Chapter Four: Reading in Reverse


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Chapter Four:

Reading in Reverse:

Transporting the Missing Jewish Corpus and the Work of Art in Post-WWII Film1

108:59 of Shoah (disc three? or four?) on the Mitteleuropaishesreisebureau” handling the ticketing for the Resettlement Trains--the survivors and children rode free. But the adult soldiers had to be ticketed. Charges were also made if the boxcars had to be cleaned because they were in an excessively filthy state when emptied of their human cargo. Jews went to their death just the same way as any normal passenger—they went to the gas chamber the same way a vactionaioner was went to their favorite resort. Nazi confiscation of Jewish property of deportees financed their transportation. There was no budget for destruction.

Here is a case of the normal—civilian agency handling a military task-- itself becoming strange, uncanny, especially given the centrality of travel in Freud’s essay and the death drive as well. Put this in discussion of Mr. Klein.

Deportation, The Work of Art, and the Missing Jewish Corpus in Post-War Film

Restitution, Recognition, and Reattachment Disorders:

Reversing the Work of Art and the Missing Jewish Corpus:

Deporting “Degenerate” Art in John Frankenheimer’s The Train

Final Extermination?: as Restitution and the Missing Jewish Body in Mr. Klein and The Counterfeiters2

When I was very young—and until quite recently—I used to project a film in my mind of someone who, by midnight, plants bombs on the railway: blowing up the enemy structure, planting the delayed-action device and then watching the explosion or least hearing it at a distance. I see very well that this image, which translates a deep phantasmatic compulsion, could be illustrated by deconstructive operations, which consist in planting discreetly, with a delayed-action mechanism, devices that all of a sudden put a transit out of commission, making the enemy’s movements more hazardous. But the friend, too, will have to live and think differently, know where he’s going, tread lightly.

Jacques Derrida, Taste of the Secret Polity, 2001, 51-52

Here is Blanchot on the book and on the fragment in The Writing of the Disaster:

I return to the fragment: while it is never unique, still it has no external limit—the outside toward which it falls is not its edge—and at the same time no internal limitation (it is no hedgehog, rolled up and closed upon itself). And yet it is something strict, not because of its brevity (it can be prolonged, like agony), but through the tautness, the tightness that chokes to the breaking point: there are always some links that have sprung (they are not missing). No fullness, no void.


“There is no explosion except a book.” A book: a book among others, or a reference to the unique, the last and essential Liber, or, more exactly, the great Book which is always one among others, any book at all, already without importance or beyond important things. “Explosion,” a book: this means that the book is not the laborious assemblage of a totality finally obtained, but has for its being noisy, silent bursting which without the book would not take place. But it also means that since the book itself belongs to burst being—to being violently exceeded and thrust out of itself—the book gives no sign of itself save its own explosive violence, the force with which it expels itself, the thunderous refusal of the plausible: the outside of its becoming, which is that of bursting. (124; see also p. 7)

To write one’s autobiography, in order either to confess or to engage in self-analysis, or in order to expose oneself, like a work of art to the gaze of all, is perhaps to seek to survive, but through a perpetual suicide—a death which is total inasmuch as fragmentary” (64)

Blanchot mentions Auschwitz and the camp, pp. 81

Right to death, p. 70 and Heidegger-83. Also right to death in the New Yorrk Jill Lepore essay (November 2009).

The dark boundaries separating life from death in order to identify a new living dead man, a new sacred man.

