Women’s writing and memory
Jelka Kernev Štrajn (Ljubljana) [BIO]
Women’s texts were frequently overlooked, concealed and forgotten within the Western canon in not so remote past. Hence from the point of view of collective cultural memory these texts were not given adequate attention. Especially the forgetfulness played a prominent role. But forgetfulness can not be conceived without remembrance. Regarding how many women writers’ texts were discovered, rediscovered and reinterpreted in the past few decades, as well as women's roles in cultural history, the thesis, that the things forgotten are not lost forever, only the process of discovering is diverted into the bylines and sidelines, seems justified.
This thesis is confirmed by the fact that in the last edition of his Interpretation of Dreams Freud applied his concept of the mnemonic path as the methodology of the entire work and that he described his universal concept as the »imagination of a stroll« (Spaziergangsphantasie) full of serpentine twists and turns. It is interesting that Benjamin, entirely independently of Freud, also imagined the method as a turn and represented it precisely in the same way in his study of the Trauerspiel. The construction of memory, including collective memory, should not be taken in the sense of teleologically constructed narration but in the sense of method, which is indicated in the Freud's »imagination of a stroll« and it is implemented in his conception of »working through« (Durcharbeitung). That was invoked by Nietzsche and thematized in Benjamin's notion of »strolling« (flânerie). As such, it must be aimless and succeeds only when it implies a particular attentiveness, or what Benjamin called Eingedenken, this is the attending to those texts or events that in the past were most often denied attention.
In the context of feminist aesthetics the above mentioned deduction is a contradictory one – since in this context the notion of »strolling« is explicitly antifeminist. Therefore the text will reflect upon precisely this contradiction. It will try to articulate the problem of the relationship among some notions, such as »the method as a turn«, remembrance, memory, collective memory and forgetfulness. Due to these notions the text can not avoid some invocations of Baudelaire and Proust, although it will focus on some selected women's texts.