BURKE, P. (1992): WE, THE PEOPLE: POPULAR CULTURE AND POPULAR IDENTITY IN MODERN EUROPE

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

In ‘We, the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe’ Peter Burke examines the uses of various kinds of popular culture in defining popular identity. He tries to ensure that popular culture is not left out the story of construction and reconstruction of popular identity. In this context, he uses the term identity as something plural and included a sense of membership in a city, a nation, a region and a class. Thus, he discusses the very notion of ‘the people’ as an important form of collective identity in post-medieval Europe and examines two concept of this collective identity: the inclusive and the exclusive. First of them linked with the right-wing politics and defines ‘the people’ as a term including everyone in a particular nation or a city as opposed to other people. The second associated with the left-wing politics and defines ‘the people’ as the members of subordinate as opposed to the ruling class (Burke, 1992). Taking Burke’s perspective of the cultural construction of identity into account, in this essay I shall try to define the very concept of identity through placing particular emphasis on the culture.  In the following analysis it will be shown how collective identities have been formed or reformed and ‘identities of resistance’ has started to appear. Further, I shall discuss the rise of ‘class consciousness’ among the subordinate classes.

According to Burke, in many parts of Europe, ordinary people were always invited to identify themselves as members of a class and as members of nation at the same time. But the important question is whether these invitations received a response as expected or not. Initially it might be argued that the task of identity building is by no means easy. For instance, when we look at the politics of European Integration, the years of 1990s can be defined as a ‘cultural term’ regarding European Union elites’ attempts to invent Europe through the medium of ‘culture’. Even though European Union was traditionally defined as a common market dissolving the barriers to free movement of goods, capitals, services and labor, European Union has always harbored a deeper vision of cultural construction of Europe and the issue of Europe’s identity has become important isssue since it has being seen as parallel development to the construction of European Union. In 1992, Maastricht Treaty, for example, created the category of European citizenship and it gave the European Commission legal right to promote integration in the sphere of culture through enhancing what it saw as ‘the European identity’. Thus, European Commission has defined a European identity which is harmoniously integrated with other identities such as local, regional, ethnic, religious and it has argued that people can have multiple identities. Therefore, the creation of identity or identities discussion yields an obvious question whether these identities are in fact antagonistic or compatible. Just like the Commission has defined, Burke has defined the term ‘identity’ as in essence plural but he has also argued, ‘the same individual or group may privilege one identity over another according to the situation and the moment.’ (Burke, 1992). Thus, I might argue, the possibility of conflict between different multiple identities is out of question in Burke’s work and in European Union case and a sort of apolitical conception of identity has been defined and it has been grounded consensus model of society.

Another important issue is that of ‘identities of resistance’ which is defined by Burke in his work “We, the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe”. Throughout the world, as Burke puts it, collective identities have been formed or reformed and ‘identities of resistance’ has started to appear. From Burke’s perspective, whilst the inclusive concept of the people was associated with the acceptance of these changes, the exclusive concept of the people associated with the resistance to attempts by other people to change their very own culture and the way of life.  While Burke gives particular attention to identity of resistance is that of ‘the people’ in the exclusive sense, more exactly, the subordinate people as opposed to the ruling class, we can also give an example of identity of resistance from European Union in the inclusive sense. In this context, the rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty by referendum in France and Netherlands in 2005, the strong “Non” and “Nee” of the French and Dutch voters were not only a simple vote on the content of the constitutional text but rather they indicates a sense of resistance to top-down regulations, rules and most importantly identities that are constructed exclusively above by European Union elites (Wind, 2001). Thus, an antagonistic relationship with the state is being rejected at the European Union level.

As stated before, in “We, the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe” Burke gives particular attention to the spread of the idea of the people more exactly among the subordinate classes. Thus he has defined identity of resistance is that of ‘the people’ in the exclusive sense, the subordinate people as opposed to the ruling class in particular. The ruling class has been using the term ‘the people’ to refer the rest of the population by defining them as ignorant, disorderly and so on. The problem, for Burke, was to discover when and where this rest of population identified themselves as ‘the people’ or the working class. Much has been written and discussed on the rise of ‘class consciousness’ but Burke defined it from somehow different perspective. He has argued, ‘Ordinary people seem to have become aware of resisting what they regarded as attempts by the privileged classes to take this culture from them.’ (Burke, 1992)

All in all, in this essay, I have tried to analysis the work of Peter Burke, ‘We, the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe’. In this respect, I have pointed out the cultural construction of identity and the culture. My examples were mostly from European Union and its history.

 

Bibliography

BURKE, P. (1992), ‘We, the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe’, in Lash and Friedman (eds.), Modernity and Identity, Oxford: Blackwell.

SHORE, C. (2000) Building European Union: The Cultural Politics of European Integration, London, Routledge, pp.15-65

WIND, M. (2001). The Commission White Paper: Bridging the Gap between the Governed and the Governing? Academy of European Law.

 

MASS CULTURE

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

The very notion of mass culture has always been the target of a comprehensive attack by various scholars. Nietzsche, for example, was one of the first to develop philosophical critique of mass culture. He saw mass culture as distinctive feature of modern society and central to modern social production process (Kellner, 1999). Believing that culture is central to human life, Nietzsche himself wanted to provide a new, life-affirming culture in order to create superior individuals. Further, he described modern mass culture as barbaric which creates herd societies and mediocrity. For him, only through rising above this barbarian mass culture, society would produce healthier and superior human beings. Just like Nietzsche, Jose Ortega y Gasset made a critique of mass culture in his book: The Revolt of the Masses (1929).  His message in general echoes that of Nietzsche and similarly held a pessimistic view upon culture and modern society. The threat, for Ortega, was overcrowded masses those recognize its own collective strength and enforce democracy. He basically believed that a state which is run by this overcrowded population, the mass, can be seen as a machine that would crush the individual as well as the value of intellect in the world.

