JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 316
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reading merely transmits a (negative) protocol for reading. This seems to
fall short of registering a "living narration" of the event that can evoke,
in this present and in subsequent generations, the relentless obligation to
meet with and respond to the past so as to instigate a logic of accountabil-
ity. If the concern is to read in order to write the limits of writing the
event-in other words, to head that which is un-presentable-what could
possibly motivate and engage us to take up such a task? In order to engage
with the work of memorialization, reparation, apology, deterence, and/or
reconciliation, in order to meet with and so feel obligated to the stories
of this past, do we not need to begin our response/engagement in our
immediate discursive reality? Doesn't our obligation to the past
require us to draw out its significance for our time? Do we not have
to start any lesson from where we are? Our obligations-it seems
reasonable to assume-can only be understood through our shared
participation in the contextual contingency of our present language
games. Surely, we cannot become obligated to respond/engage with
the past through an unmediated form. Surely, then, the past requires
a "contact point" with our present ways of saying. Is not then our
concern with the other (the past) always already bound and framed by
the present mediation, by what we can understand and communicate
through a common vocabulary? Without a medium that is intelligible and
embedded in the present, the past risks not being understood, and so may
remain alien and eventually forgotten.
Once this past becomes expressed as our concern, through our
vocabulary, however, how can we preserve its difference from being
cannibalized by the present? How can the alien be translated into our
terms so that it engages and motivates us to respond to its difference? That
is, how can we understand (overcome) difference in order to be changed/
motivated by it?
Allow me to condense the above proposal: on the one hand, we
require the past (the stories of the event) to be written (transmitted) in
such a way that its difference may be overcome, in such a way that it
evokes-following Osiel-our metonymic telling (our shared under-
standing) so that it may resonate, or make a "contact point," with our
present; on the other hand, if we are concerned with responding to the past
as a means of changing or motivating the present, we must preserve its
difference, for that difference is what bursts open (defers) any self-
enclosed present. This conundrum, which plagues historiography, has
been a concern that Gadamerian hermeneutics has attempted to address.
As a process that seeks to transmit the past into the present in order to
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/62/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .