Monday, July 23, 2007

remembering (for metz)

"...memory is also of central importance for any theory of history and society as a category of resistance..."
-Johann Baptist Metz, Faith in History and Society (1977)

John William Waterhouse, "Sleep and His Half-Brother, Death" (1874)

and i stood and watched in horror as snow fell upward
and no one cared.

their blood stopped flowing
but they walked on

words stopped meaning
but they continued to talk

history stopped moving
and everyone forgot

a people without memory is capable of the greatest atrocity
even against themselves
without a second thought
because only memory can speak for the dead



vassilip said...

but is it truly possible such a cancelation, or even suspension, of memory? even if memory had not any ontological value and was a mere representation?
and if it was tuly possible, then is there any true? (and without true there is neither meaning, nor atrocious things)
so, i think, there cannot be such a condition--of no-memory--except as a gesture. and that is really atrocious--self-atrocious: the Fall.

all the best my friend

The Arcadian said...

Brilliant poem...cursed are they who forget the lessons of the past, for history all too often repeats itself. Has anyone else noticed this? If we only remembered or heeded the chronicles of old, we would be millenia ahead of where we are now, much nearer to utopia, or was utopia never meant to be?

Oh, and I love Waterhouse

irving said...

Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it, as George Santayana said, and your exquisite poem evokes it brilliantly.

Good work :)

Ya Haqq!

Lawrence of Arabia said...

vassili, i do indeed think that there are ways in which societies systematically forget: forget their past and forget the other, often because they believe that their values are timeless. admittedly, forgetting is a kind of hiding-something and cannot totally remove the thing it wishes to avoid. as heidegger would point out, to hide or turn away from something is still to maintain a relation to it.

aracadia, we are big waterhouse fans too. She was just out in your neck of the woods and kept calling me to tell me she had seen this or that waterhouse (or leighton or millais, etc.). thanks to both you and irving for your kind comments.

best wishes to all,