Sei sulla pagina 1di 20

History and Theory 47 (October 2008), 331-350

© Wesleyan University 2008 ISSN: 0018-2656

MeMOry, MeMOrIalS, aNd cOMMeMOratION 1

aNIta KaSabOva


according to a popular view, the past is present here and now. this is presentism com- bined with endurantism: the past continuously persists through time to the present. by contrast, I argue that memories, memorials, and histories are of entities discontinuous with present experiences, and that the continuity between past and present in them is a con- struct. Memories, memorials, and histories are semantic means for dealing with the past. My presupposition that past and present are different is supported by grammar: as verbal tenses show, the past is not present here and now, for otherwise it would not be past. a failure to note this difference is a lack of chronesthesia, a sense of time specific to human beings. I argue that presentism fails to account for the temporal structures of memory and the changes in perspective as we switch from the present to a past situation. My account is perdurantist in the sense that it allows for temporal parts of things such as memorials or tombstones, as well as events such as wars or commemorations. but my main goal is to outline a semantic approach to the past: the tie between past and present actions and events is the semantic ground–consequence relation: a past event is the antecedent grounding a present situation, explaining why it is the case. In addition, I show how we refer to the past by means of two rhetorical figures of speech: synecdoche, using the (emblematic-) part–whole relation for relating the past to the present by transposing its sense; and ana- phor, which has a deictic function—it points back toward the past. In references to the past, the deictic field is a scene visualized by the speaker and addressees: the deictic field is transposed from a perceptual to an imaginary space.

I. IS the paSt preSeNt? preSeNtISM aNd ItS prObleMS

a fundamental philosophical question is, how should we deal with the past? I

will examine this question by considering it within the context of memory. here

is a brief review of the current metahistorical debate. eelco runia cites the oppo-

sition formulated by pierre Nora between history and memory as two opposed approaches to the past: while the historian reconstructs that which is no longer, memory is alive and evolving. 2 In the case of history, the temporal link between

1. this paper was presented at the international colloquium “les temps du monde et de l’histoire”

organized by the New bulgarian University in december 2007. I thank François hartog for useful comments, as well as Ivan Kasabov for discussing the issues involved, and boriana piryova for pertinent questions. In particular, I wish to thank brian Fay and the anonymous referees for their

constructive remarks that helped me to revise this essay.

2. eelco runia, “burying the dead, creating the past,” History and Theory 46 (October 2007),

313-325. runia cites the english translation of pierre Nora’s Lieux de Mémoire [1984, 1992]: “the era of commemoration,” in Realms of Memory: The Construction of the French Past (New york:

columbia University press, 1996-1997), III, 606-638, and the “General Introduction,” in Rethinking France: Les Lieux de Mémoire (New york: columbia University press, 1996–1997), I, vii-xxii.

aNIta KaSabOva


the present and the past is discontinuous, whereas in the case of memory, the temporal link is continuous. On this view, memory is a depository or storehouse of human actions and events, whereas historians are dissociated from the object of their study: they investigate the past by registering, classifying, and analyzing human actions and events. In response, runia dismisses what he calls Nora’s “botanist” conception of history because it puts the past at a distance and does not account for the presence of the past. he suggests a reformulation of the oppo- sition between history and memory as an opposition between history and com- memoration. 3 yet he also attempts to reformulate the historian’s role (at least the academic conception of the historian) by determining history as “human-made” and by bringing it closer to commemoration. For runia, history is accessible to us and comprehensible for us because we are the ones who made it. commemoration is an attempt to account for unimaginable events caused by our species: catastrophes produced not by nature but by human acts, such as the holocaust. Who are we that this could have happened? We can- not deny that it happened, but was it really we who did it? the “we” commemo- rating the event is not qualitatively the same “we” who produced the event. the generation commemorating the holocaust was not born when it was produced and suffered, and this generation cannot go back—to the anterior past—to the time when this act was committed. according to runia, this is the reason why people make history and destroy the histories they live with, for they lack a suf- ficient reason for explaining these histories, that is, for considering themselves as agents. I think runia makes a good point but he does not argue for it or explain how it is possible. how can present commemorators re-identify themselves as past agents? I would like to adumbrate those conditions necessary for the re-iden- tification by means of which later generations are able to conceive themselves as agents of unimaginable events that occurred at an antecedent time. François hartog objects to both Nora and runia that they (and others) misun- derstand memory, in particular collective memory, regarding it as a vivid rec- ognition and a faithful reproduction in opposition to history, which they regard as being external and detached. For hartog, we should talk about a change of regimes of memory: oral societies are ruled by the regime of the transmission of memory, whereas today we are ruled by a memory obliterated by the written word. today’s memory-regime is a voluntary reconstruction, made possible by an absence of transmission. 4 In what follows, I take this insight from hartog and argue that memory—that is, the conscious and personal memory of past actions and events—is a retroactive reconstruction of the past and that what is transmitted is the sense of these actions and events. as for runia, his rejection of a representationalist account of the past comes at the price of importing the past into the present. below, I argue against the endurantist presentism of which runia’s position is emblematic, namely, that the past is present here and now. as grammar shows by means of verbal tenses,

3. runia rejects the “representationalist” conception of history (“presence,” History and Theory 45

[February 2006], 1-29), as well as Nora’s project of commemoration, the famous “memory-sites” (Les Lieux de mémoire, ed. pierre Nora, 7 vols. [paris: editions Gallimard, 1984–1992]).

MeMOry, MeMOrIalS, aNd cOMMeMOratION


the past is not present; it was present and, once it qualifies as past, it is no longer present. consequently, in references to the past, the indexicals “here” and “now” are shifted. I explain this in section III.a. In addition, in our experience of the present, we have a sense of the past and the future, not because the past is present, but because our sense of the present comprises the (immediate) past. this sense is chronesthesia or time-awareness. as William James put it, our experience of the present is not like a knife’s edge but has a certain (specious) breadth, as if we were sitting on a saddle from which we look at two temporal directions, forwards and backwards. 5 So, if we were unable to grasp the past, we would also be unable to grasp what is happening at present. this notion of a blurred present with indeterminate boundaries accompanies

a perdurantist account of events and actions as persisting occurrents, that is, with different temporal parts or phases that can be accounted for by a tensed theory of time: the structure of time corresponds to the structure of grammar (at least of Indo-european languages). a memorial to the anonymous soldier existed yesterday, exists today, and, unless someone destroys it, will exist tomor- row. by contrast, runia’s account is endurantist: he claims that past events are wholly present at any moment of their existence, so they are continuants without temporal extension. this claim accompanies presentism, or the view that only the present is real and that, necessarily, everything is present. One worry is that this endurantist version of presentism confuses occurrents, that is, things that persist by having temporal as well as spatial parts (namely, events such as wars, commemorations, deaths, and burials), with continuants or physical objects that have a spatial location and persist by enduring in time (such as books, memori- als, or tombstones that—on the endurantist view—have no temporal parts since they exist as a whole at any given moment). 6 I think this worry can be reduced

if we consider memorials and tombstones as continuants with genidentity, that

is, with an existential relation holding between their temporal parts or phases, a relation that accounts for their identity across time in terms of their genesis from one moment to the next. a memorial erected yesterday may be a ruin tomorrow, but while it persists it instantiates an occurrent, such as a war or a revolution. On this view, occurrents are components underlying continuants: occurrents are not temporal parts of continuants (a soldier’s death is no temporal part of his or her tombstone), but they are related to continuants by a ground–consequence relation: without the occurrent “soldier’s death” there would be no continuant “tombstone.” perhaps occurrents could be considered as necessary filaments of the continuant’s genidentical thread, since they compose a continuant across its temporal stages. however that may be, my aim is to show how a continuant is instantiated or presented by the sense of an occurrent as an exemplary component


