Vittnet eller mottagaren? Att skapa traumaestetik istället för att lyssna

Christina Kall


The aim of this article is to throw light upon normative feat- ures and ethical implications that follow when discussing the problem of ’testimony’ in essays from Testimony. Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History (1992) by Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub. My concluding point being that we, rather than focusing on the witness, need to start drawing more attention to the receiver/listener. Initially regarded as an impossible narrative in the writing of Felman and Laub, the Holocaust gradually transforms into a possible narrative, but to what cost? Here we are faced with two problems. In an attempt to save the narrative as a form of testimony by stressing its performative aspects, the represen- tational qualities lose some of their urgency and consequently become secondary. When the failure of witnessing is inscribed as a condition of the ’authentic testimony’, and the witness is characterized by terminal crisis, she or he gets aestheticized as the unknown other. The risk here being that this inscription of the failure brings priority to testimonies showing their own shortcomings, and so, we have a modernist poetics of trauma excluding differing forms of traumatized testimonies.

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