- Oslo, 1971
- Kraków, 2005
- Rotterdam, 2016
Memory’s a funny thing, isn’t it. You don’t agree? I don’t agree either. Memory has never amused me much, and I find its tricks more and more wearisome as I grow older. Perhaps memory simply stays the same but has less work to do as the days fill out. My memory’s in good shape, I think. It’s just that my life is getting less memorable all the time. Can you remember where you left those keys? Why should you? Lying in the tub some slow afternoon, can you remember if you’ve washed your toes? (Taking a leak is boring, isn’t it, after the first few thousand times? Whew, isn’t that a drag?) I can’t remember half the stuff I do any more. But then I don’t much want to.
– Martin Amis, Money
Across the street rests the ugly national machine: a filthy station wagon, its family’s movements through pink plastic and spittle too slow to replace Sunday cutlets for missing hubcaps. Spill out the smeared window draped in a beige patriotism, wooden cross dangling from your forehead: walk with arms crossed, a reactionary cutout unable to exchange sermons for picking up the litter of the littering nation. Do not nod but stare, take odoriferous bows to the envy of all those living west and south: to their techné comforts and atrocity shows, their constipated sugar energy. The country’s savior eases into emulation: Family and Mister God are all that need comprehending.
As if still surrounded by fields of cabbage, scream all night: before falling from balconies, snapping necks like stale cigarettes, toast, blow , spit, and scream some more. Clear your throat in unventilated rooms five times a minute: but never suffocate from those who do not yet know how to wash beyond Saturday evening. With a face full of pork and dough, leave the standard trail of a proud national occupancy: fruit vodka bottles mark time made advantageous beneath brutalist slabs and anti-Semitic and/or football hooligan graffiti. Float kebab wrappers down broken sidewalks, yet another foreign delicacy to be admired at a distance: the littering never cancels out love for soil, for blood. Leave empty beer bottles for comrades in need: a strategy of protectionist taste, support of local economy, reflection on bald heads.
Swerve your way towards shop, church, government office, bus stop: then stand fiercely, frown, move for no one. Even when curbing yourself blind-drunk in the main square Saturday night: do not ever mistake passing thug skulls for martyr halos. Await exorcisms on every street corner: bow for forgiveness to the fat skirted priest who has never looked a layman in the eye. Breathe against the stranger’s back and white-knuckle your coins: return home to blast the overhead fluorescent lights. Stay ready to worry something will end: no more bread, ham, cheese, pickles. No more of the only spice that makes sense: salt. No more sustenance to complain a route through this geographic contempt: protect it to the death. Come to us, come to your family: we invite you, very please.
This ugliness surrounding you is a lie: the lie to end all lies but not all failures. The failure of your ancestry resounds deep in your name: the joke of all our genes. You too walk like a peasant dressed like a cow for a cancelled costume party: you too are tied to the fields. You too stare blankly through intersections with five toes in the road: you too trigger vitriol with your blank wide face and suspicious eyes. You too swerve to avoid interminable potholes and puddles: you too forget to shoulder-check. You too fail to acknowledge strangers passing: which would entail vulnerability, invasion, domination, partition. Which would mean exile from the holy family: from the holy mother, holy nation, holy pork cutlet.
Study the consonant-clustered passwords to their ultraviolence: their tribalism, suffering, and fear carved into an exhausting language. Buses bear down on you as construction spills out onto the sidewalks: you too are forced into zones of centuries of unplanning. Commit a little suicide, diminutive and sweet, after betraying these patriotic values: car, coal, conservatism. Listen, you bicycling vegan Marxist: you do not belong here unless you can stomach the smog. Postwar pollution shall become normal to you: normal is the nation’s synonym for aspiration. Hostile drivers unable to make clean turns, streets of great problems and shoulder jousting: you shall miss the aggression you succumb to.
In one week, the first event: you cycle into the bike lane to cross the intersection and in his beige SUV, clad-in-all-gray fails to judge the geometry of his turn, yells at you from his seat, crosses against your bike’s front 29er. The second event: on the station platform there are expert performances of the ancient Slavic swerve, and amidst the overtaking and jostling, bearded-Napoleon-Complex-hipster slams into your shoulder, you are rigid but give way to the fuzzy responsibility, he grabs your arm and says “are you really running into me right now,” you reply in the master language “are you really running into me right now,” he says “learn how to walk” or something, you reply “learn how to walk ” or something and then “take it easy and have a nice holiday,” he replies “you too.”
There are choices to be made for this bulwark: this Christ of Nations. A nation on the edge of rebirth: one that encourages mutual respect. A nation on the edge of regression: one in which everyone knows that to thrive, you must leave. A nation described as a beast with a sweet side: good luck. A nation looking to hire a foreign PR team to rescue its reputation: accused of breaking its constitution, undermining democracy, and scaring away foreign investment. Read it and weep: take your choice.
