The Sound of Memory

by Leslie Morris
The Sound of Memory
Leslie Morris
The German Quarterly
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University of Minnesota

The Soundof Memory

Not my language

but a voice

chanting in patterns

survives on earth

not history's bones

but vocal tones.

Allen Ginsberg

"Elegies for Neal Cassady"

The critical vocabulary that has emerged and evolved to describe and analyze the spaces of Jewish absence and memory in Germany has been, for the most part, vi- sual. In this essay, I shift the emphasis from the visual to the aural, to the "echo" of the Shoah in poetic texts and the echo of the elegiac that constitutes representation of the Shoah. I maintain that the circulation and proliferation of visual images-the "im- print of the Shoah" as Liss and Hirsch de- fine postmemory-contain as well the echo of the sound of memory. By thus shifting the focus from the visual to the aural and by exploring several key iconic sounds that generate German and Jewish memory, I hope to add a new layer to the exploration of the sites ofJewish and German memory.

The primacy of the visual draws on con- cepts of authenticity, illusion, and specta- torship that stretch back to Aristotle and Plato and inform contemporary critical dis- cussion about documentary, archival, and video testim0nies.l While critical work by Hirsch, Zelizer, and others has provided in- valuable reflection on the elusiveness of the visuality of memory, there has been rela- tively little attention paid to what I will be calling the sound of memory. The sound of memory can be a tangible "recording" of how an event is remembered acoustically, while the memory of sound presupposes a melancholic relationship to the sound that once was and is now lost. The sound of memory is more elusive and perhaps more fragile and transient than the visual sites of memory; significantly, of the five senses, sound is the only one that requires a me- dium for its transmission (Taylor 34). In the medium of film, as Michel Chion has observed, "if sounds are easily projected by the spectator onto the film image, it is be- cause the image is circumscribed by a frame that can be located in space, whereas sound lacks a frame" (Chion 204). This lack of a frame for the aural, in contrast to the vi- sual, demands that an inquiry into the re- lationship between sound and memory will be, perhaps, more speculative and open- ended than one that examines the visual sphere.

The following questions thus serve as speculative points of departure for an in- quiry into the relationship between mem- ory and sound: Can we speak of iconic sounds as we do of iconic images? Can an exploration of sound help demarcate the lines that shape and define German and Jewish memory? Can we speak of a site of memory as the sound of memory? If the visual sites of memory-memorials, photographs, installations-in Germany today suggest the enormous difficulties inherent in the project of remembrance, as James Young and others have demonstrated, into what terrain does an exploration of the sound of memory lead us? Finally, how can a turn to the aural help us rethink the trope of the unspeakability of the Holocaust?

The German Quarter1.v 74.4 (Fall 20011 368

To begin answering these questions, I propose that the visual imprint of memory and the acoustic echo ofprior sounds create sites of memory in Germany that can be reached through what Umberto Eco has de- scribed as a "travel in hyperreality," where in order to attain "the real thing," one must fabricate "the absolute fake" (8). The hy- perreal blurs the distinction between pres- ence and absence, between photographic image and death, between sound and si- lence, crafting sites of authenticity that are no longer historical, but instead visual, where, as Eco suggests, "everything looks real, and therefore it is real; in any case the fact that it seems real is real, and the thing is real even if, like Alice in Wonderland, it never existed" (16). Yet contained within the hyperreal and the circulation of mem- ory as postmemory are sound and the au- ral, not just the visual. Eco, of course, is speaking here of American culture's need to recreate "history" in the form of wax museums and reconstructed historical sites, but his point is also well taken for the shape and form of Jewish commemoration in Ger- many in the past decade.2 For the sites of Jewish memory in Germany evoke the ab- sent as if it were present, creating from ab- sence a presence that is, however, an "ab- solute fake" as Em defines it, where "the 'completely real' becomes identified with the 'completely fake"' (7).

Emblematic of this is the 1992 tourist map 'Xidische Statten in Berlin," where the former sites of Jewish life are marked on a map of contemporary Germany, com- plete with a subway guide on the back to enable the tourist to reach those sites that are no longer "there." Eco's insistence that the "signn-the "fake," the reconstructed "realv-aims to "abolish the distinction of the reference" might be too harsh an in- dictment of the project of recapturingmem- ory-either acoustic or visual-in Germany today. Yet it is, at the same time, an apt de- scription of the "ideal" tourist who might, with map in hand (and Klezmer music in the background) attempt to navigate spaces of absence and presence in Germany today. The "there" of Jewish presence in Germany that is at the same time not there, the la- cuna that marks a place of mourning, mem- ory, postmemory, and nostalgia, is the "im- print" of the Shoah in contemporary Ger- man~.~ definition, vi-

Is this "imprintv-by sual-analogous to an echo of the past and of memory? It is not solely the memory of the Shoah, but the memory of the layers of representation that have accrued, in the public imagination, over the past decades. Holocaust remembrance in post-1989 Ger- many, I suggest, is a postmemory that can- not be traced back to an originary moment of the Holocaust itself, but that circulates endlessly as representation, as melancho- lia, as the elegiac still echoing in the ruins of the city that is in a constant state of (re)construction. Conceptualizing the cir- culation of memory that we now designate as "postmemory" in acoustic terms demands a rethinking of the place of sound within cultural memory, which still remains large- ly unexplored in the key critical and liter- ary studies that explore German and Jew- ish memory, eclipsed by the primacy of the visual.

