Modernization and the Crisis of Memory: John Donne to Don DeLillo

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Rodopi, 2002 - 211 страници
Contemporary studies of memory focus either on the psychology of remembering, on its archives and media, or on the traditional ars memoriae. The general cultural framework with its social and material factors is largely neglected, despite the obvious impact on both collective and individual mnemonic mentality. But, as in the first half of the seventeenth century or the later twentieth century, the literary and political invocation of religious, collective or national memory occurs most of all in times of historical rupture, and attendant changes of a radical technological and cultural nature. Appeals to the power of memory are not only indicative of the anxiety about the loss of its binding or absolving character. They are already symptomatic of a deep crisis of cultural memory in itself, resulting from an erosion of firm spatial, temporal and historical references along with an increasing tendency towards reflexivity, which calls the apparently self-evident facts of past and present into question. The continuity of remembering, however, as this study argues, presupposes the permanence and recurrence of social and material relations, of representative or symbolic persons, objects and events, in which it can inscribe itself. But owing to the shift in historical consciousness from (typological) past to progressive future and novelty and under the impress of industrial production and modern media (mobility and communications), the Western subject has to cope constantly with new empirical situations, symbolic values and historical or current information whose origin and evolution - indeed, the very memory of them - remain alien to personal identity and memory. The promise of redemption and salvation, still inherent in seventeenth-century collective memory, loses credibility.
The study includes a wide range of authors from Donne to Pope, Tennyson to George Eliot and Walter Pater, W.B. Yeats to Don DeLillo and covers the whole period from early modern England to postmodernism. It can thus also be read as a brief history of Western memory and its continuing crises.

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The Secularization of Memory
The Victorian Evaporation of Memory
Epiphanic Memory
Memory as Paranoia
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Страница 37 - Tis but an hour ago since it was nine ; And after one hour more 'twill be eleven ; And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot ; And thereby hangs a tale.
Страница 97 - Because what's the use of learning that I am one of a long row only — finding out that there is set down in some old book somebody just like me, and to know that I shall only act her part ; making me sad, that's all. The best is not to remember that your nature and your past doings have been just like thousands' and thousands', and that your coming life and doings '11 be like thousands
Страница 77 - FORGET six counties overhung with smoke, Forget the snorting steam and piston stroke, Forget the spreading of the hideous town; Think rather of the pack-horse on the down, And dream of London, small, and white, and clean, The clear Thames bordered by its gardens green...
Страница 69 - All things are taken from us, and become Portions and parcels of the dreadful Past. Let us alone. What pleasure can we have To war with evil? Is there any peace In ever climbing up the climbing wave? All things have rest, and ripen toward the grave In silence; ripen, fall and cease: Give us long rest or death, dark death, or dreamful ease.
Страница 53 - ... whatever is new or uncommon contributes a little to vary human life, and to divert our minds, for a while, with the strangeness of its appearance. It serves us for a kind of refreshment, and takes off from that satiety we are apt to complain of, in our usual and ordinary entertainments.
Страница 163 - Leda and the Swan' because the editor of a political review asked me for a poem. I thought 'After the individualist, demagogic movement founded by Hobbes and popularized by the Encyclopaedists and the French revolution, we have a soil so exhausted that it cannot grow that crop again for centuries'. Then I thought 'Nothing is now possible but some movement from above preceded by some violent annunciation'.
Страница 92 - As the child's mind was growing into knowledge, his mind was growing into memory: as her life unfolded, his soul, long stupefied in a cold narrow prison, was unfolding too, and trembling gradually into full consciousness.
Страница 7 - It is the first and supreme necessity only, a necessity that is not chosen but chooses, a necessity paramount to deliberation, that admits no discussion, and demands no evidence, which alone can justify a resort to anarchy.
Страница 69 - Sun-steep'd at noon, and in the moon Nightly dew-fed; and turning yellow Falls, and floats adown the air. Lo! sweeten'd with the summer light, The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow, Drops in a silent autumn night. All its allotted length of days, The flower ripens in its place, Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no toil, Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil.