The event takes place in the library of the Morphomata International Center for Advanced Studies (Weyertal 59, backbuilding, 3rd floor). The Encounter will be in German.
Surviving Totalitarianism: Rudolf Leonhard’s Expressionist Dream Archive
Accounts of dreams represent a distinctive form of life writing, one that speaks to both biography and history. However, unlike in the act of transference in psychoanalysis, when reading written records of dreams, we must confront the separation of dream from dreamer and from life. Already in the books of dreams in the ancient world the names of the dreaming subject are left out, which turns the transmitted dream-account into a cultural artefact. Dreams are part of a kaleidoscope of biographies and contemporary histories.
But how is the creative potential of dreams and literature realised in extreme circumstances? In the early twentieth century dream books became common, and the new genre of survival writing was created. In circumstances of terror and persecution the private sphere of interpretation can no longer be understood without reference to political realities. The now forgotten writer Rudolf Leonhard was a private dream-researcher in internment camps in the South of France, where he was in continuous danger of being deported as a communist and a Jew. Leonhard compiled an impressive collection of intimate dream-testimonies and commented, in a similar way to Walter Benjamin, on their historical significance in a theory of memory and history that he developed specifically for this purpose. This dream archive provides an example of how recording and commenting upon them reciprocally determine their meaning.
Under the title “Surviving Totalitarianism,” Andrea Allerkamp (Professor of Western-European Literatures at the European University of Viadrina Frankfurt/Oder) and Steffen Mensching (Artistic Director of Rudolstadt Theatre) will discuss the expressionist dream archive. In the context of Encounter. Theory and Practice in Dialogue, organised by the Morphomata International Center for Advanced Studies of the University of Cologne, this discussion will take place on December 16, 2019, at 6 p.m. in the library of the Morphomata International Center for Advanced Studies. Encounter is part of Morphomata’s research themes on biography and the portrait as figurations of the particular.
On December 16th the following questions will be discussed:
What images and metaphors arise when writing in a disaster? What kind of historical document does the common practice of recording a dream “the same night” produce? What would a memory theory between politics (resistance), history (fascism), aesthetics (poetry, critique of language) and anthropology (death, eros) look like?
After a short outline of the cultural history of dream criticism, Steffen Mensching will present his edition of Leonhard’s dream records, published in 2001 by the German publishing house Aufbau-Verlag, and will situate them in their contemporary context of psychoanalysis and politics. Andrea Allerkamp will comment upon Leonhard’s dream theory and investigate its borrowings and affinities with the philosophy of history. The reciprocity of dream practice and dream theory will be the central topic of the dialogue and the discussion with the audience. The event is open to the public and guests are very welcome to attend.