Mourning as Working-through
jueves, 25 de julio de 2013
Mourning as Working-through
And melancholia as acting-out. Two ritualized relationships to traumatic memories. An interesting article by Dominick LaCapra on "Trauma, Absence and Loss." Ponder on these passages. For my collection of annotations on retrospection—mourning as retroactive repair work on a traumatic past.
I would also distinguish in nonbinary terms between two additional interacting processes: acting-out and working-through, which are interrelated modes of responding to loss o historical trauma. As I have intimated, if the concepts of acting-out and working-through are to be applied to absence, it would have to be in a special sense. I have argued elsewhere that mourning might be seen as a form of working-through, and melancholia as a form of acting-out. (Note 30: See my Representing the Holocaust and History and Memory after Auschwitz). Freud compared and contrasted melancholia with mourning. He saw melancholia as characteristic of an arrested process in which the depressed, self-berating, and traumatized self, locked in compulsive repetition, is possessed by the past, faces a future of impasses, and remains narcissistically identified with the lost object. Mourning brings the possibility of engaging trauma and achieving a reinvestment in, or recathexis of, life that allows one to begin again. In line with Freud's concepts, one might further suggest that mourning be seen not simply as individual or quasi-transcendental grieving but as a homeopathic socialization or ritualization of the repetition compulsion that attempts to turn it against the death drive and to counteract compulsiveness—especially the compulsive repetition of traumatic scenes of violence—by re-petitioning in ways that allow for a measure of critical distance, change, resumption of social life, ethical responsibility, and renewasl. Through memory-work, especially the socially engaged memory-work involved in working-through, one is able to distinguish between past and present and to recognize something has having happened to one (or one's people) back then that is related to, but not identical with, here and now. Moreover, through mourning and the at least symbolic provision of a proper burial, one attempts to assist in restoring to victims the dignity denied them by their victimizers. (713)
When mourning turns to absence and absence is conflated with loss, then mourning becomes impossible, endless, quasi-transcendental grieving, scarcely distinguishable (if at all) from interminable melancholy. (716)
In acting-out, the past is performatively regenerated or relived as if it were fully present rather than represented in memory and inscription, and it hauntingly returns as the repressed. Mourning involves a different inflection of performativity: a relation to the past that involves a different inflection of performativity: a relation to the past that involves recognizing its difference from the present—simultaneously remembering and taking leave of or actively forgetting it, thereby allowing for critical judgment and a reinvestment in life, notably social and civic life with its demands, responsibilities, and norms requiring respectful recognition and consideration for others. By contrast, to the extent someone is possessed by the past and acting out a repetition compulsion, he or she may be incapable of ethically responsible behavior. (716)
The possibility of even limited working-through may seem foreclosed in modern societies precisely because of the relative dearth of effective rites of passage, including rituals or, more generally, effective social processes such as mourning. But this historical deficit should neither be directly imputed as a failing to individuals who find themselves unable to mourn nor generalized, absolutized, or conflated with absence, as occurs in the universalistic notion of a necessary constitutive loss or lack or an indiscriminate conflation of all history with trauma. (721)
A critique of the conflation of structural and historical traumas. And of the mythical projection of absence into a narrative of loss: When structural trauma is reduced to, or figuredas, an event, one has the genesis of myth wherein trauma is enacted in a story or narrative from which later traumas seem to derive (as in Freud's primal crime or in the case of original sin attendant unpon the fall of Eden). (725). The critical attitude will differentiate absence and loss, and the historical and structural elements in trauma.
(Importance of empathy): But empathy that resists full identification with, and appropriation of, the experience of the other would depend both on one's own potential for traumatization (related to absence and structural trauma) and on one's recognition that another's loss is not identical to one's own loss. (723)
Freud's conception of nachträglichkeit:
At least in Freud's widely shared view, the trauma as experience is "in" the repetition of an early event in a later event—an early event for which one was not prepared to feel anxiety and a later event that somehow recalls the early one and triggers a traumatic response. The belated temporality of trauma and the elusive nature of the shattering experience related to it render the distinction between structural and historical trauma problematic but do not make it irrelevant. (725)