One example of this elision of the pres- ence of sound can be found in the paradigmatic text for the recent explorations of vi- sual culture and the memory of the Holo- caust, Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida. Barthes's reflections on photography and death are echoed in virtually every critical study on visual culture and the Holocaust. Yet buried within Barthes's poetic text on photography also lie reflections on the rela- tionship of image to sound. Significantly, Barthes evokes the sound of the camera photographing him-the moment of Death -and describes it as the sound to which his "desire" clings:

Ultimately, what I am seeking in the pho-

tograph taken of me (the "intention" ac-

cording to which I look at it) is Death: Death is the eidos of the Photograph. Hence, strangely, the only thing that I tolerate, that I like, that is familiar to me, when I am photographed, is the sound of the camera. For me, the Photographer's organ is not his eyes (which terrifies me) but his finger: what is linked to the trigger of the lens, to the metallic shifting of the plates (when the camera still has such things). I love these mechanical sounds in an almost voluptuous way, asif, in the Pho- tograph, they were the very thing-and the only thing-to which my desire clings, their abrupt click breaking through the mortiferous layer of the Pose. For me the noise of Time is not sad: I love bells, clocks, watches-and I recall that at first photo- graphic implements were related to tech- niques of cabinetmaking and the machi- nery of precision: cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing, and perhaps in me some- one very old still hears in the photogra- phic mechanism the living sound of the wood. (Barthes 15)

Richard Howard's translation of this pas- sage veils the auditory aspects of the text that appear in the original. For instance, by rendering the singular "l'oeil" with the English plural "eyes" ("Pour moi, l'organ du photograph ce n'est pas l'oeil"), the trans- lated text suggests the gaze of the photog- rapher not mediated through the lens of the camera. The gaze through the camera is, significantly, with one eye, "l'oeil." What ''terr%esV Barthes is the eye ("il me terri- fie") precisely as the eye behind the lens, not the gaze of a face-to-face encounter unmedi- ated by the camera. Thus Barthes locates as the photographer's "organ" not the eye but rather the finger that is "linked to the click of the apparatus." Howard's transla- tion, "linked to the trigger of the lens," fails to capture the onomatopoetic sound of the French word "d6clicn in the line, "ce qui est lib au d6clic de l'objectif "The trans- lation thus muffles the sound of the cam- era's click, the sound that immediately fol- lows Barthes' terror of "the eye" and that he loves "in an almost voluptuous way."

Barthes's evocation of an earlier era of photography, where the "metallic shifting of the plates" would be audible, and his suggestion that "perhaps in me someone very old still hearsinthe photographic mech- anism the living sound of the wood" is per- haps nothing less than a nostalgia for a time now past or, even, a simulation of an earlier age. Yet his abrupt mention of the sound of a photograph being taken-the moment where the "sign vanishes from our worldv-is linked to an awareness of the sadness or melancholia of the temporal that Barthes, however, disavows. Thus by intro- ducing the sound of the photograph as it is being taken, Barthes seeks to counter the melancholic relationship to loss that de- fines the photograph. Earlier in the essay, when referring to the "melancholy of Pho- tography," Barthes describes how he expe- riences melancholy when he sees in a film actors whom he knows are dead; immedi- ately after this he adds, significantly, "I ex- perience this same emotion listening to the recorded voices of dead singers" (79).Yet at the same time, he asserts that he is "terri- fied" by the eye of the photographer but loves the sounds of the camera. The sound of the camera at the moment of the photo- graph being taken is the absolute moment of the present, yet a present that, as it brings the Death that is the photograph, is always in the process of vanishing.

Barthes's suggestion that the "punctum" -the point of effect of the photograph- can only be revealed when the photograph is no longer present is also interesting to contemplate with regard to Holocaust ico- nography which is, often, not present to us as concrete photograph, but instead cir- culating endlessly in image (and sound). Barthes does not propose substituting sound for sight, he creates rather an aes- thetics of synesthesia in which "the photo- graph must be silent," and in which "in or- der to see a photograph well, it is best to look away or close your eyes" (53).In other words, the viewer must withdraw from the "usual blah-blah: Technique, Reality, Re- portage, Art, etc" and instead "say noth- ing" and "shut [his] eyes" (Barthes 55). If the best way to grasp the "punctum" of a photograph for Barthes is to close one's eyes, then it is because the sight of the photograph has been stored in memory-a realm of memory that is first opened by the sound of the photograph being taken.

Notably, this significance of sound for memory, memorial sites, and the trope of unspeakability has been explored provoca- tively in Friedrich Kittler's study of the gra- mophone. Kittler claims, with some irony but even more seriousness, that "Edison's simple idea" leads to Derrida's concept of the trace of language: "Die Spur von jeder Schrift, diese Spur der reinen Differenz, noch offen zwischen Schreiben und Lesen, ist einfach eine Grammophonnadel" (55). The reproduction of sound and the vast ac- cumulation of sound then mediated (not only through the gramophone) form the echoes of texts that are, I maintain, the elegiac sites of memory. Citing Nietzsche's championing of the "utility" of poetic text because its "rhythmic tick-tock" increases the "Speicherkapazitat von Gedachtnissen," Kittler then focuses on the greater technological "Klangspeicherung" created by the invention of the phonograph (125). The sound of the recorded voice created by the phonograph is, according to Kittler, "ein einfaches Echo der ersten [...I, auf einem bereits gebahnten Weg" (25). Kitt- ler's evocation of the voice's echo that is produced by the invention of the phono- graph as nothing less than Derrida's idea of the trace of language is relevant for think- ing about the echo of the charge of un- speakability that suffuses much Holocaust discourse.

Rather than joining in the repeated com- pulsive chorus of the trope of unspeakabil- ity (and incommensurability or incompre- hensibility) of the Holocaust, I place the focus instead on sites of indeterminacy, where meaning and reference are, as Libes- kind famously insists, "voids." For what has provoked such intense discussion and debate about Libeskind's museum is, I think, that it is emblematic of the indeter- minacy of referential meaning and the in- determinacy of art. Aesthetic and linguis- tic indeterminacy open up rather than close spaces for contemplating the vicissitudes of memory-visual and aural-aRer the Sho- ah. The turn to indeterminacy is not equiv- alent to the near-constant trope of un- speakability that is evoked repeatedly; in- stead, the projects of commemoration and witnessing that lie at the heart of discourse about the Holocaust demonstrate, over and over, how the linguistic and the visual realms of memory are excavated from the mass grave of historical reference.

In many respects, the charge of unspeak- ability is the sound heard within critical studies on the Holocaust; it is not, however, the sound of the evocation of Jewish mem- ory in Germany. It is a sound that has been repeated compulsively, a paradoxical lin- guistic formulation that the Holocaust lies beyond language and the speakable. Not only is there a surfeit ofvisual images of the Holocaust, there is as well a surfeit of signi- fication (and sound) about the Holocaust, what Barbie Zelizer has termed "verbal cues of atrocity" (204-06). Addressing the surfeit of si&ication attachedto key terms that signal atrocity (Holocaust, genocide, massacre, ethnic cleansing), Zelizer points to the problems inherent in the naming of this event, whether it is the overused noun "Holocaust" or the historically unspecific "gen~cide."~

Similarly, she argues, the sur- feit of Holocaust images circulating in the public sphere has led to a dulling of the re- sponse to atrocity by the public (Zelizer 206). The repetition and echo of the word "Holocaust" in public discourse in Germany and the repetition of the "unspeakability" of the event creates a similar effect of a dull- ing and numbing, ultimately taking the lis- tener from these sites (and sounds) of re- membrance. Kittler's formulation of the gramophonerecaststhe sound of "umpakability" asit places the tropeof umpakability not beyondlanguage and representation, but as part of the stuttering, iterative (Derrida) motion of the gramophone needle asit moves, again and again, in the grooves from which sound emerges (erupts). Thus Kittler's met- aphor of the gramophone enables us to turn not to silence and the all too familiar trope of unspeakability, nor to the moral blan- dishments of not speaking and not writing "the Disaster." Instead, we are perhaps enjoined to listen more closely to the very tones that constitute the "unspeakability" that is uttered, again and again, a litany about the impossibility of speech that closes back on itself as sound that articulates the impossibility of sound, or language, after the Shoah.

Giorgio Agamben also seeks, through strict etymologicalinquiry, to "correct" some of the terms that are used repeatedly in studies of the Holocaust. Most significant- ly, he presents one of the most cogent argu- ments against the trope of unspeakability. Tracing the word "euphemism" tothe Greek euphemein which originally means "to ob- serve religious silence," he suggests that to say Auschwitz is "unsayable" or even "in- comprehensible" is equivalent to observing this sort of religious silence, "euphemein," "as one does with a God" (Agamben 32-33). Instead of merely stopping here, however, Agamben probes into the very lacuna that he identifies as lying at the core of testi- mony and that also calls into question the very nature of testimony, much as Lyotard earlier claimed the impossibility of bearing witness (33). Agamben's focus on the la- cuna of language leads to an exploration of what he calls non-language. He cites an in- teresting passage from Primo Levi's The Truce, about a three-year old boy in the camp who cannot speak and who has no name.

