By Benjamin, Walter; Strindberg, August; Twain, Mark; Wolf, Christa; Wolf, Christa; Benjamin, Walter; Twain, Mark; Strindberg, August; Rugg, Linda Haverty
Rugg tracks photography's effect at the formation of self-image throughout the learn of 4 literary autobiographers enthusiastic about the transformative strength of images. passionate about self-image, Mark Twain and August Strindberg either tried (unsuccessfully) to combine images into their autobiographies. whereas Twain inspired photographers, he used to be cautious of fakery and saved a fierce watch at the distribution of his photographic photograph. Strindberg, believing that photos had occult energy, most well liked to photo himself.
Because in their reports lower than nationwide Socialism, Walter Benjamin and Christa Wolf feared the dangerously objectifying energy of photos and passed over them from their autobiographical writings. but Benjamin used them in his photographic belief of background, which had its checking out floor in his often-ignored Berliner Kindheit um 1900. And Christa Wolf's narrator in Patterns of Childhood makes an attempt to reclaim her formative years from the Nazis by way of reconstructing psychological pictures of misplaced family members photographs.
Confronted with a number of and conflicting pictures of themselves, all 4 of those writers are torn among the information that texts, images, and certainly selves are haunted by way of undecidability and the will for the lower back look of a unmarried self.
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Additional resources for Picturing ourselves : photography & autobiography
In this way he means to make the reader party to the machinations of his mind rather than the (retroactively imposed) evolution of a career. Thus Twain’s autobiography professes to be more about the process of remembering than about the events of his life. Two decades before Walter Benjamin wrote his historical theses, Mark Twain had already conceived a form of historiography in “flashlight glimpses” of memory, which he explicitly links to photographic flashes. Twain’s autobiography, like Benjamin’s, adopts a nonlinear, fragmentary form to reflect this concept.
But there are structural and philosophical consequences involved in mixing memory and photography, as well. Mark Twain relates that “of the multitudinous photographs [his] mind [had taken] of people,” only one clear one of his mother remains. As he tells it, his mother’s life was made of up of “flashlight glimpses” in his memory, in this context a direct reference to photographic flashes (Twain 1924, 1 :1 15). This image is remarkably similar to that employed by Walter Benjamin when he creates a figure for “the true picture of the past,” which “can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again” (Benjamin 1969, 255).
Evidence of the urge to imagine photography as memory and vice versa exists already in 1859, when Oliver Wendell Holmes, in an early burst of enthusiasm over the new technology, proclaimed photography “the mirror with a memory” (Holmes 1859). In the early twentieth century, George Santayana argued for an essential similarity between mental images and photographic ones, the signal difference being the relative permanence of the photograph: “The eye has only one retina, the brain a limited capacity for storage; but the camera can receive any number of plates, and the new need never blur nor crowd out the old” (Santayana 198 1 , 259).