Creation Note

context essay - waltje.pdf


In the Garden When It Happened 

Contextualizing Essay

Culpability and Chronology

Laura Johanna Waltje

May 7, 2017

Capstone Advisors: Jill Magi and Aysan Celik

My capstone traces the connections between my family’s silence about the Trümmer (from the German for rubble) of WWII and the trauma around ancestral abuse. I begin my research with interviews: my grandmother, my aunt, my mother, and my sister. The evolution of the capstone can be traced through the problems I encounter while writing: the problem of chronology, of the fragmented narrative, and of the multiple modes. In order to solve these problems, I stop working against them and instead work through them. Traumatic memory is inherently fragmentary and so creating a linear chronology is futile. Instead I embrace the fragmentary nature of the text. In order to create the work and to heal, I must let go of a clear cause and effect relationship. From there, I examine the fragments I create and begin to understand their patterns. The fragments are characterized through their distinct relationships with time: the past, the present, and that outside of time. 

The mode of the past takes the form of expository story telling. Through this mode, I relate the facts: what I know, what I’ve learned, what I’ve been told. In the present mode, I examine the meta: writing about my process, the format of the poetry reading, and the use of the design elements. The final mode is the most lyrical, through which I am able to step outside of time. By breaking the relationship to linear chronology, I am able to heal. Each mode has a distinct shift in performance style. 

Missing from these modes is one linked to the future. While this is not originally intentional, it does reflect my experience of my trauma. After all, I have a rather foreshortened sense of future. 


PAST

History

My capstone began as an examination of my family history in relationship to World War II. Some of my earliest memories are of my American classmates calling me and my sister Nazis. I doubt they knew what the word meant, but it taught me that I would always be German to Americans and always U.S. American to Germans. As an outsider to both, I am fascinated by how Germans relate to their own national history. The 2006 Soccer World Cup hosted by Germany was the only time I ever saw the German flag proudly displayed. The flags on every house and every car highlighted to me that my neighbors in the U.S. displayed flags every day. 

In the aftermath of WWII, there is a shame about being German, particularly about being perceived as being proud to be German, which has contributed to a culture of silence. Everyone is implicated in some way in the atrocities, through participation in Hilter Youth or through the draft. Te strategy for moving on has been to ignore the individual in history. The collective recognition of responsibility and shame, combined with a culture of silence around the individuals culpability in history, is a defining characteristic of “Germanness.” 

The lack of clarity around individual culpability leads to collective culpability.  Through reporting, I attempt to identify my individual culpability.  This goal is unattainable through the fragmentization of traumatic memory. As I read more about trauma and traumatic memory, the idea of fragmentation became central to the structure and shape of the capstone:

Postmemory’s connection to the past is thus actually mediated not by recall but by imaginative investment, projection, and creation … It is to be shaped, however indirectly, by traumatic fragments of events that still defy narrative reconstruction and exceed comprehension. These events happened in the past, but their effects continue into the present.

If traumatic fragments of events defy narrative reconstruction, it is impossible to reconstruct a linear temporal narrative. This is a troubling realization since a temporal narrative would not only give structural clarity, but also perhaps free me from the burden of culpability and thereby of my consciousness as both victim and perpetrator.

My use of perpetrators here is slightly tongue-in-cheek. What I mean by “perpetrators" are those that either through their own fault or through the coincidences of history have been left with the primary burden of culpability in the aftermath of trauma. The use is facetious, because due to the nature of class and the role of power and government, there are no perpetrators that are not also victims of war. How the German family processes all trauma is connected through silence and shame.

There are stories not told because they are too horrible to hear and stories not told because they are too shameful to tell. The reasons for silence becomes visible to me when theater maker Lisa Kron writes the character of her father saying, “If it weren’t for the good fortune of being born a Jew, I might have become a Nazi” (Kron 27). What the line means to me is that, while it does not free Kron’s father from survivor’s guilt, it does free him from the guilt and the shame of being culpable in atrocities.

