Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: memory
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 15:47

Chiang Kai Shek Remembered? Collective Memory in Taiwan

Vladimir Stolojan, a current Ph.D Candidate at the University of Paris Diderot, explores for us the shifts in collective memories associated with Chiang Kai-shek over the years since democratization, in Taiwan, in China and in the West.


Wednesday, 28 December 2011 14:35

Micronesian Memories of War in the Pacific

Lin Poyer is a professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming. Her recent work focuses on the Micronesian experience and history of the Pacific War, during the Japanese colonization and afterwards. In December 2011, she was invited to Taipei by the Taiwan Center for Pacific Studies to give a series of lectures presenting her research. We had the opportunity to meet her beforehand and learn about the impact of WWII in Micronesia and the specificities of its oral history in the region.


Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

Journey to the end of craziness

A review of documentary ‘Crazy’ directed by Heddy Honigmann, Netherlands, 1999, Digi-Beta, color, 97’

Crazy is a documentary on memory and on the way one deals with the memory of traumatic experiences. In her movie, Heddy Honigmann interviews a series of Dutch soldiers who have all experience in a war context as members of the UN forces/army. The movie is remarkable for its use of documents such as photo scrapbooks, news footage and personal films, letters and postcards… The interviewees are most of the time comfortably sitting in their living room, or in a restaurant. Sometimes they are accompanied by their spouse or companion as they recount their experience of wars in various parts of the world such as Lebanon, Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

Thus the contrast is even stronger between the violence and horror of their stories and the environment and items that surround them now: a cozy and bright room, a park, an expensive bottle of wine… What Honigmann succeeds in capturing is precisely the moment of the recollection, this indescribable moment when a painful or traumatic memory mightily comes back, bringing to the present a past that one might have shut off.

crazy_3So there are two kinds of memory: a voluntary one and an uncontrolled one. The first one comes from the effort of remembering, it also rebuilds a story, gives an order and a signification to events. It is also the one that overcomes in a certain way the absurdities and the horrors of the war by choosing carefully what one wants or can remember. For instance, a soldier evokes the refugee camps in Rwanda: when asked if it was terrible to see, he just replies that one gets used to it; he’s then asked how quickly he got used to it, very fast, he says, as for the horror scenes he could have witnessed, he just brushed them aside, using what he calls the “blinders’ technique”. In his role as a strong and efficient soldier, he denies having showed any weak feeling during his mission, for him, it is a matter of survival.

crazy_4On the other hand, Honigmann also invokes another kind of memory aroused by music in her movie. Each soldier is asked to introduce a song linked to their experience of war time. From the Stabat Mater by Pergolesito Guns n' Roses' "Knocking on Heaven's Door", the soldiers all used a song of their own to find a bit of peace and comfort in a context of violence and dehumanization. So the camera just films them as they are sitting on their home sofa listening to these songs that carry such a heavy recollection. They stop talking but their silence is even more eloquent than all the stories they just told, eyes begin to float, sweat beads on their foreheads, hands are twisted together as if supplicating under the torture… And in fact, the special signification that these different songs carry for all the protagonists reveal precisely the banality of horror and the way craziness arises from the trivial.

This importance of music and its power of reminiscence have been evoked before in French novelist Celine’s “Journey to the End of Night” (Voyage au bout de la nuit). The novel also describes the absurdities of war and its impact on the mind as the story starts with the narrator enrolling for First World War after following the gay music played by a brass band! In fact Celine’s book is punctuated by music: the author himself named his writing “the little music”; describing the decay of age as the moment when “one has no more music inside to make life dance.” In another quote, the narrator says: “In fact, nobody resists to music. We have nothing to do with our heart, we give it gladly. Y’have to hear at the bottom of all music the tune without notes, made for us, the tune of Death.”


Tuesday, 12 October 2010 00:00

Free Memory!

What is the difference between our memory's reality and the reality recorded in images. How can we transform, release and liberate our memory, allowing us to view the things we remember from a different perspective?

Memory is formed by history. The blind spot of memory lies in its ability to remember only that which it wishes to remember. Even so, Edward Said once said: culture is simply memory struggling not to be forgotten. Through these documentaries, which supposedly record reality, are we able to explore and understand the depths of memory, the past that has been blinded so by our prejudice? And are we able to breed understanding and concern in the wider world and to free our memory. Furthermore it is due to the presence of a camera that we bravely decide to talk of our experiences and memories. This is another level of meaning in the theme 'free memory'. Liberating our memory, does not only concern itself with objective history external to ourselves, but is also concerned with thorough retrospection on our own life and memory. Here, festival director Angelika Wang gives her own explanation of Free Memory, the main programs in this year's festival, the state of documentary and gives a few recommendations of films to look out for:

To match the theme of "Free Memory" this festival featured a memory wall - My Photo, Our Wallpaper - where you could choose a picture that meant something to you, then be photographed holding the picture which would eventually stuck on the wall. While Angelika had put up the first photo,  the opening ceremony was concluded as we all watched the proud parents of Angelika put their own picture on the wall, a tribute to the passing of memories through the generations. Perhaps by exploring this festival, you can come closer to understanding the significance and importance of documentary.

 

 

Thursday, 20 November 2008 00:08

Tafalong a niyaro

In this excerpt of Renlai’s documentary, the grand-father of Nakao, Angah Foday, sings the ancestral Tafalong song which recounts the origins of the village. He is surrounded by relatives while they all sit in the traditional common house that has recently been reconstituted. (English translation of the song due to Nakao Eki.)

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