He was paralyzed from the waist down,

with atrophied legs, as thin as sticks; but

his eyes, lost in his triangular and wasted face, flashed terribly alive, full of de- mand, assertion, of the will to break loose, to shatter the tomb of his dumbness. The speech he lacked, which no one had both- ered to teach him, the need of speech charged his stare with explosive urgency. (Levi, qtd. in Agamben 37)

The boy, named Hurbinek by the other prisoners, finally does say one word that is, however, hard to decipher, either "mass- klo" or "matisklo":

During the night we listened carefully: it was true, from Hurbinek's corner there occasionally came a sound, a word. It was not, admittedly, always exactly the same word, but it was certainly an articulated word; or better, several slightly different articulated words, experimental varia- tions on a theme, on a root, perhaps on a name [...I No, it was certainly not a mes- sage, it was not a revelation; perhaps it was his name, if it had ever fallen to his lot to be given a name; perhaps (according to one of our hypotheses) it meant "to eat," or "bread"; or perhaps "meat" in Bohemi- an, as one of us who knew that language maintained. (Levi, qtd. in Agamben 38)

Agamben draws on Levi's story to suggest

a new way of conceptualizing language

and unspeakability:

Perhaps every word, every writing is born, in this sense, as testimony. This is why what is borne witness to cannot already be language or writing. It can only be some- thing to which no one has borne witness. And this is the sound that arises from the lacuna, the non-language that one speaks when one is alone, the non-language to which language answers, in which lan- guage is born. (38)

Agamben's reflections on true testimo- ny as "non-language," as the "sound that arises from the lacuna" expand, by turning to sound and the echo, the visual imprint of Holocaust memory. Agamben identifies the linguistic indeterminacy at the heart of lan- guage testimony; this is the acoustic com- plement to Ulrich Baer's idea of the photo- graph that signifies "nothing." For in his recounting of Levi (that is, the echo of Levi within Agamben's text), Agamben too points to the void of reference and the in- determinacy of meaning, the illegibility and untranslatability of the repeated word "massklo/matisklo," despite the fact, as Levi says, "[...I everybody listened to him in silence, anxious to understand, and among us there were speakers of all the languages of Europe; but Hurbinek's word remained secret" (Levi 198).

Agamben's retelling of Levi's tale points to the stuttered language that erupts in the aftermath of trauma, "the non-language [...I in which language is born." Sound is removed from referential meaning and can only exist as a chain of signifiers that, like Hurbinek's word that is not "always ex- actly the same word" but instead "experi- mental variations on a theme," do not move toward any clear or stable meaning. This is the sound of memory that perhaps mast closely corresponds to the site of visual memory of the Holocaust as it has been captured in photography, for it is a sound that, as Barthes claims for the photograph, is synonymous with death. Agamben, who intersperses his ideas with those of numer- ous other writers, most significantly Primo Levi, stresses the acoustic nature of mem- ory. His technique of citation, reminiscent of Sarah Kofman's weaving together of texts by Blanchot and Antelme in Smothered Words, serves ultimately tobring to light the very aporia of language that Agamben sets at the center of his study. The text that is then "choked" with the texts of previous texts becomes a meta-reflexion on the na- ture of speech and writing, where the un- speakable becomes a re-iteration of prior moments of the declaration of unspeaka- bility. The other voices in Agamben's text, notably Primo Levi's, become echoes of prior memories and testimonies that blend and merge with Agamben's voice. Thus he achieves his aim of writing "a sort of per- petual commentary on testimony" (Agam- ben 13) by simultaneously burying earlier texts and bringing them back to life. If the text on testimony is figured as "commen- taryinperpetuity," it then suggests its ana- logous status to elegiac writing, to the rep- etition, also perpetual, that defines elegiac poetry, and which expresses Walter Ben- jamin's conception of the text as "der lang- nachrollende Donner" (570).