Similarly, the Frankfurt School theorists analyzed the effects of mass culture, consumer society and the ‘culture industries’ in the twentieth century. They also developed a critique of expanding roles of mass media and communication upon culture, politics, social life as well as the socialization of the subjects. One of the most significant early intellectual work of the Frankfurt School was marked by Horkheimer with the publication of ‘Studies on Authority and Family: Research Reports from the Institute for Social Research’ (1936).  In the twentieth century modern societies, for Horkheimer, the family as the most basic institution of socialization has started to disintegrate since the development of capitalism. Horkheimer observed the very effects of father-authority in family. Drawing on example given by Frederic Le Play on the declining influence of paternal authority, Horkheimer pointed out authoritarian tendency of patriarchal-oriented families and decline in the authority of father as a result of ‘disintegration of family life’ (Miller, 2011). Actually it was quite common to make analysis on the disintegration of family on the 1930s so Marx also analyzed the role of family. But, unlike Frankfurt School, Marx saw the family as a tool of the ruling class, the best mechanism for getting people to think and behave in a way the ruling class want them in order to capitalism to survive. For Marxists, family is a place of unequal relations of power between father, mother and the children, and a place of conflict just like the societies where inequalities exist. But as a result of development of capitalism these relations between members of the family disintegrated, more exactly father has lost its power over the mother and the children. So this is actually seen as something positive for Marxists. Frankfurt School, otherwise, saw this disintegration of patriarchal authority through disintegration of families negatively. Indeed the development of capitalism has caused to disintegration the function of families that of teaching its members to submit to authority of ruling class but now this function of family has given to someone else: the culture industry. While the experts of the mass communications run the function of socialization instead of the family, the false consciousness of the modern human has been created. Thus passive human beings who have believed there is nothing they can do against the problems of the world have been created by the culture industry. In holidays, for example, we read the bestseller novels and in the weekends we go to a concert in order to escape from the null relations of our daily life in our contemporary environment. But the problem is that all these activities we do with our very own ‘taste of choice’ actually provide more connection to the culture industry since they are under the control of culture industry. Hence people do all these leisure and entertainment activities in order to escape because they do not have the control of their very own life so the only thing they do is that of escaping from responsibilities. And this escape has created more and more antagonism and control by the capitalism.

Lastly, in their work of 1944, ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’ from the book of Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno and Horkheimer pointed out the concept of standardization by arguing ‘Under monopoly all mass culture is identical, and the lines of its artificial framework begin to show through.’ Since the culture industry aims to reach as many people as possible, it creates no more than standardization and mass production. Even the works of art has been forced into a sort of standardization and uniformity and they became a commodity which is precisely industrialized with the notion of culture. The songs of Nick Cave, for example, are mostly written with the average length of three minutes. Indeed, this does not basically means that Nick Cave is an untalented song writer and he can merely write three minutes short songs but rather this is only because production of the art works are made under the same fixed formula and the creativity of the artist is no more important. As Adorno stated, art appeared as commodities just like other mass-produced items and it lost its emancipatory power as a transcendent object (Kellner, 1989). Therefore, just like Kant’s concept of ‘purposefulness without purpose’, the culture industry has no purpose while serving a purpose, art became an art without a purpose which is connected into the purposes of the market.

 

Bibliography

Adorno, T. & Horkheimer, M. (1979), “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”, in Dialectic of Enlightenment, London: Verso.

Kellner, D. (1989) Critical Theory, Marxism and Modernity (Baltimore: JHU Press). Retrieved from: https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/essays/criticaltheory.pdf

Kellner, D. (1999). Nietzsche’s Critique of Mass Culture. International Studies in Philosophy, 31(3), 77-89. Retrieved from: https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/Illumina%20Folder/kell22.htm

Miller, B. (2011). Frankfurt School, 1936, studies on authority (1): Max Horkheimer on authority and family. Retrieved from: http://oldhickorysweblog.blogspot.com.tr/2011/02/frankfurt-school-1936-studies-on_22.html

Ortega y Gasset, J. (1929). The Revolt of the Masses. W. Norton & Company.

JAMESON, F. (1992): REIFICATION AND UTOPIA IN MASS CULTURE

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

Generally speaking, in ‘Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture’, Frederic Jameson attempts to examine the notions of high and mass culture and to rethink the opposition between these two concepts. He pays particular attention to explain reification and he characterizes the Frankfurt School as the extension and application of Marxist theories of commodity reification to the works of mass culture. Whilst he considers the Frankfurt School’s analysis of the commodity structure of mass/high culture of the greatest interest, he proposes a somewhat different way of looking at the same phenomena. In this context, Jameson does not simply contemplate criticizing the analysis of the Frankfurt school as being wrong but rather he tries to read high and mass culture as ‘objectively related and dialectically interdependent phenomena, as twin and inseparable forms of fission of aesthetic production under the late capitalism.’ (133)

Since Fredric Jameson is one of the most important followers of Althusser, it is worth recalling Althusser by focusing on the concept of ideology in particular. Briefly, Althusser argues that conditions of the society are not only reproduction of material existence but also reproduction of itself ideologically and he emphases that this reproduction of itself ideologically comes in variety of forms which are different from each other.

Jameson picks up what Althusser left and he further argues, ‘The works of mass culture cannot be ideological without at one and the same time being implicitly or explicitly Utopian as well.’(144). Therefore, Jameson elaborates the idea of a dialectic between ideology and Utopia and his article ‘Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture’ explores this dialectic in terms of popular culture (Fitting, 1998). In order to demonstrate the mechanisms of manipulation, diversion, degradation in mass culture and in the media, Jameson deals with three commercial films: Jaws and the two parts of the Godfather.  By readings of these three films, he interprets the artistic manipulation as a method of mass culture for offering some genuine social and historical content as a fantasy bribe to the public about to be manipulated. According to Jameson, in the case of Jaws[1], the film has a capacity to absorb social and political anxieties and fantasies in a successful harmony by the vocation of a symbol the killer shark.  Similarly, the two parts of the Godfather[2] are more than typical gangster films, they are actually a virtual textbook illustration of how cultural manipulation can establish in a genuine shred of content. Jameson therefore argues that the power of these three films can be measured by their twin capacity to perform an ideological and Utopian fantasy at the same time.

Thus, in a sense, drawing on Althusser, Jameson’s engagement with the very concept of Utopia can be seen as unique and contributing in terms of defining all contemporary works of art whether those of high culture and modernism or of mass culture and commercial culture are not mere of ideological manipulation but also of Utopian dimension. Throughout the article ‘Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture’, he examined utopic dimensions of the films, Jaws and the Godfather, but still there was something he has ignored and never mentioned: ‘emancipatory utopian dimensions’ of the films. In this context, the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch developed a method of cultural criticism which expands conventional Marxian approaches to culture and ideology and provides ideological criticism discerns emancipatory utopian dimensions even in ideological products. For Bloch, since ideologies are rhetorical constructs that try to persuade and to convince, they must have a relatively rational and attractive core and thus often contain emancipatory promises or moments (Kellner, 2010).