Look in their eyes: they look away and stare in equal measure. All the middle fingers, curses under the breath, shoulders knocked, patronizing patriotisms: karma wrapped like the tendons of a dead animal around the chakra buried beneath the castle. There rests the difference between love and hate: there is no blasphemy in the national mirror. Your bow of tension is infinitely elastic: look away.
Water has its own archaeology, not a layering but a leveling, and thus is truer to our sense of the past, because what is memory but near and far events spread and smoothed beneath the present’s surface.
– Ron Rash, “The Woman at the Pond”
I spent fifteen minutes strolling under the arcades with their metal beams, slightly surprised by my own nostalgia and aware, at the same time, that the place really was extremely ugly. Those hideous buildings had been constructed during the worst period of modernism, but nostalgia has nothing to do with aesthetics, it’s not even connected to happy memories. We feel nostalgia for a place simply because we’ve lived there; whether we lived well or badly scarcely matters. The past is always beautiful. So, for that matter, is the future. Only the present hurts, and we carry it around like an abscess of suffering, our companion between two infinities of happiness and peace.
– Michel Houellebecq, Submission
The flight, in a too-small jet, dodging thunderstorms, cured Pip of any desire for future air travel. She expected death the whole way. What was interesting was how quickly she then forgot about it, like a dog to whom death was literally unimaginable . . . Dogs again had it right. They didn’t trouble themselves with mysteries that could never be solved anyway.
– Jonathan Franzen, Purity
Did y’all forget that this happened last time the boys were on a yacht?
I remember forgetting to write 2005 on my math book in school. Where did the years go?
2043: five great sci-fi novels to make you forget Star Wars.
We can’t forget about the senior pets who need a lifeline more than ever at shelters.
Forget nice dinner reservations, let’s go on an adventure.
Don’t forget that a new year doesn’t guarantee a new you. Growth won’t be any easier this year. We still need grace and grind!
Gen Sharif reportedly said in DC that normalizing relations with India would mean forgetting Kashmir, which he won’t do.
Our polite maknae, not forgetting to bow after the end of the performance.
Data scientists keep forgetting the one rule every researcher should know by heart.
I became middle-class without forgetting that once I’d been poor. Shameful, I know.
Finding oneself nostalgic for Badiou?
It’s like I’m starting YouTube for the first time, OMG so nostalgic and weird.
Elliott Smith Pandora is making me all kinds of nostalgic heading into the New Year.
Pure nostalgic beauty wrapped around the modern power of a high output twin cam 103B engine.
How did nostalgic literature become an agent in American racism?
Why do these snooty, homogeneous, class-obsessed white dudes nostalgic for a dead empire have British accents?
What kind of nostalgic moment is this!
Feeling nostalgic today. Wondering about the “what ifs.”
Does anyone ever listen to music and feel nostalgic? Not because you’ve heard it before, more like your blood remembers?
Been missing that nostalgic feeling that ’90s fashion had? It’s back!
You took the train outside the city to see the Holmenkollbakken ski jump, it was late summer, green out. You went to the top and stood where they take off from, like the top of a roller-coaster. “Not for me!”
Then you visited a museum where they had recovered a large (100 foot?) Viking ship from the bottom of the ocean and were restoring it. They had to spray a solution on it for 24 hours a day for an estimated seven years to keep it from crumbling.
You were alone, wandering. How much beer did you drink? Or maybe akvavit?
When you walked off the base in Bremerhaven, you had a thirty day Eurail Pass, $300, and no itinerary. So you went to the station and got a train to Denmark (where you had been before). Normally you would look for 8-12 hour train rides at night in order to save on a hotel. Either on the train to Denmark or probably from Stockholm to Oslo, you were in a cabin by yourself when a guy came in and sat down. You nodded to each other but never spoke, assuming he didn’t speak English. Eight hours later when the train pulled into the station, you got up and put on your pack, said “goodbye.” He looked up and said “goodbye!” so you asked where he was from, and he said Cleveland, Ohio.
From there you just traveled down through Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Spain before running out of time and returning to the base. You went to Frankfurt and flew to New Jersey in the cargo hold of a huge transport plane. You had planned to hitchhike to Ohio, but you were too tired and flew home.
Anamnesis means remembrance or reminiscence, the collection and recollection of what has been lost, forgotten, or effaced. It is therefore a matter of the very old, of what has made us who we are. But anamnesis is also a work that transforms its subject, always producing something new. To recollect the old, to produce the new: that is the task of Anamnesis.
– from The Speculative Turn (re.press)