Thursday, July 28, 2005

Killer fish

Killer fish
Originally uploaded by johnwalter.
Every year, Western Michigan University hosts the International Congress on Medieval Studies and one of my friends loves to go down to the lake and feed the fish, ducks, and geese (she's able to have geese eat right from her hand).

The carp in the lake are quite voracious, so much so that I've seen a swarm of them lift ducks up out of the water as they all fight for bread crumbs. At one point we tried feeding the ducks by putting the bread first in the shallows and on the shore, and the fish, as you can see here, would force themselves up out of the water to get the food. That lead us into seeing how far up on shore we could get the fish to go, and then we realized we ought to get it on film. It took a number of tries, but we finally got a good shot, which you see here.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

“Novels: They’re not just for ladies of leisure anymore"

from Neil Gaiman's blog:

"Finally, anyone who reviews comics, or comments on comics, or thinks they might one day write about or review comics in a newspaper has to read Jessa Crispin's pithy tirade first. It starts with 1. “They’re not just for kids anymore” is not an original, interesting, clever or even remotely intelligent opening statement. You’re recycling a decades-old stereotype, akin to declaring “Novels: They’re not just for ladies of leisure anymore” in a review of a “real” book. And it goes on from there."


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Blogging tools

Susannah Gardner has an article on blogging tools. Related is a blogging software comparision chart. Both are in the July 14, 2005 issue of the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review. [via Depraved Librarian]

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Lina Bolzoni on memory, visual imagery, and narrative

from Lina Bolzoni's The Gallery of Memory: Literary and Iconographic Models in the Age of the Printing Press:

"The memory treatises of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are filled with recommendations on how to remember an oration, a sermon, and, in particular, the narrative sequences that they may contain. The Ars memorativa written in Bologna in 1425 is rich with instructions of this nature. The model of writing and reading is powerful in this treatise: thanks to the art of memory, it claims, one reads what one wants to remember 'as in a mental book' [tamquan in libro mentali]. Places can be ordered in any fashion, but it is better to have an order that moves from left to right, 'like that which we follow when we write and read a physical book' [qualem tenemus in descriptione litterarum et lectione in libro materiali]. In the part entitled 'de ymaginibus sentenciarum' [the images of sentences], the author explains that in order to remember a narration, you need to divide it into different parts that reflect the essence of the things narrated. Each of the parts is then translated into an image: 'when you want to work with the images of the sentences, it is not necessary to use the single expressions of which the sentence is made up, but you must fully understand the substance of the thing and make a summary of it and compose an image of the summary.' At this point the images are positioned in the places of memory. The example give is that of Saint Marina (Saint Margaret of Antioch): her life is divided into twelve parts, each with a corresponding image. The figure of Saint Marina entering the monastery is to be positioned in the first [page 214 begins] place of memory; in the second place, her dying father, who forbids her to reveal that she is a woman; and so on.

"It is clear that the mnemonic procedure used here is identical to the procedure that a painter would follow if he wanted to represent the life of Saint Marina in twelve paintings. In the spaces of memory the model of writing lives alongside and overlaps with a model from the figurative arts.

"There is another very interesting comment in the manuscript about the perception of time that is best suited for the translation of a narration into a series of mental pictures. It is foreseen that the order of mnemonic places will reflect the order of events in the story. The spatial succession, therefore, visually translates the time of the story. 'Note, however,' warns the author, 'that everything must appear, not as belonging to the past, but almost as if it were to happen in the future or as it were present in the mind.' It would seem that at the moment that the time of the narration is translated into the space of the image, there is a sort of temporal distortion: the image is more effective if it does not refer to a past event but puts the event in the present, or even makes the images that tell (and recall) a story make us think of a time game played by Ariosto a century later in the Orlando furioso: in the castle of Tristan in canto 33 the tragic events of contemporary history are represented in a cycle of paintings. In this way, they are transported into the past, projected into the age of paladins, and recounted through images thanks to Merlin, the only painter who knew how to 'paint the future' (33.3.6). Ariosto thus plays with time by using the artifice of a feigned ecphrasis: the words are presented as if suggested by the images to which they themselves have given life, images that exist only in the space of a poem" (213-14).

[Note: See James Fentress and Chris Wickham's Social Memory, p. 47-51, on further discussion of (social) memory, images, and narrative, including the connection between medieval sermons and the visual art within churches:

Etienne Gilson has described the techniques used in a medieval sermon (1932). The central images were drawn from sacred scripture, and this automatically gave these images authority. These [page 50 begins] images were fixed in the listener's mind by rendering them as vivid, even as gruesme, as possible. A medieval sermon was like a fresco or a stained-glass window: it taught through a sucession of visual images (49-50).]

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Ruminations on memory by David Farrell Krell

From Krell's Of Memory, Reminiscence, and Writing: On the Verge:

"Until the modern age the word memory extended across the vast verge of the Latin memor, 'to be mindful,' mens, 'the mind,' and all the words that display the Indogermanic roots men-, mon-, mn-, words related to thinking, intending, and being conscious or mindful in any way. When Chaucer wished to assure his reader or listener that Arcite did not die or even lose consciousness as a result of the fall from his steed all he needed to write was, 'For he was yet in memorie and alyve' ('The Knight's Tale,' I. 2698). The sense of memory was so broad as to encompass both death and love: hē mnēmē is remembrance in general but also a record, memorial, or tomb; mnaomai means to turn one's mind to a thing but also to woo and to solicit favor. Even the medieval German word minne, which we remember thanks to minnesingers and Tristan's ache of amorous love, derives from the sense of 'having in mind.' How paltry the word memory has become since then! We no longer hold it in memorie and alyve--and the present book is unfortunately no exception to the rule. It reduces the sense of memory to what contemporary psychology and neurophysiology call 'long-term memory,' that is, retention of persons, objects, or events from the distant past. Neither the acquisitions nor retention of things we learn constitutes a part of the book, as though memory were not essential to the whole affair we call 'education.' Neither genetics nor immunology plays a apart in it---as though I were certain that it is only mere metaphor at work when we assert that template RNA 'remembers' or that the host 'recognizes' its own and 'rejects' the foreign invader, as though one could forget genes and all the body and write ghostly of memory and reminiscence" (2).


Anime links at Wikipedia

Cowboy Bebop

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG

Paranoia Agent

Samurai Champloo

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Orality & Literacy, Media Ecology, and Medium Theory Links

Martin Irvine's The Book, the Page, the Text, and Biblio-Futures  or, The Once and Future Book

Cornell University's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections digital exhibits

The Getty Museum's Making Manuscripts

Adoption of the Codex Book: Parable of a New Reading Mode

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Some cool courses

Jeff Rice's Digital Literacy

Christopher Kelty's Abracadabra: Language and Memory in Science and Technology

Martin Irvine's Oral Culture to Early Print Culture:  Memory Machines, Information Design, Economics of Media Systems 

Thomas J. Kinney's Honors FYC: The Poetics and Politics of Memory

Carol Pasternack's Fron Scroll to Screen

Marjorie Curry Wood's Medieval Rhetoric and Poetics


Friday, July 15, 2005

Hanging Lake

Originally uploaded by johnwalter.
One of my two favorite places on earth is Hanging Lake, which is up Deadhorse Canyon. Deadhorse is itself off Glenwood Canyon through which run both the Colorado River and I-70. Hanging Lake is about a mile up Deadhorse Canyon, and "hangs" about a good 500-600 feet up the canyon wall (the whole hike has an elevation gain of 1,100 feet). This picture is taken from a boardwalk over the lake. The edge of the lake which I'm standing over is just a few inches from the cliff edge.

Just off I-70, about 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs, CO (my home town). If you visit during the summer, I recommend packing breakfast and going very early in the morning as Hanging Lake now gets up to 100,000 visitors a year.

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Glenwood Canyon

Glenwood Canyon
Originally uploaded by johnwalter.
The Hanging Lake trail now begins at the Hanging Lake rest area off I-70. The Colorado River here runs slow and deep thanks to Shoshone Dam. Unlike the old days before the Glenwood Canyon project was finished, there was just a small dirt parking lot at the base of the trail. Now, you park a quarter mile away and walk alongside the Colorado River.

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Glenwood Canyon from Hanging Lake

In Glenwood Canyon
Originally uploaded by johnwalter.
A view of Deadhorse Canyon looking from the edge of Hanging Lake towards Glenwood Canyon.

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Why blog?

Matthew Kirschenbaum has an interesting response to the Chronicle attack on blogging by "Ivan Tribble":

If anyone needs an answer as to “why blog,” an utterly crass, careerist answer (as befits the Chronicle), here’s one: networking . First, go read Phil Agre’s “ Networking on the Network .” Then ask a blogger how their blog has paid off in terms of networking dividends. Bet they’ll have some stories to tell. In fact, why don’t we do just that? Would all academic bloggers reading this consider posting a comment or a trackback entry about some specific professional dividend that their online presence in the blogosphere has garnered for them?

Share you story at

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Oral history database

from In the First Person:

"This release of In the First Person provides in-depth indexing of more than 2,500 collections of oral history in English from around the world. With future releases, the index will broaden to identify other first-person content, including letters, diaries, memoirs, and autobiographies, and other personal narratives."

Found at Archivalia.

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Why librarians rock

According to Sam Vaknin's FreePint article "Free Public Domain and Copyrighted e-Books Online," John Ockerbloom's Online Books Page (OBP), has the largest collection of free online books on the Web. At Archivalia, Klaus Graf takes issue with this claim by pointing out that the Digital Book Index (DBI) has 3x as many free books as OBP. Graf then provides a number of links to large collections that have free online books that neither the OBP or the DBI have.

12 Aug 2005 Update: changed the mispelled Graff to Graf.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Guns, Germs, and Steel on PBS

Tonight debuts the first episode of Guns, Germs, and Steel, a three-part PBS show based on the book of the same name. If you miss it, episode one repeats later this week. (Your local station's dates and times and dates may vary.)

From the PBS Web site:
Based on Jared Diamond's Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, Guns, Germs and Steel traces humanity's journey over the last 13,000 years – from the dawn of farming at the end of the last Ice Age to the realities of life in the twenty-first century.

Inspired by a question put to him on the island of Papua New Guinea more than thirty years ago, Diamond embarks on a world-wide quest to understand the roots of global inequality.
Read more.

NPR's Talk of the Nation featured Jared Diamond today in a program titled "Jared Diamond: The Rise and Fall of Civilizations".

Cross posted to Notes from the Walter J. Ong Archive.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Leech on the "art of memory," social memory, and Bakhtin

From Leech, Eleanor Winsor. "Personal and Communal Memory in the Reading of Horace's Odes, Books 1-3." Arethusa 31.1 (1998) 43-74.

"A few preliminary remarks brought together from recent theoretical writings about social memory are in order. Memory, however commonly conceived as a property of individual minds, has an inherently social aspect related to the circumstances and conduct of day-to-day life (Mitchell and Edmunds 1990.1-11). People acquire memories as members of society; memories of recent events seem to us fresh and coherent when we remain in the everyday presence of other persons involved in them. The passive retention of events in memory can be transferred into active recall by the stimulus of communal discourse. As the originator of the scholarly concept of collective memory, Maurice Halbwachs, observed, "the greatest number of personal memories come back to us when other persons recall them to us" (Halbwachs 1992.38). Similarly, communities or groups can influence the restructuring of memories. Remembering is a process of construction, not a retrieval of stored information, but the putting together of a claim about past states of affairs by means of a framework of shared cultural understanding (Radley 1990.46-47). Present experience shapes our interpretive construction of past events (Mitchell and Edmunds 1990.8). Thus individual memory operates within a variety of communal or institutional frames which determine its concerns in relation to their specific values and priorities. In addition to political communities, there are frameworks of family, of religion, of social class or tradition, and these contexts may determine not only what is remembered but also what is forgotten (Fentress and Wickham 1992.36). [End Page 47]

"In its processes of subjective transformation, memory weakens the boundaries between self and the public world. Although events which are independent of oneself often appear memorable as narrative histories possessing their own causal-thematic structure, these may also be assimilated as episodes into the subjective chronology of an individual life story (Rubin 1986.138, Fentress and Wickham 1992.20-21). When did you hear about Caesar's assassination? The memory of an historically significant event may blend facts about the public circumstances wherein the event occurred and facts about the personal matrix in which the information was acquired (Rubin 1986.137). Both artefacts and places operate within the network of recollection. While public commemorations recommend historical events to individual perception, persons may also remember their engagement with material objects (Radley 1990.47). Likewise, local geography and familiar environments provide structures for remembrance moving outward from family to community (Fentress and Wickham 1992.113).

