JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 340
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extremists who were completely irrational." Viewing the "dirty war" as
a period of "barbarism and chaos" that was the result of a "minority" of
people, fueled the need to redeem the "true" identity of the nation.
What are the discursive effects of invoking the trial within the
continuum of the nation's "founding norms"? I want to submit that by
linking the founding norms of the nation with the trial/law provides the
national imaginary with a means of bracketing its authoritarian ethos as
a"regretful and aberrant period" that can now be overcome by (affectively)
remembering its "true"/ "original" values in the law. The reverence for
the law, as the "founding" terrain of the nation, thus shelters the national
imaginary from the recognition that an authoritarian legacy has often
accompanied the popular desires and claims of Argentine identity:' The
violent past is now not only presented as an abhorrent event, but is also
displayed as an ephemeral episode-one that is aberrant to the Argentine
community. This reverence assuages the necessary introspection and
possible disruption of identity that would come from admitting that these
authoritarian "ideals had been loved by us, although they were also hated,
and that they are still parts of ourselves." The psychoanalyst Gottfried
Appy continues, "To declare them [these authoritarian ideals] only as
being 'out there' [or as an aberrant past episode] denies our identification
with them. ... Only after this sort of recognition of an inner conflict can
a renewed separation from them take place" (qtd. in Wangh 296). Appy's
concern, although referring itself to post-war Germany, is also relevant
to Argentina, since it points to what Mitscherlich-Nielsen describes as "a
particular kind of memory work [that] is needed [in order] to develop the
ability to mourn ... not only for the loss of persons, but also for [national]
ideals and narcissistic self-love"; this would be "less a matter of recalling
facts and events," than of remembering and reconsidering the national
community through its "ways of behaving, value judgments, feelings, and
The belief that the military's dirty war was an aberrant episode that
was mostly propagated by "a few extremists," however, tacitly sanc-
tioned the need to reclaim the "true" identity of the nation. To this end,
the law becomes the unquestionable principle or unimpeachable terrain
upon which Argentina could establish its desired sense/image of itself. As
the Public Prosecutor, Julio Cesar Strassera, claimed, "This trial could
enable the Argentine people to recover their self-esteem and their trust in
the values on the basis of which they had constituted themselves as a
nation" (Amnesty 43). Thus, at the core of the nation is the "original
position" of law, a unifying and essential ground where "we" dwell in a
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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/m1/86/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .