Deleuze and Memorial Culture: Desire, Singular Memory and the Politics of Trauma

Deleuze and Memorial Culture: Desire, Singular Memory and the Politics of Trauma

Deleuze and Memorial Culture: Desire, Singular Memory and the Politics of Trauma

Deleuze and Memorial Culture: Desire, Singular Memory and the Politics of Trauma

Synopsis

Deleuze and Memorial Culture is a detailed study of contemporary forms of public remembrance. Adrian Parr considers the different character traumatic memory takes throughout the sphere of cultural production and argues that contemporary memorial culture has the power to put traumatic memory to work in a positive way. Drawing on the conceptual apparatus of Gilles Deleuze, she outlines the relevance of his thought to cultural studies and the wider phenomenon of traumatic theory and public remembrance. This approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on media criticism, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, urbanism, continental philosophy and political economy.

Excerpt

How we remember also affirms how we live our lives today and tomorrow: defensively or joyfully. Memory is dynamic and its movement is largely ungraspable. It can open new linguistic, economic, historical, and energetic combinations that either normalize or reinvent how the social field organizes itself. Yet the movement of memory cannot be clearly situated within space and time. Memory, unlike remembrance itself, is not in space and time, although it can be said to produce space-times. Memory does not happen to a body, it subsists throughout it. A body doesn’t remember a defined slice of time, for memory is in excess of the chronological compartmentalizing of discrete temporal units. So, where do we start when we begin to think about memorial culture? How do we collectively grapple with trauma as it gnaws its way through the social field? Perhaps with a mixture of aggression, tears, outrage, overwhelming sorrow, and silence. How does culture answer to the memories that linger on in the wake of a trauma collectively experienced and the feeling that a community has been pushed to what seems like the end of the world? Questions such as these underpin a now commonly quoted statement Theodor W. Adorno made in 1949 that after the holocaust to write poetry is simply barbaric. This challenge has been met by the blossoming industry of memorialization – holocaust museums and memorials, holocaust remembrance day and so on. Actually, the building of memorials has become an entirely independent genre in contemporary art and architecture. So, what might Adorno think of this? Perhaps we need to respond to him through an exercise of our imagination by considering the quality and affect of the time through which he spoke.

The essence of history framed by a teleological principle of progress that Karl Marx predicted would culminate in the end of History once the class society was overthrown was quickly suspended post World War Two. For if history has a goal or meaning then it can also be measured in terms of consequences, yet the consequence of the . . .

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