Contained within the aporia of Ausch- witz that Agamben locates as "the very aporia of historical knowledge: a non-coin- cidence between facts and truth, between verification and comprehension" (12) is the stuttered, compulsively repeated at- tempt to articulate this void. In one sense, as Marianne Hirsch has emphasized in her recent article on photography, this repeti- tion is the reenactment of trauma as it is repeated and remembered visually. Hirsch points to the "striking repetition of the same very few images, used over and over again iconically and emblematically to sig- nal this e~ent."~

Moreover, Hirsch claims, "in repeatedly exposing themselves to the same pictures, postmemorial viewers can produce in themselves the effects of trau- matic repetition that plague the victims of trauma" (29). Hirsch's concept of post- memory and her work on photography have been instrumental in probing the contours of memory and pointing to the ways that iconic images of the Holocaust circulate end- lessly as melancholic repetition.Wxplora- tions of memory within the realm of the visual have opened up, for literary and cul- tural studies, aspects of textuality beyond merely formalist and descriptive accounts of the image; significantly, recent work on visual culture and the Holocaust challenges the putative authority and truth claims of the documentary and archival image7 and explores the photographic site of memory as a space in which reference and referen- tiality are "~oided."~

It is vital to make a distinction between, on the one hand, documentary and archi- val photography and film, which attempt to assert truth claims about the past, and photographs taken in the present that seek to chart the effect of the passage of time on the places of the genocide. The truth claims of the former have been increasingly called into question (the recent debates about the veracity and verifiability of the Wehr- macht-Ausstellung is just one case in point), yet their connection to notions of empirical truth and knowledge are still inta~t.~

On the other hand, contemporary Holocaust images create a visual "echo" of now absent spaces that are, like the ever- present Klezmer music in Berlin or the map of Jewish sites on the Berlin map, both "real" and not "real," a referent to an ab- sence that becomes then referent to what Ulrich Baer has termed "geographic place- lessness" (744).The imprint of the past in these photographs is one defined by elision, absence, and elusiveness, not certainty or empirical or historical knowledge.

Baer's strategy for reading these im- ages moves visual analysis of the Holo- caust in an important direction and has a bearing on an inquiry into the relationship between memory and sound:

The sense of being situated in reference to an unremembered but meaningful event or site raises a crucial question about how we are to read Reinartz's photograph. This question is not how the reading of an image is inflected by prior knowledge or historical context, but rather how we can read an image that is inflected by knowledge which is not fully available.


Baer's question about how to read visu- al images of "unremembered" events, events about which we do not and cannot have full knowledge, enables us to pose the question about the analogous project of "reading" sounds-such as Hitler's voice-that are not themselves remembered, but rather medi- ated and filtered through a variety of acoustic "screens." In the case of the sound of Klezmer in Germany, the sounds lis- tened to are not simply Jewish sounds re- membered in the present, but rather "un- remembered" sound that is produced and fabricated as a simulacrum of remembered, elegiac sound. Thus the simulac- rum of sound in German culture today is marked, perhaps, by a nostalgic desire for Jewish sound. Or, to pose the question in a somewhat different way: Are Germans mel- ancholic because of the absence of Jews, or does the fabrication of Jewish sound fillthe spaces of this melancholia? If certain sounds evoke for Germans what they think of as Jewish spaces, do these sounds-evok- ing a fabricated presence- then automati- cally carry with them the very absence of Jewishness?

Marcel Beyer's novel Flughunde (1995) takes up these questions in its portrayal of WWII as a war of sound. The narrator, Herr Karnau, is a sound engineer hired to rig up a complicated public-address sys- tem for alarge Nazi rally. Karnau, obsessed with voices and acoustics, tapes the full range of the acoustic world: the sounds of combat, the voices of dying patients in mil- itary hospitals, throat-clearings, coughs and sniffs, and, ultimately, the murder of the six Goebbels children.1°

Beyond the easy, sensationalized narra- tive pull of Flughunde lie important reflec- tions on the nature of the voice, on sound and the acoustic, and on the technological underpinnings of mass genocide. Beyer also provides an imaginative way of con- structing subjectivity through the voice, which the narrator likens to a state of originary wholeness that is then disrupted through the use of the vocal cords:

Wir alle tragen Narben auf den Stimm- bbdern. Sie bilden sich im Laufe eines Lebens, und jede ~ufierun~

hinterlafit ihre Spur, vom ersten Schrei des Saug- lings angefangen. Und jedes Husten, je- des Kreischen und heiseres Sprechen ver- unzieren die Stimmbander ein weiteres Ma1 mit einem Einschnitt, einem Hocker oder einer Naht. [...IWie achtsam man ei- gentlich mit den eigenen Stimmbandern umgehen mul3te. Man durfte wohl kaum sprechen. (21)

By locating the trope of speechlessness and silence in the body, and even more literally, in the vocal cords where sound is pro- duced, Beyer recasts the concern in post- war German culture with speech and cul- pability. Karnau-whose name even sug- gests, however allusively, "flesh" and the body-is, quite literally, the one who brings the voice of Hitler and Goebbels to the pub- lic, through his elaborate sound system, and at the same time is, significantly, a pa- ternal stand-in for Goebbels within his family. In one sense, the entire novel is overdetermined by the murder of the chil- dren that the overt references to Goebbels indicates will take place at some point within the text. Thus the actual historical memory of Goebbels' murder of his chil- dren is contained within Flughunde; the novel fures the public memory of this mur- der in the acoustic, as Karnau, as is re- vealed at the novel's end, has taped the children's murder.

