Diccionari Sebald


26 .06 .2015 - Eloy Fernández Porta & SEBALDIANA

Eloy Fernández Porta, writer and essayist [Spain]

[Translation (subtitles): Carlos Ortega]


Hysteria and apathy. These were the two most common reactions observed amongst the survivors to bombings of german cities at the end of the Second World War. In On the Natural History of Destruction, the dynamic of emotions is presented in many ways: first, on a physical level, it is revealed as a symptomatology of the survivor that, faced against an extreme experience, would end up being caught between these two opposites. Second, on a literary sense, each of them would be a source code of representation of the war. Thus, the hysterical response would be formalized by the sensationalistic narrations of the conflict, whereas apathy would give way to the mere technical and detached descriptions. Thirdly, at a psychosocial level, this tension between two sentimental extremes would be solved by a collective blocking of the memory of the disaster that would explain the conscious or unconscious censorship that the germans, and particularly german writers, have imposed over their own experience of victimhood. That polarity would not be an overcoming of the national socialist existencial frame, but an ulterior display because technoscientific madness and logic, are precisely the two principal traits of the total war. Against this ideology of feeling that Sebald detects in different manifestations of german postwar culture and would endure until these days, Sebald proposes an ethical and literary response. To Sebald, the novelistic modality that would allow to give an account of the disaster and put and end to censorship, is the documentary that he conceives as a means for the factual account developed through literary records. Documentary writing would then through the emocritical point of view, the appropriate solution to the tensions between hysteria and apathy. These two opposites would then be solved in a textuality that is descriptive and holds distance, but is not insensitive. It also offers images of horror but does not surrender to their aesthetic grandeur. For Sebald, the account of the Halberstadt bombings written by Alexander Kluge in the late 70s would become the clearest model of these kind of literature.”