in regards to works of fiction that present themselves as nonfi ction? How can readers be sure a character is not intentionally deceiving them if he or she lies to fellow characters? Finally, is there something about testimony that lends itself to this exploration and complication of the lie? Does the genre, its demand s, special connection to the lie? The Truth as Lie As we saw in the joke given above, simply telling the truth does not preclude one from lying. Freud notes that in instances such as the Lemberg joke, the teller lies by considering how the hearer will react and then communicating in such a manner that misleads the hearer. The lie is couched in truth. Unlike most lies, one that takes this shape affects the credibility of not only the speaker but of all apparently truthful promise broken here is not only the implicit one that a speaker is telling the truth, an oath that Derrida, among others, notes is necessary if we are able to speak of ethics of concept that can be identified and gras ped. Due to the disbelief in knowledge that may follow these jokes Elaborating on the purpose of this special category of jokes, Freud explains that hs in which the
211 hearer has believed, on the one hand by reinforcing the argument, but on the other by over on to its side, the joke endeavours to push the criticism out explanation is a bit murky as it is unclear where the joke argument boundary lies. Clearly, an argument need not be a joke, but if we are talking about jokes that attempt to convince their hearers to be suspicious of truth and kno wledge, then it seems we overturning it appeals to the power of the jouissance that a In the course of the Lemberg joke, however, the repression that seems to be lifted is the recognition that the ability to know the truth, to be secure in the guarantee of truth, may not exist. At first glance, this lifting appears unlikely to produce pleasure but rather to reality, which we wit nessed in the pr evious chapter. founded on this pleasure [of recognition] make use of the mechanism of damming u p similar recognition required in jokes that make use of word games. Continuing, he n view of the close connection between recognizing and remembering, it is not r ash to suppose that there may also be a pleasure in remembering that the act of
212 Given the importance of remembering to testimony, we can see the significance this appea l to the pleasure of recognition might have to this discussion. Moreover, it raises the possibility that the recognition of the instability of truth, an uneasiness of which the Lemberg joke reminds one after it has been repressed so as to make communicatio n possible, is one of pleasure as much as of torment. While this awareness might cause a trauma, it is also possible that it will elicit a joy. category of tendentious jokes, which he opposed to innocent ones. The former category often features insults directed at the object, institution, or person being attacked, making persons in exalted positions who claim to exercise authority. The joke then represents a respect that objections to them can only be made under the mask of a joke and indeed 09). In the case of skeptical jokes, this bullseye a rgument that such an entity exists. Rather than forming a logical argument that attacks this logic, jokes that lie by telling the truth carry out this bombardment by appearing to ty, thereby revealing it as derivative. We find yet again qualities of the third order of simulation
213 Another way to lie by telling the truth is notes in The Fragile Absolute one who lies via the appearance of truth in this manner avoid responsibility and/or guilt by, precisely, emphasizing responsibility or too readily assuming distinguish between the enunciated and the enunciation in order to detect the attempt at decei t via confession of the deceit: Indeed, the I of the enunciation is not the same as the I of the statement, that is to say, the shifter which, in the statement, designates him. So, from the point at which I state, it is quite possible for me to formulate in a valid way that the I the I who, at the moment, formulates the statement is lying, that he lied a little before, that he is lying afterwards, or even, that in saying I am lying he declares that he has the intention of deceiving. (139) another, an assumption that springs from the perspective that truth and communication are possible and controllable, as we encountered with the Lemberg joke. It is also an assumption that every literary work we have and will discuss plays on, for the use of eponymous characters gives these texts the appearance of nonfiction accounts even while the book jackets announce them as fiction. Howeve r, and that of the statement do not necessarily reference the same figure, we cannot carry this id entification any further. If we remember the infinitude of the speaker established Operation Shylock, w e recall that we can never definitively know who the one enunciating is beyond his role as enunciator
214 s Consequently, we can never know for sure which Philip Roth we are reading about in Deception, and this dilemma holds true for all the witnesses we have witnessed, a quandary that The Things They Carried as we will see, speaks to. not only the trust the listener has for the speaker but for the communica tive system as a whole. If one can both lie and tell the truth while truthfully admitting to lying, the other can never be confident in his or her ability to parse the true from the false or even be secure in the knowledge that the difference can be parsed qua the the unassimalab le, radical alterity. This failed guarantee, then, points to the untruth not symbolic Real itself Lem berg joke and lying paradox point not to the untrue in the true untrue binary, but to the untruth that lies out side this binary, inaccessible. Negation as Lie as Truth true is often an admission that the negation is an attempt to suppress that this condition
215 the not (235). Similarly, asking a patient to describe the most unlikely thing that would happen s attempt to its opposite, it does not also entail an integration of the repr the hall what is repressed but does not admit it into the location of that which is not repressed, although this negation can aid in that process. What remains is the problem of identifying those negations that signal their opposites as truth and those that signal nothing more than a negation, at least as much lains that such a distinction can be made by identifying those negating statements on the level of enunciation. In discussing the first example of negation provided above, he highly irritating, it gives rise to the question: If nobody ever posed the hypothesis of the negation, then, is if it surfaces unsolicited. In this situation, we have tw o messages: the message sent and the context in which it is sent. A significant negation signals itself as seemed beyond any doubt, it denies something that no one th ought to state, it forbids what was considered to be impossible, it answers something that seemed beyond
216 the case, a depende nce we will pick up on shortly. But f irst, s ince we are in the world of psychology and of an intentional act, we must differentiate between a conscious and unconscious negation. In the case of the latter, plea sant for him/her. He/she fully identifies with this content, and the fact that its enunciation conveys a second message, is extremely unpleasant for the subject. does not seem to fit in the category of the lie since it is an unconscious deceit; thus, the subject cannot intend to mislead by it or at least not be aware of this intent and communicates the truth by lying. Meanwhile, in conscious negation, where we can often under the form of a self nt is an attempt to repress when in fact it is a confession. This deceit is carried out in the guise of truth. This list of characteristics, however, unfolds as if what seems to be true will always be both easy to identify and as it seems to be, an uneasy assumption since we are confronting that which attempts to deceive. Because we are describing statements that attempt to defraud, that attempt to seem to be something that they are not, can we ever be sure of our ability to identify what seems to be from w hat is? As a means of not that this statement likely admits the opposite of what it seems to admit, if a subject is
217 aware, consciously or not, that the statement seems to imply its opposite, the subject could make the statement in an attempt to mislead to this opposite. Such an instance not is the mother when in fact it is not the mother. O r to return to the Lemberg joke, how can passenger A be sure that passenger B did not say B was going to Lemberg in order to convince his listener that B was trying to keep A from knowing B was going to Lemberg when in fact B was headed to Cracow? Like the skeptical joke, negation negates not just the truth in the context in which it is uttered but also haunts all communication. Each instance is not merely a threat to clear communication in that moment but represents an ever present threat that this deceit as truth or truth as deceit can be present at any time. As noted above, we can never prove that someone is lying, both because the lie can function via the truth and because intent can never be fully proven and below we will look more closely at the reason s why intention resists attempts to do so Similarly, we can never prove that a negation is conscious. The opposite, however, is also true. We can never prove that one intends not to mislead, for as we have seen, one can communicate the truth while lying. The passenger headed to Lemberg can counter by saying he knew his fellow conversationalist would think he was trying to mislead him by telling the truth and thus told the truth in order to communicate it, and there will be no evidence to prove him wrong. T estimony and Deceit What must be discussed, then, is what the lie and negation and our inability to be sure we have located such statements have to do with testimony and testimonial fiction. We have already seen instances where a testimony conveys a truth by presenting a
218 version of events that does not jibe with the historical. For instance, I earlier discussed Testimony of a Holocaust survivor testifying to having seen four chimneys at Auschwitz destroyed instead of the one that actu ally was. This historical inaccuracy does not seem to be a lie, nor does Laub or the critics of this testimony argue as much. However, Laub does note that this inaccuracy, which can be seen as misleading its hearers from the historical truth, is actually a n accurate piece of information in the guise of the inexact, for it communicates the impossible nature of wha t the woman witnessed (59 63). On what seems to be the other end of the spectrum, we have Benjamin Fragments which has been proven to be a faux memoir and different from invents the fact that Wilkomirski was ever in a concentration camp other than as a tourist after the war concerning intention true, whether Wilko mi rski knowingly bore false witness remains up for debate. Despite whole cloth fabrication, this false testimony still communicates truths whether it be about memory envy, False M this misleading fiction within the paradigm of the signifier, which Lacan claims covers over the void of subjectivity calling to mind our look at simulation As a means of illustration, we can recall our earlier look at the mirror stage, in which a child mistakes his or her image for him or herself, thus creating a false foundation on which to build his precede s subjectivization remains a phantasm, residing in the realm of the inaccessible Real and calling to mind the rootlessness dug up in our look at Everything Is
219 Illuminated the Re fantasies to shield us from the horror, but in this case, the ultimate horror the Ho locaust Fragments casts doubt itself. The trauma of the Holocaust in this case serves as a shield from the larger trauma of the failure of communication, literature, testimony, etc. to speak to this trauma. If we were to place both of these testimonies into the binary established by P faller, an unconscious deception as it communicates an uprising more successful than the actual rebellion, an alteration from which the woman might draw some pleasure. In t his alteration, Laub finds the implication that the survivor cannot fully bear witness to her encampment and part in the uprising, a pre destined failure the woman might find severely understate the matter, unpleasant to live through in an attempt to make readers believe they are true, perhaps revealing an instance of, to borrow Geoffrey H Regardless of which category which instance belongs in or e ven if we can firmly establish such categorizations, in neither case do we find the witness able to clearly and fully express the larger trauma. We may, thanks to the work lifting of repression does not necessarily result in that repression being integrated, a
220 trauma, which by definition resists integration, is not integrated just because we are made aware of it. As Pfaller notes, while negation and deceit may prove useful to whose truth cannot app To recap, testimony relies upon a deception in order to retell events. In fact, in the case of traumatic events, even this retelling is deceptive since the witness is likely experiencing the events for the first time. Except in cases where the witness is both aware of this deceptive quality and attempts to mislead his or her audience via it, this deception does not amount to a lie but does fall under the category of a pseudo Testimony, then, may tell the truth but tells it slant. In this respect, it is similar to testimonial fiction, which communicates a truth but does so using events it announces as either entirely invented or rearranged. In other words, testimonial fiction tells a slanted truth, but announces this distortion. While this declaration, both an understood one and often an explicitly stated one in a legal disclaimer, may seem to proclaim testimonial fic tion as more honest, it also opens the possibility for a lie through negation. Radio Free Albemuth that he writes only fiction, the legal disclaimer could be an instance of too much protesting. A promise that a novel is not nonfiction could amount to a negation that conceals its reliance on nonfiction. In other words, testimonial fiction relies upon the same logic that testimony uses. This similarity allows us to read testimonial fiction in the hopes of learning more about te stimony. In order to analyze this shared deception, I will now examine The Things They Carried and Deception because they confront this tangled mess that is lie/veracity in testimony.
