In my paper files I came across a course description from I believe the 97-98 academic year. It was being offered at the Centre for Comparative Literature (University of Toronto) by Ross Chambers, visiting as the Northrop Frye Chair. The seminar was about “the witnessing of historically traumatic events”. Chambers proposes a hypothesis:
My hypothesis is that cultures reserve the category I call obscene (etymologically “off-stage” for events and experiences that are historically real but which cannot be represented under existing genre-dispensations which correspond, so to speak, the cultural on-stage. […] witnessing, then, is the process by which obscenity is brought to cultural attention and the unspeakable comes to be discursively acknowledged through being brought on-stage. In that sense it is an oppositional practise because the obscene is subject to cultural denial, which witnessing resists.
The parenthesis opened at the adverb “etymologically” does not get closed…
Leads me to thinking about the status of sound generated off-stage and carried from the wings and the rafters to the audience out there.
The genre shifting sometimes results in the removing of brackets, fences, barriers. And leaving an open chamber )))
And so for day 667