On Language

Mostly so I don't forget, a quote that jumped out in reading today:
Language shows clearly that memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theater. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred. He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging. (Walter Benjamin, 'A Berlin Chronicle', p. 25-26)
Do I know what this means? Not really, but it reminded me of something I'm trying to work through in (still!) writing about Orhan Pamuk's memoir Istanbul.

Maybe this: Benjamin is insisting that the only way we can have access to the past is through our memories. All simple enough until we take stock of the problematically mediated nature of memory, its imperfect and imprecise status. That, I think, is the interesting link with Pamuk's work.


Jordan M said…
One also has to wonder about the internet and memory: is it a savior or destroyer?
Timur said…
Depends how you think about memory, I think. If memory is defined as the capacity to recover something internal, then the Internet is probably a destroyer. Not to mention the way in which the speeding up of media that the Internet allows has contributed to the decay of our attention span. But if memory is still memory regardless of where we find it, then the Internet might be a great thing.

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