Since Jameson points out variety of aspects which are sort of related with each other, another point that comes to mind throughout the article is Jameson’s eclectic way of thinking. Although this eclecticism may cause some concepts to stay not well-explained, most of the concept are further developed by an article or even a book written by Jameson. For example, the concept of artistic manipulation is analyzed very detailed by his work namely Signatures of the Visible which collects eight essays on film.

  

Bibliography

Fitting, P. (1998). The Concept of Utopia in the Work of Fredric Jameson. Utopian Studies, 9(2), 8-17.

Kellner, D. (2010). Ernst Bloch, Utopia and Ideology Critique. Illuminations: The CriticalTheory Project. Retrieved from: https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/Illumina Folder/kell1.htm

Notes

[1] Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel, it centers around the island of Amity, which finds itself terrorized by a killer giant white shark.

[2] The Godfather is 1972 an American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola based upon the novel of Italian American author Mario Puzo and it is mainly about a mafia family in New York.

MEDIA IMAGES OF THE POOR AND PORNOGRAPHY OF POVERTY

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to show how poverty is represented in the media by examining stereotypic media images of the poor and the prevalence of pornography of poverty on Turkish television. This study examines televised images of the poor by an analysis of the media that contributing to creation of ‘otherness’ by representation. In this context, representation of poverty in the charity programmes on Turkish television, particularly, ‘Evim Şahane’, will be analyzed during a one month period by watching fifteen episodes of the programme that are recorded beginning November 14, 2014 until December 15, 2014. Further, the study looks at the images used in marketing and fundraising materials used by charitable organizations such as IHH İnsani Yardım Vakfı and Kimse Yok mu Derneği.

Media, Representation and Poverty

One of the major theme of media and cultural theory is the idea that all cultural representations are political. Representations are not pure or innocent, they can serve interests of cultural oppression by positioning certain groups as inferior and pointing to the superiority of dominant social groups (Bullock, 2001). Further, representation, especially in the narratives of television, produces and circulates cultural meanings, values and identities through the use of language (Çamur, 2004). The representation of practices of social life in language operates through ideology.  Television as a tool of representation has an ideology, everything has an ideology, yet, the question is that these ideologies match with reality?

Media within an Althusserian framework is an ideological state apparatus[1] concerned with the reproduction of dominant ideologies, yet, because this is so subtle and covert, members of society do not realize that this is happening. (Althusser, 1969). For example, when we replace the world ideology with dream, we are not dreaming because we cannot face reality, but rather our dreaming is necessary (Lain, 2011).We are like fish swimming in the ocean, the ocean is ideology and we are the fish that cannot notice the ocean. Thus, Althusser believes we are controlled by ideologies that circulated and produced by agencies. Their ideas of what is right or wrong, what we can or cannot are inflicted upon us, brainwashing us until we believe that these ideologies are the way of life (Althusser, 1969). This explains, television as a tool of representation does not merely ‘mirror realities’, it constitutes versions of reality in which depend on the social positions and interest and objectives of those who produce them (Çamur, 2004). As Lasswell famously states in 1948, ‘Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What Channel (with) What effect’, is important.

Many mainstream media in Turkey controlled by few powerful cooperation, therefore, the issues are more likely to be defined by and to reflect the interest of dominant social groups. When this happens, less powerful groups such as the poor are at risk of being devaluated and stereotyped in the media. Popular television programmes present the poor in a distorted and negative manner and they support negative stereotypes about low-income people by framing techniques that present poverty as an individual problem rather than a societal issue rooted in political and economic inequality (Bullock, 2001).

Charity Programmes

In Turkey, especially in 1990s, we see a growing numbers of charity programmes and organizations which provides the poor with aid. Besides the large number of them, what they have in common is the representation of the poor as objects of pity and aid and dramatizing of them by visual and aural techniques such as slow motion, black and white photographs, limited motions and music, etc. It is here claimed that critical discourse analysis of the charity programmes shows that poverty is naturalized and legitimized, being made no reference to economic, social and political context of poverty (Çamur, 2004). First to get a complete picture, I will briefly refer to history of charity programmes in Turkey. In the following analysis, it will be shown the political, cultural and ideological discourses that shape the structure of the television programmes, particularly, ‘Evim Şahane’, as well as the aural and visual representation of poverty in this programme will be examined.

In Turkey, representation of poverty in charity programmes shows that it has been dramatized and romanticized. When we look at the historical background of charity programme, in 1996, ‘Şehir ve Ramazan’ was started as a broadcasting programme in Channel 7 and it was a first of its kind. The programme started in the month of Ramadan then the same format of it continued after Ramadan under another name as ‘Deniz Feneri Association’ programme in 1997, presented by Uğur Arslan and İbrahim Uğurlu (Koçak, 2014). Today, it continues its charity campaign as a charity organization. According to website of the association, it is defined as ‘an association which works for public interest and can collect without permission’ and ‘until now 1.709.603 human, total 3.848.750 times got donations’[2]. Further, the programme, namely ‘Kimse Yok mu’ appeared on Samanyolu channel in 2002 as a television program aimed to help ‘unfortunate, needy, and hopeless people and it was granted Public Interest Association status in 2006. In addition, a programme called ‘Yolcu’ that broadcasted on Samanyolu channel as well and it presented ‘the journey of the extraordinary lives to love’ (Çamur, 2004). Another programme titled ‘Yarınlar Umut Olsun’ broadcasting in ATV to gather financial assistance for the people in need and being their hope.