221 They Carried The question of deceit confronts the reader of The Things T hey Carried before the narrative proper begins. Following the imprint of the book and the fiction disclaimer, we view pages devote d to dedications and acknowledg ment s. On the former, the names listed include those of the major characters in the collection except for Tim to figures who do not exist. This dedication grows more difficult to parse upon reading Andersonville Diary author will see its truthfulness at once, and to all other readers it is commended as a statement of actual things by one who experienced them to the fullest. This claim seems to contradict the fiction disclaimer as it proposes that what will unfold in th e book is that which actually happened and was experienced by the author, an author, we have been told, whose life collection seems to mislead us before it has even begun but this deception and its entanglement speaks to a truth concerning testimony. As we have seen, while testimony re presents past events, it has always already failed at this presentation because it creates these events as it narrates them. The opening p ages of The Things They Carried enact this failed presentation by placing us in the uneasy place of both reality and fiction. Witnesses of the tales may observe real life events, but they witness an imaginative version of them that seek s to communicate tru th.
222 In that section, the narrator comments on a previous admission to killing a Vietnamese not kill him. But I was present, you see, and my presence was guilt enough. I remember feeling the burden of responsibility and grief. I blamed myself. And rightly so, because I was present. But listen. Even that First, it should be noted that this section is a commentary on the fiction collection, but it is also a part of the collect ion. Therefore, it is unclear whether we should read the narrator as a nonfiction author or as the character who resembles the author. The above quote to refer to both the commentator and the person who experienced something that never ha ppen ed does not clear up the matter either. Because there are portions of the collection that do seem to be narrated by a fictional character and some that do not, we can never know who is enunciating here or who the enunciated is, illustrating this diffic character relationships we have witnessed, even if the uncertainty went unnoticed. ien deceives the reader, claiming that he carried out an action he did not, but he does so in order to communicate an emotion that otherwise might not be expressed. In this case, then, we have an apparent lie, but given that the intent seems to be to tell an emotional truth, it also might be an instance of telling the feel w h at I felt. I want you to know why story truth is truer sometimes than happening the other hand, the admission to deception introduces the possibility of
2 23 a lie that will haunt any reading of this passage. We can never be sure that we are not being fed another lie to strengthen the first. Like with testimony, much of the deception in t he novel can be credited to the demands of genre. For instance, while the two above s eemed scripted, and because [the mourning soldiers] had their lines mostly memorized, irony mixed with tragedy, and because they called it by other names, as if to e also be used to describe the action of testifying. By bearing witness, one appears to enclose the reality of the events within a narrative, but in doing so, this fra me also shapes the events. The result is as if a The scripting of testimony can create a narrative whose only alterations to reality seem to be this writing, but in fact, these alterations are part of a larger creation. In traffic feeds into a rotary up on your head, where it goes in circles for a while, then pretty soon imagi nation flows in and the traffic merges and shoots off down a thousand different streets. As a writer, all you can do is pick a street and go for the ride, putting things down as they 35). Here, we find a mix of memory and creativity. This thought does
224 the defined, confining limits of streets. No off roading is allowed. However, as routes, these paths do not create traffic. Rather, they direct it, channel it. The streets are only a tool that allows for the movement of memories, as if a testimony were nothing more than a means for recollections, slightly altered, to appear. Later in the same section, though, the narrator/author alters this descriptio n. makes it now . Stories are for eternit y when memory is erased when there is not hing to with the brain unable to differentiate completely past and present. Remembering does not make the events seem as if they are occurring now; the act makes them happe n now. The archiving of these events is possible only if one creates them as one records them. The ensuing narrative does not replace memory, for it has been effaced. Rather, the story is both the memory and the event. A recollection of the war is a re tel ling of the story that only seems to re tell it. As I have noted in previous chapters, these effects are present in all testimonies, not just those that speak to traumatic events. Because no pure, unadulterated version of reality exists, any attempt to rem ember, which would include the act of testifying, creates a story that is both the re presentation of events and the events themselves. In this sense, a testifier who desires an audience to witness his or her testimony as testimony necessarily tells something other than the truth. He or she must, knowingly or not, deceive in order to tell the truth, must present the narrative as if it were a simple re presentation of events because that is what most readers
225 ex likely reception of the narrative a factor that Derrida, Freud, and Lacan argue must be considered when defining a lie cannot do wit hout a consideration of intention In fact, it is this very intentionality that distinguishes a lie from a statement that merely speaks inaccurately or accidentally misleads. d How to Do Things with Words, context o what he has written, the entire environment and the horizon of his experience, and above all the intention, the wanting to say what he means, which animates his inscription at a given moment. But the sign possesses the characteristic of being readable ev en if the moment of its production is irrevocably lost and even if I do not know what its alleged author scriptor consciously intended to say at the moment he wrote it, i.e. abandoned it to its essential drift. (9) The primary issue, then, is not that we c an never know and prove that we know a n that we can be secure in will not be enough to secure this meaning due to iterability and techne, both of which we have already Just as this singularity could not exis of the mark is neither an accident nor an anomaly, it is that (normal/abnormal) without inability to govern the mark that expresses it results not from a weakness that can be
226 and to its co ntent. The iteration structuring it a priori introduces into it a dehiscence and a cleft [ brisure problematizes the act of reading, lies at the very opening that allows its intenti on to be never be fully read, and thus we can never know whether a witness lies or intends to tell the truth, this gap is what opens the testimony. Just as a testimony pro duces the event free of any remainder or excess, cannot be read. No witness then, can ever be sure how an audience will receive his or her communication for while he or she can intend that an attestation communicate a reception of the intention to intend something specific, such as to lie or tell the truth, can never be guara nteed. While some readers may understand particular elements as a production of genre demands or the attempt to communicate something other than events, another might see these parts as inexcusably deceitful, and we can never prove which reaction the testi fier appeals to only what the testimony intends Although, even consistent, and fully accessible. To add to this uncertainty, we must remember from our look at Bl anchot's definition of reading and Laub's description of testifying that the witness is also his/her audience, and vice versa. Therefore, while this resistance can be attributed to the problem of communication between witness and audience, it is not
227 locate d only between speaker and listener as such but also between speaker and speaker as listener, between listener and listener as speaker. The one who bears witness cannot anticipate how his testimony will be received, including his or her own reception, beca use this testament produces meaning free of his or her intention. A testifier may choose to go for a ride and may choose the street from which this travel begins, but beyond that he or she is only along for the ride. ngle, but instead of attempting to cut the dispel any doubts that the section is merely fiction. Because we are unable to distinguish between the nonfiction author and his fictional creation, we must consider two possibilities: that th ese claims are merely the work of fiction and thus lie outside the false dichotomy. However, because we can never definitively decide in favor of one situation or the other, w e must read with this problem unsolved. Rather than easing the confusion that results from a context that cannot be located, the narrator/author makes separat e what happened from what seemed to happen. What seems to happen something to ease or solve but something to be relayed to the reader. With these two sentences, Tim/ O the inevitable confusion between events and their retellings. However, no one can ever
228 actually free oneself from such claims, for we can never know that a witness is not attempting to h ide his or her false testimony by announcing it as such or that the testimony as techne does not produce an intention that conflicts with his or her intention What we can be sure of is that simply because a narrative differs from what happened does not make it a lie. In fact, sometimes narrating an event so that it is as consistent as possible with the historical is the least effective manner of tell ing a story. t he anti Leibnizean lesson of the Lacanian logic of the signifier is the guarantor of non identity psychoanalysis, might be applied most frequently to a person and his or her identity, the same logic holds for events. An account that privileges historical accuracy does not guarantee an accurate rendering of the event, only a historical one for this strategy assumes that on e can completely transfer the event from history to present, ignoring the many problems that make such a transition impossible. Instead, narratives that also take into account the unreality of reality are more successful. One example of such tales include more real than reality their spectral presence sustains the explicit passionate dance that takes place between the characters played by Julia Roberts, who attempts to stop the My Best While this film removes consideration of the h istorical since it does
229 communicate than a completely honest 3 the ideal heterosexual couple despite being unable to fu lfill it is what makes their dance although they are engaged in performing a fake appearance it is precisely as such that their performance is in a way more real th potential to be the ideal couple, which is an impossibility. By dispelling any such notion, the fake passion of the non couple i s actually more honest than any similar expression by the married couple. The example illustrates that lying and telling the truth can be found in the same communicative act. The Things They Carried embodies this idea as is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed in the retelling truly pr esents the event. parts of a testimony that seem to lead us away from the real are the very portions that relays the story of a patrol on a reconnaissance mission as told by Mitchell Sanders. Sanders explains that while in the jungle, the men hear a series of strange sounds, including those of a cocktail party, a glee club, and an opera. No longer able to hand le the spookiness of the situation, they call in for an extensive air strike. Once they return, a colonel wants to 3 For the sake of this argument, I will allow this phrase to stand despite its impossibility.
230 know why the group ordered such an expensive attack, but they choose to keep silent. (75 76). Of course, Sanders has just told the story that should not be told, as has and nothing more specific, he claims that the story i s still true and that the moral of the story is the quiet that surrounds him and his audience. This claim contrasts have been made the victim of a very old and terrible l 69). The aporias are the important is not the resolution of these u nsolvable contradictions but the contradictions themselves. The moral of a story driven by strange sounds is the silence after it has been told. Likewise, the moral of a story that cannot be told is that it cannot be told but must be told in order for that incommunicability to be communicated. The warning not to generalize or analyze is a generalization given in an analytic look at telling true war stories. The aforeme with a moral most likely refers to the conventions that have come to be associated with true stories. He repeatedly advocates against these generic expectations. For example, he explains based on its ability to convey truth, not its adherence to facts. Deception may be
231 nece ssary if one hopes for veracity. While the necessity for this aporia and this deceit laying his cherishes the tangled weave of the historical and fiction, for it is only by seeing things he had not seen that he can experience the emotions necessary for him to work through his trauma. The re experience as a first experience allows him an access to the emotions that have been inaccessible to him due to trauma, even if it is through events inconsistent with facts. se he has lost. He writes that stories can save us. I keep dreaming Linda alive. And Ted Lavender, too, and Kiowa, and Cur t Lemon, and a slim young man I killed, and an old man sprawled beside a pigpen, and several others whose all dead. But in a story, which is a kind of dreaming, the dead sometimes smile and sit up and r eturn to the world. (225) Once again, the saving grace of narratives, and thus of testimony, is the deception awake, that their resurrection is a metaphorical one. More im portantly, according to the fiction disclaimer noted earlier, these resurrected people never existed, for they are elsewhere admits he did not kill. They have always already be en something other than before been present, which we also find in a remembering of a traumatic event that is never registered in the first place. In a move
232 externalizing this memory that has never been internalized is necessary for therapeutic purposes, the narrator/author of The Things They Carried must bring back people who were never there in order to save himself. Because he cannot bring back the past and make it prese nt, he must make present a past that never was. Caught in a Lie Deception Adding to the difficulty in parsing the statements and their veracity found in ture. As previously mentioned, the text consists of a series of dialogues between various characters without even any attributions. At times, the dialogue seems to clearly convey who is involved in the conversation, either through the other times, the reader must make an educated guess as to who is speaking, making a determination of the reliability even more difficult to evaluate. Unlike with The Things They Carried the explicit purpose of deceit in Deception is most often the character Philip/ up for an affair he is having. However, like with The Things They Carried the reader must sort through statements that seem to deceive thr oughout the work if he or she hopes to distinguish between the truth and lies. This motif of misleading begin s early. Just a few pages in, a character who seems to be Philip /Roth recent He could simply have said that he bought it himself. But he told me that she had given it 13). Early in the work, a character longs for a lie that never materializes, thus explicitly introducing the possibility of deceit to the novel.
