Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Déjà Vu

Aberrations of Cultural Memory

2004
Author:

Peter Krapp

Déjà Vu

The pitfalls of cultural memory and forgetting, understood through the genealogy of the phenomenon called déjà vu

This provocative book examines the history of déjà vu, offers a counterpoint to clichéd celebrations of cultural memory and forces us do a double take on the warnings against forgetting common in our time. Reaching from the early texts of Sigmund Freud to the plays of Heiner Müller, this exploration of the effects of déjà vu pivots around the work of Walter Benjamin.

An original and learned study that brings together a broad range of themes and authors under this seemingly unremarkable experience.

Gregory Ulmer, University of Florida

Referring to a past that never was, déjà vu shares a structure not only with fiction, but also with the ever more sophisticated effects of media technology. Tracing the term from the end of the nineteenth century, when it was first popularized in the pages of the Revue philosophique, Peter Krapp examines the genealogy and history of the singular and unrepeatable experience of déjà vu. This provocative book offers a refreshing counterpoint to the clichéd celebrations of cultural memory and forces us do a double take on the sanctimonious warnings against forgetting so common in our time.

Disturbances of cultural memory—screen memories, false recognitions, premonitions—disrupt the comfort zone of memorial culture: strictly speaking, déjà vu is neither a failure of memory nor a form of forgetting. Krapp’s analysis of such disturbances in literature, art, and mass media introduces, historicizes, and theorizes what it means to speak of an economy of attention or distraction. Reaching from the early psychoanalytic texts of Sigmund Freud to the plays of Heiner Müller, this exploration of the effects of déjà vu pivots around the work of Walter Benjamin and includes readings of kitsch and aura in Andy Warhol’s work, of cinematic violence and certain exaggerated claims about shooting and cutting, of the memorial character of architecture, and of the high expectations raised by the Internet.

Déjà Vu

Peter Krapp, assistant professor of new media at University of California at Irvine, coedited “Medium Cool,” a special issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly on contemporary media theory. He has published in the fields of German studies, media studies, and literary theory and, since 1995, has acted as editor of the Hydra web site for theories of literature and media.

Déjà Vu

Ultimately, this is perhaps the strongest and most vital statement of the cultural theory of déjà vu. With breathtaking acuity, Krapp shows how the twists and turns of memory manifest themselves in Freud and Benjamin, Heiner Müller and Andy Warhol, Clint Eastwood’s The Unforgiven, Derrida and the hypertext.

Colloquy

Bold and highly provocative. Compelling and refreshing.

Afterimage

An original and learned study that brings together a broad range of themes and authors under this seemingly unremarkable experience.

Gregory Ulmer, University of Florida

Déjà Vu displays a rare conceptual strength and the ability to read both canonical and more obscure documents in an original and forceful fashion.

Jean-Michel Rabate, University of Pennsylvania

Déjà Vu

Contents

Acknowledgments

Been There, Done That

1. Secret Agents: Sigmund Freud in Reserve
2. Future Interior: Walter Benjamin’s Envelope
3. Posthistoire in Ruins: Heiner Müller’s Hydrapoetics
4. Andy’s Wedding: Reading Warhol
5. Unforgiven: Toward an Ethics of Forgetting
6. Screen Memories: Hypertext
7. Wrapping ItUp: MummyEffects

Notes

Index