Aeneas is set to perform two tasks: bury his dead and pay his vow to the god of war. Traditionally, Romans buried their dead first, but Aeneas chooses instead to first pay his dues, building a totem of Mezentius, whom Aeneas has slain: A mighty oak, its branches lopped all round, [Aeneas] plants on a mound, and arrays in the gleaming arms stripped from Mezentius the chief, a trophy to you, great Lord of War. These are the spoils and first fruits of a haughty king; and this is Mezentius, as fashioned by my hands. To what degree do they have control over us? Ultimately, he argues that the uncanny is not just a subset of our experience but the very root of it. This becomes clear towards the end of the book in a discussion of the popular theoretical idea of hauntology, a term originally invented by Derrida in reference to the specter of Marxism hanging over academia that has now made its way into the popular media as a rubric for anything that hints of disembodiment, nostalgia, etc.
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Those places leave an impact on us, for we are bodily subjects and as such we have a relationship with the places that surround us. At any time we are situated, located in a place. Thus being under the influence of place over time defines and structures our sense of self. Being acquainted with a place means that it becomes part of who we are. Two aspects have to be kept in mind when combining the notions of memory and place: 1 The memory of place can be identified as a particular mode of remembering.
As such it is conceived as a part of lived experience 2. The place of memory on the other hand can be taken as a particular mode of materiality. The combination of lived experience and materiality places the body in focus. The body has touched place long before we realize it. We orient ourselves through our bodies before we form a representation of our surroundings. Due to the body we find ourselves with a kinesthetic consciousness, i.
It exceeds the view of visual perception. Only because of embodiment space as an objective reality can become existentially and intentionally meaningful. That means that only because of the body, space can turn into place. We develop a place memory via the kinesthetic sensibility of the body The central theme of the book, one could say, is the facticity of memory and its meaning for personal identity, and Trigg explores this theme thoroughly in the three parts of the book.
Although Trigg starts with preliminary considerations concerning individual memory, for which he refers to the history of philosophical contemplation of memory , he focuses on certain kinds of mnemonic phenomena besides everyday memory, which serves us well in most cases. The concept of the uncanny functions an indication of something we are familiar with but which at the same time stays hidden.
Trigg elaborates three distinct features of the uncanny, through which the difference between the familiar and the eerie unfamiliar becomes apparent: i Because the origins of memory lie according to Trigg in the body, the materialization of memory seems to be an automatic appearance.
The body as the unconscious site of memory gains a certain sovereignty over the conscious subject. This becomes clear for example when we visit an unfamiliar place that evokes something from the past in the lived body.
Trigg argues for a concept of human experience that is not completely defined by rationality and cognition ii. The identification of myself with my body is at stake iii. When we return to a place once familiar from our past the effect is often alienation rather than reassurance. The reason for this is difficult to grasp, as Trigg admits, because opaque forces are always involved in the formation of our memories of places The second and third part of the book are dedicated to the analysis of these forces.
In order to effect this analysis, Trigg pursues a refinement of the experience of the uncanny. These analyses are used to support his genuine approach. The objects of his examinations are monuments—where the memory of place meets the collective memory of history—but also nostalgia, homesickness and trauma. As mentioned above, the phenomenological tradition recognizes at least two main aspects in examination of memory: the relationship between imagination and memory, and the upholding of the past.
Time is given shape by place. Throughout the book Trigg argues that memory has a life of its own. Imagination is usually conceived as the origin of the images we use to make memories concrete, to shape our recollection. This is especially the case in voluntary attempts to remember. In this understanding, imagination has the role of an active retriever This involuntary memory is the sedimented experience of the body itself This sedimentation is possible because of a conflation of memory, place and imagination.
Imagination becomes the living force of memory. Memory of place means being acquainted with certain places. Memory is our ability to dwell in the present; it plays the fundamental role of uniting the embodied self and the world. This adaption is due to imagination. This misalignment reveals itself in the alluded to affective phenomena.
They are disruptions in dwelling. Although he recognizes the epistemological dimension of imagination , he puts it aside; he widely neglects this dimension in the following chapters. There is, however, an inherent reason for this. In concentrating on the facticity of memory a focal shift of the epistemological problem occurs.
That memory aligns the self with the world means that it helps to transfer the touch of the anonymous primordial materiality into the realm of consciousness.
The Memory of Place : A Phenomenology of the Uncanny
It fills a significant gap, and it does so with eloquence and force. However, while drawing on phenomenology, this is by no means standard phenomenologically-informed fare. The terrain covered and position arrived at is far weirder and unsettled. Drawing on influences as diverse as Merleau-Ponty, Freud, and J. Ballard, The Memory of Place charts the memorial landscape that is written into the body and its experience of the world. While developing these original analyses, Trigg engages in thoughtful and innovative ways with the philosophical and literary tradition, from Gaston Bachelard to Pierre Nora, H.
The Memory of Place: A Phenomenology of the Uncanny