Homo Sacer (131)3

Writing . . . the phantom, the phantasm, the simulacrum, of living is course is not inanimate; it is not insignificant; it simply signifies little, and always the same thing. This signifier of little, this discourse that doesn’t amount to much, is like all ghosts: errant. It rolls this way and that like someone who has lost his way, who doesn’t know where he is going, having strayed from the correct path, the right direction, the rule of rectitude, the norm; but also like someone who has lost his rights, an outlaw, a pervert, a bad seed, a vagrant, an adventurer, a bum. Wandering in the streets, he doesn’t even know who he is, what his identity—if he has one—might be what his name is, what his father’s name is. He repeats the same thing every time he is questioned in the street corner, but he can no longer repeat his origin. Not to know where one comes from or where one is going, for a discourse with no guarantor, is not to know how to speak at all, to be in a sate of infancy. Uprooted, anonymous, unattached to any house or country, this almost insignificant signifier is at everyone’s disposal, can be picked up by both the competent and the incompetent, by those who understand and know what to do with it . . . , and by those who are completely unconcerned with it, and who, knowing nothing about it, can inflict all manner of impertinence upon it. At the disposal of each and of all, available on the sidewalks, isn’t writing thus essentially democratic . . . Excess, anarchy; the democratic man, with no concern for hierarchy. . . . This errant democrat, wandering like a desire or a like a signifier freed form logos, this individual who is not even perverse in a regular way, who is ready to do anything, to lend himself to anyone. . . who gives himself equally to all pleasures, at all activities . . . he has no essence, no truth, no patronym, no constitution of his own. Moreover, democracy is no more a true constitution that the democrat has a character of his own. . . Democracy is orgy, debauchery, flea market, fair, --Jacques Derrida, “Plato’s Pharmacy” in Dissemination (145)

Return to Derrida and the ash of the archive via ash and counterfeiting in Given Time.

Also, the way testimony, Demures:

All me to call to mind an essential kind of genrality: is he witnesss not always a survivor? This belongs to the structure of the testimony. One testifies only when one lovedlonger than what ahs come to pass. One take as examplesas tragic or full of pathos as the survivors of the death camps” (45)
It gives the condition under which autobiographical testimony presents itself “in the manner of a work of art,” in particular . . . this fragment names a certain hospitality, the place of the reader as another and of the other as a guest / host [hote], to whom his autobiographical witness and artist confesses nothing—in short gives nothing, nothing to be known except his death, his inexistence, addressing himself to another in whom he trusts the instant he confides everything as nothing to him. (Demeures, 44,ephansis in the original)

For an autobiography, a hostobiography which, under certain conditions (in surviving the suicide)advances in he manner of a work of art. Not as a work fo art, but rather—which is not altogether the same thing, in the manner of a work of art, perhaps by pretending to be a fiction and thus as the fiction of a fiction, as if it were a matter of taking responsibility by no longer answering for it and of manifesting the truth by leaving one the responsibility of receiving it through lie or fiction. (44)

Integrate Lanzmann’s repeated footage of the train in Shoah to the train in The Train, Mr Klein and The Counterfeiters.

Nazis being reproduced as remote figures, on relay systems? What does it mean to televise them in a documentary film made for television (or seemingly made for television)?

93:30 “Letze ziel” translated as “last destination”4

The last shot of Triumph of the Spirit—Defoe is the last one out, the only one out. He turns into the wandering Jew, then into Zorba the Greek, with brother and father, in slow motion end title sequence. A kind of holy Trinity of patriarchy resurrected—the past returns as a dance of death. Danse macrabre in any case.

Take up Agamben on The Man Without Content (work of art) and Heidegger on the work of art, and Derrida’s reading of Heidegger and Shapiro in relation to the parergon. Spectres of Prvencnace

phylactery word balloon scroll Bernhard Strigel 1506 St. Anne and Angel (1506)detail

Robert Ryman: Used Paint (October Books)

Suzanne P. Hudson (Author) in relation to modernist art that calls attention to unseen of art, its minimal conditions—frame, wall, hanging, and so on.

“Hudson's chapters—"Primer," "Paint," "Support," "Edge," and "Wall," named after the most basic elements of the artist's work—eloquently explore Ryman's ongoing experiment in what makes a painting a painting.”

Derrida and Agamben Toe to Toe in the Archive

Derrida and Freud Toe to Toe in the archive

Tip-toeing around the Archive

(all subheadings to get at why Derrida insists on the footprint, not the toes, to which Freud refers; plus Freud refers to ETA Hoffman and journey as a child with his mother near the end of Moses and Monotheism)

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