"Upon this principle of visual and conceptual interassociation, Roman rhetorical writers based their "Art of Memory," a system intended to assist an orator in retaining the unified structure of his planned speech. This system taught the practitioner to construct an associative syntax by assigning idea value to "images" mentally distributed against visual back-grounds within an imagined framework of space. "An aedes, an intercolumniation, a corner, an arch" provided markers that could call the high points of an argument seriatim to mind. [footnote 9] The principle upon which the speaker is to select and arrange these pictorial backgrounds called loci is one of routine familiarity that will facilitate ready recall. Buildings, columns, and arches are stable products of culture appropriated through projection for the purpose of cultural reformulation. From this interaction of point and idea it is a natural move to the larger sense in which images function as generators of cultural memory (Küchler and Melion 1991.1-6). [End Page 48]

"The interassociation of spatial and temporal organization observed in the processes of social memory can be seen as a cultural and psychological analogy to the diverse interfaces of space and time that Bakhtin, in The Dialogic Imagination, proposes as strategies that various literary genres have developed in order to achieve their characteristic semblances of reality, making time "artistically visible" and space "responsive to the movements of time, plot and history" (Bakhtin 1981.84-85, 136-37, 206-08). As treated in discussion of ancient genres oriented towards the evolution of the novel, such fusions of time and space are, of course, narrative constructions, but their development proceeds alongside that within non-narrative genres in the matter of locating and defining the sense of an individual life. Social and civic space are the framework within which Bakhtin's account of the evolution of autobiographical and biographical representation unfolds (Bakhtin 1981.108-10, 130-46).

"Within this context, we may regard the assimilation of social memory into Horace's lyric discourse as mediating the integration of what Bakhtin calls the separate temporal sequences of individual life and historical events (Bakhtin 1981.216-17). The interassociation of place and historical event in Horace's boundary poems defines the visible Roman world as the context. Horace represents contemporary Augustan Rome in two ways: through its position as the geographical center of empire and through topographical allusion. Such representations belong to what Bakhtin calls the "real-life chronotope of the public square, the area where in ancient times the autobiographical and biographical self-consciousnesses were first laid bare and formed." 10 Within this "public square" of rhetorical autobiography, Horace undertakes that renegotiation of social bonding between speaker and audience that is his basis for the transformation of lyric. 11 In the concluding lines of Ode 1.1, the poet advances this self-defined [End Page 49] challenge as an appeal to the judgement of his dedicatee as audience (1.1.34-35: quod si me lyricis vatibus inseres, sublimi feriam sidera vertice). By the future tense of the verbs, he implies a deferred judgement. He has not yet appropriated the title of "lyric poet," but only made application for it to be granted by the receiver of his poems. Nor indeed, has he yet told us what the title signifies, but only remarked on the need for "segregating" (32) himself from the populace as symbolically represented by the social panorama that fills out the greater part of the poem. To achieve the identity of lyric poet demands something more than refining aesthetic skills; it requires the poet in dialogue with tradition to appropriate the position which Bruno Gentili calls one of leadership "in integrating the individual into his social context" (Gentili 1988.55). For such a position, Horace's Roman world supplied no previous model" (47-50).

9. Rhetorica ad Herennium 3.16.29-20.32. Later, Quintilian recommends that one follow the order of spaces and decorations within an atrium, but, alternatively, to trace a path through a city. Contemporary scholars frequently invoke the artificial memory system as a paradigm of Roman proclivities towards conceptualizing visual experiences. Leach 1988.74-79 discusses the system as evidence of a Roman facility for building mental images of landscape; Fentress and Wickham 1992.11-12 refer to it as an elaborate demonstration of the self-conscious cultivation of memory. Favro 1993.232-35 invokes the importance of memory systems within rhetorical education as a basis for her discussion of the interrelationship between monument and idea in Augustus' ideological urban landscape.