Beyer's novel underscores the central- ity of sound in the Nazi propaganda machi- nery-namely, the role of public speeches at mass rallies. Beyer twists the power and seduction of these speeches, locating it not in the charismatic appeal of fascist figure- heads such as Hitler and Goebbels, but rather in the elaborate sound system-the microphones and immense loudspeakers- Karnau devises to disseminate Goebbels's voice. Karnau first meets Goebbels and Hitler when he is hired to set up an elabo- rate sound system for a Nazi rally in which the blind, the disabled, and the deaf-mute will march. The deaf-mutes present a par- ticular conundrum for the sound engi- neers; since they will not be able to hear the speeches, but instead can only feel the vi- brations from the public address system, the engineers must manipulate the sounds to penetrate "tief in die Dunkelheit des Bau- ches" (Beyer 14). Indeed, this darkness is akin to what Karnau identifies asthe blank- ness within him, as he describes himself as a

noch ungravierte, glatte Waschmatrize, wo sich andern langst unzlihlige Spuren eingepragt haben, wo sie schon bald ein Kratzen oder Knacken horen lassen, weil sie so oft abgespielt worden sind. Keine erkennbare Vergangenheit, und nichts, was mir widerflihrt, nichts in meiner Er- innerung konnte zu einer Geschichte bei- tragen. (Beyer 18)

If a person's life is defined by this series of assaults on the vocal cords, and in which the voice is the source of humanity, Kar- nau sees himself as a "Stimmstehler" who can penetrate "bis in die Tiefe jedes Men- schen greifen, ohne d& ihm dies bewuat ist [...In (Beyer 123).

Karnau records the sounds around him, but is himself a "glatte Waschmatrize" un- touched by the acoustic world around him. At the end of the novel (now set in the early 1990~1, his sound archive is discovered during a routine inspection of an orphan- age in Dresden, where it is accessible to the Museum of Hygiene from a series of under- ground passages. The archeological "dis- covery" of the buried sound archive reveals not only the sounds, ultimately, of the mur- der of the six children, but also, in a mode that is as muffled as the sounds of the mur- ders themselves, the one moment of pathos and emotion in the entire novel.

Sigmfkantly, Beyer begins his story with an account of Hitler's voice as it is heard over the public address system. By under- scoring the centrality of Hitler's voice (and other, subsequent voices) in the text, Beyer points to the iconic stature that record- ings of Hitler's voice have attained.11 More than the actual words he is saying, Hitler's recorded voice, with its distinctive, indeed unmistakable cadences and rhythms, serves as an acoustic marker of National Socialism. It is the sound of Hitler's voice and not his language as language that is significant.12 Thus the sound of war infil- trates the private sphere, ever present as text and as noise. The sound of Hitler's speeches in films underscores the function of sound as noise that disrupts the possibil- ity for dialogue-in other words, as sound that buries other potential sounds. Hitler's voice, repeated again and again in film, be- comes metonymic for all of National Social- ism; the sound of fascist radio broadcasts has a vital thematic function, yet at the same time it serves as the "noise" of the public sphere infiltrating the private sphere.

The spectrum of sound that ranges from "noise" to "music" contains iconic German sounds. Yet at the same time, the very iconic nature of these sounds as German sounds in texts produced after the war evokes the absence of Jewish sound. Signif- icantly, the Jewish sound that is most prev- alent in Germany today-Klezmer music -is an example of sound as memorial site, yet it is an iconically '3ewish" sound that has become part of-indeed, perhaps indis- tinguishable from-the sounds of German memory.13 Although different from the noise- like, iconic status of Hitler's voice from re- cordings of speeches, Klezmer becomes its own iconic sound in contemporary German culture. The ever-present melancholic strains of Klezmer in Germany are the musical score to the visual and film images circulat- ing everywhere that constitute Jewish life as simulacrum and hyperreal. The insis- tently elegiac tones of Klezmer music un- derscore the spaces and sites of Jewish memory in Germany as elegiac sites of re- membrance. Klezmer in Germany thus fab- ricates, through sound infused with melan- cholia, a simulacrum of Jewish authentic- ity as it evokes the generalized and imagi- nary (and now lost) spaces of Jewish East- ern Europe. These spaces are remembered in Holocaust iconography either as the ac- tual sites of destruction (the camps) or as the originary sites ofJewish life (the shtetl); Klezmer fuses these conflicting sites of mem- ory, merging the nostalgia for the shtetl with the trauma and destruction of the camps. This, I maintain, is the source of the pathos (and ultimately, kitsch) of this music, as it fabricates the illusion of an authenticity of Jewish "experience" and memory and car- ries the images that circulate with an emo- tionally-charged, overdetermined sound that locates the spaces of Jewish memory in Germany in pathos, kitsch, and more importantly, as a travel in hyperreality. Klezmer provides the listener easy access to eastern European Jewish spaces that, however, no longer exist; it asserts the hy- perreal of the present as it both affirms and negates the past.