233 Deception re surfaces in a conversation between Philip/Roth and his girlfriend although we cannot be sure if Philip /Roth is having only one affair, especially since he seems to be quite th e philanderer. When Philip /Roth asks her how she explains the bruise on her thigh he gave her, she responds, race with an unemployed writer in a walk This exchange introduces the possibility of the truth as lie, and from here, the possibility of this deception haunts the rest of the book. As readers, we can never be sure if what we are reading is nothing but the truth or the truth plus deception or simple deception. As for the girlfriend, her reliability takes an even greater hit when she tells Philip /Roth without actually getting caught . I have plenty of other plans to make without having to construct a hundred lit as deception to deception hiding among the truth. Moreover, the mention of red herrings makes all detective work by the reader suspect. We can never be sure we have followed the right clues, and if we have, we cannot be sure we have interpreted them correctly. Like with The Things They Carried we must make This lack of certainty renders any attempt to make sense of the biggest fight between Philip /Roth and his wife a futile act. She confronts her husband when she discovers his notebook which contains a series of conversations recorded by Philip /Roth including those that take place between Philip /Roth and a woman who
234 seems to be his l over. He tries to pacify her by claiming that they are simply notes for a book. When she counters with the fact that at least one of the conversations in the notebook the one that occurred between him and Rosalie Nichols is grounded in ach other and 1 82). Because the conversations described match those found in Deception the notebook is likely a draft of the novel we are reading. If this is the case, the notebook is a work of fiction, making the task of separating truth from the lie even more diffic ult, for artistic alterations of actual events lie outside the lie veracity binary since they must change the hi storical if they are to be art. However, given Philip /Roth possibility that he is using his work as a fiction writer as a cover for his lies must also be box structure Roth uses in several of his novels takes on a very different cast when it is seen to serve a defensive function for a man whose never only one way. The persona produces the person just as m uch as the fictional character reveals the author. As a result, such an argument makes the deception in the novel more difficult to detect. Philip /Roth admits that the confusion could be cleared up easily were he to take the following advice from his wife:
235 to be Zuckerman. The novel is Zuckerman. The notebook is me. it is me, imagi (189). According to the author the conversations in the notebook do not constitute a confession because they are an exercise in creativity. Once again, if we believe his claim, the reported conv ersations do not seem to fall under the veracity lie binary, for they are fiction. Of course, a work of fiction can fool an audience. As Philip /Roth notes, s of Philip/ them potential for deception, however, is not unique to the work of Philip or R oth. Rather, we can never be sure that a work is actually fiction or nonfiction because the fictionality of nonfiction effaces the line between the two. They forever haunt each other. ation of the author involves deception. While the Philip in the novel should be considered an invention since we are reading a work of fiction, and we will assume for a moment that ext, his commentary on the notebook also applies to writing outside of the novel. While explaining to his wife why the information in the notebook should not concern her, he not myself. It is far from myself impersonation of myself. Me ventriloquizing Philip is a puppet of Philip, a figure that may look and act like Philip but is not the same, a role filled by something resembling an actor. In this sense, life writing, in cluding
236 testimony, deceives its readers into thinking they are reading a portrayal of the writer when they are instead given an approximation, an impersonation of him or her, although, again, these readers are not necessarily the victim of a lie since this effect is more likely to be a result of the genre than a misleading intentionally carried out by the writer. Even in cases where there is intent, it could be difficult to detect because of the But who would know [it is not you], aside from us witnesses a character intended to be equal to the witness, the witnesses of any witness must always face the possibility that this approximat e substitution is intentionally being carried out by the testifier. In fact, for a testifier, playing on this always present possible adulteration may be a effectively than if he or she had stuck to a strictly historical version. Philip /Roth explains to his wife that h e writes himself into the text o about it. character I want to be. What heats things up is compromising me. It kind of makes the indictment juicier, besmirching myself. As is proved, if you still doubt me, by this fucking argument (183 84) We have here an uneasy relationship between art and honesty. Philip / Roth seeks to present a character as himself, which would cause most of his readers to assume that the character they read is him, is living through the same experiences Philip /Roth did. However, simultaneously, Philip /Roth as an artist, can take license with reality for artistic purposes. Perhaps, then, Philip /Roth admits to a transgression he has not committed in order to create a better narrative. He lies in order to tell the truth, and just s false claim.
237 However, another level of deception enters the picture when we witness a conversation between Philip /Roth and his lover. In discussing a published book that seems to be the aforementioned notebook, she asks him why he would publish such mate and our relationship was distorted by secrecy, by your almost paranoid efforts to keep the whole thing t was that this c haracter is not a total invention by Philip /Roth Rather, it is a figure w hose model is this lover. He fooled his wife into thinking both that the conversations were mostly imaginary and that they were based on those he had with Rosalie, not this woman. Th is deception extends even to Rosalie, who also thinks she is the basis for this character. However, we must also consider the possibility that the author has lied to his lover and not to his wife, that the woman he seeks to protect is his lover from the fa ct that the character is not based on her. Or perhaps he lies to both of them. Again, we see how a lie can put into question any grasp we seem to have of the truth. We must question not only what Philip /Roth says to these women but also what he has communi cat ed to his readers As shown by Philip /Roth impersonation of himself, even a correlation between events as they happened and as they are reported do not guarantee that we are not witnesses to a false testim ony. At the end of the above conversation, his lover complains that he has become a famous
238 writer by creating fiction versions of people and events from his life and then complaining that critics accuse him of not being able to invent people and events. Th e following exchange unfolds : you remember. You also do never As we noted earlier argues that because of the inadequacies of the symbolic relation, resemblance is in fact a sign of deception. Even if we remove those shortcomings from consideration, we are still left with the possibility that we are being duped by a narrative that closely resembles the historical. In fact, this similarity is the only way in which a deception can be e xpected to be successful. In other words, mislead. Just as the most dangerous lie is that which takes the appearance of truth because it reveals the instability of t he notions of truth and knowledge, the testimony that should be feared the most is that which sticks the closest to events as they unfolded, for a testament that appears to be accurate but is revealed as false weakens not only itself but all testimonies th at appear to be veracious. The deception in Deception then, is that of any narrative that presents itself as if it were nonfiction, including testimony. In all such narratives, the appearance of an ability to transmit real events as they occurred is the r use, one unique not to nonfiction texts but a characteristic of truth itself due to the inability of the symbolic to guarantee that anything is as it appears, to insure that a real exists behind simulations, that an event
239 precedes its narration, that an ar chive records and makes accessible the past without fantasy at the same time grounds every notion of the balanced Universe: fantasy is not an idiosyncra tic excess that deranges cosmic order, but the violent singular excess that sustains every notion of such an order. that is, metaphysics is not ready to admit that our distortion of truth is grounded in an inherent distortion constit utive of the trut h itself. (86) When it comes to testimony this point can be extended to other forms of communication and knowledge, but my focus will remain on this genre, the genre itself we mean to reference a stable, nonfiction means of storytelling, for such an assumption functions as if knowledge and truth insure themselves Instead, these two are always founded on an alteration that precedes what we might consider pure knowledge. This phantasm is only reinforced by unproblematic claims to truth and the clear, direct transmission of the historical. Any notion of truth must, if it hopes to tell the truth, account for this distortion it depends upon, a depend monstrosity act of deceit, although, at th e risk of belaboring the point, this deception can be considered a lie only if the testifier knows of this distortion and attempts to convey it with the hope o f fooling his or her audience. We can conclude, then, that any testimony is necessarily testimoni al fiction, a claim that also means all testimonial fiction is also
240 testimony. If the real and truth rely upon distortion, then we can never distinguish between fiction and its counterpart. This confluence might seem troubling given that it appears to void the existence of testimony, but it is more accurate to consider it an adjustment of our understanding of the genre. Still, as we concluded from the discussion of Baudrillard in the previous chapter, a loss of that which was thought to exist can be just as troubling as a loss of trauma it is the implicit reference to some traumatic kernel which persists as the obscene integrated and introduces an instability in how causality, temporality, and any other seemingly foundational notion operate. The approp riate reaction to such a revelation is not to reconcile this rogue remainder, for such an accommodation is impossible. Rather, kernel beyond redemption, that there is a dimension of our being which forever resists redemption but our conception of truth. By extension, our reading of testimony must start with the understanding endence on a phantasmic knowledge, a monstrous excess also allow us to better witness those bearing witness, for by experiencing the trauma of this unconquerable resistance, we can perhaps better understand the trauma the witness experiences as he or she testifies both because of the traumatic event the
241 testifier bears witness to and because of the same unconquerable resistance he or she faces as testifier If we look back, w e can observe that the deception we have just laid bare has Operation Shylock, t embodied in the multiple Philip Roths present and able to pass as each other. The use of translation in Everything Is Illuminated uncovered that a genre that purports to provide unobstructed acc ess to the past in fact hides its lack of roots grounded in that past. In the previous chapter, we saw in Radio Free Albemuth that, despite implication of a reflection of that which is in the past, but as precession. As we noted in the introduction, Adaptation reflexivity relies upon and uncovers all of these function as testimony and hav ing found that this deception surfaces frequently in the will capitalize on that which has already come in this work and argue that these characteristics of testimony a concern as being with the future to come.