While Kron and I share many similar experiences and contexts, we have a key and very significant difference. Kron’s father is a refugee, a holocaust survivor. The memories that hang over her family are the memories of victimhood. Mine are the memories of the perpetrator. My family did not die in the camps, but died on the battle field. Those that returned from the war, scared mentally and physically not just by what they had seen, but also but what they had done. Because of this, my american classmates calling me a Nazi rang uncomfortably true, as if they could see into my family history. I might not be a Nazi, but, put crassly, I am descended from them, which makes the shame of German atrocities in WWII sit squarely on my shoulders. In her essay “Bodies of Evidence” for a collection she edited entitled Dramaturgy of the Real on the World Stage, Martin points out that “The future creates the past by constructing a past specifically designed to make a particular future more likely to occur” (Martin 18). The constructed past leaves out stories that would problematize the understanding of a past constructed ‘by the winners.’ Kron’s play introduces those voices through the voice of her father. These stories are surrounded by guilt and by shame, and rightfully so, but this silence and this shame weighs heavily. 

Of all the themes in the capstone, the German history is the least developed. My research on Germany history was never about understanding the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Instead, I sought to understand the mindset of Germans in the aftermath of the war. While a decent amount has been written about the aftermath of the Holocaust on survivors and the following generations, the impact of culpability in the ability to move on after a traumatic event has been comparatively underdeveloped. The comparative underdevelopment of the field is understandable. I consistently find myself fearing that I will be perceived as being an apologist. I fear that if I suggest that feeling of culpability are responsible for the propagation of trauma that I am advocating for not accepting responsibility. I will admit that this fear has kept me from fully developing the parallel between my trauma and that of my grandmother. While the thread could be further developed, I believe that for the capstone it has achieved its purpose. The examination of German history, and the way that shame and silence are linked, propelled my thinking about my own relationship to trauma and culpability. Even so, the relationship of the German identity to culpability remains deeply interesting to me and a fruitful area of future research.

Interview

My capstone process begins with interview as a way to understand the past – interviews with my grandmother, Hildegard Kunze, and her daughters and granddaughter – and turns to self-reflection as a way to process the past’s affect. My first interview was with my grandmother over skype. We talked about her childhood, the farm she grew up on, the children she went to school with, her chores, and the games they played. Later we also talked about what it was like to flee from the Russians at the end of WWII: how she witnessed the firebombing of Bremerhaven, how she slept on the floors in abandoned houses, how she saw animals, starved and rotting at the side of the road. As my grandmother and I spoke, my grandmother answered my questions honestly, but refused to reveal her subjective experience. While she relays facts, she withholds affect. 

While it is harder for my sister, Fiona, to provide me with objective fact, she is incredibly giving with the affect of her trauma. Fiona, like me, was sexually abused. Both of us were abused by the same man, our great uncle. Afterwards, Fiona and I grew apart until we barely spoke anymore. Through the form of the interview that my sister and I broached a subject that I expected to be equally painful for both of us. Fiona told me, “I also understand that I had no fault in it. I don’t feel guilty or am upset with myself anymore, because I know it was because he was sick. Horrible human being. That is probably, well hopefully rotting in hell.” 

While I too understand that I had not fault in my own abuse, I realized in that interview that I could not shake my own feelings of guilt towards the abuse of my little sister. Though “not even privately acknowledged” (Sebald), the reason I was invested in constructing a linear chronology was to answer the question of whether my sister’s sexual abuse occurred before or after mine boiled down to a desire for absolution. As I write in the text “If Fiona’s abuse happened after mine, I could have prevented it. / If Fiona’s abuse happened before mine, I couldn’t have prevented it.”

I interviewed other female family members for the capstone project, including my aunt and my mother, but the voices of my sister and my grandmother are by far the most prominent. There are still ethical questions surrounding the use of other people’s words, despite discussing the project and how I use their words with my interviewees. I am interested in using the words of my grandmother and of my sister because of how our individual and collective trauma elides. In both the performance and the memoir, it is difficult to disentangle the voices. Through the text alignment and through a shift in body language as I quote my relatives, I attempt to eliminate confusion. At the same time though, I am invested in the elision of voices. Precisely through interweaving our understanding of our traumas that I am able to tell my story. 

Documentary

I used interviews to creat the evidence in a documentary methodolgy invested in finding an objective answer to the question of my own culpability. Documentary taught me how unstable the past was. Carol Martin writes “Documentary theatre’s seemingly stable telling and retelling in the context of the ephemeral medium of theater points to how quickly the past can be broken and reassembled” (Martin 23). Lisa Kron challenges the stability of documentation by leaving out the evidence she relies on in her text. The absence of photos in the prop slide projector calls attention to the instability of documentary theater’s relationship to objective factuality. Martin writes “Documentary theater can be as prescriptive as it is provocative in the way it functions as its own domain of memory” (Martin 24). Documentary theaters’ use of evidence risks the manipulation of evidence. By alluding to the evidence without showing the evidence, Kron stages how evidence can be manipulated, without giving manipulatable evidence. In my own work, I destabilize traumatic retelling by refusing to reenact victimization.  In the performance, I omit a description of the assault.  In the memoir, I refuse to make that scene the climax.  Through the recognition of the manipulatively of evidence and the instability of the historical record, I can control the pace of my own history.  

