Trespassing Journal

Trespassing Memory

Alison L. Heney

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It is my pleasure to serve as guest editor for this, the third issue of Trespassing Journal. In keeping with the founding editors’ commitment to publish original and innovative research, this issue is comprised of seven articles that address the topic of memory and take a critical look at its evolving role in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Transnational and transdisciplinary in scope, this issue investigates lines of inquiry concerning the relationship between fiction and memoir, memory’s relationship to public monument, and the interrelations between mass media and collective memory. How, for example, does memory shape our identity and place in culture? In what way is history forged through the dynamics of remembering and forgetting? Do certain forms of social media and digital technology threaten our capacity to remember the past critically? Or do they open up new spaces for the thoughtful evaluation and resolution of what were once conflicting representations of the past? As these seven authors make clear, memory, in addition to being a fluid and complex concept, is a ubiquitous force that binds the very fabric of our imagination. As Virginia Woolf explains in her short novel Orlando, “Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that;”

Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and  bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind (44-45).

In the first half of this issue, we explore some of the ways that new public forums such as social media, recent monuments, and museums have fundamentally changed how we remember and the ways we mourn. As Erin Bell points out in her article “Ghosts in the Machine,” new media, such as the social networking site Facebook, play a critical role in what she aptly identifies as the western world’s “reconfiguration” of the concept of mortality; an important point to consider given the degree to which the internet pervades our daily lives. Likewise, as Ari Gandsman and Amy Freier discuss in their respective articles, the concept of memory has also changed with regard to the ways it is represented in public monuments. No longer conceived as a simple storehouse for history, museums are now charged with the task of helping visitors to rethink the inherent pluralisms of time, those informed by the social and cultural realities of the remembering subject. As Gandsman suggests in his discussion of La Escuela de Suboficiales de Mecánica de la Armada in Argentina, how we archive the past is intimately entangled with issues of justice and human rights. And yet, as Freier argues, the museum can also serve as a contact point for empathetic awareness and the creation of new memories by visitors willing to work against historical knowledge and preconceived biases in order to fully experience the power of something like Roee Rosen’s controversial exhibit, Live and Die as Eva Braun.

In the second half of our issue, we turn from a discussion of the public’s trespass against individual memory, to explore the individual’s trespass against public memory. In Alexandre Gontchar’s article on serial murder, we are challenged to think about the ways in which the reenactment of traumatic experience by troubled individuals serves to shape their identity in a world that, for many, has lost meaning. Furthering this discussion, albeit in very different ways, are two articles that use the concept of memory as a lens to investigate the complicated relationship between individual narrative and public history; first, through an understanding of narrative fiction as memory in Ela ?pek Gündüz’s article on Kazuo Ishiguro’s “detective” novel, When We Were Orphans, and then, through memory as history in Tristan Strikers’ discussion of W.E.B. DuBois and his writing against the restrictive influence of western historiography.

Finally, we wrap our issue on memory with a poignant discussion of love, and raise questions about the nature of forgiveness and its critical role in the reconceptualization of history. As Prakash Kona asks, can “forgiveness” serve as the theoretical framework for justice? Furthermore, how might unconditional love influence our perception of history and open a space for dialogue?

Work Cited

Woolf, Virginia. Orlando. New York: Penguin Books, 1946. Print.

Suggested Citation

Heney, Alison. “Editor’s Note: Trespassing Memory.” Trespassing Journal: an online journal of trespassing art, science, and philosophy 3 (Winter 2014). Web. ISSN: 2147-2734

Alison L. Heney is the Curator and Assistant Director of Xipe Projects, a non-profit educational foundation for Latin American Art, and a lecturer in world literature and human development for SUNY Empire State College. Her book, Fairy Tales, Memory, and the Modernist Imagination, a monograph exploring the work of Leonora Carrington, Hans Bellmer, and Ingeborg Bachmann, is under advance contract with Northwestern University Press.