242 CHAPTER 7 FICTION AS PROPHECY Csar Vallejo 1 Gilles Deleuze 2 To this point, we have witnessed testimonial fiction that has followed the Holocaust, in some cases directly responding to it. Implicit in this selection of texts might be the idea that the conditions of testimony we have seen surfaced anew after Auschwitz, as if the experience of those interned in the concentration camps birthed the aporias that have been discussed. This notion can be found in the popularity of dictums by writers such as Elie Wiesel, who proclaimed the post Holocaust world as the era of testimony, and Theodor Adorno, whose various pronouncements concerning the state of art after Auschwitz have become common knowledge. This c hapter will not provide sufficient space to allow for a thorough reading of these statements, which often appear with no discussion of their context or complexity. Instead, I would like to investigate the common use of these statements to establish the arg ument that Auschwitz changed reading and writing, erupted an abyss in language that did not exist before the appearance of the Nazis and the implementation of the Final Solution. Remnants of Auschwtiz knowledge: a non coincidence between facts and truth, between verification and 1 Selected Poems, ed. and trans. Michael Smith and Valentino Gianuzzi (Exeter: Shearsman, 2006) 85. 2 See Deleuze, Cinema II: The Time Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Min neapolis: U of Minnesota, 1989) 143.
243 c what happened or by who suffered what at the hands of whom, for the facts do not do justice to the conditions those in the camps faced. The reality of Auschwitz, then, exceeds reality itself; it is the Real for which the real cannot account. Part of this oth t there is still life in the most extreme degradation. And this new knowledge now becomes the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, for Agamben, not only educate but carry an aw areness that has not yet existed. This new, horrific erudition and the fact that life is possible in extreme depravity is at least as horrific as it is hopeful becomes the new ethical standard. As witnesses to this horror, they face the same obstacles we h ave already documented. How does one testify if doing so replaces the witness with his or her ghost? How can one record an event when such an act does not simply document the event but produces it anew? Can one truly remember when any memory act carries wi th it a necessary forgetting that must precede recall? For these reasons and more that I which these processes collapse, the devastating experience in which the imposs ible is Muselmann produced by
244 as the place of contingency and its maintenance as existence of the impossib Thus, Agamben concludes that the Muselmann a figure we will discuss in more detail soon but for now I will simply note is for Agamben the true witness because he is the inhuman human is the erasure of the subject, an apocalyptic figure forged in the concentration camp who brings an end to the world as we know it. It is hard to argue with Agamben on Auschwitz as the historical point at which witnessed and docum ented widely. The ethical dilemmas that Auschwitz presents are still discussed over half a century later, and the rise of trauma studies, in which the relationship of the impossible and real is crucial, after the Holocaust can hardly be chalked up to coinc has proven to be true given the proliferation of the testimonial act in various mediums, and as we have seen, the testimony genre places great importance on the witness, which in turn i nvites investigations into the subject and its effacement, particularly when paired with an attention to trauma. However, if Agamben means to argue that Auschwitz produces this effacement as if the subject did not face this catastrophe before the Holocaust as if this threat were not simply disgu ised beforehand but nonexistent if by fact t hat these crises followed the Holocaust for a cause effect relationship. In order to illustrate the existence of these catastrophes before Auschwitz, I would like to finish with a discussion of the testimonial fiction of Christopher Isherwood,
245 specifically Prater Violet and Goodbye to Berlin in which we read prophesies of the It might seem odd to close a discussion of texts written by Americans with a novella and short story collection based on a native British This finish is to the United States, of which he would become a citizen and where he could compose much of his work. More important are the var to the effects of the Holocaust before they were widely noticed. In his early years, the writer lived the standard nomadic life of a child of a military man, his dad being an officer in the British army. He spent much of his twenties traveling across Europe, including extended stays in Germany, where he participated in the German sexual underground, including through the hiring of boy prostitutes. Despite his later permanent re sidency in the U. S., his time there was marked by the behavior of an outsider. He established himself as a conscientious objector to World War II and served in a Quaker hostel helping Eastern European refugees resettle. Through Gerald Heard he discovered and studied Vedanta before the counterculture of the Sixties would make such an interest more popular if still in conflict with the mainstream. His affairs with boys/men much younger than him would continue until his death. 3 Even as he behaved in ways that marked him as one outside the mainstream, 3 three on their relation ship, see the documentary Chris & Don: A Love Story, dirs. Tina Mascara and Guido The Isherwood Century eds. James J. Berg and Chris Freeman (Madison: U of Wisconsin, 2001), 13 30.
246 he also counted among his friends, for instance, many powerful and important people in Hollywood and several well known writers, making him both outsider and insider. cultures he inhabited is important for that the Holocaust had no witnesses in part because of the unresponsiveness of those outside the concen tration camps but also because it was the very circumstance of being inside the event that made unthinkable the very notion that a witness could exist, that is, someone who could step outside of the coercively totalitarian and dehumanizing frame of referen ce in which the event was taking place, and provide an independent frame of A witness to the Holocaust would have had to be both outside and inside the event, for one cannot step outside without al ready being inside. This simultaneous status as insider and outsider calls to mind Isherwood, whose religious and sexual behavior placed him on the periphery or society even as his relationships with rich, famous, and/or powerful people placed him at the c cultural outsider/insider is not equivalent to residing both inside and outside history, but perhaps this dual citizenship allowed him to come closer to foreseeing that which the Holocaust would uncover, prophe cies that we will witness soon enough. Moreover, his prophetic writing is just one of many instances where Isherwood anticipated that which was to come, including his interest in Eastern religions decades before the Sixties. The sexual promiscuity he engag ed in openly was also a forerunning of the behavior seen in some parts of this movement. texts exhibit the characteristics of testimony. The opening of Prater Violet published in 1945, for instance, prese nts a phone call that develops in the following manner:
247 The identity of the speaker is no t only established immediately but is reiterated in greater detail to eliminate any doubt. The main character and narrator is Christopher Isherwood. 4 In case that is not clear enough, we are immediately reminded of that fact. This reaffirmation is reinforced pages later when Friedrich Bergmann, the director of the film Prater Violet phones Chri stopher to ask him to work on the script: I wish to speak to Mr. Isherwood per me talking to you all the time. details such as the fact that Christopher wrote a novel called The Memorial the same The stories in Goodbye to Berlin publ ished as a collection in 1939 although Sally Bowles was first printed in 1937, also all feature a narrator named Christopher Isherwood. This character professes to be a passive recorder of that happening around him, the traditional conception of any writer am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be develope this development can be identified as the time of writing, creating a connection between 4 however, I will use these different names but with the admission that each name always also invokes the other.
248 Prater Violet a work that shares a name All the Conspirators is credited to Christopher. This connection is strengthened when Sally in Sally Bowles imagine they can fairly swi ndle you as much as they want and then you sit down and mistaken on the assumed success an d pots of money these books guarantee Christopher and/or Isherwood, neither of whom were living luxuriously at the time this story occurs, she does reinforce the idea that this novel can also be read as the testimony of Isherwood presented through Christop her. Furthermore, because both works serve as testimonies, they also serve as archives, an association I will discuss below. Both relate the political and economic state of Germany in the years leading up to World War II. In Prater Violet this retelling c the Nazis, and the Reichstag Fire Trial of 1933. The episodes in Goodbye to Berlin are populated by characters whose lives have changed following World War I and the and Sally Bowles Baltic for her summer holidays and kept a maid to do the housework. For the last thirty must now allow people to order one beer and sit for hours, a practice that would have resulted in their being asked to leave prior to the economic collapse (28) The narratives
249 are also marked by Nazi riots, calls for a Communist revolution, the death and funeral of Hermann Ml ler, and rampant anti Semitism. reign and all that it entailed. Goodbye to Berlin when he claims to be a camera, passively recording so that the scenes he takes in can later be printed and fixed. As testifier to his experiences, he records these moments and attempts to provide access to them, meaning he is also an archivist. While the information he stores is fiction based on facts, we have already seen that this fictional characteristic is true of all testimony and will see that it is one shared by all I would like to use this chapter in part to further trace the ways in which testimonies and archives function similarly, arguing that testimony cannot exist without this archival function and vice versa. the past but with a futurity to come in which the past will arrive, thereby establishing both a confirmation and cause of the very theorization of testimony provided in this vival, an opening to the future to come. Furthermore, I will argue that this futurity makes all witnesses muselmann and that i t explains the inaccessibility of the past testimony ostensibly presents, with both conditions further revealing the trauma witnesses face in their acting as witnesses. The Muselmann as the True Witness testimonial fiction, I will look at one the one found in aforementioned Remnants of Auschwitz Like many other theorists, including Shoshana Felman and
250 Dori Laub, Agamben finds an absence at the heart of te testimony lies essentially in what it lacks; at its center it contains something that cannot noted, an aporia can be found in the structure o f the genre, for the survivor the one who has seen, can attest t o what has been seen, and see ms to obtain autho rity because of these abilities those who could not bear witness, those who saw but were unable to speak to this having seen. According to Agamben, Muselmann 5 those prisoners of the concentration camps who became so exhausted that th ey were unable to carry out basic functions like hygiene upkeep, eating, and standing and often ceased to care about their survival. While the Muselmann stead, by proxy, as pseudo witnesses; they bear witness t The true witness, then, is the one who is spoken for, the one whose absence is witnessed and testified to by other witnesses. are spoken for, it is unclear exactly what manifestation such a speech by proxy would take since the Muselmann is he who has seen the Gorgon, that entity who transforms anyone who has seen it into stone, into something other than human. Because witnessing requires an act of seeing, speaks to a having seen, this transformation that is catalyzed by vision renders testimony from a human impossible. Agamben notes that 5 connection all the more significant given the current political climate.
251 apostrophe from which human beings cannot turn away this and nothing else is testimony. The Gorgon and he who has seen her and the Muselmann and he who bears he has witnessed the impossibility of witnessing; he testifie s to the impossibility of testifying, to the blindness that accompanies a having seen. Not only does the act of testifying cancel itself out and not only does the process of becoming iden Muselmann raises another disturbing aporia: the complete witness whose purpose, particularly in regards to the Holocaust, is often seen as an attempt to preserve the dignity of humans is he who has lost all dignity a nd thus appears as the nonhuman. In order to illustrate this condition, Agamben cites The Drowned and the Saved in order to show the Muselmann as that figure whom the other prisoners wish to avoid and human who obstinately appears as 82). These characteristics not only further complicate the act of testimony; they also call into que stion one purpose of testimony: the preservation of dignity, the attempt to speak on behalf of the humanity of those whose humanity others have attempted to dismiss. human testify to the human, and ho To that, I must add, how can those who speak for the true witness, for he who has
252 nothing to say and has been blinded by the act of s eeing, do so when they have avoided witness ing him and cannot bear to do so? These seemingly unsolvable problems do not even confront the obstacle that language presents to the act of testimony. As we have already seen numerous times, ial to testimony. As a pure shifter, the word has no stable referent and thus no substance. While testimony often seeks to speak for the humanity of the subject, to establish its subject, it must resort to a word that refers not to a subject but to discour se. Agamben argues that the fully abolish[es] himself and desubjectif[ies] himself as a condition specific to testimony s the human who is not human is revealed to be a condition of language and the use thereof. A subject becomes a nonsubject the moment the former seeks to establish his subjectivity. We find a similar confluence in the Muselmann to speak. As Aga The subject of enunciation is composed of discourse and exists in discourse alone. But, for this very reason, once the subject is in discourse, he can say nothing; he cannot speak 17). All speaking subjects, then, are rendered mute by t he act of speaking. For this reason, Agamben finds the condition of enunciation to always be that of glossolalia in the New Testament, for a speaker who speaks despite the inability to do so cannot understand what he or she says a condition we have alread y witnessed in our look at intentionality and the ever shifting positions of the witness and audience Any speaker is barbaric in the sense that barbarous and must be spoken for by an other.
