- Manal Abu-Shaheen
- Vahap Avşar
- Jesus Benavente and Felipe Castelblanco
- Brian Caverly
- Kerry Downey
- Magali Duzant
- Golnaz Esmaili
- Mohammed Fayaz
- Kate Gilmore
- Jonah Groeneboer
- Bang Geul Han and Minna Pöllänen
- Dave Hardy
- Sylvia Hardy
- Shadi Harouni
- Janks Archive
- Robin Kang
- Kristin Lucas
- Carl Marin
- Eileen Maxson
- Melanie McLain
- Shane Mecklenburger
- Lawrence Mesich
- Freya Powell
- Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin
- Alan Ruiz
- Samita Sinha and Brian Chase
- Barb Smith
- Monika Sziladi
- Alina Tenser
- Trans-Pecos with 8 Ball Community, E.S.P. TV, and Chillin Island
- Mark Tribe
- Sam Vernon
- Max Warsh
- Jennifer Williams
- An Itinerary with Notes
- Exhibition Views
- A Distant Memory Being Recalled (Queens Teens Respond)
- Overhead: A Response to Kerry Downey’s Fishing with Angela
- Sweat, Leaks, Holes: Crossing the Threshold
- PULSE: On Jonah Groeneboer’s The Potential in Waves Colliding
- Interview: Melanie McLain and Alina Tenser
- Personal Space
- Data, the Social Being, and the Social Network
- Responses from Mechanical Turk
- MAPS, DNA, AND SPAM
- Queens Internacional 2016
- Uneven Development: On Beirut and Plein Air
- A Crisis of Context
- Return to Sender
- Interview: Vahap Avşar and Shadi Harouni
- Mining Through History: The Contemporary Practices of Vahap Avşar and Shadi Harouni
- A Conversation with Shadi Harouni's The Lightest of Stones
- Directions to a Gravel Quarry
- Walk This Way
- Interview: Brian Caverly and Barb Smith
- "I drew the one that has the teeth marks..."
- BEAT IT! (Queens Teens respond)
- Lawn Furniture
- In Between Difference, Repetition, and Original Use
- Interview: Dave Hardy and Max Warsh
- Again—and again: on the recent work of Alan Ruiz
- City of Tomorrow
- Noticing This Space
- NO PLACE FOR A MAP
- The History of the World Was with Me That Night
- What You Don't See (Queens Teens Respond)
- Interview: Allison Davis and Sam Vernon
- When You’re Smiling…The Many Faces Behind the Mask
- Interview: Jesus Benavente and Carl Marin
- The Eternal Insult
- Janking Off
- Queens Theatricality
“First to forget. To remember only where one remembers nothing. To forget: to remember everything as though by way of forgetting. There is a profoundly forgotten point from which every memory radiates. Everything is exalted in memory from something which is forgotten, infinitesimal detail, a miniscule fissure into which it passes in its entirety.”
—Maurice Blanchot, The Last Man
We remember alone, we forget together.
We remember triumph, we forget self-betrayal.
We remember boundlessness, we forget uselessness.
We remember sound and vision, we forget shame.
We remember temperature, we forget boredom.
We remember what we own, we forget rape.
We remember return, we forget what others have failed to do.
We remember intimately, we forget what we don’t understand.
We remember slow waking, we forget endless nights.
We remember hotel beds, we forget taken space.
We remember anticipation, we forget regrets.
There was an imperative order in the city of Athens that one forgets. Athenians swear an oath to the city not to remember the misfortunes. An altar to Lethe, oblivion, is erected deep in the Erechtheion on the Acropolis, enjoining us together under the banner of repression. The statue of Mnemosyne has three faces: memory, forgetting, and repression. We are what we cannot remember so that the rest, this and that memory, forgetting this or that thing, folds itself around this central void. We do not choose repression; it chooses us, like the near-gravitational pull upon our dreams when we awake. There are only seconds in which to capture the smallest of fragments. One is enough.
Perhaps the greatest negative figure of oblivion is Elektra, the child who cannot mourn, who curses her mother for her actions. Elektra refuses to forget, such is her cry for revenge, her failed mourning. The affirmative oblivion of the utilitarian law of Athens meets here with Elektra’s non-oblivion—her refusal to forget that consumes her alone. This process is essentially temporal. We move from negation—I will not recall—to Elektra’s constant language of double negation—never to be veiled, never to be undone, never to be forgotten. Forgetting is linked to amnesty and forgiveness through a question of memory. But where does this law of amnesty and amnesia begin and end? And who would dare obliterate for good a unique memory? Who would dare transgress the limit formed by repression?
Dream—I am looking at a man who has died. The room is full of mourners. I ask an older gentleman a question about him and he says to me, “We will not say anything else. When someone dies, we close them and cast them into the river of peace.” I looked to see if they were going to close his eyes, which I realized was a rather childish interpretation of what was said, a silly literalizing—they meant it another way—but nonetheless, there is a logic in children’s misapprehensions. It felt as if what was said would have to be something that takes place on the body. Perhaps there is an identification with Freud’s dream of his father’s death with the ambiguous and ambivalent command—you are asked to close the eyes, which may also be an eye. Closure, mourning, must have a material component, the link between looking for it, and ceasing to look, closing the eyes, forgetting, was some part of a truth about the fact that closing takes place in the body, much as opening does—this strangely felt rhythm of the unconscious, the openings and closings of the rim of repression.
I have also been called, by the likes of fathers, a disturber of the peace. If this indictment has made me angry in the past—something I’ve turned around on the other as a statement, not about myself, but as something concerning their own desire to be free of desire, which will never leave anyone in peace—in this dream I take it in. Revenge quiets. Peace is not simply the escape from desire, but something about what it means to close one’s eyes, to bring something to an end.
I woke up from the dream thinking about the hell of revision, revisionist history, memory, false memory, the endlessness of interpretation, the obsessive attempt to go over one’s life or another’s, master trauma, this problem in psychoanalysis, which, when it is not a problem, is more like something that erupts in the body and brings thinking to a close. Let the dead be dead. We will not speak any more about it. Reprieve.
This piece was written in response to Freya Powell's audio installation, Omniscience and Oblivion (2015)
Jamieson Webster is a psychoanalyst in New York. She has written for Apology, Cabinet, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Playboy, The New York Times, as well as, for many psychoanalytic publications. The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis is published with Karnac (2011). Stay, Illusion!— written with Simon Critchley— is published with Pantheon Books (2013). She is currently working on The Cambridge Introduction to Jacques Lacan, and a new book, Conversion Disorder.