The past as the future. W.G. Sebald’s anamnetic journeys
“Let us choose the future” — was a slogan used in one of the recent political campaigns. It could not have been a coincidence. Contemporary culture — in its many dimensions and scopes — is future-oriented. The “future” is the holy term of the present. An acceleration in the development of civilisation, strengthened by promises made by science, has turned the future into a promised land for human beings of today. Yet, ironically, the protagonists of books written by Sebald — an eminent German writer and academic — have their eyes on the past. They penetrate what has been forgotten, pushed to obscurity, repressed. Sebald probes this unwanted past, placing there the sources of our present and, more importantly, our future. A robust anamnesis is a prerequisite for thinking reasonably about our future, both individually and collectively.