Klezmer in Germany raises the ques- tion about the difference between '3ewish memory" and "German memory." Yet what is remembered, with the ubiquitous strains of Klezmer in Germany, is not the experience of German Jews (for whom Klez- mer, as part of eastern European and Yid- dish culture, would have been entirely for- eign, if not distasteful) nor that of other cosmopolitan European Jews, but rather a simulacrum of a displaced and fetishized Jewishness. The sound of Klezmer in Ger- many creates a metonymic association be- tween the sound of this '3ewishn music and the experience of Jews, thus homogenizing Jewish culture and replacing absence with musical tones that are simultaneously celebratory and elegiac. Significantly, it is the iconic function of the sound of Klez- mer as sound, not the music per se, that triggers the metonymic link between Jew- ish "sound" and Jewish "experience," how- ever illusory, fictive, invented, or "hyper- real" that may turn out to be.

If %Jewishv sound (Klezmer) and Ger- man sound (Hitler's voice) in Germany are "unremembered" sound whose very repro- duction (and, to draw on the language of acoustics, reverberation) and simulation13 create a site of remembrance within sound, then these sounds are in one sense acoustic examples of Eco's notion of hyperreality. By insisting on "authenticity" that is pure- ly visual and not historical and thus ques- tioning the "fakeness" of a "fake" (such as Ripley's Believe it or Not museum), Eco also, I maintain, opens up the possibility for reading texts-visual and acoustic-not as expressions of the experiential and the "real." To be sure, any move from the expe- riential will raise the question of historical specificity and the danger of revisionism. Yet Eco's idea of hyperreality, rather than obscuring and obfuscating "history" (and the "real"), can instead open up multiple readings of visual and aural texts-moving from the visuality of the poetic and the sonoric of the visual- central to the project of understanding memory and history and narrative. Thus my call for a turn to the au- ral is not a call for a move away from the vi- sual; rather, by exploring the repetition of sound and the echo of memory in texts (po- etic, filmic, visual) we can find, in the inter- stices between sight and sound, additional layers in the production and creation of



' See Kaja Silverman for an elaboration of the centrality of Plato's parable of the cave for current explorations in visual culture.

By drawing on Eco's idea of hyperreality to speak about the Holocaust, I do not mean to as- sert that thereis not a "real" and historical base to the Holocaust, or that historical studies of the Holocaust are without value. Furthermore, I locate not the Holocaust per se as analogous to Eco's hyperreal, but rather German sites of memory and German remembrance of the Ho- locaust. Since Eco's critique is of American cul- ture through which he travels "in" hyperreali- ty, the move away from history is perhaps less problematic than it would be if he were talking about the Holocaust.

For the idea of postmemory as imprint, see Andrea Liss's definition of "postmemories" as constituting "the imprints that photographic imagery of the Shoah have created within the post-Auschwitz generation" (86). Marianne Hirsch's work on postmemory has been groundbreaking and is the basis for all subse- quent discussions of this topic. See Marianne Hirsch,Family Frames. See also Hirsch's recent article, "Surviving Images: Holocaust Photographs and the Work of Postmemory," in which she elaborates further on her original idea of postmemory.

Numerous critics, writers, and philoso- phers have, of course, addressed the problems of naming the event. Blanchot, Lyotard, Derri- da, Kofman, and Agamben, to name just a few, have all explored the question of the trace of the Shoah (the Disaster; the churban; the Destruc- tion). Berel Lang chooses to refer to it as the "Nazi genocide against the Jews" because he feels that terms such as Holocaust, Shoah etc. "have theological or at least mediating over- tones, they are confined to the viewpoint of the victims, and they fail to suggest the specific role of genocide as it figured in the deeds of the Third Reich." See Berel Lang, xxi. Giorgio Agarnben argues against the use of the word "Holocaust" as he traces "the history of an in- correct term" (28-31).

Hirsch, "Surviving Images" 7. Hirsch draws on Geoffrey Hartman's The Longest Shadow and Barbie Zelizer's Remembering to Forget to make this point.

See Marianne Hirsch, Family Frames.

'See Barbie Zelizer.

