After "Postmemory": Coping with Holocaust Remembrance in Postmodern Hebrew Literature
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This interdisciplinary study suggests that the time has come to pursue a new modality of Holocaust remembrance. It assumes that when we speak of “remembering” we are referring to acts of remembrance, for, with the exception of those who lived through the Holocaust, those of us who were not “there” cannot remember the actual events of the Holocaust. The study further contends that acts of Holocaust remembrance ought to be perceived as forms of coping with remembrance of the Holocaust. It also suggests that critical frameworks and narrative strategies developed in postmodern Hebrew literature – specifically the writings of Etgar Keret – offer a literary exemplar of coping with Holocaust remembrance. The articulation of the raison d’être for a paradigmatic shift in conceptualizing Holocaust remembrance is defined in the context of the general field of Holocaust representation. More specifically, the modality of coping with Holocaust remembrance is juxtaposed with an existing and prevalent conceptualization known to scholars and writers as “postmemory” – a structural framework of Holocaust remembrance applied to the second generation. Of special significance is the interlacing of the modality of coping with Holocaust remembrance with postmodern thinking. Foremost in this alignment with postmodernism is the acknowledgement that the events of the Holocaust destabilized Enlightenment-modern metaphysical faith in human rationalism and linearity of epistemological, ontological, scientific, and humanistic progress. Prominent in this discussion is the philosophy of Jacques Derrida and the ethics of the language of deconstruction. These theoretical insights are then applied to the writings of Etgar Keret. Apart from presenting Keret as a consummate storyteller, Keret’s art and its relation to the modality of coping with Holocaust remembrance is analyzed as integral to the cultural, social, and political ambiance of a postmodern Israeli milieu.