253 by proxy must bear witness to the Muselmann despite not having witnessed him, who bears witness in testimony? For Agamben, according to the legal principle by which the acts of the delegated are imputed to the delegant, it is in some way the Muselmann who bears witness. But this means that the one who truly bears witness in the human is the inhuman; it means that the human is nothing other than the agent of the inhuman, the one who lends the inhuman a voice. Or, rather, that there place where the speechless one makes the speaking one speak and where the one who speaks bears the imposs ibility of speaking in his own speech, such that the silent and the speaking, the inhuman and the human enter into a zone of indistinction in which it is impossible to establish the position nd, along with it, the true witness. (120) We can never know, then, who the subject of testimony is, for a witness can be identified only by doing the impossible: by working through one aporia after another. Of the two candidates, one is mute, blind, and n ot seen while the other must attempt to speak for the words, sig ht, and presence of the former. Yet we have testimony; witnesses exist. That this is so can be described as Just a s This very unattainable set of conditions is precisely what al lows for te Testimony takes place in the non place of articulation . it is precisely because the relation (or, rather, non relation) between the living being and the speaking being has the form of being reciprocally consigned to somethi ng that cannot be assumed by a subject, that the ethos of this disjunction can only be testimony that is, something that cannot be 30)
254 The location of an impossibility such as testimony, with its dependence on processes that have always already failed, such as memory, language, and the witness, cannot be expected to reside anywhere other than within the impossible. For testimony to ex ist, its existence in the possible is impossible. Testimony as Archive Continuing his discussion of testimony, Agamben opposes it, which he defines as langue between the sayable and the unsaya of the subject, who wa s reduced to a simple function or an empty position . In (145). For Agamben, the archive is the relationship between that which is and is not said while testimony i s the relationship between that which can and cannot be said. The latter concerns itself with the possible and impossible as we saw above, while the former concerns itself with that which is and is not carried out. While the subject plays a role in both, Agamben argues that the archive assumes a simple subject occupying an empty place while testimony concerns itself primarily with the question of this empty position of the subject. The former has always already assumed the subject and its place while the l atter questions these two. While I will delve deeper into this opposition Agamben establishes, I would first like Archive Fever m the Greek arkheion which housed the rulers who guarded the legal documents and, as rulers, interpreted these
255 Thus, we see a relationship between memory and authority These documents, which make up the arkheion do not simply store the law but also determine it. Similarly, those who guard the documents also interpret them. The place of the law does not simply preserve it; it also creates it, names it, as it protects i topo nomology formation of the archive depends upon this simultaneous preservation creation act a conjunction we have already seen with testimony, wh ose recall determines the event it seeks to re present through its precession of the event This similarity can also be found speaks to this double move. When Derrida writes that the archive recalls and calls on the law, he uses the same verb for both actions: rappeler all someone to order In remembering its documents, the archive and its ke epers order them, thereby calling them back and redetermining them. The archive is thus a place for both depo sition again we are back to testimony and re position. In order to archive, the archivists must call on documents that testify and re In other words, one can archive only by b earing witness to a witness. The opposition between archive and testimony has already begun to resol ve itself by dissolving itself. Agamben seeks to maintain this opposition through a focus on the (im)possibility ause testimony is the relation between a
256 possibility of speech and its taking place, it can exist only through a relation to an impossibility of speech that is, only as contingency uestion of the subject is the concern of testimony, then this contingency extends itself to the subject, a contingency we have event of enunciation, consciousness constitutively has the form of being consigned to something that cannot be assumed. To We find ourselves back at intentionality, which can be accessed but only through its inaccessibility. The implication here, since Agamben has already opposed the archive and testimony, is that this consignment is not found in the archive because it assumes a subject that is classified and rigid and whose in tentionality can be accessed free of any remainder removing any conside nonexistence. This conception of testimony and its subject is in keeping with what has been established in previous chapters. However, the id ea of the archive as that which is able to both assume and uphold the assumption of a subject as knowable and easily definable is problematic, for it presupposes a stability that the archive perhaps seeks to establish but is unable to maintain. We have already witnessed this inability in intention, which one can read but in so in mportance to the repository As the process of gathering signs, Derrida writes, consignation aims to coordinate a single corpus, in a system or a synchrony in which all the elements articulate the unity of an ideal configuration. In an archive, there
257 should not be any absolute dissociation, any heterogeneity o r secret which could separate ( secernere should be determined by a desegregation within, which requires a segregation from that which resides outside of it. However, this oneness is already made multiple by its dependence upon that which it is not for its identification. The secret that separates here Derrida must be stored in the only if it preserves that which is improper to it. According to Derrid a, the foundation of the archive, that which makes its to prearchive a lexicon which, from there on, ought to lay down the law and give the order even if this means contenting itself with naming the problem, that is, the subject second emphasis added). Again, we see that the archive conserves and creates, but more importantly, that w hich precedes the archive and makes it possible prestores a lexicon whose problem is the subject, or the same issue that Agamben clai ms is the problem of testimony. At the origin of the archive is the question of testimony. The cornerstone of the archive, itself often an archive of and attestation to the erection of the institution it upholds, is the same foundation as testimony. Furthermore, just as the archive must be content with archiving and making accessible the problem of the subject, not solving it, testimony can testify only to the fact that it cannot testify to its past event. It cannot make that past event present. Likewise, the witness cannot bear
258 witness in order to stabilize him or herself or thereby make him or herself available. Instead, the testifier can only speak to his or her inability to do so, thereby making available the infinitude and inaccessibility of he or she who witnessed but not that person. look s to the future. Th anticipates the archive to and a similar focus in testimony, in the future. The archive, then, looks ahead but because it both preserves and instates, conserves and replaces, it tends to destroy its of its own. It destroys in advance its own archive, as if that were in tr uth the very motivation of its most proper movement. It works to destroy the archive: on the condition of effacing but also with a view to effacing death drive, cannot be dissociated, for their workings mirror each other. Both look to the future while attempting to destroy any traces they may leave behind, thus any archives. For the former, this amounts to self destructio neither in itself nor in its effects. It leaves no monument, it bequeaths no document of its archive and therefo re resi sts an order or control. Because it will not allow the establishment of a leader, it also renders memory, place of originary and structural breakdown of the said me mory. There is no archive
259 without a place of consignation, without a technique of repetition, and without a certain exteriority. No archive without outside precedes it, the archive annihilates this precursor, repl acing it with itself, a replacement that must be repeated in order to function as if it were memory and make its substitution untraceable so as to be credible. In other words, it is rootless and precedes the memory that it stores, thereby replacing it, but in a manner that seeks to cover the fact that it serves as its own beginning. These are characteristics we have already seen in testimony, and like testimony, t his concealed substitution is made by possible by the French here is dfaillan ce Derrida reminds us that the death drive and the repetition compulsion, according to Freud, cannot be separated, and we need look no further than testimonies to traumatic events for confirmation. In the case of the archive, the death drive results in a forgetting secretly replaced by a simulacrum of that which the archive claims to be disguised, made up, painted, printed, represented as the idol of its truth in pai (12). This idolatry has significant consequences beyond simply the state of the archive, for to recall an earlier point, the archive always already concerns itself with the naming of the subject. The institution stores and records those documents th at establish order. This structure determines not simply the legal system proper but also the system which governs the constitution and identity of the subject. However, just as the archive destroys the archive as it constructs it, the same fate awaits all that the archive seeks to remember and regulate. I have already noted that it renders memory a concealed
260 amnesia. Similarly, it ostensibly establishes a stabilized subject but must destroy th e subject in order to do so. It passes off a simulacrum of the s ubject as subject. These characteristics of the archive show it to be indistinguishable from testimony, or at the very least show that they do not oppose one another. Both appear as stabilized, in tact structures that preserve and re present matters crucia l to the order of institutions such as the law and the subject. However, both create this appearance through the invention of idols they try to pass as originals that have always already been destroyed, thereby replacing that which they profess to protect. In both cases, the apparently stable, substantive subject turns out to be a mirage or specter. One may protest by claiming that a testimony is a part of an archive, that the latter stores the former. In this argument, a testimony is a record stored and in terpreted by the keepers of the archive. To an extent, this distinction holds, but it fails the moment one wishes to access the testimony. Recalling the chapter on th e poetry of Anne Sexton, we remember that while a distinction between an event and its rec ording appears to exist, the fact that the recording is our only means of access to the event makes this distinction meaningless, for to separate the two is to make the event inaccessible, thereby effectively destroying it. Similarly, we cannot separate th e testimony and the structure that stores it, for in the above hypothetical proposal, no access to the A destruction of that which stores the testimony makes the testimony unavailable, effectively eli minating it, and an erasure of the testimony robs that which stores it of its function, thereby changing its identity. Therefore, we cannot dissociate the two. The removal of one destroys the other.