Documentary poetry offers a similar opportunity to destabilize history. Martin ends her essay on documentary theater by reminding the reader that “A text can be fictional yet true. A text can be nonfictional yet untrue” (Martin 24). This sentiment is echoed by art historian Mark Nash, quoted by Jill Magi in her essay “Poetry in the Light of Documentary:”

It is certainly true that there is no longer any mileage to be gained from the opposition between fiction and reality … at the same time documentary has become a means of attempting to re-establish a relationship to reality. The pertinent question, perhaps, is what kind of social, political or personal reality is being proposed.

Magi takes up this claim as she investigates documentary poetry as a form which engages reality, “but more importantly, [requires] attention to representation as a non-neutral practice.” The concern with documentary and representation as an act with implications and agendas, whether acknowledged or subconscious, forms one of the major overlaps between documentary theater and documentary poetry. Both in my use of theater and of poetry, I became particularly interested in separating documentary from objective. Magi writes “To even imagine that poetry could be devoid of ‘comment’ ignores post-structuralist thought on language, fiction, reality, and representation” (Magi 250). Instead of striving towards an unattainable goal, what interests me is the openly subjective experience of history. 

The intersection between objective history and subjective experience in documentary theater and poetry is key to my performance style. The moments that are most truthful – when I need distance between myself and the text by taking a drink or pausing for breath – are a subjective reflection of my experience performing a revealing text. I trouble the line between theater and a poetry reading. While both are performances, each are invested in different amounts of performativity. The text and the performance style together steer away from reenactment and instead take a more performative roll of enacting healing. I will return to this later in a more thorough discussion of performance. For now it is useful to note how the framework of documentary allows me to challenge my desire for objective truth and refocus on subjective experience. 


PRESENT

Form

Documentary theater and poetry both offer similar opportunities to destabilize history.  Their similar objective led to questions about the work kept troubling me. In her Notanda, at the end of Zong!, M. NourbeSe Philip writes, “Law and poetry both share an inexorable concern with language – the “right” use of the “right” words, phrases, or even marks of punctuation; precision of expression is the goal shared by both.” I read this as I think about why poetry? Why performance? Why both? 

I had been approaching the question of form from the perspective of what differentiates the two. A key answer from that approach turned out to be chronology and the way linear time affects the encounter with the work. You can pick up a book. You can put a book down down when it becomes overwhelming, return to it, skip around in it, leave it, or read it through in one sitting. That type of interaction became incredibly important in a piece that is as much about the difficulty of feeling bound to linear chronology as anything else. Through that, poetry as form became incredibly freeing. The sections in the text that deal primarily with botany are written in heightened language that allowed me to step outside of time.

Theater has a very different relationship to time. While it may dilate, compress, or layer the experience of time, performance occurs in a linear fashion. The line in the piece, “chronology implies causality” is a quote from my design professor, Tomi Tsunoda. Through the form of theater, I am in face-to-face conversation with my audience. We are bodies bound in space and must encounter time together. I do not know whether this is felt the same way by the audience, but in the moments when I have to break in the performance to flip the page, take a deep breath, or drink a sip of water, I feel the presence of other bodies. In these moments, I feel how my trauma binds me to chronology and simultaneously robs me of any way to piece a clear linear chronology back together.

These answers still felt unsatisfying to me. While they are true and answer the questions of how are the forms different from one another, the answers do not provide me with a reason for how they work together without redundancy. Tsunoda’s theatrical design course was the first place where I wrestled (and often found myself profoundly frustrated) by the concept of guiding the audiences attention. Through Tsunoda’s design course and other theater courses, I have learned to craft theatrical events with intentionality. My theatrical training prepared me to bring the attention to detail and the “inexorable concern” with “precise expression” (NourbeSe Philip) to the poetic writing. 

M. NourbeSe Philip’s comparison between law and poetry in Notanda reminds me that I forgot to ask what the two forms share. The answer is precision and joy. Through precise choices and the pure pleasure that the work offers me, I am able to transform what was traumatic and binding, into something that blossoms and opens up – perhaps through me, but beyond me. In our work together, Aysan Celik suggests that I think about the performance as opening a door for my audience to step through. Now that the door is open, I am as able to step out as I hope my readers and audiences are able to come in. 

Now that I know that the two forms share precision and joy, I found it useful to return to the question of how they differ. The key to the answer for that questions comes from Performing Remains, by Rebecca Schneider. Quoting Chrissie Iles’s thoughts on Marina Abramovic’s work, Schneider writes

“Performance challenges categorization, which was originally its point…But museum are about archiving, categorizing, and indexing.’ It’s not always an easy fit, but “maybe what’s interesting is the way in which the past is reframed in the present.” (Scheider 5)

I read Schneider’s book directly after rereading Walter Benjamin’s Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Because of the questions Schneider’s raises about archiving performance, I began thinking about the two halves of my capstone and where they are situated on a spectrum of reproducibility. A physical written text, is particularly easily reproduced, but the act of writing the text, while continuous, is not reproducible, nor is there a demand to reproduce it exactly. The aura of the written word is not lost in reproduction, because no matter how often it is copied, the reproduction does not cause the reader and the artist to be any further removed in time and space from one another. Poetry is performative, so why take it off of the page and put it onto the stage when it is possible that the performance takes away some of the performative qualities of the text?  My worry here is that part of the performative healing of the poetry was the ability to encounter it without being bound to linear chronology, while time binds performance. 

A written text is reproduced but not reenacting its creation; a performance is reenacting but not reproducible. Liveness in performance gives performance its aura and without liveness an archival reproduction can capture aspects, but not the entirety of any performance and therefore fundamentally alters the relationship between the audience and the artist. The archive is further complicated when the subject of the performance deals with the past. Schneider writes,

In the dramatic theater, the live is a troubling trace of a precent text and so … comes afterward, even arguably remains afterward, as a record of the text set in play.

To consider the live a record of precedent material flips on its head the supposition that the live is that which requires recording to remain. (Schnider 90)

In my piece, the live is a reenactment of the text and at the same time a present enacting and performing of healing. The process of writing about terrible things is deeply satisfying and pleasurable, but that process is not necessarily reflected in the presentation of the text. However, the pleasure, or fun, of performing is inherently evident in performance. It is through the joy and pleasure that I am able to flip on its head the experience of trauma. Through my own pleasure in the breaking of the silence and the articulation of the shame and culpability, I refuse to re-inscribe my own victimization. The enacting of the piece therefore becomes a live record of my healing.

While these thoughts answer the what does performing the text do that the text is not doing, it still leaves open the question of how is a theater piece different from a reading? This distinction is particularly difficult to make, since I used the reading as both device and form for my theatrical performance. By placing the author and the audience in a space together, the author is no longer anonymous. In his essay, “Who Speaks: Ventriloquism and the Self in the Poetry Reading,” Ron Silliman writes

A text as text is reduced to its most basic features: perceptible surface characteristics, narrative or expository thread, and a sense of “personality” that is inseparable from the presentation of the reader him-or herself…There is no substantial separation in the open reading between the performer and the text perform. (Silliman 362)

By existing in a space together, I ask the audience to witness my own coming to terms with my culpability and my trauma. Being physically together therefore has two main effects: foregrounding chronology and removing the author’s anonymity.

The form of my performance is in essence a challenge to the idea that a reading cannot be a form of theater. My performance is a hybrid of the two forms. The poetry reading, from my discussions with Jill Magi, is particularly concerned with non-performativity in the affect of the reader. While I borrow the non-performative affect, I am interested in the performance enacting. In this case, the piece enacts my own process of healing. Presenting the work as a reading highlights the existence of the author. Existing within a theater in the context as a play, allows me to invite the audience to step inside my experience and to dilate that experience through the use of design elements: the water, the lights illuminating my leg movements, the dropping flower petals, the aroma diffusers on the way out of the space, and the projections. Through the invitation of the audience and the dilation of the experience, the healing becomes communal.

Relationality

Theatrical performance highlights the communal experience, but from the beginning of the capstone process, my autobiographical memoir depends on the collective stories and my relationships with my female family members.  Caruth points out, “History, like trauma, is never simply one’s own, that history is precisely the way we are implicated in each other’s traumas” (Caruth 25).   Smith and Watson categorize texts that, like mine, rely on the intersection of trauma’s and the voices of others as relational.  