See Ulrich Baer's discussion of a photograph by Dirk Reinartz entitled "Sobibor": "What is shown as real is the nothingness-neither capitalized nor italicized-that forms the basis of our understanding. The absence imaged here becomes the referent for an event whose mon- strosity involved an effort to obliterate all tra- ces of the crime. In beingdrawninto apicture of undisclosed significance, we are positioned in reference to a voiding-r a beyond-f reference" (Baer 750).

See Zelizer for an excellent discussion of these debates.

lo Karnau is hired by Goebbels to care for his children while his wife recovers from delivering their sixth child; the other narrative strand in the novel which is interspersed with Karnau's account is the voice of the &year old Helga, Goebbels's oldest daughter. While the text does not explicitly identify Goebbels, his wife, and their six children-we know only their firstnames and never hear their surname-it is im- plicit. The allusion to Goebbels without nam- ing him is, I maintain, also part of Beyer's nar- rative strategy of playing with the "sounds" within the text: in this case, the silencing of the name within a text devoted to sound and the acoustic can be read as an additional ironic and even parodic narrative layer.

l1 Interestingly, Hitler's recorded voice has resurfaced in central films that explore the fas- cist past, including Roberto Rossellini's Germania anno zero (1946) and Ettore Scola's A Special Day (1977). In both of these films, the sound of the Fiihrer's voice in the background is used diegetically-we listen not to the sound of Hitler's voice, but rather to the figures in the film listening to radio broadcasts of the voice. In Scola's film, the sound of the speech given on the day of Hitler's visit to Mussolini in 1938, suffuses the interior private sphere in which the two main characters meet, while the rest of the social housing project is away at the rally.

I2Another sound of the Shoah, or more accu- rately, an echo found in the sound of the Shoah, is that of shattered glass at Jewish weddings. Although intended to evoke the destruction of the Temple, the sound of glass shattering is now variously summoned to stand in for Kris- tallnacht and the destruction of European Jew- ry in the war.

131 refer here not to particular Klezmer groups, musicians, orperformances, but instead to the general phenomenon of Klezmer in Ger- many, to the fact that there are currently more performances of Klezmer in Berlin than any- where else in the world. While Klezmer is by no means a solely German phenomenon, I am sug- gesting that it is produced and heard differ- ently in Germany than it is in the US, France, England, etc. By focusing on the general phe- nomenon of Klezmer in Germany, I do not in- tend to deny the fact that among this multitude of performances there is diversity and range of style, listeners, etc.

l4Significantly, Syberberg's film "Our Hitler" contains the "real" sound of Hitler's voice as well as simulations of it that are foregrounded as simulations.

Works Cited

Agamben, Giorgio. Remnants ofAuschwitz: The Witness and the Archive. Trans. Daniel Heller- Roazen. New York: Zone, 1999.

Baer, Ulrich. "Contemporary Holocaust Images: The Landscape of Loss and the Limits of the Photograph." German DisIContinuities. Spec. issue of South Atlantic Quarterly 96.4 (1997): 741-53.

Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucidu. Trans. Rich- ard Howard. New York: Hill & Wang, 1981. Benjamin, Walter. Gesammelte Schriften Bd. 1. Frankfirt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1982. Beyer, Marcel. Flughunde. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhr- kamp, 1995. .The Karnau Tapes. Trans. John Brown- john. London: Secker & Warburg, 1997.

Chion, Michel. 'Xudio-Vision and Sound." Sound. Ed. Patricia Kruth and Henry Stobart. Cam- bridge: Cambridge UI: 2000.

Eco, Umberto. Faith in Fakes: Travels in Hyper- reality. London: Vintage, 1986.

Hartman, Geoffrey H. The Longest Shadow: In the Aftermath of the Holocaust. Bloomington: Indiana UF: 1996.

Hirsch, Marianne. Family Frames. Cambridge: Harvard W 1997. ."Surviving Images: Holocaust Photo- graphs and the Work of Postmemory." The Yale Journul of Criticism 14.1(2001): 5-37.

Kittler, Friedrich A. Grammophon, Film, Type- writer. Berlin: Brinkmann & Bose, 1986.

Kofman, Sarah. Smothered Words. Trans. Mad- eleine Dobie. Evanston: Northwestern UF: 1998.

Lang, Berel. Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide. Chicago: U of Chicago E: 1990.

Levi, Primo. If This is a Man and The Truce. Trans. Stuart Woolf. New York: Penguin, 1979.

Liss, Andrea Trespassing Through Shadows: Memory, Photography and the Holocaust.

Minneapolis: U of Minnesota E: 1998. Silverman, Kaja. World Spectators. Stanford: Stanford UI: 2000.

Taylor, Charles. "The Physics of Sound." Sound. Ed. Patricia Kruth and Henry Stobart. Cam- bridge: Cambridge UE: 2000.

Zelizer, Barbie. Remembering to Forget. Chicago: U of Chicago E 1998.

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