William James, Principles of Psychology [1890] (New york: dover publications, 1950), I,



On the temporal parts of physical objects, see theodore Sider, Four-Dimensionalism: An

Ontology of Persistence and Time (New york and Oxford: Oxford University press, 2003); on endurance, persistence, and invariance, as well as continuants and occurrents, see peter Simons, “the thread of persistence,” in Persistence, ed. c. Kanzian (Frankfurt: Ontos verlag, 2008), 165-183.

aNIta KaSabOva


of the continuant. the occurrent can instantiate a continuant as a whole because it is an exemplary or defining part of that continuant.

II. the SeMaNtIcS OF the paSt aNd the SeNSe OF the WOrd “MeMOry”

how does memory deal with the past? Memory, that is, the conscious and living memory of human actions, only apparently presents a continuous link between the present and the past. both the memory of human actions and history presup- pose a temporal gap or distance between the time of occurrence of an event or action and the time of its recollection; they presuppose the experience of “before” and “after.” In addition, both approaches to the past presuppose a sequential tem- poral order and a semantic dependence-relation between the antecedent and the consequent. this dependence-relation is denoted by the conjunct “because”: the antecedent (the past action or event) grounds the consequent (the present action or event) by giving the reason of the consequent (why it occurred). thus the ground–consequence relation obtains in consecutive clauses, such as: “he is in prison because he committed a crime.” the antecedent explains the consequent. but the two temporal phases “before” and “after” are relative to the present posi- tion “now,” as the grammar of Indo-european languages shows (since they have at least three tenses). verbal tenses or inflexions indicate the time of a narrated event relative to the time at which the narrator is speaking. verbal tenses func- tion as referential operators and, pace presentism, we need temporal propositions, especially for dealing with the past. the temporal distance of a retrospective account is linguistically expressed by tenses: the before-past (ante-preterit), simple past (preterit), and after-past (post-preterit) are the main tenses expressing distant and nearer past times with regard to a zero-point “now.” 7 the past has several tenses, but the grammatical structure expressed by verbal inflexions such as is or was is based on the semantic dependence relation between “ante” and “post.” this sequential ordering relation is necessary for expressing temporal positions. the main divisions in time (in Indo-european languages) are based on the ante-post principle: positions in time are constructed from a theoreti- cal zero-point “now” back to the post-preterit, preterit, and ante-preterit tenses, and forward to the ante-future, future, and post-future. In addition, a past-tensed state- ment also characterizes the unmentioned time of the utterance, since the time of the utterance is not represented in the content of a statement in the past tense. For the present tense is temporally neutral; it is the zero-case of temporal indication. the relation between present results of past events and the past events them- selves is expressed by a perfect that tends to become a preterit or aorist, as in “he (has) passed out because he (has) drunk too much.” provided it bears the same relation to a past period as the perfect does to the present, a retrospective past time is expressed as the ante-preterit: “I have seen him last week” becomes “I had seen him last week.” In addition, the use of the imperfect and the perfect tenses modulates our focus on the past. as Otto Jespersen put it, “the imperfect is used by him to whom one day is as a thousand years and the aorist by him

7. I have developed this view in Kasabova, За автобиографичната памет (On Autobiographical Memory) (Sofia: New bulgarian University press, 2007).

MeMOry, MeMOrIalS, aNd cOMMeMOratION


to whom a thousand years are as one day.” 8 We use the aorist or historical past when we condense series of actions as one, editing or abstracting from episodes we consider inessential, while we use the imperfect for focusing on a particular action without abbreviating its duration. Using the aorist, we focus on the past from a bird’s-eye perspective that gives a panoramic or small-scale view of a situation, whereas we use the imperfect for a close-up view that shows the subject on a large scale. Unlike the notion of commemoration, the notion of memory (at least as regards conscious and personal memory) implies that we consider ourselves as agents:

when we retrieve an event from our past experience we construct the past by positioning it and taking it as true. We speak of objects and actions that no longer exist but which are the referents of our linguistic assertions; these objects are things in virtue of which our assertions are true or false. If we could not refer back to previous positions in time, there would be no memory of intentional acts or no autobiographical memory. Nor would we be able to study past events. thus memory depends on our capacity of chronesthesia, our sense of the past, enabling us to bring back to the present our experience of an event that took place at an anterior time. this is why the past of our own recollections is constructed retro- actively, and the past becomes “past” under a particular description. 9 presentists of runia’s stripe would reject the claim that the past is a retroactive reconstruction, just as they would reject the claim that the past is represented in the present. One ground for doing so is a realist view with regard to the past. On the realist view, a statement about a past event is true or false independently of our knowledge of this event. runia subscribes to a strong brand of realism by claiming that the past is present here and now: the past invades the present despite histori- ans’ attempts to put it at a distance. Far from being represented or reproduced in the present, the past manifests its presence in the here and now. the past is not present by representation—according to runia representation is a metaphorical figure that alienates the past; rather, the past is conserved in an underlying way, by means of temporal transposition or metonymy. runia claims that metonymy brings about a transfer of presence rather than a transfer of meaning. 10 his example of the metonymic presence of the past is the touristic pilgrimage to battlefields or sites of concentration camps. he explains this pilgrimage as a desire for com- memoration, a “memory boom” that he thinks is an important current historical phenomenon. 11 he seems to consider the past as a twin world, existing here and now, in a different dimension he calls “metonymic.” but metonymy is a form of linguistic exposition that operates semantically and not physically. below (in part III), I present my view of the role of rhetorical figures in transposing the past.

8. Otto Jespersen, The Philosophy of Grammar [1924] (chicago: University of chicago press,

1992), 276.

9. Ian hacking, Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory (princeton:

princeton University press, 1995), 249.

10. runia, “presence,” 1.


aNIta KaSabOva

II.a MeMOry Or OUr acceSS tO the paSt

regarding our access to the past, it seems useful to consider the etymology of “memory.” the words memory, memorial, and commemoration are latin- isms derived from the Greek nouns mnemon and Mnemosyne. the latter is the mother of the Muses and counterpoint to Lethe, the personification of forgetful- ness (oblivio) or loss of memory. people who have lost their memory have lost access to reality and the truth about themselves; that is why loss of memory

(lethe) is paired with truth (aletheia) in the sense of that which is not forgotten. 12 Mnemosyne personifies the conservation of memory by registering past events and bringing them back into the present, thus functioning as a truth-bearer of statements about the past. the type of memory personified by Mnemosyne is the living memory of human actions and intentions—that which is currently called autobiographical or episodic memory, namely, the capacity to orient oneself toward the past and to bring back into the present an experience that occurred at an anterior time. Mnemosyne has a commemorative aspect, particularly in oral cultures: if we recall someone today, this recollection is the work of the mother of the poets’ Muses. While oral cultures are ruled by the transmission of memory, this trans- mission is no high-fidelity reproduction of the past: what is transmitted is the sense of past events and actions achieved by transposing or shifting the index of the context from the perceptual mode of lived or immediately given situations to the memory mode of reproduced situations. If memory allows for vivid recogni- tion, this is because memory gives the conditions for re-identification, namely that today we can situate a past episode in a spatio-temporal context. recognition presupposes cognition or cognitive access to the past; in what follows I suggest that this access is possible by transposing the deictic coordinates of a hic et nunc situation in the egocentric mode to the anaphoric mode of an as if situation. thus

a representation or presentification of past actions makes possible a cognition of what is and what will be. For if we forget who we were or what we did in the

past, we also ignore, at least in part, who we are and what we do at present; that

is to say, we are mentally disoriented or deranged—we are not in compos mentis.

hence the notion of memory is determined by the opposition between retrieval and forgetting: the capacity to retain (meminisse), preserve, retrieve (reminisci), and recollect (recordari) on one hand, and the incapacity to retain, preserve, retrieve, and recollect on the other. What are the effects of preserving the past? First, we should follow aristotle by distinguishing between the retentive and retrieving functions of memory: the former preserves an event from forgetting and erasure, while the latter recalls it and brings it back to the present. 13 as I shall argue, forgetting is a necessary con-

12. cf. Samuel Ijsseling, Drie Godinnen: Mnemosyne, Demeter, Moira (amsterdam: boom,

1998), 25-26.

13. aristotle, On Memory, transl. J. I. beare, in The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. J. barnes,

bollingen Series 71 (princeton: princeton University press, 1984), I, 714-720. as does plato, aristotle considers recollection (anamnesis) as retrieving an experience or anterior cognition (451a, 29-31). but aristotle draws two distinctions: (1) between the capacity of retrieval (anamnesis) and the capacity of retention (mneme), and (2) between retention as an act (the retention of an experience)

MeMOry, MeMOrIalS, aNd cOMMeMOratION


dition for enabling retrieval, because the conscious memory of human actions and intentions is characterized by selectivity rather than storage: we remember some things rather than others. but there are different approaches to the problem of preserving the past. In the context of oral and written memory-regimes, to borrow François hartog’s term, this problem is expressed as a distinction between mem- ory and writing. While aristotle distinguishes between the functions of memory, plato distinguishes between what he considers to be internal and external proper-

ties of memory. this is how the problem of preserving the past is addressed in the Phaedrus: in the myth of theuth, the egyptian god tells king thamus that writing

is “the potion for memory and for wisdom.” thamus replies that the discovery of

writing “will introduce forgetfulness in the soul of those who learn it: they will not practice using their memory because they will put their trust in you have not discovered a potion for remembering, but for reminding.” 14 plato expresses the distinction between retention and retrieval as a distinction between remembering and reminding. Memory is put on a par with remember- ing and transmitting past information by word of mouth, whereas reminding is considered as a function that is external to memory. 15 reminding is entailed by writing, and writing introduces forgetfulness because writing obliterates memory. Writing things down in order to preserve them from being forgotten thus becomes

a way of burying them. So, does the historian write in order to bury actions and

events, so that they may be forgotten? runia seems to think that this is the case by accusing the historian of keeping the past at a distance. yet historians are rarely eyewitnesses to the events they write about. they are at a distance, unlike the writers of autobiographical texts or memoirs, such as the one by Mahmoud dar- wish entitled, precisely, Memory for Forgetfulness. this is an eyewitness account

of the war in beirut. 16 For darwish, the act of writing is a cure of memory in that

it enables forgetfulness, while the text that is the result of this act is a memo-

rial built against forgetfulness—not the author’s but that of those who are at a spatial or temporal distance from the event. to them, information about the past is transmitted by means of writing, enabling others to understand it. darwish’s case shows that, while retention is personal, retrieval (or recollection) can also be collective. likewise, herodotus and thucydides wrote things down in order to make sure they would not be forgotten and to enable a living recollection of past actions and events in the present—a present to the configuration of which those actions and events had significantly contributed. Interestingly, thucydides writes about events of his own time that he witnessed (the peloponnesian War between athens and Sparta) and not of a past that was distant for him. So a historian can also be an eyewitness. personal recollections or autobiographical memories, if they are to

and the disposition not to forget. In addition, the retentive capacity necessitates a temporal gap (prin chronisthenai) (449b, 24-25). that is why memory belongs only to beings with a sense of (the passage of) time. cf. richard Sorabji, Aristotle on Memory (providence: brown University press, (1971), 1.


plato, Phaedrus, transl. a. Nehamas and p. Woodruff (Indianapolis: hackett, 1995), 79.


thus l. robin’s translation of the Phaedrus uses the noun “mémoire” (paris: Gallimard,



Mahmoud darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness (berkeley: University of california press,


aNIta KaSabOva


yield knowledge, must have direct informational access to past events, as well as an “I”-perspective that enters into a perception with a sense of ownership. If my recollection is to qualify as a source of knowledge, it has to be grounded in my perception and I have to be aware of that perception as being mine. When I say that I remember drinking a glass of red wine last night, I am aware of referring to the source of my previous experience. Obviously, the first-person perspective is no safeguard against confabulation or remembering things that did not happen. Since recollections are (re-)constructions with a perceptual and non-conceptual content, they allow for distortions or the possibility of misrepresentation. In my view, the correctness conditions for recollections and narratives should allow for gradations between truth values (as in fuzzy logic), because they are systematiza- tions of acquired knowledge with degrees of cognitive and semantic indetermi- nacy. I return to this point in section III. If this is so, that is, if historical accounts involve indeterminacy, could we not extend the notion of history to include memoirs such as darwish’s or the little known Anonyma, a remarkable eyewitness account of the last days of World War II and the first two months of the russian occupation of berlin? 17 beyond a personal experience, the latter documents a past time that has gained in historical significance: a diary exemplifying the spring of 1945 in berlin from the losers’ point of view. as the author puts it: “a strange time. to experience history at first hand, things that later will be chanted and narrated. but nearby they dissolve into burdens and fears. history is very taxing.” 18 two questions are in order: since in its making, history seems to evoke affective reactions rather than conceptual reasoning, could we not accept that history, as a human-made product, involves a perspective on events that have elapsed or are elapsing into the past (and thus a temporal limit between the presently lived moment and the past)? but mere prox- imity (of the narrator to the actions and events he or she describes) is not a clear- cut criterion for differentiating between historical and non-historical accounts. Second: is historical perspective expressible only in the third person?

II.b Why MeMOry IS NOt a StOrehOUSe OF paSt experIeNceS

Now, let me explain why forgetting is necessary for retrieval and recall, two func- tions of the mental capacity called “autobiographical memory.” the retrieval of events in our personal lives concerns those events that are meaningful for us. I suggest that our access to the past is semantic, that is, it is an access to the sense of the past. We remember some things rather than others because they stand in a sense-making relation of antecedent and consequent, where the former explains why the latter is the case. an upshot of this is that if we were to remember every single detail of our lives, we would be unable to understand (or make sense of) them. We would have no recollections, properly speaking, if we were to func- tion entirely in the mode of retention. alexander luria discussed the case of the mnemonist Shereshevskii who recalled every detail of what he had to memorize

17. Anonyma: Eine Frau in Berlin. Tagebuch-Aufzeichnungen vom 20. April bis 22. Juni 1945

(Frankfurt am Main: eichborn verlag, 2003).

MeMOry, MeMOrIalS, aNd cOMMeMOratION


but could not understand what he had memorized because he was unable to forget or recall selectively. Shereshevskii could not abstract from the details of whatever he had to retain and so he was unable to cognize the principles, reasons, or sense of what he memorized. his failure to forget, and thus his inability to select, was in part a cognitive failure, a failure due in part to the absence of a gap between past experiences and present memories. 19 to put it another way: if the temporal link between past experiences and present memories were continuous, we would have no sufficient criteria for individuating our memories. Only a presentist would have no problems with this situation, and I now want to show why the presentist’s account is an unsatisfactory and insufficient way of dealing with the past. an analogous case to Shereshevskii is that of Ireneo Funes, the hero of borges’s short story, “Funes the Memorious.” 20 Ireneo suffers from his capacity to retain every detail of his experiences, and that is why he cannot understand his own experiences, which, in his mind, are present contiguously. he lives in a present that is too full, and his problem is not his inability to represent the past but rather his inability to select or abstract. presentism implies an account of memory as a present storehouse of past events. but this view fails to explain how we acquire knowledge. Shereshevskii and Ireneo each have an infallible memory that stores their experiences down to the last detail but, since this memory is incapable of forgetting, it lacks the plasticity necessary for consolidating a coherent sequence of past experiences by economizing or abstracting from uncountable details that, because they are uncountable, are irrelevant to the construction of the sequence. thus Ireneo’s system of enumeration is doomed to fail because he lacks the prin- ciples of enumeration. Not only does the “storehouse” model not explain how we acquire knowledge, it does not even account for how we retain information. the act of retention also has a temporal structure (albeit a discrete one), and presentism fails to account for this structure because it does not allow for temporal parts. If we deny that physical continuants, such as plants, persons, or memorials, have temporal parts, how do we account for the changes through time, say, in a person who changes from a child to an adult? a presentist would say that there is no need to explain how a continuant changes through time, since only the present is real: now the person is an adult and the child he or she was doesn’t exist, since the child is not temporally present. thus the presentist eliminates the problem of inconsistency by reducing temporal structure to the present: being a child and being an adult are two inconsistent properties that cannot belong to the same being at the same time. While this view may be conveniently myopic to preclude queries about identity through time, it fails to account for non-present objects and their non-present times. So, if you are a presentist who wants to talk about the past, you have to import the past into the present. For the presentist, memory stores past experiences by importing these experi- ences into the present, so our past experiences are present here and now. but how

19. alexander luria, The Mind of a Mnemonist [1968] (cambridge, Ma: harvard University

press, 1987).

20. Jorge luis borges, “Funes the Memorious” [1942], in Ficciones, ed. J. Sturrock, 1962, http:// accessed June 20, 2008.

aNIta KaSabOva


do these experiences persist? and are the present experiences the same ones as

yesterday’s or last year’s experiences? the presentist may assume that the past is unchanging: that is, one and the same experience is first retained and then retrieved. So we have the same experience now as we had yesterday or last year.

I think the presentist claim that we have unchanging past experiences is counter-

intuitive: I do not have the same perspective of my childhood experiences now and when I was a child. My past experiences appear to me with regard to my relative position: when I was nine years old, I had a different memory of my earlier childhood experiences than when I was a teenager with additional child- hood memories and a different hic et nunc; I have yet another perspective on my earlier and later childhood experiences, including my different memories of them. In other words, the presentist position fails to account for changes of context and for complexity of content or various combinations of content, not to mention the different modes of presenting an experience. (by “content” I mean that which is referred to in an utterance, perceptual experience, thought, or recollection.) One question the presentist ignores is whether the time of the utterance or experience is part of the content or not. It seems clear that an important difference between lived experience and recollected experience is that the latter includes the time of the lived experience as part of the content. For the memory of an experience is a

shift in perspective analogous to a second- or third-person perspective on a first- person experience. Moreover, the presentist faces yet another worry: either our memory can store an unlimited number of unchanging items, or we can have only

a limited number of one and the same ideas. In the first case our memory risks

overpopulation, and in the second case, our explanation of the past begs the ques- tion by presupposing that which it is supposed to explain, namely, the acquisition and preservation of experiences by memory. I suggest that what is preserved is neither the original experience nor a copy, but rather a compilation or compres- sion of original experiences. What is retained is more like a trace of the original experience that may be reactivated or retrieved. I said that retention also has a temporal structure, a discrete structure of dis- continuous mental episodes, pace presentism. My claim is based on husserl’s theory that retention is a primary and implicit form of memory in which the past is perceived and presented. 21 retention is an intentional mode of present- ing moments of the just-past phase of an object or event. For example, retention intends the duration of a melody (as a past object) as well as the duration of the experience of my hearing the melody (as a past mental act). So in retention or primary memory, we are aware of hearing the melody as a temporal process, that is, as having temporal extension. In recollection or secondary memory, the retention is made explicit, in that the reproduced past object or event bears the

21. edmund husserl, Phantasie, Bildbewusstsein, Erinnerung: Zur Phänomenologie der anschau- lichen Vergegenwärtigungen, Texte aus dem Nachlaß (1898–1925), husserliana 23, ed. eduard Marbach (the hague, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 1980), 290-292; Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins (1893–1917), husserliana 10, ed. rudolf boehm (the hague, Netherlands:

Martinus Nijhoff, 1969), 88, 379 (hereafter pZb). according to husserl, retention has a double intentionality with a horizontal and a vertical axis. the horizontal axis depicts the continuity of an object or event, such as a melody, and the vertical axis depicts the phases of consciousness or the continuity of temporal experience.

MeMOry, MeMOrIalS, aNd cOMMeMOratION


character past. 22 that is why there is a shift in the mode of presentation. I suggest this shift is a transposing of deictic coordinates from the egocentric mode to the anaphoric mode. I recollect an object or event as having perceived that object or event at an earlier time: I recall the train as having seen it (I was there) rushing into the station last week (then).

III. the rhetOrIcal FIGUre that traNSpOSeS the SeNSe OF the paSt: SyNecdOche

In order to avoid the presentist dilemma of having to explain unchanging past experiences in the present by using the storehouse-model of memory, I suggest that the past is a retroactive reconstruction by memory, and that memory should be conceived as an adaptive mental capacity that retains and reproduces past experiences by means of a commutable semantic relation between present and past experiences. Or, to use a metaphor, memory is the self’s filter to the past, and this filter sifts the content of the earlier experience and thereby modifies it. the past is transposable through rhetorical figures, not because it is present contigu- ously, but because it necessitates a semantic transposition or relocation by means of a part–whole relation establishing the link between what is retained and what is retrieved. the part–whole relation that is the basis for a relocation of the sense of the past in the present is expressed by synecdoche, a rhetorical figure that replaces a word by an exemplary or emblematic concept of the same domain, either generically (when a specific part is named by means of the class it belongs to) or specifically (when a part names a whole). this figure permits changing levels in a contain- ment hierarchy—from the particular to the general level (when a species is named for a genus), or vice versa (when a genus is named for a species). In other words, either the part is named for the whole (“point of steel” names a sword), or the whole is named by a (defining) part (“sail” names a ship, an elephant is recog- nized by its tusk, and a lion by its claw because these are defining parts of the whole). the content of such utterances is semantically dependent on the cultural or extra-linguistic context as well as on the linguistic context, that is, the relation between an utterer and an addressee. In addition, the content of the utterance is affected by the synecdoche because, for the addressee to grasp the sense of what the utterer is uttering, as in “I see a sail far away” or “you’ll feel the point of my steel,” this part–whole relation has to regulate the content of the utterance: the synecdoche affects the content of the utterance by modifying the circumstances of the utterance. Synecdoche should not be confused with metonymy, a rhetorical figure that names the attribute of a whole by designating another contiguous part of that whole. For example “persian,” referring to the old name of a country and the language of a region, designates a cat from that region. In contrast, if I say, “I see a sail in the distance,” I name the boat (the whole) by indicating its defining or exemplary part. Memorials are exemplary parts of a whole: the tomb of the Unknown Soldier presents or exemplifies a part of an entire event that occurred

22. husserl, pZb, 55.

aNIta KaSabOva


in the past. It presents a type of event and that is how the memorial serves as an example. the tomb of the Unknown Soldier makes visible, or names by hypo- typosis, all soldiers killed in war(s). (I take the word “hypotyposis” in the Kan- tian sense as the visible presentation of a concept. 23 ) a memorial is exemplary

because it generalizes a historical fact by putting it into relations of resemblance and difference with other facts. 24 there is no need to resort to the claim of a structural isomorphism between the past event and the present memorial in which

a memorial would be an essential part of the war because the memorial is a pres-

entation of the war enabling our recollection of the war. Instead, the memorial

enables recollection because it is a distinctive sign of a past event. the same goes for commemorations: all Souls’ day commemorates all the (faithful) now dead, Memorial day recalls all american soldiers fallen in war. but neither memori- als nor commemorations are essential parts of past events; they serve merely to transpose the sense of a past event, for the synecdoche operates on the part as a motif of the whole. 25

I think this operation of synecdoche is the reason why autobiographical

accounts or memoirs, as the one by Mahmoud darwish, anonyma, or the testimo- nies of auschwitz survivors such as Five Chimneys by Olga lengyel or Night by elie Wiesel, to cite only two, are more appropriate for effectuating the recollec-

tion of the horror of these events than a visit to the site of the genocide: they open

a window to the past for younger generations. 26 First, these texts are memorials,

written so that the past and its victims will not be forgotten. they are exemplary memories because, by recovering the recollection, as tzvetan todorov puts it, “I make an exemplum of it and I learn a lesson from it; thus the past becomes a prin-

ciple of action for the present.” 27 the past is subservient to the present because


with different agents.” 28

is used in view of the present, “as a model for understanding new situations,

III.a. a NOte ON the INdeterMINacy OF MeMOIrS aNd hIStOrIeS

this reference to memoirs is underwritten by my admittedly disputable view con- cerning the validity of memoirs and histories, the upshot of which is that the truth value of historical accounts is not necessarily greater than that of memoirs: both kinds of narratives are classified as nonfiction, yet their accuracy is a question of degree since, as I mentioned above in section II.a, such accounts are cognitively and semantically indeterminable. even regarding nonfiction, there are grada- tions between the truth values of true and false. the tertium non datur principle

23. Immanuel Kant, Kritik der Urteilskraft, “Darstellung subiectio sub aspectum” [1790]

(hamburg: Meiner, 1974), I, §59.

24. See tzvetan todorov, Les abus de la mémoire (paris: arléa, 2004), 46.

25. See Ivan Kasabov, Граматика на семантиката (The Grammar of Semantics) (Sofia: St.

Kliment Ohridsky press, 2006), 195-197.

26. Olga lengyel, Five Chimneys [1947] (chicago: academy chicago publishers, 1995); elie

Wiesel, La Nuit, transl. M. Wiesel [1958] (paris: les Éditions de Minuit; New york: hill & Wang,



todorov, Les abus de la mémoire, 31 (my translation).