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Feldman on the narratological model model of social memory

From Feldman, Allan. "Political Terror and the Technologies of Memory:
Excuse, Sacrifice, Commodification, and Actuarial Moralities." Radical History Review 85 (2003) 58-73.

"Theorists of social memory have identified the conditions under which it is culturally reproduced, specifying the crucial roles played by legitimized agents of memory, collective recollection practices, and formal spaces for the articulation and public depiction of memory. Paul Connerton sees cultural memory as intentionally mediated by social actors and as embodied in performance practices that can intervene in the meaning systems of the present. [footnote 1] Complementing this model of memory as performance is the work of philosophers of historiography such as Hayden White, Paul Ricoeur, Paul Veyne, and Reinhart Koselleck, who concur that the historical event is not that which happens but that which is narrated. [footnote 2] The narratological model does not simply assert that history is reduced to texts, but alerts us to the situation that formulaic and ideological depiction can leave vast realms of experience unnarrated and dehistoricized—and thus inaccessible to a society as a cultural resource. The act of historical narration in a variety of written, oral, aural, artifactual, and visual media depends on the attention or inattention paid to the social and political contingencies of its own action and knowledge. Representations of the past are only realized through social and personal perspectives, standpoints, and positions that both constrain and create meaning—the trinity of place, time, and person gives birth to shifting and multiple historical perspectives. Both theorists of cultural memory and philosophers of historiography view the social capacity to narrate the past, to objectify and to collectivize historical experience, as a cultural process subjected to uneven social and political conditions of constraint and possibility, as the Popular Memory Group discusses. [footnote 3]

1. Paul, Connerton, How Societies Remember (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

2. Hayden White, The Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978); Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, vol. 3 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988); Paul Veyne, L'inventaire des différences (Paris: Seuil, 1976); Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: The Semantics of Historical Time (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985).

3. Popular Memory Group, "Popular Memory: Theory, Politics, Method," in Making Histories: Studies in History-Writing and Politics, ed. Richard Johnson (London: Hutchinson, 1982), 4.

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Schwarz on Phantoms of the Past

I'm not entirely sure why, but I like Schwarz's use of Pierre Nora below.

"The first was the question of temporality itself. The debates on memory, wittingly or unwittingly, foreground questions of temporality. It was only really through theorizations on memory that I came once more to understand the centrality of the complexity and plurality of differing temporalities. [footnote 7] The manner in which memory collapses the given external distinctions between past and present is itself of great significance, but at the same time raises the more general question of the way in which the past inhabits the present. A very important text in this regard is Althusser's essay on 'Contradiction and overdetermination', where Althusser, in conventional marxist manner, confronted the question of the ways in which past forms 'survive' in the present - as in older feudal forms 'surviving' in early twentieth-century Russia. Althusser made it clear, though, that he didn't know how to develop this concept theoretically. He couldn't determine, for example, whether survivals were largely a matter of objective, external historical time (his preferred explanation), or whether it was something to do with the way in which the past entered the mind, through acts of memory - rather like Thompson's entire 'inside' being opened up to the force of the past. Althusser was reluctant to contemplate the latter option, as for him it smacked too much of idealism and of Hegel. To centre memory in this way, it seemed, would be to pitch things too much in the domain of consciousness. Down this route, Althusser surmised, lay too many phantoms, in which the past could only appear in the present through the medium of ghosts and spirits. [footnote 8]

"My own view is that we needn't be frightened of phantoms: of understanding the-past-in-the-present as principally located in the human imagination. To speak of the past-in-the-present is precisely to grasp the symbolic, psychic means by which the past is represented in the present: in which, as Pierre Nora suggests, the past in all its myriad forms is governed and articulated in the contemporary moment, and organized by contemporary determinations. [footnote 9] Individual memories are one means by which the past-in-the-present is activated. But I don't think that the analytical procedures which the study of memory offers can carry the full weight of coming to terms with the articulation of the past-in-the-present" (103).

7. It was instructive, from this vantage, to return to Thompson's 'Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism', republished in his Customs in Common, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1991 - whose object is precisely transformations in the 'inward notation of time', p.354.

