smoke fog 4: trauma

Posted on December 6, 2017 in Uncategorized


“…The impact of the traumatic event lies precisely in its belatedness, in its refusal to be simply located, in its insistent appearance outside the boundaries of any single place or time.” Cathy Caruth, “Trauma and Experience: Introduction” in Trauma: Explorations in Memory, p.9
If the leading characteristic of fog and fog-like events is a ‘dispersed systematicity’ or a ‘granulated amorphous effectivity’ or an ‘environmentally sedimented atmospheric zone’ or a ‘zone of atmospheric instability between two adjacent zones’ or an ‘area of confusion’ or visual noise or a term for obscured vision (and like enfleurage there is gentle but nevertheless definite gradient in the range from dispersed/multiple to obscured vision, theory-wise), there is also a tinge of the trauma of the enfilade in the cultural reception of ‘fog’ (various para-logics perhaps, even the biological itself in its current, perhaps temporary, opaqueness) and in its use as an antithesis of logic, of, on the one hand, the confusion it brings about, and on the other hand, the threat of the appearance of some monstrous other, usually connected with the reappearance of the dead.

Trauma comes from the Greek word meaning wound, which in turn derives from the word for ‘to pierce,’ or perforate. On a physical level it is the idea of a violent shock or wound and the idea that there are thereby consequences affecting the whole organization.

Organisms are protected by thin shells, both physically and psychically; should these be breached by a traumatic event, the resources of the organism are marshalled to control the damage. In some cases, the traumatic event is so overwhelming that the organism cannot cope immediately but encapsulates it further, in a ‘holding tank’. This may serve to temporarily protect the whole organism (psychically) by delaying and postponing reaction. This encrypted energy however can also work to re-orient the organism in ways not readily perceptible. The very resources of the organism itself work to obscure the origin of the trauma, the source of the problem. Just as in a sort of conceptual fog, there is condensation between the first scene (or wounding) and the second scene (or discovery), often obscuring vision either way. History itself seems to partake of this foggy view. (“For history to be a history of trauma means that it is referential precisely to the extent that it is not fully perceived as it occurs; or to put it somewhat differently, that a history can be grasped only in the very inaccessiblity of its occurrence.” Cathy Caruth, ibid, p. 8)

If referenciality disappears, anxiety severs all speech, leaving a bodily dimension, a gestural system, system of objects — rather, the uncanniness of a system of objects freed from a system of subjects: “Anxiety makes the subject no longer know who it is. It takes part in its own ‘wild’ deconstruction, if one can put it this way. This ‘one’ is no longer a subject but an indeterminate presence which feels invaded by a feeling of uncanniness.” (M. Haar, Song of the Earth, p.45)

The appearance of the uncanny is the system past its limits, boundaries, membranes, where parts of itself have broken off, creating a doubling effect through sheer out-of-control iteration, attempting to fill all space and disconnect time (thereby making all of time available). Unlike the sublime, which is well within the limits (sub-limned) and attempts to see through the space to the end, all the while calculating the time of arrival (which is always placed at an infinite remove), the uncanny situates itself immanently through the very placement of objects in space: saturation then condensation; objecthood itself becomes the site of the unanny. The sublime is teleological, apocalyptic, millennialistic, binary, a product of unclosable distance, 20/20 vision, product of production itself, producing its own scopic orbitals (for the sublime, what goes around, comes around: a lame dialectic, hobbling in circles, waiting for a crutch [prosthesis], with no antidote/thesis in sight). The uncanny, product of and conducive to, terror and anxiety, is assembled through delay and trauma, relayed through prostheses, doubling., emergence of monstrous Other.