photography + historical understanding

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The meaning of the terms "historical understanding," "historical sense," or "historical consciousness" vary greatly, but they are generally understood as referring to both an awareness that the choices we face, our language, our meanings, and our values are contingent upon historically unique circumstances, and that the past continues to "live" in the present insofar as it shapes our thought and actions.

AberehartLMidwayBeach.jpg Lawrence Aberhart, Midway Beach, Gisborne, 1986, silver gelatin print

Historicial understanding also refers to what has been forgotten and the way that events have been expunged or repressed from an individual or collective historical memory. Remembering and forgetting are closely akin to one another. Thus acts of remembrance often become moments of wilful erasure and the desire to forget, paradoxically, produces the often unwelcome capacity to remember.
Such painful moments of unexpected recollection are described by Nietzsche as those episodes when:
A leaf flutters from the scroll of time, floats away--and suddenly floats back again and falls into the man's lap. Then the man says "I remember" and envies the animal, who at once forgets and for whom every moment really dies, sinks back into night and fog and is extinguished for ever.
A wilfully forgotten moment such as this, Nietzsche reminds us in Untimely Meditations "returns as a ghost and disturbs the peace of a later moment". Nietzsche's imagery of the detached single page or leaf from the parchment leaves of history gestures backwards to the repressed.

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This page contains a single entry by Gary Sauer-Thompson published on April 14, 2009 11:45 AM.

Lawrence Aberhart: condensed forms of expression was the previous entry in this blog.

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