Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Amorphous Trauma: Apt or Useless?

I enjoy Berlant’s holistic view of trauma and the crisis ordinary, as not just singular events but rather formative moments with many reverberations. However her definition loses me in the details when she begins to elaborate all the ways which a so called “traumatic event” can shape a person affectively – her definition of trauma seems almost too encompassing, leaving few event which couldn’t be called some sort of trauma. In a way she concedes this in her segue into the topic; “when one views the physical and neurophysical qualities of what a medical person might call “trauma”, when encountered, The event called traumatic turns out mainly to be one genre of explanation for a situation without genre” (Berlant, 80). But then her whole analysis of this term she has unhinged from it’s generic definitions is fraught with contradictions “those things we call traumatic events do not always induce traumatic responses” (Berlant, 81); perhaps her definition of trauma is the inverse of her view intuition as a manifestation of the historical present, moments when this intuition fails so drastically that “Trauma forces it’s subjects… into crisis mode, where they develop some broad, enduring intuitions about the way we live in a now that’s emerging without unfolding” (Berlant, 93).  I also see a contradiction when she says “Trauma after all does not make experiencing the historical present impossible, but possible… in the sense that trauma shatters the biostory that was a foundation for what gets taken for granted about life’s historical self-continuity” (Berlant, 81) doesn’t Lauren view the historical present as this life’s historical self-continuity, or is trauma the event which preconsciously forces a body to question their previously conscious assumptions. Perhaps I am misreading this passage but it seems to create a definition which seems promising but sputters out in it’s continuous fracturing into further and further micro crisises.

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