261 Because of these characteristics of the archiv e/testimony the differences between the genres testimony and testimonial fiction are further reduced If the former features a human speaker who must be the nonhuman and a preservation of records that destroys them while replacing them with a resemblance of them, th e similarity between the two only grows for a fictional narrator resembles a human but is instead a nonsubstantive events substitutes itself for the nonfiction version wh ile maintaining a likeness. In both testimony and testimonial fiction, the speaker and the events he or she speaks to are glossalalia, in part because the source of speech is so difficult to locate. In addition, we should expect nothing but a murmur from fiction that takes the appearance of nonfiction, features a fictional speaker who resemble a nonfiction one, and functions similarly to a nonfiction text. Such a sit uation is unlikely to produce anything other than a barbaric text. Archive/Testimony as Prophecy We have already witnessed that testimony, despite its apparent recall of events that have already occurred, does not provide access to or evidence of a past so much as it creates a present that appears as if it were the past. As Michael Bernard Donals notes, while testimony can be seen as a window on the past[,] at its most extreme in memories of trauma testimony marks the absence of events . A testimony m ay be effective, and it may allow a reader to glimpse a trauma (though perhaps not the one provide evidence of that event 03)
262 bot h the truth of an event, and the truth of its incomprehensibility which is a flashback to and reenactment of the events it speaks to, bears witness not to a past but to a loss of the past and a reconstruction of it that is its origin. It speaks to an undefined future when these events can be integrated into consciousness, when the testimony and its events will coincide. It promises a future that will never arrive. The archive also issues this pledge despite its ostensible focus on the pas t. which he previously noted as the archive that comes before the archive as designating the stamp of a date and location on a coin, argues n through the unstable feeling of a shifting figure, of a schema, or of an in finite or with regard to it, is to presuppose a closed heritage and the guarantee sealed, in some note another implication of a future a fixed, stable past that it could then protect and re present. However, because the archive cannot be sure of the past it preserves, its keepers cannot fix this nadulterated by interpretation. The reason for this infixability is the same aporia that presents itself in untouched, the access it would provide to the past would require some form of contact, we mean comprehension, this past must be iterable, which we have seen both makes reading
263 possible but also makes the thing being read no longer accessible. Its very dissemination would open the past but in a manner that would render it no longer simply the past. The past would never be made present, even if we remembered that it had existed. The archi ve, then, commemorates the past, and in so doing, i t keeps the memory of the past alive, but not the past itself. It remembers the past, celebrating the future to come in which the past will once again be membered, will be a member of the present. I t attempts to preserve this history until the forever delayed time arrives, making such a conception of the past possible. The question of the archive, therefore, is not the question of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow. The archive: if we want to know what that will have meant, we will only know in times to notion. Until then, it hopes to preserve, a hope that goes unfulfilled its contents until they can be accessed. Because it cannot provide order to the past while also making that past present it looks to a time to come when such a provision is possible, even if this time to come will always be a promise, meaning that this preparation will forever be undertaken. We find this look ahead to the future in the two Isherwood texts. In Prater Violet Bergmann explains to Christopher while they dine at a restaura nt the coming destruction to expect, predicting poison gas and humans in ovens. In a quotation that
264 must be lengthy in order to document its specificity, Christopher explains that Bergmann: would begin to describe the coming war. The attack on Vienna Prague, London and Paris, without warning, by thousands of planes, dropping bombs filled with deadly bacilli; the conquest of Europe in a week; the subjugation of Asia, Africa, the Americas; the massacre of the Jews, the execution of intellectuals, the h erding of non Nordic women into enormous state brothels; the burning of paintings and books, the grinding of statues into powder; the mass sterilization of the unfit, mass murder of the elderly, mass conditioning of the young; the reduction of France and t he Balkan countries to wilderness, in order to make national parks for the Hitler Jugend; the establishment of Brown Art, Brown Literature, Brown Music, Brown Philosophy, Brown Science and the Hitler Religion, with its Vatican at Munich and its Lourdes at Berchtesgaden; a cult based upon the most complex system of dogmas concerning the real nature of the Fuehrer, the utterances of Mein Kampf the ten thousand Bolshevist heresies, the sacrament of Blood and Soil, and upon elaborate rituals of mystic union wi th the Homeland, involving human sacr ifice and the baptism of steel. (41 42) While the historical details are not all precise, this promise of a coming destruction testifies to and archives the impending catastrophe promised by those events that have already occurred, by the political and social environment that has already been established. Bergmann looks for the significance of these events and environments in the actions that they will produce, even if the consequences wil l only further entrench and extend this past, making the future just as inaccessible. explains the f wand, with which he will try to wave Hitler out of existence. When Hitler declines rudely to umbrel la is not bomb proof (32) He again prophecies to the coming attack on Britain when a reporter asks Bergmann if he expects the British to care about the unrest that has surfaced in his home country.
265 y do not care, they will be made (103). Citing the approach that would lead to the Munich Agreement, the director foretells the failure of that accord and the subsequent bombi ng raids on the island this approach would be unable to prevent. His language is what makes the prophecy so seven consecutive days of bombing that would make up the London Blitz in 1940. We witness this lexica l specificity again when humorous, half serious theory that the appearance, they would somehow contrive to liquidate him a refers to the film company producing Prater Violet course, suggests the military conquests of the Nazis. This conspiracy by the film company also speaks to the coming Final Solution that has as i ts goal the liquidation of, among other groups, Bergmann and his fellow Jews. While Prater Violet takes place before the implementation of the Final Solution and the attacks on Britain and other countries, one might dismiss the notion that these statements by Bergmann serve as prophecy since the novel was published in 1945, well attempt to archive and testify to that moment in history. However, no such protest applies to Goodbye to Berlin which contains stories set in Berlin from 1930 1933 and is published before any of the events mentioned above except for the annexation of chalked up
266 past ten we go down, with most of the other inhabitants, to the railway station, to watch the arrival of the last train. It is generally empty. It goes voyage through the night into the dark woods perhaps unknowingly portends the transportation of Jews and other undesirables to concentration camps via rail, the harsh bell further punctuating the eeriness. In addition, this train is the last and is sparsely designated groups to the camps where their death awaits them. It is mostly empty becau se no other such people reside outside the concentration camps any longer However, none of the prophecies of this archive/testimony are as accurate as businessman in Berlin, brings him to a party under false pretenses. Because his leg is injured, Christopher can do little more than sit and observe a camera again W hile doing so, he notices that: Out on the great calm brimming lake, the last ghost like sails were tacking hither and thither with the faint uncertain night breeze. The gramophone played. I lay back on the cushions, listening to a Jewish surgeon who argued that France cannot understand Germ any because the French have experienced nothing comparable to the neurotic post War life of the German people. A girl laughed suddenly, shrilly, from the middle of a group of young men. Over there, in the city, the votes were being counted. I thought, of N atalia: She has escaped none too soon, perhaps. However often the decision may be delayed, all these people are ultimately doomed. This evening is the dress rehearsal of a disaster. It is like the last night of an epoch. (271) The hauntedness of this scene is noteworthy. The sails float like ghosts while an unexpected shrill laugh, a maniacal cackle, erupts from the partygoers. The scene is
267 face cert duty (268), these people, like the aforementioned surgeon, are most likely Jews. The pr ophecy is not focused so much on the turmoil Germany will soon undergo as it is on the catastrophe awaiting the Jews of Europe. In addition, Christopher recognizes the far reaching effects of this impending disaster. This gathering of Jews while the German government deliberates an issue that will decide the fate of a group of people that includes the partygoers is not only similar to the Nazis finalizing plans for handling the istory. seems to be a precursor to the spectrality that witnesses to the coming Holoc aust will face. The shrill laugh anticipates the barbarism the survivo rs and their witnesses will experience The incomprehensible neuroticism of post war German life will continue to infect the prisoners who manage to outlive the Nazi reign. While this pa ssage serves as prophecy, it also analyzes the situation of humanity before the Holocaust, for this ostensible foretelling is nothing more than a recognition of the present condition that has gone unnoticed. In this respect, we can compare the hauntedness of this scene to that which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels speak of in their introduction to The Communist Manifesto a document that appears well before the Communist revolutions of the twentieth century. In this document, Communism is presented as a spec ter that haunts Europe before its promise is fulfilled historically.
268 Likewise, Christopher foresees the incomprehensible speech and the spectrality that awaits those who survive the Holocaust because these conditions already exist. He sees not their arriva Christopher remembers that which has been forgotten despite its never having been registered, a quality noted in tes timony by writers such as Carruth, who does so when, citing Freud, she historical power of the trauma is not just that the experience is repeated after its forgetting, bu t that it is only in and through its inherent forgetting that it is first experienced at all" (8). Christopher appears to prophesy because his memory seems to be of that which is to come when in fact he merely recalls that which is already true but has gon e undetected, giving it the appearance of a future. Because it is a trauma, the e (Carruth 151). Its prophetic quality stems from an inability to fully comprehend and master the conditions that make testimony impossible. Spectrality of the Archive/Tes timony to the conditions of testimony, speaking, and memory but to the attempt to write as and n Writing of the Disaster this death is once again a revelation of that which is always already be lost, because it does not belong to itself. It only is, the refore, as not its own, and
269 other just as the witness can be witness only if ther e is an audience and vice versa The This nonexistence that resembles the subject sheds light on the warning readers receive prior to the beginning of the narrative of Goodbye to Berlin This note cautions As we have noted with similar disclaimers, it is unclear whether we should read this explanation as coming from Isherwood or Christopher, for although this section precedes the fictional narratives, it also appears in a work of fiction where the latter is the speaker. More autobiography is not specific to its status as fiction, for we have already noted the Isherwood has already spoken as he who he is not. This name and note the quotation marks around the moniker do designate it and not the character it stands for is a dummy regardless of whether it appears in a testimony or testimonial fiction. Agamben, cit ing the work of pseudonym squared, or Pseudonymy name, insofar as it names a living being, a non linguistic thing, is always a pseudonym
270 ut is not that self, a specter. ostensibly marking it as an authentic testimony recounting the real life of the auth or. However, this stamp is a counterfeit that, like the lie, makes all claims of officialdom suspect. A similar suspicion haunts Goodbye to Berlin because of the measures taken to ensure Sally an abortion in Sally Bowles In order to have the procedure per formed legally, Sally and Christopher bribe a doctor to testify that it is necessary. For a fee, the board. In a few polished sentences, the dapper little doctor dispelled the least whiff of sinis state of health, he explained, made it quite impossible for her to undergo the risks of because it has the appearance of a legal one thanks to falsi fied documents. Without these official steps established by law, such a deception would be impossible, just as for all speakers to pass as the author by taking his or her name. Based on the function of the proper name, we can surmise that the speaker of a testimony, whether fiction or not, is always a specter, for a specter less identity does not ce but for those who need to make use of it. Dori Laub, in tell and thus to come to know past against
