Convolute A: Memory, art, holocaust

Still from Guy Debord's film Critique of Separation, 1960

Still from Guy Debord’s film Critique of Separation, 1960

I could hear them howling from afar
I saw them rushing to your car
In a moment all went screaming wild
Until the darkness killed the light

I remember running to the sea
The burning houses and the trees
I remember running to the sea
Alone and blinded by the fear
Röyksopp – Running To The Sea feat. Susanne Sundfør

“No wonder, then, that the Nobel committee should have compared this writer of corrupted autobiographies to Proust, but the reader who expects Proust’s polymorphous sentences will be disappointed. Modiano’s prose is a bleached surface, and Polizzotti has produced a satisfyingly neutral equivalent: «That Sunday evening in November I was on Rue de l’Abbé-de-l’Epée. I was skirting the high wall around the Institut des Sourds-Muets …» For Modiano is really the anti-Proust – in his writing, time is lost for ever. True, these novels are dense with Parisian place names, and the minor characters often turn out to encode a network of occupation history: the modern neon city is identical to its ghostly sepia twin. But the past in Modiano’s novels is also irrevocable: «It’s like in the morning when you try to recall your dream from the night before, but all that’s left are scraps that dissolve before you can put them together.»”
Adam Thirlwell, “Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano – three novellas from the Nobel laureate”

“It is necessary to destroy memory in art. To undermine the conventions of its communication. To demoralize its fans. What a task! As in a blurry drunken vision, the memory and language of the film fade out simultaneously. At the extreme, miserable subjectivity is reversed into a certain sort of objectivity: a documentation of the conditions of noncommunication.”
Guy Debord, Critique of Separation (film soundtrack) translated by Ken Knabb

“With a single stride he was out of the café, not turning around, and I felt an emptiness all of a sudden. This man had meant a lot to me. Without him, without his help, I wonder what would have become of me, ten years back, when I was struck by amnesia and was groping about in a fog. He had been moved by my case and, through his many contacts, had even managed to procure me a legal identity record.”
Patrick Modiano, “Missing Person” (“Rue des Boutiques Obscures”)

“Indeed, Derrida’s writings deploy the word «holocaust» in a variety of contexts, at times recalled to its original, Greek sources as if current usage could (or should) be ignored, at other times stunningly decontextualized. («I am still dreaming of a second holocaust that would not come too late,» he wrote; or again: «Of the holocaust there would remain only the most anonymous support without support, that which in any event never will have belonged to us, does not regard us. This would be like a purification of purification by fire. Not a single trace, an absolute camouflaging by means of too much evidence.») In Derrida’s work, «holocaust» is subjected to iterations that could almost be said to aim at or, more precisely, to tend toward banalization — unless it is the precise opposite.”
Gil Anidjar, Everything Burns: Derrida’s Holocaust (


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s