In discussions of women’s life writing, feminist scholars adopted the sexual difference theory of psychologist Nancy Chodorow to argue that women’s life writing, mimetic of women’s lives, unfolded through what Susan Stanford Friedman called fluid boundaries of relationality rather than by clear-cut ego differentiation. (Smith and Watson 215)

In order to understand my trauma and my text, I had to approach it through the relationship to my shared history with my grandmother and my sister: where or knowledge overlaps, how our experiences shape our individual and collective understandings of our traumas. Not only is the relational form mimetic of women’s lives, the subject matter of my capstone, though the line between form and subject matter is difficult to disentangle when both engage with and enact relationality.

I began to think about relationality in the performance through a master class workshops with Siti company, I was introduced to the concept of “being in relation.” The performance is an interaction. This interaction is obvious when you have another actor to work with, but I am performing alone. Through the workshop, I was introduced to the idea that being in relation does not require another human, but an idea. In the case of the capstone, the person I am in relation to depends on the mode of the performance. In the storytelling sections, I am in relation to a distant audience. During the present, meta sections, I am in relation with a friend, telling them about the creation process the way I would over coffee. During the poetic section, I am in relation to my sister.

The form of the written memoir places fragments in relationship to each other.  The sequencing of the fragments enacts the relationality of my experience as I piece together a narrative through my grandmother’s, my sister’s, and my voice. I build myself and my story out of my interviews and my reflections on my interviews. This again brings up the ethics of interview and how those interviews are used in the text and the performance. I have no clear answer, except that I cannot tell my story without the story of others and I cannot avoid telling my story through telling the story of others. 

The impossibility of telling my story without the story of other’s boils down to how we are implicated in each other’s traumas.  Caruth writes we are implicated in each other’s trauma (Caruth 25); the subjective experience of trauma is interwoven. An example is the difference in how Fiona and I process our trauma. I believe that the difference in how Fiona and I processed what had happened to us – Fiona’s ability to blame our great uncle and to move on, versus my inability to let go of the event and its aftermath - boils down to the fact that I feel culpable and she does not. Her trauma is part of my trauma. For me, the trauma is still present, because the shame is immediate. The shame is the result of the subjective experience of how I am implicated in her trauma. Since an objective narrative is impossible, I must rely on subjective, for which I must rely on the words of others.  


OUTSIDE OF TIME

Fragmenting

In Unclaimed Experience, Cathy Caruth argues, “Consciousness is a barrier of sensation and knowledge that protects the organism by placing stimulation within an ordered experience of time. What causes trauma, then, is a shock that appears to work very much like a bodily threat but is in fact a break in the minds experience of time.” I started my capstone by attempting to reconstruct an ordered experience of time, because I believed that understanding the full chronology would absolve me of feelings of guilt. Intellectually, I have always known that I am not to blame. Therefore the premise that knowledge will remove feelings of guilt is flawed. By reading Eve Sedgewick’s essay “Paranoid Reading, Reparative Reading,” I came to understand how my research and writing was functioning. Sedgwick suggests, “paranoia is characterized by placing, in practice, an extraordinary stress on the efficacy of knowledge per se – knowledge in the form of exposure. Maybe that’s why paranoid knowing is so inescapable in narrative” (Sedgewick 138). I had been attempting to expose the facts lost in the fractured time line, trusting that the exposure itself would have and effect.

With Sedgwick’s framework, I could now shift my work into a reparative mode, unbound from the attempt to reconstruct a concrete timeline.

Hope, often a fracturing, even traumatic thing to experience, is among the energies by which the repressively positioned reader tries to organize the fragments and part-objects she encounters or creates. Because the reader has room to realize that the future may be different from the present, it is also possible for her to entertain such profoundly painful, profoundly relieving, ethically crucial possibilities that the past, in turn, could have happened differently from the way it actually did. (Sedgewick 146)

Instead of trusting that the knowledge itself would have a performative affect, I changed my writing and the structure. The reframing into the reparative mode required a centering of my own experience of hope that the future may be different from the past (a difficult act considering the foreshortened sense of future). Through breaking down the distance between myself and my text, by confronting that text and producing a deeply honest work, I am able to reveal something that is not just affect or victimization and instead approaches healing.