271 impossible, for testimony cannot exist without them. However, the fictional condition of testimony allows for this impossibility to occur, or at least appear to ex ist, so that the need to tell and know can seem to be fulfilled. In Prater Violet cannot ask such questions du possible only if they perform as actors. In this respect, the difference between testimony and testimonial fiction as they tend to appear is that the latter does ask these questions. Its cast render s any performative unsuccessful by announcing itself as cast, by analogy apt to Prater Violet testimonial fiction is like a film that works against its seduction of the audience into forgetting it is watching a film an example of which we can find in Adaptation, whose self reflexivity constantly announces In the novel, we see an illustration of this issue when the manages to get into the shot, without anybody noticing it Testimonial fiction is akin to a film that highlights the microphone, that asks everyone to notice it. The difference between the two genres is not found in the fiction nonfiction distinction as we have seen throughout this project and culminating in the previous This fictional quality can also be found in the archive, and for the same reasons. Derrida notes, building on the archive keepers as both protectors and interpreters of the
272 law, that if an archive can never simply store objects but must also define them, t hen object, namely a given inheritance, by inscribing itself into it, that is to say by opening it and by enriching it enough to have a rightful place in it. There is no meta Just as we can locate no pure testimony, no attestation that exists above the events it relates so as to avoid corrupting them, we can find no archive that transcends what it stores in order to preserve them wholly. This non tran scendence comes from the necessity of an archive to repeat its records in order to establish them as records, just as a testimony retells events in order to make them the account of a past. Both must repeat in a manner that makes its repetition true; they contents, which can no longer be located because the very institution entrusted to preserve them has added to them, transforming them. As with t estimony, though, this alteration is not to be bemoaned. We will explore the reasons why in detail soon, but the above quote hints as to one of them: this addition is just that, an augmentation, an enrichment The past that is archived and thereby altered i s opened up, a step written on. The failure of the archive to preserve wholly and unchanged its contents is its success. This transformation does not occur once and stop. Rather, it is a perpetual metamorphosis. The archivist will continue to repeat the archive whose iterability requires such a repetition, and thus continue adding to it. For this reason, Derrida
273 the archive, then, produces its look to the future, which in turn produces its spectrality, for its connection to the future makes it unknowable. The future of which Derrida speaks is that which is forever to come, that which will always be and will always have bee n the future, which means that: its determination should no longer come under the order of knowledge or of a horizon of preknowledge but rather a coming or an event which one allows or incites to come (without seeing anything come) in an experience which is heterogeneous to all taking note, as to any horizon of waiting as such: that is to say, to all stabilizable theorems as such. It is a question of this performative to come whose archive no longer has any rela tion to the record of what is, to the record of the presence of what is or will have been actually present. I call this the messianic and I distinguish it radically from all messianism. (72) Derrida has just described the conditions of testimony, which do es not follow under the order of knowledge, for it relates that which has not been registered. The very telling by a witness, whom we have noted is unable to see, allows this event to arrive, but as testimony, it remains outside of the witness and his or h er witnesses, or those who make its coming possible and note its arrival. It can arrive only after it has been relieved of an author or reader. As such, and as I have extensively noted, it resists all attempts at stabilizing it, in part because it is a re presentation of that which does not arrive until it is re presented. As a result, it exists outside the concepts of presence and present. Its absence is not that which opposes presence but that for which the absence presence bina ry cannot account for. This absence which cannot be located is the structure of the archive and spectral a priori tra ce always referring to another whose eyes can never be met, no more than those of
274 is built into its foundation, a ghost like object that is unlocatable, not absen t, and un Berlin Diary (Winter 1932 Christopher takes a walk on a sunshine filled day, thinking abou t the fact that even a traumatic experience, representative of testimony both because the ostensible subject is associated with his mirror image and because he is unable to fully witness this image. As h e continues his ion, as if speaking to and for the incomprehensibility of the narratives that make it up. His disbelief is not only a hint of that which is to come but also reveals the spectral structure of the stories that have already occurred, narratives that have the appearance of the events retold but, upon closer inspection, amount to nothing more than a photograph or mirror image of them. Spectral as Necessity This spectrality, however, is not to be thought poorly of, for without it, we cannot have archive/testimony Derrida notes that we are (91), which means a passion. It is n ever to rest, interminably, from searching for the archive right where it
275 s pectrality, is the very thing that marks it as necessary, as something to be cherished and sought. This illness cannot be separated from the aching for the archive, and, given its association with the genre, testimony. To treat the fever, to try to rid the body of it accomplishes nothing, for like all fevers, it is nothing more than a sign of something underlying. To reduce the fever and a concealment that not only d eceives but also attempts to put forth something other than an archive or testimony, both of which are indispensable. Agamben notes that the Latin auctor who does not have th e legal authority to carry out certain acts and other similar relationships such as tutor pupil. The word also signifies one who transfers property and is thus always an ac between the Muselmann the true witness who cannot testify, and the survivor, the one who can w itness but only by speaking for the one who cannot. Agamben continues, arguing that what we find in the relationship between these two: is nothing other than the intimate dual structure of testimony as an act of an auctor as the difference and completion of an impossibility and possibility of speaking, of the inhuman and the human, a living being and a speaking being. The subject of testimony is constitutively fractured; it has no other consistency than disjunction and dislocation and yet it is nevertheles s subject who bears witness to desubjectification. And the unassignability of
276 testimony is nothing other than the pri ce of this fracture, of the inseparable intimacy of the Muselmann of an impotentiality and potentiality of speaking. (151) Impossibility and fictionality cannot be removed from testimony because these conditions are the very constitution of the testimonia l act. We can speak, then, also of a mal de tmoignage of testimony as necessary but sick, of this sickness as necessary and constitutive of testimony. Thus, an attempt to cover any mal of testimony would only undermine it, for to do so would be akin to B Prater Violet leaves, with the petals of this hypocritical reactionary violet. It lies and declares that the pretty Danube is blue, when and concealing them does not amount to a treatment. Rather, it removes the possibility and all their gangst removes the possibility o f testimony itself, and i f, as Laub states, the goal of the Nazis was to make the Holocaust an event without witnesses, then eliminating testimony aids in this goal. Th at is not to argue that any use of testimony that is not testimonial fiction carries out this concealment, or that any witness who is unaware of the aporias of testimony and thus unable to highlight them aids the Nazis. Although, it seems unlikely that any witness can testify without being acutely aware of the impossible conditions of testimony, even if this awareness is subconscious or cannot be formalized. In fact, a complete understanding of these complications would be necessary first should anyone seek to decorate them with rose petals. Moreover, producing a work of testimonial fiction alone does not solve this problem. To state the obvious, fiction can seduce just
277 as well as nonfiction, can cover over the problems of language, speaking, memory, and the subject as easily as nonfiction. In this sense, testimonial fiction is not a better or preferable genre. However, its tendency to announce its fictionality, as I hope I have shown, can help us to better understand the plight of the witness, to be better w itnesses of those who testify. As we saw with the poems of Anne Sexton, poetry, too, can serve this function. As those who have lost it, to establish oneself in a livi ng language as if it were dead, or in a that place that avoids the fate of all that surrounds it. This place, like those who live through the Holocaust, survives wh en nothing else does. One who bears witness speaks from a place where the possibility of speaking no longer exists. For this reason, what remains, as what actually survives (161). While the subject of testimony cannot be located, while memory fails as memory, language lives on. Even if it cannot speak to events in the sense that it cannot make them present, it can still speak. F or this reason, we can still ask, along with Christopher in Prater Violet by a specter, but we can sti ll witness the witnesses, even if they are impersonations. We can still provide the audience they need in order to go on living, in order to continue to bear witness so that it is all bearable.
278 CHAPTER 8 A CONCLUSION TO COME future to come and not the past. In fact, his fiction does not so much illuminate this connection as it illuminates that this regard is what we have been concerned with from the start, even if n, I would like to briefly law, it refers to the close of a plea. It can signify an o pinion that has been reached after etymology, according to the OED, can be traced back to the Latin for to close or shut. In other words, the word carries with it a sens e of finality. It puts an end to something, complements it, thereby making that ob ject finite and comprehensible. In the case of an argument such as the one found in this project, it works as a summation and deduction: here is what has been discussed and h ere is the conclusion that is to be drawn. In this case, i t follows from that which preceded it, but if a deduction is that which is drawn from the premises that come before it, then it was always there, waiting to be discovered and lifted out. The conclus ion, in fact, precedes itself, waits for its own arrival. It is an ending that was present in the beginning, albeit undetected. Its uncovering, then, not only reveals an outcome but, in illuminating its hidden presence in that which comes before it, also d etermines our understanding of its premises, a new awareness of the beginning that will, undoubtedly, lead us to conclude differently about
279 the conclusion. apodosis, which comes from the Greek apodidonai, to give back. The premises produce a conclusion that returns the favor, starting a process that will never conclude. We could continue examining this word and their references to experiments or riddles; however, we would arrive at much the postponed. The word points to a finality t hat will never finalize its ending always to come. It is the same infinite deferral and promise that we find in the work of testimony, forever promised closing can be witnessed in not just testimony or testimonial fiction but in all literature, for it Literature approaches a future that it will never realize, a future to come. In the case of testimony, we can begin to trace this concern with the future in its attempts to bear witness to an event, which can exist only if it has a place in which to arrive, but as Derrida notes, in order for an event to be an event, to be singular it must given [ donn ] context, opening it up and bringing about a new contextual giving [ donne: added ). We have seen this over flowing already in testimony and the witness and their relationship to the singular, for the witness and event to which he or she testifies must be created in order for there to be testimony. In fact, one could argue that trauma results from this very over flowing, which would render all existing epistemologies ill equipped to make sense of the event and thus traumatize the one who attempts to bear witness to it.
280 We have, then, an aporia: in order to be understood as event, the event must overflow the contex t in which it is inscribed/inscribes, but this overflowing makes comprehension of it impossible. The event arrives, but only in a manner that resists a of the contex be noted, will never arrive. Derrida often denotes it with the phrase the future to come. Even when we arrive in the future, this future will still be approa ching, and it will always remain still approaching. For this reason, Derrida suggests a freeing of it a horizon being, as the Greek word indicates, a limit from wh ich I pre comprehend to realized, or understood, because it could not b refers not only to an expectation but also to the act of realizing something before its arrival. In the context of war, it means to nullify an act by foreseeing it and countering arry out the action. If we were to anticipate the future, then, we would destroy it by determining it before its arrival, an act that nullifies it by acting as a sort of countermeasure. If we are unable to foresee the future to come, then we also will not be able to recognize its arrival were it to be made present. Derrida writes that such a future cannot be announced eschatological and messianic but in a messianic and an eschatological that would be the kenosis of the escha tological and mess Even here, there is a loss, an excess that does not arrive, for this very announcement is made possible by a kenosis,
281 a relinquishing or emptying of the point at which this eschatology or messianism is fulfilled and thus terminated The declar ation of this future is one that can occur only if its messianism and eschatology, the very qualities that make it possible, are forfeited. This proclamation, if heard, would not be understood as proclaiming the future, for its arrival reappropriation, calculation any form of pre determination [; ] it is singularity. There can be no future as such unless there is radical otherness, and If the future is radically other, is that which overflows its context, thereby resisting all existing forms of knowledge and comprehension, any announcement of it must empty itself of this radical otherness if its transmission is to be successful. We can know that there is radical otherness, but if it is to remain r adically other, it cannot be reappropriated. It must remain radically other, that which cannot be comprehended and thus whose arrival cannot be fully recognized. We find here an explanation for the conditions of testimony. A witness, who is by definition s ingular, can tell his or her story only through doppelgngers and only by creating a new event because his or her recall is in fact an initial recording of the event. at testation can never be fully transmitted and understood, but this failure is the very condition that ensures its futurity. As Derrida explains, if a text were able to be fully comprehended, such a transparency of intelligibility would destroy the tex t, it would show that the text has no future [ avenir ], that it does not overflow the present, that it is consumed immediately. Consequently a certain zone of disacquaintance, of not understanding, is also a reserve and an excessive chance a chance for exce ss to have a future, and consequently to engender new contexts. If everyone can understand immediately what I mean to say all the world all at once then I h ave created no context, I ople
282 over. (30 31) The remainder that accompanies singularity, trauma, and testimony, among others, does ensure that an attestation will never be fully grasped, but this elusiveness that on. This future to come signifies that a testimony has accurately born witness to its conditions: a singular speaker constituted by a multiplicity, a position as witness that is forever unstable, a narrative that springs from an origin that cannot be located, a presentation of reality that must create an absent reality, a truthful account that must mislead, and an archive of a past that renders that history inaccessible and ope ns up to a future that will never arrive, a time perpetually coming where these aporias will be resolved. But one final aporia presents itself here, or perhaps it is another manifestation of an aporia we have already witnessed. As we have seen, this futuri ty to come can exist only if we do not anticipate it, do not look for it on the horizon. And thus the fact that the future rushes onto me, comes onto me, precisely that the other is there before me, that it comes before [ prvient ], precedes and anticipates me. The other is not even simply the future [ future ], it is, so to speak, the anterior future [ ], the advance on the future [ avenir ]. (Derrida 84 85) The futu re to come, then, is also the future that has always already existed, a presence that we can perhaps locate in the promise of its arrival although we must simultaneously avoid the predetermination that voids this futurity, for otherwise, we could not be aw are of its coming. It is a future that not only awaits us but has always
283 conditions of testimony. Just as the future has always already preceded us, so too has it been with us in this project from the beginning, that beginning that makes the begin ning proper possible. awaiting us there in the future, I would like to move forward to this beginning proper, to look back at the ways the future has always been promised in this work In our examination of Adaptation, we found traces of this promised future present themselves the process of germinating and dying. In the case of the former, we attempts to write a film about writing that film could never be realized, for the act of inscription will forever continue into the future. This documentation of the past will never write the untouched past, only its being written. In or der to carry out his plan, he must record not only his writing of the screenplay, whether through a mini cassette recorder or typing, but also his recording of that recording. It is a process that can never end, for each stage of inscription requires anoth other that is the past made present is always poin ted to, always hinted at, but will never arrive despite the promise of it s arrival. This eternal voyage is illustrated in the footage of the flowers that r efuse s an end to the narrative, for their death and rebirth is still occurring as the film ends. Theoretically, this resurrection will continue forever, never concluding. Even if we accept that this process will likely end at some point, the seeds of the p lant are likely extending its life wherever the wind or other forces have deposited it.
284 In the poetry of Anne Sexton, the future to g associated with faithlessness despite their congruity with the expected in the given om and parallels the future to exists both in a later that will neither never become now nor, likely, ever co me closer to the present and in a past that has always already preceded the present and will never be presented there This dimension of time that exists outside temporal limits reminds ir verdancy, the very condition one would expect out of ve getation in the summer. This dis congruity on of pre existing symbols, a resistance to established epistemologies and to temporal rules that rflowing of the context it appears in and creates, for like trauma, its constitution thwarts attempts to understand it while promising an understanding that will never be available. We memoriam of herself, bearing witness to her own death. Moreover, her testimony establishes her as both victim and victor of American war profiteering and the masculine y follow the conclusion of World War II, but her death comes in a manner that mirrors the deportation and murder of concentration camp victims. Her life has ended before the
285 event concludes and will continue beyond it, saturating its context and overflowin g it but all while never appearing in the present impossibility of accessing the future by foreseeing it. Early in the poem, we saw a heart of a grape, a seed, which implies a clear beginning to a process that must be traced in order to arrive at a moment in it. However, doing so brings us instead to a baby picture and even this description is hard to believe since it is a photograph of Anne as a seven year old that does not p rovide access to an Anne whose identity has remained stable both up to and beyond this image. Instead, the photo is decaying, chain from fetus to child to adult r enders the image powerless to do so because such an and it never could be fulfilled, only seem to be satisfied could be possible only if one were to ignore the iterability necessary for a reading of the picture One could remember this image of a past event but only as a memory of the past, not as the past itself, meaning that this recall could never successfully summon the event. We might be aware of its having been summoned and its forever impending arrival, but the arrival itsel f cannot be foreseen and controlled but must be allowed its iterability, that which promises an arrival that will never be realized. Operation Shylock and its concern with the writer reader/testifier audience relation ship as well as concepts such as identitfication excellence, to impersonate the author enacts the never ending exchange between testifier and audience. This exchange is not merely one of information but also one of
286 positions. The witness testifies in order to externalize his or her experience and thereby escape the entrapment of his or her trauma and reenactments of it. This externalization allows one to become witnes to the audience, making them witnesses. It is not a one time substitution, but a forever that restarts the process. The audience, then, is able to remain other while receiving the position of testifier. At no point will the witness be wholly and only witness or the audience be to pass as the character Philip Roth, who passes as the author Philip Roth, who in turn passes as Pipik impersonating him. The implication is that this passing never stops. Th ere is always another Philip, always another witness. In order for identity to be read, it must always be iterated and reiterated, never available as a stable, fully identifiable self but as selfs that alter and point back to the original self even they it can never finger this original, regardless of how accurate their aim. What can be accessed is this pointing back to, a promise that the self pointed to will be coming. Despite this inaccessibility, this infinitude of selfs and position trading promises an eventual position holding, a stability that will always be in the future. In the following chapter, we saw this instability of the witness as witness paralleled by the rootlessness of translation as it appears in the translation theory of Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, and Paul de Man, which we read as arguing that translation is an extension of the text it translates rather than an act that points back to a source.
287 writ ings as testament to his failure to properly witness the event established this lack of present a past event because access to such an original happening proves impossible. A witness, th en, must create the event to which he or she speaks, meaning the act of testifying is its origin, which is the same as saying it has no origin. This absence of a genesis presents itself in Everyth ing Is Illuminated, a himself In all three, that which should serve as an origin is never found: Augustine, the may not even be the drowned body is never located, meaning he may have never existed, and a girl who has no identifiable origin. She simply surfaced in the river following a crash in which her father presumably died. Finally, the epistolary exchange between Alex and Jonathan ning the absent origin that haunts that trip also visits their letters. These origins, having been made past when they passed, are ne ver made present, a condition that promises a future in which they will be, albeit one that will never surface An event or text that has no roots in a beginning or opening cannot hope for an ending that forecloses it, only a conclusion that is forever approaching, a living on towards that time in which it can be anchored to and in this past follow that it is disparate from the reality it hopes to re present. In the chapter on
288 Radio Free Albemuth, however, we witnessed that this rootlessness is, in fact, a characteristic of reality. As Jean Baudrillard notes in Simulacra and Simulation, the third order of simulation covers the fact that reality has been replaced by simulation. The only reality that exists is its signs, which signify nothing other than themselves. Just as testimony and translation have no origin, these signs are not preceded by reality; they too are rootless. The reality of Radio Free Albemuth proves a useful example of simulation as reality, particularly Baud satellite that transmits messages from aliens attempting to thwart the attempts of an evil force to continue to oppress earthlings and block their communication with the space beings. These transmi ssions are a type of simulation in that they mimic, through the use order simulation conceals the third order simulation at work. We saw the latt er in Nicholas the satellite with God as evidenced by shooting down of the machine, an event he describes as the death of God. Because these aliens had simulated God when their communications came to function as the voice of God, Philip and Ni cholas conflate their messages with the divine, thereby enacting the death of God by removing his transcendence. If one can mistake divine because they have admitted, at least implicitly, that God can be substituted for. Similar instances of third order simulation occur in settings such as Disneyland and simulation of that past, which is the only possible means of re presenting it. The
289 testimonial act, then, emerges in a context that assumes a past reality that can be retold, and it does seem to fulfill this assumption by appear ing as if this condition could be fulfilled However, in th pretend reveals that it must also inscribe its own context, one where testimony creates the past it recalls because this recall will never successfully bring back the past thereby pointi ng to the future to come in which this order to return may be followed established th at a lie is that act that not only misleads but whose issuer intends to deceive. Furthermore, we learned that a lie need not feature false information, but that true statements can also misrepresent and false statements can reveal truth. We saw the latter The Things They Carried novel Deception. In the former, the speaker/author describes the characteristics a true war story must fulfill and avoid, prescriptions the text then violates. Similarly, the cha racter Philip Roth deceives his wife by telling her a journal of his is nothing but notes for a novel he later publishes, a claim he reports to his mistress as a lie. However, in this conversation with his lover, he also explains that the version of her in the published work is not her, that just because she exists does not mean that he did not make up the textual her. In both The Things They Carried and Deception, what is revealed is that testimonial fiction does not as a rule, deceive, for although it ap pears as testimony, it announces its fictionality in some way or another. Rather, it is testimony, which cannot live up to its own genre demands of transporting wholly the event it speaks to, that is most likely to lie by appearing as if it can do what it claims to do.
290 deception and the intentionality here is not necessarily on the part of the witness but more likely emits from the genre leads to the futurity of testimony through our inspection of its archival function. Testimony serves as archive because of its attempts to re present, record, and preserve the event it speaks to. However, as we saw many times in the previous chapters, this preservation is in fact a creation of the event a re creation of that which cannot be re presented while remaining untouched For all the the event, an alteration that makes accessing the event, and therefore t he event itself, possible. Testimony, then, provides access not to an unadulterated past but to the past as its alteration Because they cannot preserve the past without altering it as such an act would require a past they could take possession of, the arc hive keepers can only preserve that which marks the absence of the past as such. As an archive, testimony functions in the same way. Therefore, an understanding of it is possible only in the future, a future to come in which the past has not arrived but is to come as past, as future anterior. Goodbye to Berlin and Prater Violet, both of which precede the Holocaust the first by pu blication date and the second in its diegetic time and prophesy the coming awarenes aporias. These unresolvable contradictions have always plagued witnesses, but the trauma of the Holocaust allowed for an uncovering of them. This illumination, however, does not solve the aporias; it does not provide a means of understandi ng testimonies and their speakers. Rather, it reveals our inability to do so, thereby pointing to an ever
291 arriving future in which this comprehension will be possible. These fictional texts point to a past that has always been with us and a future that wil l always be coming that are connected. They are both the future anterior and the future to come. It is my hope that made present, one that has not determined it but has cleared a space, keeping open the possibility of its (non) arrival, no matter how indeterminate or unrecognizable it might be.
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299 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Massachusetts Boston in 2005 before attending the University of Florida. He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelors of arts in English e ducation from Lee University in 1999. He was born and raised in Baton Rouge.