Memory, Anachronism, and Articulation

By Knuuttila, Seppo | Trames, September 2008 | Go to article overview

Memory, Anachronism, and Articulation


Knuuttila, Seppo, Trames


1. Introduction

The first issue I am concerned with in this paper is how the articulation of memory and imagination makes it possible to move in time. Initially, I describe some rules and paradoxes of time-travel as they have been depicted in folklore and science fiction. In this context anachronisms are like vehicles and channels to timelessness or a place outside time, to a mythic history, mythscape. In folklore studies myths are usually understood as both imagined and remembered texts, as Barbara A. Misztal writes: "Memory is crucial to our ability to sustain a continuity of experience, while our imaginative thinking is based on our ability to make the world intelligible and meaningful" (2003:119).

The second issue concerns the prohibitions and regulations of anachronisms related to historiological methodology, in the old and new historicism. In the world of research simple anachronisms are of course errors and mistakes, but on the other hand, what in one context is a mistake, can in another be the correct interpretation if not a simple truth. It is said that logically taken the articulation of the old historicism and the rules against anachronisms are a kind of science fiction or time travelling as such. The anachronism debate has sometimes been a touchstone of interdisciplinarity as well.

The third aspect of this presentation concerns the use of anachronism. Because time-travel is so popular a theme in folklore, literature and popular culture, it demands a more complicated interpretation than the faults hypothesis. It would be productive to see anachronism and its family resemblance terms as a trope or on the specific level, as a temporal speech figure, in which case it would be parallel to such major tropes as metaphor, metonym and irony and also to other, more vague figures of speech.

2. The folkloristic perspective

My academic background is in folkloristics, and has been for over thirty years, so that I would like to make some folkloristic distinctions concerning the concept of memory. Folklorists normally use the term memory in connection with some other term. Briefly, for us, memory is always articulated through a text, even in the contextual and performance-centred approaches. For folklorists the text has been the most important research subject and object, full of meanings even without context. This is quite far from the anthropological statement written by Gregory Bateson (1980:24): "Without context, words and actions have no meaning at all." This broad interpretation of a text with complicated articulations stems--partly, at least--from the cultural semiotic school, which has its roots in Tartu.

From the Estonian perspective, Tiiu Jaago, Ene Koresaar and Aigi Rahi-Tamm have written, that "oral history in Estonian folkloristics is primarily characterised by the question of how folklore texts describe the mutual relations of the continuity and the changing of Estonian society and culture" (Jaago et al., 2006:6). They believe that one of the central research problems is why and how people from the same region, or more generally, the people of Estonia, see and describe the same events in a different way. Bernhard Giesen, a sociologist, claims that "differences between collective memories are as normal as differences between individual memories are" (Giesen 2004:32). For him the central problem is rather: "Under which conditions does this division become a problem and--above all why do different individuals merge their memories to form a collective memory of a generation?" So, the questions differ from time to time and from discipline to discipline.

By definition folklore is traditional, a shared verbal representation, which reflects and recreates worldviews and mentalities. For the earlier generations of folklorists, memory, or shall we say remembrance, was not the central problem, because according to their opinions and interpretations the folklore process followed the so-called laws of cultural models (evolution/devolution, etc. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Memory, Anachronism, and Articulation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.