MeMOry, MeMOrIalS, aNd cOMMeMOratION


(which allows only two truth values) is not applicable to either memoirs or his- tories because these accounts have cracks and fissures: they leak. Memoirs and histories are cognitive processes or systematizations of human actions, events, and experiences. Such accounts are categorizations or taxonomies that attempt to explain or make sense of the latter. but these taxonomies have neither clear boundaries for differentiating or marking the objects they denote, nor distinct criteria for determining the content of their statements. they are indeterminate because the necessary and sufficient conditions defining the entities these state- ments describe are fluid. thus the question of the decisive events of the persian Wars under xerxes remains undecided because herodotus, the father of history, has been accused of confabulation. 29 Why do memoirs and histories leak? Under a description, an action or event appears continuous, but this continuity consists of discrete and punctuated events that are organized according to certain laws or principles. likewise, an observed or narrated event appears continuous to us, but its continuity emerges from a discrete underlying structure. descriptions refer to actions and events as having a continuous linear timeline in the background—a timeline that is a construction, for this continuity is an imperceptible duration: it can only be grasped by introducing limits, and it is infinitely divisible into discrete stages or points. punctuated events can be measured in seconds (pulling the trigger) or over a long period (planning a crime). to put it differently, punctuated events can be fine- grained (recollections and memoirs) or coarse-grained (historical narrations). typically, the former are written from a first-person perspective and the latter from a third-person perspective. Fine-grained events can be discriminated as points on the abscissa of temporal succession because that is how they appear or become phenomenologically accessible to us. by contrast, coarse-grained events appear in a historical narration or epic from a third-person position. the “whole” (the “fable” or plot-structure) is organized in a discrete three-part structure of beginning, middle, and end, at least according to aristotle, who recommends using dramatic plot-structure for epic narratives so that events appear bound semantically in a coherent configuration despite their being contingently connected and having occurred to one or more persons in a particular period of time without a single end (telos). 30 a historian would object that, unlike memoirs, history deals with facts. but what are facts and which level of description picks them out? are they things, actions, events, situations, states, or processes? Implicitly, facts are held to be something that happened (an occurrent), or is the case, or corresponds to truth, or makes a statement true. Facts are thus correlated to truth. etymologically, facts are related to acts, since the word “fact” is derived from factum, the latin neutral past participle of facere, “to do.” that is why facts are explained by correlating actions and events. When a historian says that the French revolution is a fact, by “fact” he or she probably intends a series of situations, persons, events, and actions that resulted in the abolition of the bourbon monarchy. these situations,

29. See the German introduction to herodotus by lars hoffmann (Wiesbaden: Marix verlag,

2007), 17.

30. See aristotle, Poetics, ch. 7, 23.

aNIta KaSabOva


persons, and events can be correlated as terms of either a causal or a grounding relation of explanation: a “because” relation explaining an occurrent. 31 the fact that the French revolution resulted in overthrowing the bourbon monarchy is explained by the facts that the bastille was seized on July 14, 1789 and that the National assembly drafted a new constitution: it is explained in terms of the ground–consequence relation. In addition, memoirs and histories are not cases of veritas est adaequatio rei et intellectus, that is, they are not precise copies of past actions and events, but are instead selective compilations or consolidated sequences of past actions and events. recollections (mental states recalling the past), autobiographical accounts or memoirs, as well as historical accounts, are reconstructions or compilations of a number of past perceptions edited into a coherent sequence or episode. In addition, the correspondence between past events and present accounts, regard- less of whether they are recollections or narratives of “facts,” is a construct pos- tulating a causal relation between agents and events, a construct that correlates past agents and events. past episodes are constructs under present descriptions or recollections that, in the case of recollection, modify our past perceptions as well our self-presentation by either improving or devaluing our past self (or selves). In the case of history, past episodes are descriptions modifying the temporal order of occurrence by postulating a linear timeline. besides, historians also modify the focus on actions and events, by singling out some of them rather than others, depending on their present position. that is why descriptions of the past are not true in the strict sense of the correspondence theory of truth, that is, that a state- ment or a belief is true if and only if it corresponds to reality. What validity or truth-degree should we assign to memoirs and history? regard- ing memoirs, the question is not so much whether truth really matters but to what extent we can justifiably accuse someone of lying when he or she tells us about his or her past. the question is not only: “who wouldn’t embellish or dramatize their character and situation when trying to publish?”—and subsequently face a moral jury of disgruntled readers and furious fellow-writers who claim that you have discredited their trade—but rather: “how truthful can you possibly be in rec- ollecting your past?” publishers consider memoirs as nonfiction and, while fiction has no claims to truth, nonfiction does. yet both genres are telling stories, namely constructing a continuous sequence of events to produce a purposive unity of action. however that may be, autobiographical recollections are truth-committed

31. If we consider a “fact” to be what makes a statement true by the obtaining of a state of affairs:

“the window is broken,” we could argue with husserl that facts are not natural kinds but complex and formal entities consisting of more basic ontological parts, such as processes, states, and punctual events that can be causally explained. If we accept the reduction of facts to obtaining states of affairs, we can explain how facts make statements or beliefs true: the statement that John broke the window is true if and only if this statement corresponds to an obtaining state of affairs (“it is the case that John broke the window”). What makes my statement “John broke the window” true is not the broken window in front of me but the obtaining state of affairs. the correspondence relation could be further reduced to an identity relation, by saying “it is true that John broke the window” is the same as say- ing “it is an obtaining state of affairs that John broke the window.” See Kevin Mulligan and Fabrice correia, “Facts,” in Stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy, accessed June 20, 2008; also Michael lynch, Truth in Context (cambridge, Ma: MIt press, 1998),


MeMOry, MeMOrIalS, aNd cOMMeMOratION


in that they disclose grounds for beliefs and actions, but they do not have truth- makers (for example, facts to which they correspond), nor do recollectors try to come to know the truth when remembering; rather, they recall what the story demands, or give a coherent account that warrants the re-presentation of their past. My hunch is that such coherence is also what historians aim for, salva veritate by modifying the veritate’s value. epistemically speaking, the truth of historical accounts is measured in terms of their belonging to a coherent system of beliefs. Semantically speaking, truth is a property of statements and beliefs:

it picks out a real property of linguistic statements, but the predicate “true” may vary across contexts. 32 hence the “truth” of memoirs and histories is relative to context.Whether coherentist and epistemic or correspondentist and semantic, the notion of truth applicable to both kinds of accounts is tied to belief or taking-to- be-true (with degrees of conviction). both memoirs and history claim that what is past was once present. how is this possible unless we believe it was present, that is, unless we take it to be true? belief is a necessary feature of memory and history: I trust my memory or a historical account as a source of information about the past if I am certain that my recollection (or the history) represents an earlier perception of an event. but recalling something is distinct from knowing that something is true, and even my certainty that I am remembering an event of my past does not guarantee the truth of my recollection—or of a written histori- cal account. besides, why should recollections be faithful reproductions of past events? they are selective and do not reproduce the real time of the occurrence of past events. historical accounts, on the other hand, tacitly presuppose that they are faithful reproductions of past events, and the question is not only whether this is indeed the case but to what extent it can be the case.

III.b. retrOactIve cONStrUctION OF the paSt thrOUGh IMaGINatION-OrIeNted deIxIS aNd the aNaphOrIc MOde

recollection or recall does not necessitate personal memories or lived experi- ence: recollection is incited by the transposition of the sense of a lived experi- ence that can be “seen again” by focusing on that event, except that, instead of using perception, we use imagination. For in the mode of recollection the origo of visual directions, or deictic reference, is displaced in imagination; this is what the linguist and Gestalt-psychologist Karl bühler calls “imagination-oriented deixis.” 33 either I displace a scene by focusing on it, or I am transposed by means of an imaginary change of location, and the scene is described as an action in

32. On my view, truth is primarily a semantic notion and truth values are assigned by interpreta-

tion relative to a conceptual scheme. the predicates “true” and“ “false,” alfred tarski taught us, apply to sentences in an interpreted object-language. See his “the Semantic conception of truth and the Foundations of Semantics.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 4 (1944), 341-376. Of course one could object that tarskian truth predicates are not applicable to natural languages and hence are not materially adequate. however that may be, “true” is a predicate and hence applicable to

linguistic entities rather than non-linguistic ones. yet there is no need for eliminating the metaphysical status of truth in the way of deflationist accounts. On a minimalist view, truth is metaphysically thin, as lynch puts it (Truth in Context, 125-131).