Evim Şahane

Evim Şahane which appeared on Kanal D for the first time in March 5, 2012 as a daytime home makeover show presented by interior designer, Selim Yuhay. Different than above mentioned charity programmes, it contains in which decoration, architecture, entertainment, design and aid for poor people all together. The programme has been recorded 394 episodes since 2012. In the first time it appeared, the format was decorating and renewing the houses of ‘rich’ people by wrecking kitchens, cutting curtains, breaking tables, destroying everything that they called as ‘old’. After so many critics have been made about this wasteful attitude of the programme, it changed its format then started to ‘robbing from the rich and giving to the poor’. In this context, the biggest problem of Evim Şahane, though, is its tone about poverty. Although the programme is proud of helping so many poor people with ‘aid’ by decorating the houses, it represent the poverty as something unimportant and even ridiculous through pretending to solve the problems of the poor. The most significant characteristic of the programme that can be observed entire show is visual and aural language of it on representation of the poor. It represents the scenes about the poor and their houses in slow-motion in order to dramatize the poverty. As Erdoğan points out the slow motion is the visual metaphor of ‘carrying the burden of the world’ on one’s shoulders. (Çamur, 2004)

For instance, December 13, 2014 dated episode of Evim Şahane filmed the life of Cemile who lives with her three children after the death of her husband in an accident. In the shots that are taken in their house, firstly, there is a stress on the lack of space in the house and the presenter, Selim Yuhay asks:

‘We have approximately 18-20 square feet space and four people living together, actually, I just wander how do you sleep in here?’[3]

The children as an important components of the visually of poverty gives the details about their life in interviews and they say;

‘I cannot invite my friends to my home’[4]

And as an answer the question that the presenter asked;

‘I and my sister are sleeping together, my mom and my other sister are sleeping together’[5]

Also, the camera shots every part of the house, there is no privacy, even the toilet of the house are represented. The voiceover stresses that because of the lack of space the ‘clever’ but the ‘poor’ little girls study in the toilet of the house as a result of lack of space.

According to the logic of the programme, the reason behind the poverty of this family is the loss of the father, yet, everything is great when their home in the hand of the presenter of the programme, Selim Yuhay. After restoration and design made by Selim Yuhay, the clever little girls do not have to do their homework in the toilet anymore, because now they have a table with a remarkable style that resting on the marble legs, combining modern design with classic style in its wooden white lacquered structure in a room decorated according to the latest trends in order to bring a sense of ‘richness.

In this context, the programme back grounded social, political and economic problems of poverty. It focuses the image of sad and crying children to dramatize the poverty. Poverty is indicated through slow motion that companied with a slow and sad music, black and white photographs to create emotional influence on the audience. Further, the programme represent well-decorated, new and modern house as a solution of the poverty without cultural, political and economic context of poverty. Also, the reason of poverty individualized such as the loss of the father, in this respect, Aysel Çamur states;

‘In these programmes, to the extent that poverty is associated with inferior life chances, poverty and deprivation of the people are reduced into personal problems and personal defects.’

The portrayals of poverty on television and reality of it in Turkey is well illustrated in the study made by Necmi Erdoğan. The reality of poverty is totally different than the media coverage of the poor. Thus, media shapes misperceptions of the poor with television programmes. Erdogan analyses the portrayals of the poor and he blames the way that television programmes using to represent the poverty is being ‘pornography of poverty (Erdoğan, 2002). He famously writes;

‘The object of both porno films and the shows about the poor is the body and they both “expose” what is called private. The poor on the screens are like the women on the pornos. One always desires the penis while the other desires bread or pills; one is phallocentric while the other is gastronomical or pathological. One is there to arouse your libido, yet the other activates your conscience”. (Çamur, 2004)

Therefore, critical discourse analysis of programme shows how the emotions of the audience are evoked for making aid through slow motion and close shots are used like the ones in pornography. In addition, it points out poverty represented as an individual problem rather than being societal issue that rooted in political and economic reasons.

Art as Pornography of Poverty

When we turn our discussion from television programmes to the charitable organizations in Turkey such as Kimse Yok Mu, IH, what we see is the use of art as pornography of poverty, especially as an advertisement technique in order to collect money by ‘connecting’ people emotionally. Charity organizations use most commonly photographs of starving babies, refugees as other ‘helpless and passive objects’ for leading to pessimism and convincing people for charity. (Oliver, 2006). Thus, charitable agencies have been raising tremendous amonts of money but perhaps doing profound damage of the same time by using representation of the poor by begging eyes, distended bellies and starving souls. Portrayals like these are no accidents. The rationale goes like this: the happy Picture do not attract the money. Nor do complex explanations of why people are suffering (Nathanson, 2013).

For instance, Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a Sudanese child and a vulture reached a great fame and has been used by charity organizations for fundraising campaigns about poverty. In March 1993, Kevin Carter took the iconic photograph of a Sudanese child who stalked by a vulture sold to the New York Times  and was carried in many other newspapers around the world. The photo was so stunning and many people contacted the newspaper to question the questioned the fate of the child, yet, Carter had no answer. With the success of the image came a lot of controversy, an article printed in 1994 in the St Petersburg Times commented on the morality of Carter’s actions and the photograph has been critised as poverty porn, ‘the man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene,’ (Stamets cited in Ricchiardi, 1999). To this end, Kevin Carter committed suicide. Overall, many criticism have been made but the photograph positively and negatively, as well as the moral dilemma about the photograph. Yet one thing is clear that the photograph was the poverty porn.

Conclusion

All in all, in this paper, I have tried to show how poverty is represented in the media by examining media images of the poor and the prevalence of pornography of poverty on Turkish television. First, I have focused on the relation among the media, representation and poverty to show how poverty is represented ideologically and politically by mainstream media in Turkey. In the following analysis, to get a complete picture, I have referred to the historical background of charity programmes in Turkey. Since my particular focus was the programme, namely, Evim Şahane, I have examined how poverty is represented in this programme. Even though, the programme individualizes the poverty through detaching it from its political and ideological reasons, it gives voice to the poor who made invisible by the media. However, as Erdoğan (2002) expresses, to make the poor talk in front of the cameras does not mean to expose the “real” and “authentic” voice of the poor.

 

Bibliography

Adorno, T. How to Look at Television, the Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture.

Althusser, L. (1969). “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”

Bullock, H. E. (2001). Media Images of the Poor. Journal of Social Issues, 2, 229-246.

Çamur, A. (2004). Charity Programmes: Representations of Poverty in Turkish Television

Erdoğan, N. (2002). Ağır Çekim Yoksulluk. N. Erdoğan, Yoksulluk Halleri. Demokrasi Kitaplığı.

Kellner, D.M. and Durham, M.G. (2001). Adventures in Media and Cultural Studies: Introducing the Key Works. D. K. Durham, Media and Cultural Studies Key Works. Oxford: Blackwell.

