Unclaimed Experience Trauma, Narrative and History Cathy Caruth

pg 182 – Through the notion of trauma, I will argue, we can understand that a rethinking of reference is not aimed at eliminating history, but at resituating it in our understanding, that is, of precisely permitting history to arise where immediate understanding may not

pg 186 “It may happen that someone gets away, apparently unharmed, from the post where he has suffered a shocking accident … In the course of the following weeks, however, he develops a series of grave psychical and motor symptoms, which can be ascribed only to his shock or whatever else happened at the time of the accident. He has developed a “traumatic neurosis.” This appears quite incomprehensible and is therefore a novel fact. The time that elapsed between the accident and the first appearance of the symptoms is called the “incubation period,” a transparent allusion to the pathology of infectious disease.

pg 187. The historical power of trauma is not just that the experience is repeated after its forgetting , but that it is only in and through its inherent forgetting that it is first experienced at all… For history to be a history of trauma means that it is referential precisely to the extent that it is not fully perceived as it occurs; or to put it somewhat differently that a history can be grasped only in the very inaccessibility of its occurrence.

[pg 189 (also quote taken from and traslanted Moses and Monotheism from sigmund Freud, Studienausgabe Band 9 , Frankfort on Main :1982) For the Invasion is characterized, not in terms of its attendant persecutions and threats, of which the Freud family did in fact have their share, but in terms of the somewhat different emphasis of a simple phrase: “it forced me to leave my home, but it also freed me”.

pg 192 – In the last line he write to his son , the last words – “to die in freedom” – are not, like the rest of the sentence , written in German, but rather in English. The announcement of his freedom , and of his dying, is given in a language that can be heard by those in the new place to which he brings his voice, to us …


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