The fragmentation of the narrative mirrors the form of trauma, but it figures into the function of the text. At first I saw fragmentation as a fault, because I worried that without chronological unity, I lose the narrative. Caruth categorizes the chronological experience of time as a protective measure that trauma disrupts. The disruption of chronology is distressing and yet the disruption serves a purpose. Through the breaks, the trauma became divided into dissectible moments. These smaller moments characterize the mundane experience of trauma as “cruddy” (Povanelli 132). Claudia Rankine uses the fragmentation of her text in a twofold manner. Staking these moments against each other demonstrates how they are “chronic.” By breaking the trauma apart into fragments and making them “ordinary,” they are digestible. In the moments where I step outside of time, my readers and audience are able to take a breath, which allows us to stay with the narrative.

Healing

Realizing that my capstone was a healing text left me with another problem: there was a texture missing from the writing. I found the answer in an image that came up again and again in the oddest places in my interviews. My grandfather is buried in the garden of mindfulness. My grandmother stares out at her garden when she is sad. I compulsively bring home plants whenever I receive my paycheck. At the moment when my sister is molested, “[our grandmother] is in the yard. She is gardening. So she is there, but she is gardening.” 

In my garden and in Harrison’s articulation of the garden’s nature and purpose, I found the missing lyrical texture. Because of the intimacy and trauma of the subject matter, at times I need to step away from the narrative. From that impulse came the lyrical mode, heavy with garden imagery. Robert Pogue Harrison in his introduction to his book Garden, an Essay on the Human Condition:

One way or another, in their very concept and their humanly created environments, gardens stand as a kind of haven, if not a kind of heaven. Yet human gardens, hoverer self-enclose their world may be invariably take their stand in history, if only as a counterforce to history’s deleterious ways … It is because we are thrown into history that we must cultivate our garden. In an immortal Eden there is no need to cultivate, since all is peregrine there spontaneously … History without gardens would be a wasteland. A garden without history would be superfluous. (Harrison p.x)

The garden, according to Harrison exists as a reaction to, but not bound by time. The garden therefore responds to the trauma without attempting to correct the fragmentation. By finding the garden as a way to heal, through returning agency and precisely because it was outside of time, working on my capstone became a healing action. 


My problem is a problem of chronology

Over the course of working on my capstone, I have been told repeatedly that the work is brave. The compliment always unsettles me. The work does not come from a place of fearlessness or even courage, but of compulsion, as necessary as any fundamental need. Schneider articulates this need and how it relates to chronology when she writes, “Entering, or reenacting, an event or a set of acts … from a critical direction, a different temporal angle, may be, as [Adrienne] Rich suggests, an act of survival, of keeping alive as passing on (in multiple senses of the phrase “to pass”)” (Schnieder 7). Now that the work is complete, not only can the traumatic affect be passed on through an archive and record, but it can pass on. 

Both forms engage with time time in different ways. The book exists in time but remains always in the act of reproducing. The performance requires the temporal and physical presence of both performer and audience. An example of the affect of the physical presence of myself/the author in space was demonstrated through the varying responses to the performance and the memoir text. In the performance, members of the audience reflected back to me afterwards that they had stayed with my experience of trauma. In response to the text, readers reflected that it had changed their view of their own trauma. When I was first asked, what do I want the audience to take away, my answer was that I wanted my audience to examine their own relationship to culpability. While that is still true in some form, I would revise that to say that the piece asks for compassion. As Caruth argues, “trauma … is a shock that appears to work very much like a bodily threat but is in fact a break in the mind’s experience of time” and so any experience that breaks the mind’s experience of time is a trauma. Recognizing how even the small, “the ordinary, the chronic” (Povenelli 132) can be traumatic allows myself and my reader to have compassion when compassion feels difficult to justify. 

The removal of chronological cause and effect allows me to have compassion for myself. Through the individual reading and the books relationship to chronology, the removal of the chronological cause-effect extends to the reader. That relationship to time, combined with my portrayal as trauma through the mundane cumulation, invites the reader to consider their own moments of trauma and view them with acceptance and compassion. In the performance, the dilation of time and the invitation of the audience enacts a communal experience of my healing. How the traumatic shapes us in unexpected ways becomes more visible by removing the chronological cause-effect relationship.


REFERENCES

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  • Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. "Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, Or, You're So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay Is About You." Touching Feeling (2002): 123-51. Print.
  • Silliman, Ron. “Who Speaks: Ventriloquism and the Self in the Poetry Reading,” in Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word, edited by Charles Bernstein, Oxford University Press, pp. 360-378.