Thursday, February 17, 2011

THE MESSENGER, by Yannick Haenel, interviewed by Mark Baker.


Last night I attended an Interview with Yannick Haenel, author of THE MESSENGER, Text Publishing, 2011 at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, Australia. This first edition in the world to be published in English was translated from the original French (2009) by Ian Monk. The Interview was conducted by Mark Baker, Director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation and Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Monash University. I found this a staggeringly moving interview for a staggeringly moving book. The book is available from Readings and all good bookstores, as they say.

“Who bears witness for the witness?” This quote from the French Poet Paul Celan, opens this extraordinary, important and fundamentally moving book. The answer of course is: the writers, the poets, the composers, the musicians, the sculptors the visual artists and anyone who speaks where one or more are gathered, and who speaks the truth, not just of themselves, but of those who are gone and who are unable, except through such a process, to speak for themselves.

I have spoke elsewhere*, of the therapeutic importance of bearing witness for those who have been traumatised by violence, abuse or rape. As have other therapists, such as Paul Gibney* (Australia) and Alice Miller* (America). This book, is such an act of witnessing. Its publication will be controversial. It is faction; a combination of the reporting of the facts of the life of the man charged by the Polish Jewish people in exile with carrying the horrifying testament of what was happening to the Jews of Europe to world leaders of the time, such as Roosevelt, and others, any, who might listen; and fictional recreation of conversations we can not have heard and a reporting of the film of the man who was the messenger long after the war had ended and the asking of the question why his message was not apparently heard, or if heard, not acted upon

* Walker, L. (1997, 1998, 1999, 2003), Melanie Klein’s Concept of Reparation and Its Use in the Counselling of Clients who have Suffered Significant Abuse in their Past, Paper delivered at the Australian National Family Therapy Conference, 24th - 26th September 1997, Adelaide, South Australia. The author was invited to present this paper again as a Professional Development Paper for The Victorian Association of Family Therapists and it was delivered on June 23rd 1998 at the Monash Community Health Centre.

The author has since presented an updated and augmented version of the paper to the first Psychotherapy In Australia Conference held at Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne on Friday 2nd July 1999.

* Gibney, P. (1993), The Relative Truth and/or the Truth about Relatives: Freud, Masson and the Constructivist/Narrative Model of Therapy. Unpublished paper delivered at the Australian and New Zealand Family Therapy Conference, Canberra, Wednesday, 7th July.

* Miller, A. (1991), Banished Knowledge : Facing Childhood Injuries. London, Virago Press.

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