Finally, the survivors who have offered testimony, have done so out of some historical sense of obligation and with something to offer that they perhaps can't even be sure of. There is a Jewish teaching that says one should read every verse of the Torah as attentively as every other verse. Although it is a necessary rule from a pragmatic point of view (Leviticus is a dry read and needs the encouragement), the practice of reading each verse closely is also a matter of respect. Freud too recognized that, even when the texts are not scriptural, paying close attention to seemingly unimportant details -- details even of how material is presented, which may be impossible to observe in a less boring medium -- can provide profound insights. The choices that witnesses have made about what they describe and how they describe it may provide significant insights into the nature of the Shoah. It is as a mark of respect, as well as historical perspicacity, that we might look for them.
The Fortunoff archive might be 'boring', but I happen to find the current spate of "reality tv" shows fairly tedious as well. As a Zeek editor, I have for the past few months been trying to find someone to write and explain "reality" television's obvious fascination to the viewing public in some new or interesting way, or at least, in a way that would make sense to me. But the phenomenon still begs an explanation. Perhaps the fascination with reality TV is about how far people will go in their search for fleeting celebrity, and what strange behaviours they think will win it for them. Professional actors appear in character on our screen and their performances are edited into the vision of the director and editor - that is their job. The unpaid performers of Joe Millionaire, Survivor, Big Brother, the Real Worlds et al, on the other hand, sacrifice their own free choice to live by the formats and the cuts imposed by the corporations. This pop idolatry entails a sacrifice of freedoms that is perhaps all too "real", all too accurate a televisual reflection of the reality we live in. Fifteen minutes of fame is a constraint (temporal, behavioural) as well as an opportunity. The tedium of the Fortunoff Archive is that of unpracticed reality, and of truth which cannot conform to the conventions of entertainment. Pop stardom is well and good but, as consumers of mass media, we risk assimilating its mores into our own lives. Both the content and form of the Fortunoff Archive remind us how dangerous such assimilation might be.
Hypercapitalism as Satanism
CBS's packaging of the '9/11' documentary reveals exactly what America
fails to understand about September 11.
What draws protesters to banal holocaust art?
Cinema can help expose ourselves to the world, or it can seduce us to sit
back and relax.
What's the right perspective, close up where everything matters, or from a distance,
where it doesn't?
The Queer Guy at the Strip Club
The Gifts of the German Jews: Toward a Postmodern Judaism
My first shabbos
Stones of Jerusalem
Holocaust Video Testimonies: The Other Reality TV
Josh Tells a Bedtime Story
Zeek in Print
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The Zeek Archive