33. Karl bühler, “deixis am phantasma,” [1934], in Sprachtheorie (Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer

verlag, 1965), 134-140 (my translation).

aNIta KaSabOva


which I participate through the narrator’s eyes. In the first case, I have a bird’s- eye view (in the aorist tense and from a third-person perspective) of a historical site that I visit in an imaginary journey; in the second case (in the imperfect tense and from a second-person perspective), I am displacing myself in situ. In both cases, I follow the narrator’s deictic clues: “here, in the center of the camp, was the Appelplatz,” “over there were the crematories.” When my tactile and visual coordinates are displaced or connected to a corresponding imagined visual scene, I “see” the described scenes by constructing them in my imagination and I come to know the victims through the eyes of the witness-narrator, that is, through the narrative perspective and deictic coordinates of the first person. In recollection, as in a dramatic narrative, the index of the context is shifted from the mode of here and now to the mode of as if. a past situation is treated as if it were presently given when the egocentric deictic field is transposed by imagination and the nar- rator guides the reader with an orientation in imagination. hence, as bühler says, “what is absent is cited in the present space as in drama.” 34 according to bühler, the demonstratio ad oculos is constructed in imagina- tion by means of an anaphoric use of deictic words where the deictic field is an imagined visual scene (common to the utterer or narrator and the addressee) and the anaphoric use of deictic words ensures the composition of that scene. 35 In recollection, the referential mode of deictic utterances is no longer egocentric but anaphoric: they refer back to the referents indicated by their antecedents, thus enabling an addressee to take up again a past situation. an anaphor is a deictic word such as “this” or “there” used to refer back to something just mentioned:

“a pointing to something that is not to be looked for and found at places in per- ceptual space but rather at places in the whole of speech.” 36 anaphoric pointing ensures a taking up of a past state of affairs: the backlink points to something from which the consequence is drawn, and in order to find this something I have to turn back toward the preceding sentences. 37 this backlink is based on the semantic dependence relation between an antecedent and a consequent where the antecedent grounds the consequent, as I argued above, for the antecedent provides the because of the consequent and justifies or motivates it, by giving the reasons why the consequent is the case. the referents of the recollective mode (which simulates the perceptual mode) are past actions and events. recollection presents an action by means of simulation or mimesis, just as a dramatic performance is the mimesis of an action. 38 the objects presented in recollection are actions. I am suggesting that recollection is a dramatic process that presents what is absent by shifting the deictic coordinates. besides, since recollection is a dramatic process, the addressee can affectively react to the past event by reliving the eyewitnesses’ emotions, since their tragic narrative affects the addressees by inciting their empathy and fear. by means of this semantic transposition, today’s addressees can envisage the idea that, in different temporal and spatial circumstances, they

34. Ibid., 140.

35. Ibid., 123, 137.

36. Ibid., 121.

37. bühler, “rückverweis,” in Sprachtheorie, 389.

MeMOry, MeMOrIalS, aNd cOMMeMOratION


might not only have suffered the genocide but committed it—because these addressees are able to re-identify the past event at present. re-identification is a necessary condition of recollection: we are consciously accessing and retrieving a past experience and presenting it as our own, that is, as belonging to our past. this re-identification is expressed by a doxastic and cogni- tive state in recollection, a “remembering that” or judging that we recognize a past event and can situate it in a spatio-temporal context. recollective judgments express the relation between a present rememberer and a remembered object by predicating my present consciousness of a past thing. thus in the judgment, “I remember this book,” my remembering is said of this book. presumably, recol- lective judgments also account for the temporal order of a memory experience. For example, I remember that I first went to the library to look for the book and then had an argument with a colleague about presentism. In making a recollective judgment I resituate the episode in the context of my personal experience by indicating when and where it occurred, and I re-identify a thing as being the same as the one I saw at an earlier time. For a recollective judgment confirms the truth of my recollection by re-identifying a present event as being the same one as the past event of my recollection. a recollective judgment expresses a cogni- tive state of a past object or event, even in cases where I do not have a personal experience of the past object or event, since I can come to know this object or event by accessing the past by transposition or a shift of the deictic coordinates from the egocentric to the anaphoric mode, and I can affirm that I know it. this judgment affirms my access to the past and the cognitive value of this access, by re-identifying the past object or event.

III.c. INveNtING the paSt?

even if the semantic transposition effected by synecdoche is facilitated by narrative, the place—or site—also plays a role in this transposition, for the “part–whole” relation that transposes the past to the present corresponds to such mnemonic techniques as the place system or memory theater. according to roman texts such as the anonymous Rhetorica ad Herennium, a place system involves memorizing and visualizing a street of houses or the rooms of a house as a “background” for situating or mapping the main points in a speech onto the different places in the memory theater fixed in our minds. 39 We then move from place to place as we recollect the various parts of our speech or poem from the rooms or figures we have used to retain them. Our knowledge is organized on

39. although Nora’s well-known project takes a cue from the memory theater, his concept of memory sites differs from the ancient theory in that it aims to make a cultural cartography of French history based on Nora’s assumption that memory is a social phenomenon that offers a high-fidelity reproduction of the past. his opposition between memory and history is entailed by this assumption, namely that memory provides a living transmission of past events whereas history operates from a distance and gives a classification of these events, revealing their true story. as I said at the begin- ning of this paper, I think François hartog rightly objects to this view, that Nora’s opposition is better explained as a change of memory regimes from oral transmission to the absence of transmission fol- lowing the invention of writing. I also think that memory, whether oral or written, is truth-committed although it lacks truth-makers.

aNIta KaSabOva


the basis of our imaging capacity. probably the basic principle at work in such part–whole organization is semantic: a law governing different semantic roles for connecting words (or numbers) to images in a hierarchical order, such as the tree of knowledge, the pythagorean number triangle, or lull’s circles that serve to compute features and symbols in a context (the place system) by enabling different combinations or calculations. a very similar part–whole organization in a place system is used in rhetoric by the “topoi of invention” that are “places for finding things,” namely the relations between places and the parts of a dis- course or event one wants to recall. the invention of the past is thus a technique for reconstructing the past. probably vico, as a rhetorician, used the expression “inventing the past” in this sense—which, by the way, corresponds quite well to r. G. collingwood’s historiographical conception of the historical imagina- tion. 40 On this conception, the historian has mentally to grasp and reanimate his or her object. For the historian’s task is to find, or invent, a way for this object to continue living. hence the historian has to project a semantic context that relates the chronology of past events to the present and to us, in order to examine the assumptions of past agents by representing not only their actions and objectives but also the consequences of their actions that continue to influence the present.

III.d. SyNecdOche aNd MeMOry

autobiographical memory also functions by means of this semantic relation between a whole and its parts. Synecdoche enables the instantiation of an entire

event by one of its parts, more precisely by its emblematic part or defining feature, because when I see that part I recollect the rest. For example, if I am prompted with the line: “let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments,” this cue may enable me to recall the entire sonnet; a picture of a seaside resort can evoke the recollection of a past seaside vacation. Friends of the so-called “memory traces theory” 41 explain the semantic relation between a past experi- ence and a present recollection as follows: a recollection is partially grounded by

a trace or latent engram of a past experience (such as the one of having learned

a poem by heart at school) and this trace is reactivated by a configuration of the

experience of a past event with a present experience containing a distinctive sign of the past experience. the trace is a sequel of an experience, and the renewal or recollection of this experience is possible if the signal received at present is compatible with the past experience. the recollection of an event and the original experience of that event stand in a whole–part relation: first, because this rela- tion holds between the trace that is a latent sediment of the original experience

40. r. G. collingwood, The Idea of History: Roman Britain (Oxford: clarendon press, 1946).

41. On memory traces, see Max deutscher, “remembering ‘remembering,’” in Cause, Mind,

and Reality, ed. J. heil (dordrecht: Kluwer, 1989), 53-72; richard Semon, Die Meme (leipzig:

engelmann, 1904); John Sutton, Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to Connectionism (cambridge, UK: cambridge University press, 1998); endel tulving, Elements of Episodic Memory (Oxford: clarendon press, 1983); endel tulving, “Neurocognitive processes of human Memory,” in Basic Mechanisms in Cognition and Language, ed. c. von euler et al. (amsterdam: elsevier, 1998), 261-281. I argue for a dispositional trace theory in Kasabova, За автобиографичната памет (On Autobiographical Memory).

MeMOry, MeMOrIalS, aNd cOMMeMOratION


at a time t 1 and the signal motivating the recollection of the original experience at a time t 2 ; second, the retrieval of an experience at t 2 is possible without the circumstances that produced it at t 1 . Neither that which is retained (the trace) nor that which is retrieved (the recollection) is completely identical with the original experience, but they are related by a common part (an attentive perception of the trace) that is expressed by the synecdoche. the trace is not a copy of the past event but more like a compression or residue of the former. Nor is the distinctive sign reviving the trace a copy of the past event, but a characteristic feature that specifies that event. even short-term memory, that is, the retentive memory of our actual percep- tions, only retains what is significant and thus functions by means of synecdoche. roman Ingarden describes this form of memory as “living memory” and gives the following example: when reading a novel, I condense and abbreviate the sense of the part I have already read because, as I continue reading, my living memory retains those parts of the novel that are representative of the whole, such as the culminating phases of events, the main characters, and any other facts that particularly impressed me or evoked my emotions. In other words, I retain that which draws my interest or is particularly significant, since I cannot retain the entire work. 42 after all, the recollection of an event is not identical with the experience of that event. First, recollection and experience (or perceptual experi- ence) are different modes of apprehending an object. Second, recollection and experience have different temporal structures: a recollection is a compilation of past experiences in which the latter are not recalled in real time but are “edited” in subjective time, as a film director cuts, selects, and organizes the scenes of a film in a sequential order of “before” and “after.” the experience of the event is thus reconstructed in recollection. hence the experience of an event and the recol- lection of that event do not have the same mode of presentation or the same time. however, by means of synecdoche, the past can be partially present. a recollec- tion does not recall all the parts or components of a past experience. Otherwise it would be obstructed by numerous details, as in the cases of Shereshevskii or Ireneo Funes who are unable to instantiate their past experiences because they cannot configure what they remember at present with their past experiences. For that which is explicitly recalled is only a part, albeit a significant and defining part, of what is implicitly retained. this transposable part that is instantiated by synecdoche is identical to the original experience because it expresses the same sense as the former. thus the instantiated part names the original experience. that is why a memorial names the past event that it exposes at present, by shift- ing the index of the context. In an analogous manner, a recollection shifts the orientation-field of a perceptual situation by citing a past event in present space. Synecdoche is an operator of this shift.

42. roman Ingarden, Vom Erkennen des literarischen Kunstwerks (tübingen: Niemeyer, 1968),



aNIta KaSabOva


In lieu of a conclusion, I would like to indicate some implications of my analyses for history. My claim that memory and memorials are not cases of veritas est adaequatio rei et intellectus also holds for history. history, it is said, deals with facts and hence has a privileged relation to truth and our knowledge of truth. thus thucydides considered history as a narrative of facts. a narrative is a writ- ten account of sequentially connected events involving a narrative perspective, either close-up or bird’s-eye or something in between. It follows that a narrative also involves a narrator or agent who registers events, using the first-, second-, or third-person perspective. Written recollections, memoirs, and history are all nar- ratives oriented toward the past. While the former are usually expressed from a first-person perspective, “history” is written from the third-person perspective, as its name indicates. does the impersonal narrative voice warrant for truthfulness by using a higher degree of generality? If so, a narrative that has the quality of being general rather than individual is evaluated on its lack of personality. historical accounts follow thucydides’ principle of postulating a causal relation between agents and events. thucydides writes: “learning also that the athenians were sending an embassy to camarina, on the strength of the alliance concluded in the time of laches, to gain, if possible, that city, [the Syracusans] sent another from Syracuse to oppose them.” 43 I think this causal relation is grounded on the semantic relation of ground and consequence. as I argued above, this relation sequentially orders their positions in time as ante and post where the former explains the latter “earlier” grounds; “later” is grounded in “earlier” because “earlier” explains “later.” the former gives reasons for the latter (and the latter are positioned as having occurred before). For historians order actions and events according to a final end (depending on the historians’ position), and their perspectives shape their account with regard to either victory or defeat. In addition, tense distinctions indicating the position of an action or event in the past, present, or future are defined in relation to the position in time when the action or event is described—from the perspective of the theoretical zero-point “now” or the time of the historian’s writing. consecutive clauses expressing the ground–consequence relation, such as “she cried because he hit her,” coordinate the agentive relation and the sequentially ordered positions in relation to the action. this is also how the “because” relation coordinates agents, actions, and events in recollection. remembering that John broke the window, I posit my past perception of that event as antecedent to my present recollection that is its (partial) consequence. Since my recollection occurs because of my perception, my recollection is justified or explained because the ground–conse- quence relation obtains.

New Bulgarian University Sofia, Bulgaria

43. thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, chapter xx, project Gutenberg e-text (2004), accessed June 20, 2008.