8. Louis Althusser, 'Contradiction and Overdetermination' in his For Marx, Allen Lane, London, 1969.

9. Pierre Nora, 'Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire', Representations 26, 1989.

Schwarz, Bill. "Not Even Yet Past." History Workshop Journal 57 (2004) 101-115.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Ghost in the Shell: SAC and Cowboy Bebop

It looks like Cartoon Network isn't going to repeat the last two episodes of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which is really going to piss people off if they started watching the series with the repeats. It's a 26 episode series, has a strong story arc, and the climax takes place during episodes 24 and 25. Anyone who watches episode 24 tonight who hasn't seen the show before is going to be left with a horrible cliffhanger, and it doesn't look like Cartoon Network is going to show the last two episodes anytime soon, and SAC DVD vol. 7 comes out at until the end of the month.

On the other hand, starting Monday night, Cartoon Network begins Cowboy Bebop reruns starting with episode 1, so maybe I'll be able to finally see all 26 episodes of this show. Maybe not, though. Cartoon Network already just showed the first 6 episodes earlier this year. Cowboy Bebop's worth watching even if Cartoon Network doesn't get around to showing all 26 episodes.

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Olick on Collective Trauma

from Olick, Jeffrey K. "Collective Memory: The Two Cultures." Sociological Theory 17.3 (1999): 333-348.

"Many observers, of course, move easily from such collected diagnoses to genuinely collective diagnoses. In some warring forms, such efforts operate in terms of facile concepts of national character or of anthropomorphized collectives in which collectivity itself has singular desires, needs, and wills. But there are better versions of such collective diagnoses, particularly those articulated in terms of collective narratives. If genuine communities are communities of memory that constantly tell and retell their constitutive narratives, as the Bellah quote above asserts, there can be genuinely collective traumas insofar as historical events cannot easily be integrated into coherent and constructive narratives.

"Surely this is what we mean when we speak, for instance, of the U.S. Civil War as a trauma for American society, or of Vietnam as an ongoing problem. In the [/] case of the former, there were indeed multitudinous individual and, as a result, powerful collected traumas. But the individuals who personally experienced the event have been gone for quite a while now. While we might speak of the residue of individual traumas, insofar as parents or grandparents imparted to their offspring stories of their experiences, psychological traumas cannot be passed down through the generations like bad genes. In the first place, the fact that the memory of such personally traumatic experiences is externalized and objectified as narrative means it is no longer a purely individual psychological matter. And in the second place, discussing the ongoing nature of the trauma in terms of such transmitted personal narratives does not capture what we really mean--that is, an unassimilable breech in the collective narrative. In regard to Vietnam, there certainly are many traumatized individuals walking our streets, suffering from a wide range of neurotic disorders, of which posttraumatic stress disorder is only the best known. But Vietnam was traumatic not just for American individuals (to say nothing of Vietnamese individuals), but for the legitimating narrative that we as individuals produce for us as a collectivity. In this way, for instance, the traumas of Auschwitz will not disappear with the death of the last survivor; not is it carried only through those--mainly their children--who suffered its personal ripple effects: Auschwitz remains a trauma for the narratives of modernity and morality, among others (Bauman 1989). It clearly makes both ethical and conceptual sense to speak of trauma as irreducible to individuals and aggregated psychology" (344-45).

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Olick on Mnemonic Technologies

from Olick, Jeffrey K. "Collective Memory: The Two Cultures." Sociological Theory 17.3 (1999): 333-348.

"Quite simply, there are mnemonic technologies other than the brain. Historians of memory, for instance, have demonstrated the importance of various forms of recording for our mnemonic capacities (Le Geoff 1992 [Le Geoff, Jacques. History and Memory New York: Columbia UP, 1992]). These affect both individual rememberers as well as societies. For individuals, being able to write a note or record a message or take a photograph vastly extends the capacity to 'remember,' not simply by providing storage space outside of the brain but by stimulating our neurological storage processes in particular ways; in this manner, we have become genuine cyborgs with what several authors have called 'prosthetic' memories. And this implies no particular attachment to modern computer technology: medieval orators are legendary for their / mnemonic capacities, which depended upon conceptual devices collectively known as ars memoriae, the arts of memory (Yates 1966)" (342-43).

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Summary of Jeffrey K. Olick's "Collective Memory: The Two Cultures"

Olick, Jeffrey K. "Collective Memory: The Two Cultures." Sociological Theory 17.3 (1999): 333-348.

Olick argues that collective memory is often used to two very different types of memory: collected memory and collective memory. Collected memories, he suggests, are memories based on the individual, "the aggregated individual memories of members of a group" (338), and collective memory presupposes that there is something that transcends the individual, the idea that "symbols and their systems of relations have a degree of autonomy from the subjective perceptions of individuals" (341).

He discusses the advantages and constraints of both concepts and clearly favors the concept of collective memory over that of collected memories. He notes that the collective memory perspective allows us to "provide good explanations of mythology, tradition, heritage, and the like either as forms or in particular" (342). The study of collective memory, he suggests, often focuses on idelogical products, symbols, and monuments: "we often use the collective nature of the object of analysis to stand for an argument about the collective nature of our approach" (342 n. 13).

Finally, he suggests that we adopt the term social memory for collective memory: "The third possible solution, the one I advocate here, is to use collective memory as a sensitizing term for a wide variety of mnemonic processes, practices, and outcomes, neurological, cognitive, personal, aggregated, and collective. A better term for such an approach would be social memory studies. Unlike collective memory studies, social memory studies does not raise confusions about its objects of reference. And unlike another candidate--social studies of memory, which sounds as if the social component is outside of memory, that is, in the study of it--it remains presuppostiionally open to a variety of phenomena while pointing out that all remembering is in some sense social, whether it occurs in dreams or pageants, in remembrances or in textbooks" (346).

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Jan Assmann and cultural memory in oral cultures

from Thomas, Günter. "Secondary Ritualization in a Postliterate Culture: Reconsidering and Explaining Walter Ong's Contribution on Secondary Orality." Soundings 83.2 (2000): 385-409.

"In Das kulturelle Gedäctnis, Jan Assmann distinguishes two types of memory in early oral cultures, "Communicative memory" points to the recent past and waxes and wanes with the passage of time. It relies very much on biographical memory and is primarily reproduced in everyday interaction. "Cultural Memory" resembles a founding memory, pointing to events in the distant past. It is preserved and even objectivized not only in language, but also in nonlinguistic artifacts. Its primary places are ritual and festive celebrations. Its reproduction and preservation require (a) a poetic form, (b) a (multimedia) ritual performance, and (c) collective participation. Repetition together with gatherings and personal physical presence are the keys for partic-/ipating in cultural memory. In terms of its temporal structure ritual divides into everyday time and festive time, thereby providing the opportunity for non-simultaneity, the possibility of living in two frames. In comparison with communicative memory, it is highly formalized and ceremonial. The shift from oral culture to chirographic culture is at the same time a shift from ritual coherence to textual coherence as a way of holding the world together. Even if rituals persist for a long time, the means of constructing and representing the past change the dominant type of cultural reproduction: from repetition to interpretation. 'Repetitions and interpretation are functionally equivalent procedures in the production of cultural coherence.' However, repetition keeps meaning in constant circulation, whereas texts risk not being read. On the other hand, oral ritual coherence stays with what is already known, whereas writing favors innovation and variation.

"The construction of collective identity is one central function of ritually reproduced cultural knowledge, although this type of knowledge is not collective identity is based on shared knowledge and on a common memory, 'the use of a common symbol system.' Identity preserving knowledge, however, encompasses two complexes. Thus Assmann distinguishes two types of identity-preserving knowledge: (a) normative knowledge (wisdom) which justifies the forms of life and (b) circulates in ceremonialized ritual communication. The former primarily orients human interaction whereas the later serves to define the community and to nourish its self-identity. Within oral preliterate cultures, rituals keep alive, reproduce, and circulate identity preserving formative knowledge, thereby foregoing the leading self-images. 'Rites are channels, the 'vessels' through which identity is preserved.'

"Assmann emphasizes the important role of ritual in oral societies and traces the transformation in the formation of cultural identity brought about by writing. He prompts the question of the place, shape and function of ritual under the conditions of 'secondary orality,' and he suggests looking for the function of communication within the scope of 'secondary ritualization'." (388-389).

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