Just a quick placeholder so I can get this stuff in Wilson and throw away this slip of paper:
Friedlander, Probing the Limits of Representation. Has to be recalled. Sorry, whoever you are.
Tuan, Annals v. 81:684-96. Promising article on discourse instead of economy. Prefiguring Lovering? - I wonder.
I was thinking in the shower yesterday (where I do my best thinking: why is that?!) and I remember that I had two good thoughts.
Because I am an idiot, I did not write them down afterwards. (Why must I always be so meta? - how is it helpful to remember that I had thoughts, and moreover two of them, and not remember what they actually were - like Polish, where I remember that I have learned a certain word, but can't remember it?)
Reconstructing...I was thinking about Foucault and the problem/method of putting statements in relation. And I was thinking about how I got onto the Latour problem with things speaking (or NOT, in his view). The Latour thing gets to the question of what Nowa Huta can 'say,' unmediated. My hypothesis is: not too much. If you don't know much about the place, and you visit it out of some random impulse, you won't see much. (Incidentally, this relationship between knowing and seeing - informed seeing, let's say - is pretty interesting.)
I think the main point in the shower (I should take another one soon!) is that I must remember that I am dealing not with â€œhistorical factâ€? (whatever that is) but simply the representation of those facts. There's a tension (see last entry) between a worldview that accepts that there ARE facts, and representations can be measured against them for congruence, and a worldview that believes ALL "facts" are partial and situated. I grew up in the former tradition, of course, but I do see some logic in the latter. I am the positivist self skating on the edge of postmodernity. (And about to fall on my ass, probably.)
Interestingly the question of Foucaultâ€™s about putting facts â€œin relationâ€? could have a geographical interpretation because: WHERE are those statements located? I have already, without really thinking too much about this (trust the instincts!), identified the diff locations at which representation of NH takes place. Perhaps this is how it becomes geographical.
Then of course the question becomes: well, what do we learn from knowing how these statements are in relation? Whatâ€™s the point? I'm intrigued by the subject, and the application of theory/method, but the â€˜so whatâ€™ question still hangs there.
Note to self: the lit review has to engage only the tourism lit (minimally); the representation lit; and the econ devt lit. Only!
I went to see Professor W in the history dept before break, because I was confused about how a historian whose book on Auschwitz I've read and puzzled over can believe in the absolute power of a historical site to "speak" to us, while simultaneously believing that all history is culturally/politically situated. (Told by the winners, in a famous phrase I've just mangled.)
W. said that there are really two types of historians: the empiricists/positivists who read archives and use their training to create the story those traces give them (they can't get beyond the traces of what can be seen); and the others, who doubt the capacity of these objects/memories/traces to be interpreted adequately by historical methods (especially when there are no objects/memories/traces).
This kind must be what Friedlaender is talking about with the exceptionalism (the "state of exception" - Agamben) of the Holocaust. Poetry and other arts can tell this story in a way that professional history apparently cannot - at least, according to some historians.
I spent 10 days on the Western Front listening to the sites of war, and in the end I concluded that they can't adequately speak, because we are not properly situated to hear. (It's the partial imperfect knowledge thing.) So I guess I belong in the post-structuralist camp on this one. There might be some flashes of transcendence now and again, and if an artist makes such gestures and you can receive them, then well and good. But it's not a reliable system of knowledge/emotional transfer.
W. recommended that I read Tony Judt's new book: Postwar: a History of Europe since 1945. UMN doesn't have it (oddly) and it's 900 pp so it's for future reading. I might like to read Friedlaender's book, though.