for class at NYU ITP
To remember and forget:
Memory and machine
What is the earliest memory
from your childhood?
Is there a moment that comes up in your mind?
Alexander R. Galloway at the Public School New York, 2010
There was no music in the Imperial Panorama—in contrast to ﬁlms,
where music makes traveling so soporiﬁc. But there was a small,
genuinely disturbing effect that seemed to me superior. This was the
ringing of a little bell that sounded a few seconds before each picture
moved off with a jolt, in order to make way ﬁrst for an empty space and
then for the next image. And every time it rang, the mountains with their
humble foothills, the cities with their mirror-bright windows, the railroad
stations with their clouds of dirty yellow smoke, the vineyards down to
the smallest leaf, was suffused with the!
ache (dull pain) of departure.
Walter Benjamin, Berlin childhood around 1900
“Forgetting… not only attacks the essence of Being,
in as much as it apparently distinct from it. It belongs
to the nature of Being.”
Jacques Derrida, Spurs, 1979
Jorge Luis Borges, 1942
“Remembering is not the re-excitation of
innumerable ﬁxed, lifeless and fragmentary
traces. It is an imaginative reconstruction, or
construction, built out of the relation of our
attitude towards a whole active mass or
organized past reactions and experiences (i.e.
schema), and to a little outstanding detail
which commonly appear in image or in
Bartlett, F.C. Remembering: A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology. ,1932
Mystic writing pad
pen on paper chalk on blackboard
Ego - I - executive agency, both
conscious and unconscious -
interface with the outside world.
Logic and reality
ID- total unconscious- hedonistic
pleasure and avoiding pain - only
mental structure after birth
Super ego- unconscious moral
agency - embodiment of our
receives perception and retains no permanent traces
of excitation - infinite stack of white paper,
stimulus protective shield
origin of the concept of time.
Foundation for memory comes about in other adjoining system.
Jacques Derrida, Freud and the Scene of Writing, 1972
Image of Archives from Wikipedia
Walter Benjamin’s archives
One can dream or speculate about the geo-techno-
logical shocks which would have made the landscape of
the psychoanalytic archive unrecognizable for the past
century if, to limit myself to these indications, Freud,
his contemporaries, collaborators and immediate
disciples, instead of writing thousands of letters by
hand, had had access to MCI or ATT telephonic credit
cards, portable tape recorders, computers, printers,
faxes, televisions, teleconferences, and above all E-
Freud’s handwritings !
I would have liked to devote my whole lecture to this
retrospective science fiction. I would have liked to
imagine with you the scene of that other archive after
the earthquake and after the "apres-coups" of its
aftershocks. This is indeed where we are.
this archival earthquake would not have limited its
effects to the secondary recording, to the printing and
to the conservation of the history of psychoanalysis.
It would have transformed this history from top to
bottom and in the most initial inside of its production,
in its very events.
…the archive, as printing, writing, prosthesis, or
hypomnesic technique in general is not only the place
for stocking and for conserving an archivable content of
the past which would exist in any case, such as, without
the archive, one still believes it was (to exist) or will
have been (existed).
No, the technical structure of the archiving archive
also determines the structure of the archival content
even in its very coming into existence and in its
relationship to the future.
The archivization produces as much as it
records the event.
This is also our political experience of the so-
called news media. p. 17
because electronic mail today, and even more than
the fax, is on the way to transforming the entire
public and privates space of humanity, and first of
all the limit between the private, the secret (private
or public), and the public or the phenomenal. p 18
This should above all remind us that the said archival
technology no longer determines, will never have
determined, merely the moment of the conservational
recording, but rather the very institution of the
It conditions not only the form or the structure which prints,
but the printed content of the printing: the pressure of the
printing, the impression, before the division between the
printed and the printer.
Steve Mann, Wearable computer
Gordon Bell, My Life Bits
One can dream or speculate about the geo-techno-
logical shocks which would have made the landscape
of the psychoanalytic archive unrecognizable for the
past century if, to limit myself to these indications,
Freud, his contemporaries, collaborators and
immediate disciples, instead of writing thousands of
letters by hand, had had access to MCI or ATT
telephonic credit cards, portable tape recorders,
computers, printers, faxes, televisions, teleconferences,
and above all E-mail.
Emily Jacir, ex libris, 2010 - 2012
Jon Rubin, The Lovasik Estate Sale, Shanghai 2012
Francis Alys, reel-unreel, 2011
Thus, we should begin to see all documentation as
intervention, and all archiving as part of some sort
of collective project.
Arjun Appadurai, Archive and Aspiration
Rather than being the tomb of the trace, the
archive is more frequently the product of the
anticipation of collective memory.