Koçak, R. (2014). The Deniz Feneri Association Model in Humane Aid. Turkish World NGO Summit / Papers 145-150. Retrieved on January 14, 2015, from: http://www.stkzirve.com/turkicworld-ngo-summit-EN.pdf#page=145

Lain, D. (2011). Five Steps for Understanding Althusser’s Concept of Ideology Without Going Insane. Retrieved on January 14, 2015, from: http://thoughtcatalog.com/doug-lain/2011/06/five-steps-for-understanding-althussers-concept-of-ideology-without-going-insane/

Nathanson, J. (2013). The Pornography of Poverty: Reframing the Discourse of International Aid’s Representations of Starving Children. Canadian Journal of Communication, 38, p.103-120.

Oliver, A. (2006). The ‘Pornography of Poverty’ and ‘Brothel without Walls’: Understanding the Impact of Art on Development. Undercurrent, 3(2).

Ricchiardi, S. (1999), ‘Confronting the Horror’. American Journalism Review, January/February 1999.

Safo, A. (2002). NGOs present false images of Africa. News from Africa. Retrieved on January 15, 2015, from:  http://www.newsfromafrica.org/newsfromafrica/articles/art_853.html.

 

Notes

[1] Althusser argues that there are in fact two kinds of State apparatuses: the Repressive State Apparatus and the Ideological State Apparatus. The former includes the “institutions” of the Government, the Administration, the Army, the Police, the Courts, the Prisons, etc. The latter includes the religious ISA (the system of the different Churches), the educational such as school, the family, the legal, political, cultural and finally the media (press, radio and television, etc.

[2] For more information: http://www.denizfeneri.org.tr/

[3] 18-20 metre kara bir alanımız var ve dört kişi yaşıyorsunuz, burada nasıl yattığınızı merak ediyorum.

[4] Ben arkadaşlarımı getiremiyorum eve.

[5] Ablamla ikimiz yatıyoruz, annemle de diğer ablam yatıyor.

 

DE CERTEAU, M. (1984): THE PRACTICE OF EVERYDAY LIFE

Nuran Yıldırım

Middle East Technical University

 

Undoubtedly Michel de Certeau as one of the most important intellectuals and cultural theorists is largely known for his two-volume work L’Invention du quotidien (The Practice of Everyday Life) on contemporary popular cultural practices. In this remarkable work, de Certeau attempts to bring to light the models of action characteristic of users whose status as the dominated element in society is concealed through the term ‘consumers’. By making explicit the systems of operational combination which also compose a culture, he claims those status do not necessarily mean that they are either passive or docile.

Throughout his work, de Certeau openly criticizes Foucault’s instrumental power relations, presenting an account of individuals (agents) and seeking to shadow Foucault’s analysis of the microphysics of power. For Foucault power relations spread within society and power can be found in everywhere unexpectedly, as mechanized actions, knowledge and practices in daily life. On this basis, Foucault focuses precisely on details of social practices in order for analyzing power.  Whilst Foucault sees merely passive consumers at the mercy of structural forces and necessarily portrays power as absolutely productive and repressive, which allow no possibility for individuals to resist it, de Certeau wants consumers to be active users who ‘make innumerable and infinitesimal transformations of and within the dominant cultural economy in order to adapt it to their own interests and their own rules.’ (de Certeau, xiv). Thus de Certeau brought focus on complexity of power relations through criticizing Foucauldian one dimensional flow of power.

Further, de Certeau analyzes the procedures, effects, bases and possibilities that individuals use everyday in order to overthrow the disciplining powers. And he presents clandestine forms taken through the dispersed, tactical, and makeshift creativity of individuals or groups who seek to destroy structural forms of discipline and compose the network of an anti-discipline. On this basis, de Certeau makes a distinction between tactics and strategies. He explains strategy as the calculus of force-relationships which becomes possible when a subject of will and power can be isolated from an environment. Strategies are actions which elaborate theoretical places capable of articulating an ensemble of physical places in which forces distributed. Tactics, on the other hand, is explained by de Certeau, as a calculus which cannot count on a borderline distinguishing the other as a visible totality. Whilst strategies pin their hopes on the resistance that establishment of a place offers to the erosion of time, tactics on a clever utilization of time, of the opportunities it presents and also of the play that it introduces into the foundations of power. In this respect, the difference between these two historical options made regarding action and security (de Certeau, xvii).

Among the anti-disciplinary everyday practices (talking, cooking, walking, dwelling, etc.) analyzed by de Certeau, reading is considered as particularly significant. As noted by de Certeau, reading seems to constitute the maximal development of passivity assumed to characterize the consumer. In essence, the activity of reading, for de Certeau, is a silent production without capitalizing and without taking control over time. Further de Certeau use the rented apartment metaphor (renters make changes in an apartment they furnish it with their memories and acts) in order to show how individuals have ability to interpret the text beyond its dominant meaning which has been decided by ones (such as the author) who create and monopolize the readings.

Additionally, in the 1980s and 1990s, de Certeau’s works gained fame in a number of fields, particularly in media and popular culture studies, most notably the notion of ‘consumers’ engaged in ‘cultural and textual poaching’ later developed in the highly influential work of Henry Jenkins and John Fiske. By demonstrating various ways in which poaching shifts from a tactic of reading to a tactic of time and calling these as ‘clever tricks of the weak’, de Certeau influences Fiske’s discussions upon poaching as a resistance strategy for the individual in Understanding Popular Culture.

Significantly, too, de Certeau has also analyzed theoretically the issue that of individuals or audiences are not merely passive and manipulated consumers since they have power either through accepting or resisting the power relations. This analysis follows Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model of communication (1980) which explains that the dominant ideology is usually inscribed as the preferred reading within a text, but the readers do not adopt them automatically. By proposing a model of mass communication which emphasized the importance of active interpretation within relevant codes, Hall demonstrated that the social situations of readers may lead them to adopt different stances toward media texts. In this context, he came up with there ways to read the mass media text. The first one is dominant readings in which the reader completely favors preferred reading in a way the author intended, making the code transparent and natural. The second one is negotiated readings that of the reader partly believes the code and broadly accepts the preferred reading. Lastly, oppositional readings are produced by the readers whose social position places them into direct conflict or oppositional relation with the preferred reading and the dominant code, thus readers do not necessarily accept such codes but they reject the reading.

HABERMAS AND BAUMAN ON MODERNITY

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Jürgen Habermas, a philosopher of the “Frankfurt School” of critical social theory in West Germany, is said to be the leading defender of modernity and rationality. His views on modernity are elaborated in his work, Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (1987). Though postmodernists have made all possible assaults on Habermas, he has very strongly defended his position. He assumes that the project of modernity can be redeemed and attempts to strengthen the ‘project of modernity’ by reconstructing it vis-à-vis the ‘theory of communication’. Hence, the massive task is to overcome the pessimism of late modernity, the indulgence of his predecessors at Frankfurt, Adorno and Horkheimer (1949), by resolving the dilemmas of subject-centred reason in the paradigm of communicative action.

In this sense, Habermas’s theory of communication attempts to facilitate a continuity of language fused into the project of modernity. From this perspective, Habermas’ attempt to reconstitute the project of modernity through language. Language is the vehicle for the most fundamental form of social action, namely his theory of communicative action. Hence, Habermas sees the ‘language – communication’ framework as a new way of retrieving the project of modernity. Habermas wants to show how the transformation from traditional society to modernity involved a progressively secularization of normatively behaviour reconstructed through communicative action.

Additionally, Habermas’ (1981) notion of Lebenswelt or ‘lifeworld’ must be introduced as a contextual marker to link action theory with rationalisation processes. Habermas conceptualized the ‘lifeworld’ as the taken for granted universe of everyday existence. For Habermas (1981) the lifeworld is the saturation of communicative action by tradition and routinized way of doing acts. The lifeworld is a pre-interpreted set of forms of life within which daily conduct materializes. In Habermas’ view the context for the process of evolutionary development of society, culture and individual personality is the articulation of the lifeworld that correlates with an internal system of language.  We can see therefore that the lifeworld forms the linguistic context for processes of communication.

Finally, there is yet another theorist Zygmunt Bauman argues that modernity is nothing but a bundle of irregularities, and more generally the dangers. Bauman has come out with a title, Intimations of Postmodernity (1992). He is a theorist who establishes that modernity and postmodernity have cast a gloom on world society. These processes have rendered holocaust. As the Jews were destructed by the Nazis, so is the process of modernization which has meant loss of life to the contemporary world. Bauman assumes that if a most pure and determined form of modernity (e.g. the death of communism in the ex Soviet bloc) had failed, then the modernity as a whole had failed.

By the time Bauman, known as a key theorist of postmodernity, wrote Postmodernity and its Discontents (1997) his view of Habermas was precisely hostile. During a discussion of the subversive postmodern art, Bauman expresses his dislike of Habermas’s very concept of modernity.

While many theorists of the postmodern condition argued that it signified a radical break with modern society, Bauman contended that modernity had always been characterized by an ambivalent, “dual” nature. On the one hand, Bauman saw modern society as being largely characterized by a need for order—a need to domesticate, categorize, and rationalize the world so it would be controllable, predictable, and understandable. It is this ordering, rationalizing tendency that Max Weber saw as the characteristic force of modernization. But, on the other hand, modernity was also always characterized by radical change, by a constant overthrowing of tradition and traditional forms of economy, culture, and relationship—“all that is solid melts into air,” as Marx characterized this aspect of modern society. For Bauman, postmodernity is the result of modernity’s failure to rationalize the world and the amplification of its capacity for constant change. According to Habermas, modernity is not over or failed. It is an unfinished project.

In later years, Bauman felt that the term “postmodern” was problematic and started using the term liquid modernity to better describe the condition of constant mobility and change he sees in relationships, identities, and global economics within contemporary society. Instead of referring to modernity and postmodernity, Bauman writes of a transition from solid modernity to a more liquid form of social life.

ADORNO, BOURDIEU AND THE TASTE

 

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In the preface of his magnum opus, Negative Dialectics, on epistemology and metaphysics, Theodor Adorno states that, ‘Negative Dialectics is a phrase that flouts tradition. As early as Plato, dialectics meant to achieve something positive by means of negation; the thought figure of a ‘negation of negation’ later became the succinct term.’ By seeking to free dialectics from such affirmative traits without reducing its determinacy, Adorno coined the term ‘non-identity thinking’ as a key principle of dialectical thinking in order to explain the system of categorical thinking in modern society. With this principle Adorno means, ‘that objects do not go into their concepts without leaving a remainder, that they come to contradict the traditional norm of adequacy.’ (Adorno, 1972). On this basis, dialectics, according to Adorno, is the consistent sense of nonidentity. Indeed ‘appearance of identity is inherent in thought itself, in its pure form’; nonidentity is not a straightforward task (Adorno, 1972).

For instance, atonal music which lacks a single or a central tone can be seen as parasitic on ordinary and as nonidentical. By breaking tonal hierarchies, composers such as Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg give a different way of conceptualizing the musical experience through privileging the contradictions of ordinary musical taste. They, in a sense, assume the emancipation of the dissonance is dependent on emancipation of the society. Just like authentic art of Adorno which challenges the standardized conceptions and provides an alternative version of reality, atonal music stimulates critical social reflection. As such atonality has an emancipatory character by its very own form. Yet the consumers in the modern society feel lost in a chaos of sounds and rhythms while experiencing an atonal music.

Today art became entirely a commodity. Therefore the emancipatory potential of art has been eradicated and its production is determined merely by need. Adorno claims that culture industry creates an acceptance of the existing order, normative assumptions and reality in order to protect the status quo. This is a form of pseudo-realism which creates an acceptance of the existing order as natural and unquestionable. Standardization plays a crucial role in this process.  David Lynch, for example, as one of the greatest film makers has ability to create films not in a way that the consumer used to associate but rather in unique style. Instead of using stereotypes, he creates extraordinary scenes out of normal and everyday activities. This peculiar logic of Lynch’s films makes his films hard to understand, thus he had to include clues to unlock of one of his famous movies so-called  inside of the DVD’s line notes to help audience understand the movie.  So, culture industry forces the film makers, artists, and so on to fit into a form of standardization. As Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer in their work The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception (1944) famously state, ‘Under monopoly all mass culture is identical,’ and ‘anyone who resists can only survive by fitting in’.

Similarly, written in 1979 and translated into English in 1984, Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste centers around the relationship between cultural taste and class position in France. It provides, broadly speaking, a major survey of popular taste. With mass market cultural products, according to Bourdieu, music whose simple, repetitive structures invite a passive and absent participation as a form of prefabricated entertainment. And Bourdieu noted that Adorno’s very critique of cultural mass production provided the formula through establishing a direct and a naïve analogy between the form and uses of popular music (Bourdieu,1984).

