Monday, 21 June 2010

online texts

Here are links to online editions of relevant texts - I'll keep up-dating it.


Links to many editions and one that I've looked at.

Clement's Stromata

These appear in volume 2 and volume 3 of an edition of Clement's collected works by Reinhold Koltz.

There are plenty of English translations online, including this one. (You need to scroll down a bit to get to it.)

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Well, it's been a while since I've posted. That's partly because I've been trying to get out from under the stack of papers that needed grading, and it's partly because I've been meaning to say something about my visit to the former KZ camp at Sachsenhausen north of Berlin, and it's a difficult thing to get 'right'. Anyway, I think it's time to try...

Right from the start, I want to make it clear that, although it was our discussion of ghost towns that made me think of this, I'm definitely not conflating the concentration camps with any of the places we have been talking about, whether Rodney, Kayaköy, or elsewhere. The KZ camps are the physical relics of a very particular history and I don't in any way want to dilute that specificity.

What made me think of Sachsenhausen is only this - it is a place to which many people now go in the expectation that it will somehow put them in touch with a history that needs remembering. But my own experience of going to both Sachsenhausen and Dachau is one of running into the *gap* between the present and the past. Walking around the spaces that those camps once occupied, I found myself wondering how I 'should' be feeling, what this experience 'ought to' be communicating to me, what constitutes the 'right' way to react in a place of this kind. And, at the same time, I found myself suspicious of the emotions that did creep up on me there on the grounds that they might be 'too easy', self-indulgent rather than compassionate, not commensurate with the gravity of what had actually happened in that place. In other words, rather than experiencing some kind of powerful connection with history, the experience for me was of a kind of deep-seated uncertainty about my own emotional responses, about the possibility of every really understanding the past, and about the potential vanity of my attempt at 'remembering'.

I don't know if this is a common experience or not. I'm writing about it because it is relevant to those questions we've raised about whether a history is inscribed in a place and, if so, how. I'm not sceptical about that possibility - in fact, I'm sure there is something to it - but my own experience of going to places that are saturated with history is that I don't tune in on a kind of pure emotional wavelength but actually spend most of the time feeling conflicted, inadequate, and uncertain how to feel, think, or behave.

I'm not sure how to finish this post. I think it's right to go to these places - I'm not sceptical about making that journey at all. But I'm always puzzled when people talk about how moving they found it because, to me, the experience, while very powerful at one level, isn't what I would normally describe as 'moving'. That's a term I use for watching dance or listening to a speech at someone's leaving party. Walking round Sachsenhausen is powerfully disorienting - almost a kind of reproach - rather than 'moving' in the way I usually use that word.

Hope this makes sense. Will post more if I can work it out in my mind...