Collective Memory and the Historical Past
There is one critical way we honor great tragedies: by never forgetting. Collective remembrance is as old as human society itself, serving as an important source of social cohesion, yet as Jeffrey Andrew Barash shows in this book, it has served novel roles in a modern era otherwise characterized by discontinuity and dislocation. Drawing on recent theoretical explorations of collective memory, he elaborates an important new philosophical basis for it, one that unveils profound limitations to its scope in relation to the historical past.
Crucial to Barash’s analysis is a look at the radical transformations that symbolic configurations of collective memory have undergone with the rise of new technologies of mass communication. He provocatively demonstrates how such technologies’ capacity to simulate direct experience—especially via the image—actually makes more palpable collective memory’s limitations and the opacity of the historical past, which always lies beyond the reach of living memory. Thwarting skepticism, however, he eventually looks to literature—specifically writers such as Walter Scott, Marcel Proust, and W. G. Sebald—to uncover subtle nuances of temporality that might offer inconspicuous emblems of a past historical reality.
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according analysis Aristotle Barrès capacity century cohesion collective memory collective remembrance collective sphere concept of collective concerning configuration contemporary continuity cultural discontinuity Edmund Husserl elaborated essay essential êthos everyday expression fiction fictive field of currency forms framework French Freud function group experience Halbwachs Hegel Hegel’s Hippolyte Taine historian historical past horizon of contemporaneity human Husserl Ibid images imagination individual interaction interpretation Jan Assmann Jean-Marie Le Pen Leibniz levels lifeworld living memory mass communication mass media Maurice Barrès mémoire modern modes narrative Nietzsche Nietzsche’s Nonetheless novel original Paul Ricœur perception period personal identity perspective Pierre Nora political presupposes presupposition Proust public sphere public visibility radical reality recall recent recollection relation remembered experience reminiscence representation retained Ricœur Roland Barthes role Roy Lichtenstein scope shared significance simulate singular social spatiotemporal specific symbolic embodiment television theme theory tion traditional Walter Benjamin Walter Scott Waverly