Part of what was politicised in New German Cinema of the 1960s and
< 1970s was the historical amnesia which had prevented postwar Germany 2 from acknowledging and mourning the nation's role in perpetrating the u Holocaust. In this chapter we approach Japanese Story and Dreaming in
< Motion as two recent projects which bring grief-work into the public sphere ^ of Australian cinema as a way of overcoming historical amnesia.6 Grief-work £ in filmmaking extends the debate about the post-Mabo state of Australian
< nationhood by exploiting cinema's capacity for affective experience. It is this capacity for affect (defined as feeling or emotion, often leading to action) that makes grief-work a possibility in a cinema of erfahrung.
In order to understand the connection between history and affect in Japanese Story and Dreaming in Motion, we want to establish how a cinema of erfahrung asks the spectator to bear witness to the traumatic presence of the past by approaching film itself as a kind of grief-work. In her research into grief-work as a contemporary cultural phenomenon, Kathleen Woodward takes up Freud's well-known distinction between mourning and melancholia. Citing Barthes' Camera Lucida as an example of literary grief-work, Woodward distinguishes grief-work from both mourning and melancholia. She does this in order to defend a non-pathological (and politically useful) will to sustain mourning by lingering over images of the dead, 'a response to loss that situates itself between mourning and melancholia'.7 Woodward rejects Freud's insistence that mourning must either come to a healthy end or become pathologically melancholic: rather than 'sever the bonds of love' (the healthy outcome of mourning) or maintain the 'open wound' (the melancholic option), grief-work enables us to respond to loss in creative ways that sustain memory rather than deny the pain of loss.8
Woodward defines grief-work as a constellation of cultural texts which 'sanction a discourse of grief' by shifting the emphasis of mourning from 'a gradual giving up of those lost' to 'remembering them in a sustainable grief'.9 If the issue of historical amnesia has defined modernity since the Holocaust, then Japanese Story might be considered an international film which explores sustainable grief as an aspect of surviving the aftershock of Mabo. In this sense the numbness or amnesia of aftershock can only be overcome through the ongoing process of afterwardness, or deferred revision of the past, discussed in Chapter 5. In this respect the grief-work undertaken in Japanese Story is a departure from the long-standing trope of male melancholia as the key characteristic of the Australian outback film.
In her second essay on the cultural uses of grief, Woodward turns from U Freud and Barthes to Klein and Kristeva: 'In Studies on Hysteria Freud artic- a ulated a theory of affect which resonates with the dominant tradition in z Western culture of the emotions as negative: the emotions are associated g with woman - and with death - and they are something to be gotten rid of.'10 r Here, Woodward draws on Klein's theory of mourning as a process of self- f integration which depends on fully experiencing the 'emphatic emotions -including hatred, guilt, distrust, elation, revenge, anxiety, despair, triumph, jealousy, sorrow, and fear'.11 Rather than get rid of the emotions, Kleinian analysis 'affirms the value of a rich if volatile emotional life' achieved through mourning.12 In contrast with Freud's hysteric, Woodward sees the prototypical analysand (post-Holocaust) as the numbed woman: for Klein (and Kristeva)13 it is the absence of grief, the 'lack of affect' which is pathological (and historical).14 In Woodward's view, grief-work responds to Kristeva's contention that, since the Holocaust, 'to live in our grief . . . is our emotional testament to and heritage of our time'.15 Japanese Story is centrally concerned with the 'numbed' figure of the modern career woman whose journey charts a Kleinian passage of the emotions whereby 'triumph yields to guilt, and guilt to love, which accompanies the desire for reparation'.16
Although there is considerable distance between Japanese Story and Dreaming in Motion, each of these projects is committed to remembering the past in sustainable grief. Dreaming in Motion testifies not only to communal suffering but also to the desire of Indigenous Australians to be seen and heard in national cinema on their own terms. This entails overcoming what has been censored in the melancholic cinema of settler Australia, a cinema noted for the longevity of its white, fraternal gaze. If the issue of unacknowledged loss and suffering defines Indigenous experience in the aftershock of colonialism, then the five short films which comprise Dreaming in Motion bear witness to a post-colonial politics of overcoming shamed subjectivity, discussed in Chapter 9. The films made under the banner of Dreaming in Motion might be considered forms of traumatic cinema in that they ask the spectator to acknowledge the shame and injury inflicted on Aboriginal subjectivity in the aftershock of 200 years of colonisation. As post-colonial grief-works, these five short films demand that the spectator be prepared to extend a type of tolerance called amae (the word was coined by Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi).17 This involves, in Chris Berry's words, 'a kind of attention to the needs of those perceived as having suffered, as having an unresolved grievance that demands indulgence'.18 Berry makes the point that, although making space for amae is frowned upon as narcissistic regression in Freudian psychoanalysis, in Japan 'amae is seen as a positive quality'.19 Australian films are not noted for their capacity to indulge g the emotions associated with historical grievance, traumatic experience and js loss. Japanese Story and Dreaming in Motion ask the viewer to participate in
" a new kind of spectatorship based on the social acknowledgment of cinema as a space where the experience of suffering can be indulged, performed and
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