Furthermore, Bourdieu assumes that ‘a work of art is not love at first sight’ but rather it is ‘an act of cognition, a decoding operation.’ (Bourdieu, 1984). In this sense, consumption, according to Bourdieu, is an act of decoding which presupposes practical mastery of the code. A work of art (such as atonal music) has meaning and the interest merely for someone who has the cultural competence or the code which is encoded.  Although the very taste of consumers in the legitimate culture regards as a gift of nature, Bourdieu claims that cultural needs are closely linked to educational level and social origin. Thus, taste, in Bourdieu’s works, corresponds a social hierarchy of consumers and functions as a maker of class (Bourdieu, 1984). Additionally, whereas shopping, buying and dinning out are coded as an experience, places such as Hard Rock Café and Starbucks are not merely famous and great for their foods or drinks, in essence, people go there for ambiance and most importantly for reproduction of class identity and class distinction. In a postmodern image culture, consumption becomes inherently significant modes of identity and presentation of self in everyday life (Kellner, 2003).

All in all, even though today the mechanism of demand and supply is disintegrating in material production, it still operates as a check in the rulers’ favour in the superstructure (Adorno, 1979). Through the imposition of dominant styles of consumption, capitalist production reproduces itself in life of workers, the farmers and lower middle class.

Bibliography

Adorno, T. (1972), Negative Dialectics, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, p. 5-16.

Adorno, T. & Horkheimer, M. (1979), ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’, in Dialectic of Enlightenment, London: Verso.

Bourdieu, P. (1984), Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, trans. by R. Nice, London: Routledge.

Kellner, D. (2003), Media Spectacle, New York: Routledge, p.8.

HABERMAS AND THE UNFINISHED PROJECT OF MODERNITY

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Jürgen Habermas, world-renowned as a social theorist, philosopher, and a leading European public intellectual for more than five decades, has been influential within European critical sociology. Although his writings range from political science to epistemology and ethic, the fundamental Habermasian concern is to protect the project of modernity and provide a new critical approach to understand society (Spracklen, 2009). Since its publication in 1985, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity has been the object of a wide-range debate within the disciplines of philosophy, social theory, and political science.

Habermas strongly rejects post-modernity (as a project and as depiction of the world today) along with its epistemological counterpart postmodernism. He believes the postmodern theorists are wrong philosophically and wrong in their account of the world. In rejecting post-modernity, Habermas is explicitly setting out his defense of modernity (as a project, and as a description of the world today) based on Enlightenment. In Modernity: An Unfinished Project and more extensively in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, Habermas provides a number of powerful arguments for retaining a commitment to the project of modernity and discusses some of the principal themes of the modernity within the context of a critical engagement with contemporary neoconservative cultural and political trends. As Matthew G. Specter (2010) puts it, a lengthy interview Habermas gave to Axel Honneth in the summer of 1981 reinforces and enhances the fundamental interconnectedness of his philosophical work the concept of modernity with his political concerns about the rise of intellectual neo-conservatism. In the 1981 interview he indicated that his interest in working on the concept of modernity stemmed from the growing impact of neo-conservatism on German public debate since 1973.

Habermas, in essence, deeply aware of distortions and pathologies of modernity, but he believes that they can only be addressed and resolved in a fruitful way by protecting and expanding the sphere of communicative rationality against the systematic imperatives of the economy and the state and by relinking the differentiated domains of science, morality and art, their corresponding expert cultures, with communicative praxis of the lifeworld (that is reversing cultural impoverishment) (Passerin, 1996). Additionally, against the depiction of modernity as a spent epoch, as having exhausted the promises and projects of its philosophical mentors in the Enlightenment, Habermas sets out to defend the unrealized normative potential of modernity. Hence Habermas wants to be able to understand meaning philosophically and in the social world, to enable us to make secure judgments about truth, reality, morality and justice. In defending modernity, then Habermas defending lifeworld, where communicative action allows individuals the freedom to think rationally and make such judgment collectively. In this sense, this defense of modernity, is based on Habermas’s theory of modernity and communicative rationality, presented in his earlier two-volume work, The Theory of Communicative Action. In that work, Habermas offers a systematic theory of societal and cultural modernization capable of exploring both the achievements and pathologies of modernity. Crucial to that effort was the paradigm shift from the philosophy of consciousness to the philosophy of the language.

Additionally, for Habermas, in essence, there has been a dramatic shift in the social and economic shape of modernity, but we live in a world that is still, essentially, modern. Hence modernity can be seen as an unfinished project which aims at a differentiated reconnection of modern culture with an everyday sphere of praxis that is dependent on a living heritage but would be impoverished by more traditionalism.

Thus, Habermas describes himself as a modern, and as a defender of modernity. He may be seen to stand in the tradition of philosophy from Descartes to Kant. Nevertheless, those thinkers to a philosophy of language and communicative reason, and having rejected their foundationalism, he clearly comes later than modernity (Hoy, 1996). His position, therefore, can be characterized as late modern. The debate, then, is not between modernity and post-modernity, but between a late modern and a postmodern understanding of the tasks of philosophy.

 

Bibliography

Hoy, Couzens D. (1996). Splitting the Difference: Habermas’s Critique of Derrida in Habermas and the Unfinished Project of Modernity edited by Maurizio Passerin d’Entreves and Seyla Benhabib. Polity Press: Cambridge.

Passerin, d’Entreves M. (1996). Introduction in Habermas and the Unfinished Project of Modernity edited by Maurizio Passerin d’Entreves and Seyla Benhabib. Polity Press: Cambridge.

Specter, Matthew G. (2010). Habermas: An Intellectual Biography. Cambridge University Press: New York.

Spracklen, Karl (2009). The Meaning and Purpose of Leisure: Habermas and Leisure at the End of Modernity.  Palgrave Macmillan: New York

 

 

EXPERIENCE, MEMORY AND THE HISTORY

 

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The relation of history and memory has been a favorite theme throughout the history of philosophy and it has been studied by various scholar including Sigmund Freud, Henri Bergson, Marcel Proust as well as Walter Benjamin. Besides, each scholar has approached the concept from different dimensions. Benjamin, for example, saw the decay of experience as one of the most important problems inherited from the Enlightenment and situated the relation of memory and history, developing a form of narrative which contains both experiences.  In his essay, therefore, my initial purpose is to provide an overview on the relation of memory and history through taking an excursion on the thought of Freud, Bergson, Proust by comparing them that of Walter Benjamin.

Starting out the essay with a short report on Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, I will attempt to give a way to understand Bergson’s analysis on memory. In his well-known work, Freud illustrates the consciousness as a protective shield which blocked out disturbing experiences and he describes the true memory as something which includes catastrophic and violent experiences that the individual has always tried to forget but which manifest themselves in neurotic fixations, compulsive physical symptoms as well as recurring nightmares (Meek, 2007).  In essence, Bergson’s theory of memory is quite similar with Freud’s analysis. Bergson describes the memory as an absolute motor of human activity and the intersection of mind and matter. Further, he argues that the memory is very much related with the conception of the duration and explained creativity of human experiences in duration. In Matter and Memory, Bergson poses a fundamental challenge to psychology in seeking to illustrate that memories are not conserved in the brain, and he claims that memory is not in the brain but rather in time, time is not a thing but it is duration because nothing can be in anything (Pearson, 2010). Thus, Bergson stands against the idea of penetration the memory into the inside of the brain and argued that the brain is not in the head but rather it is in the world and it’s only a small part of the life of the organism, which is limited to the present (Pearson, 2010). He famously puts it ‘The brain is part of the material world; the material world is not part of the brain. Eliminate the image which bears the name material world, and you destroy at the same time the brain and the cerebral disturbance which are parts of it’ (Bergson, 1896). In this context, memory is continues progress of importing to the past which constitutes a virtual dimension of present though producing and reproducing new memories at any moment and encouraging to creation of the future.

Proust had read Bergson’s Matter and Memory and heavily influenced by his readings of Bergson, especially about the conception of memory. However, he criticized Bergson’s analysis on memory and pointed out his own approach is very different from Bergson’s. In all his works, Proust had stated that there are two kinds of memory, voluntary and involuntary. While the involuntary memory is the most famous and is in the center of Proust’s interest since it causes aesthetic pleasure, voluntary memory does not have this special quality (Bartsch, 2005).

Proust, in his monumental novel À La Recherche du Temps Perdu or In Search of Lost Time, tries to produce experience, as Bergson imagines it and gives several examples how an action or a bodily event may cause a remembrance, even leading into an illusion. In the novel, Proust told a story about biting into the Madeleine cakes after dipping it of lime-flower tea when he was an old man, which makes his memory returns and brings into his mind a childhood memory about his aunt. And once he had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine which his aunt used to give him, suddenly the past in the present have coincided. This madeleine anecdote is considered one of the most important passages of the novel and explains the involuntary memory effect which triggers the past in an experience such as a taste or smell. Thus, Proust claims that the past is hidden in some material object or in a sensation that of material object give us, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment. And coming upon this memory, which is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, merely depends on chance (Proust, 1927).  In this context, involuntary memory, for Proust, is like a black hole in which we do not have very much control over it, but only by chance you may produce it. Benjamin has criticized Proust’s notion of memory which depends on a chance to catch up with the past which is left behind. And Benjamin argued that memory is not an instrument for exploring the past or something we must wait for time to come up. But rather memory is a medium. It is a medium which is experienced, lived synchronically, which is devoid completely of any temporality, though it depends on the lapse of time (Sinha, 1998).

Besides, Benjamin developed a theory of experience which is a synthesis of Bergson’s conception of memory with Freud’s theory of trauma. In Benjamin, like Bergson, while the past exists outside representation, it is actualized in images; Freud’s theory became an explanation of how cultural forms could be approached as carrying the equivalent of unconscious memory traces.  Further, Benjamin aligns Bergson and Freud through their shared understanding of consciousness as destructive of memory traces (Meek, 2007).

Additionally, taking the narrative oral tradition as his vehicle in his famous essay so-called The Storyteller, Benjamin attempted to draw attention the notion of storyteller in order to explain the decay of experience. Subsequently, the storyteller, for Benjamin, takes what he tells from his own experiences and makes it the experiences of those who are listening to him. And Benjamin argued storytelling was for a long time an artisan form of communication, which does not merely aim to transfer the pure essence of the thing, like a report or information. But today, just like memory having disappeared, the communicability of experience is decreasing and art of storytelling is reaching its end. The earliest symptom of the decline of storytelling is the rise of novel in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While the storyteller conveys experience, the novelist as a solitary individual has isolated himself. Therefore, the novel has appeared a new way of communication, just like newspapers which gives information. Indeed the value of information can only survive at that moment, it was new.  But a story is different. That is why we still remember the stories our grandmother told us when we were little kids while we cannot remember the headline of the newspaper that we had read yesterday.

All in all, Proust has defined two kinds of memory, the first voluntary memory and the second the involuntary memory which is the most famous one in Proust’s works, especially in In Search of Lost Time.  Involuntary memory is famously exemplified through the metaphor of the Madeleine cakes that Proust made as the trigger for nostalgia in his novel in order to define how some material object or in a sensation that of material object may cause a remembrance.  However, Benjamin rejected this approach of memory which depends on merely on chance and he defined the very notion of experience which is in a sense related with Bergson’s conception of experience in the duration. Through extending Bergson’s concept of duration, Benjamin rejected ahistorical approach of Bergson within human experience and provided understanding of consciousness as destructive of memory traces from the perspectives of Bergson as well as Freud.

 

Bibliography

Bartsch, R. (2005). Concept Formation, Remembrance and Understanding. In Memory and Understanding: Concept Formation in Proust’s A la Recherche Du Temps Perdu. John Benjamins Publishing.

Benjamin, W. (1973), “The Storyteller”, in his Illuminations, London: Fontana.

Bergson, H. (1896). Matter and Memory. London: George Allen and Unwin. Translated by Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer.

Freud, S. (1899). The Interpretation of Dreams.

Meek, A. (2007). Benjamin, Trauma and the Virtual. Walter Benjamin and the Virtual: Politics, Art, and Mediation in the Age of Global Culture, (15). Retrieved from: http://www.transformationsjournal.org/journal/issue_15/article_02.shtml

Proust, M. (1927). Swann’s Way. In Search of Lost Time. Retrieved from: http://genius.com/Marcel-proust-swanns-way-chapter-1-annotated

Radstone, S., & Schwarz, B. (2010). Bergson on Memory by Keith Ansell-Pearson. In Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. Fordham Univ Press.

Sinha, A. (1998). The Intertwining of Remembering and Forgetting in Walter Benjamin. Connecticut Review, 20(2), 99-110. Retrieved from: http://www.wbenjamin.org/remembering.html