Gabriele Schwab & The Traumatic Crypt

http://muse.jhu.edu.prxy4.ursus.maine.edu/journals/literature_and_medicine/v025/25.1schwab.html

As I was looking through my notes and materials from Jenn and I’s class on “Violence in Literature” last semester, I stumbled upon this essay by Gabriele Schwab. Along with it I found an annotation I had done for it, I wanted to share both of these as I feel that quite a bit of this essay can be used to our advantage in regards to looking at Kind One – especially with this idea of the “crypt” in mind.

In this essay one of the main points that Schwab brings up is the idea of a crypt, ideas locked away within a victim of trauma. “Trauma kills the pulsing of desire, the embodied self. Trauma attacks and sometimes kills language” (Schwab 41). Within this crypt of the victim lies all of the memories, ideas, and even, as Schwab points out, the language of the traumatic experience which the victim creates the crypt to protect himself from. But again, as Schwab tells us, “[i]n order for trauma to heal, body and self must be reborn, and words need to be disentangled from the dead bodies they are trying to hide” (41). For Schwab, the process with which to reach a catharsis, and untangle language from those “dead bodies,” the victim must use language to tell or write a story – a mimesis, a representation, to help heal the victim. As for this crypt, Schwab explains: “’Cryptonymy’ refers to operations in language that emerge as manifestations of a psychic crypt, often in form of fragmentations, distortions, gaps, or ellipses. […] The crypt contains the secrets and silences formed in trauma” (Schwab 45). 

This idea of the crypt is interesting to me in regards to Kind One because we have been wondering about the reasons for why the text is set up the way that it is, and as a majority of the book is written as narration by Ginny, it becomes a possible answer as to why the story is plotted as it is. Another interesting piece from this essay that I feel relates to Kind One is:

If the lost object is the self, melancholia resembles an act of self-cannibalization: the encrypted self eats away at the traumatized surviving self from inside, trying to kill it off by severing its ties to the world outside. Often it is the body that becomes the site of narration, enacting in a corporeal cryptography the conflict between the encrypted lost self and the traumatized self. In telling this story, the body can speak as a cannibal from inside, devouring food or ejecting it violently. It can speak as the old self requiring to be touched like the child who is still whole, seeking a healing touch that can put the body back together. The body can abandon itself and speak the trauma of disrupted care; it can hurt itself to speak the pain; it can waste away to speak the wish to die. (Schwab 45-46)

The obvious reason for my finding this particular passage interesting is the way in which Ginny, as Scary Sue, scratches at her ankle throughout the book as a way of punishing herself for past sins. This essay, again, sheds some light onto some possible answers for the questions that we have brought up while reading this book.

I intend on looking over Schwab’s essay and Toreman’s essay more thoroughly this weekend and hopefully providing some extensive insight into the trauma seen throughout Hunt’s book in the coming days.

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