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The Memory of Place

A Phenomenology of the Uncanny

Dylan Trigg

Publication Year: 2012

 From the frozen landscapes of the Antarctic to the haunted houses of childhood, the memory of places we experience is fundamental to a sense of self. Drawing on influences as diverse as Merleau-Ponty, Freud, and J. G. Ballard, The Memory of Place charts the memorial landscape that is written into the body and its experience of the world. Dylan Trigg’s The Memory of Place offers a lively and original intervention into contemporary debates within “place studies,” an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of philosophy, geography, architecture, urban design, and environmental studies. Through a series of provocative investigations, Trigg analyzes monuments in the representation of public memory; “transitional” contexts, such as airports and highway rest stops; and the “ruins” of both memory and place in sites such as Auschwitz. 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. P. Lovecraft to Martin Heidegger. Breathing a strange new life into phenomenology, The Memory of Place argues that the eerie disquiet of the uncanny is at the core of the remembering body, and thus of ourselves. The result is a compelling and novel rethinking of memory and place that should spark new conversations across the field of place studies. Edward S. Casey, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Stony Brook University and widely recognized as the leading scholar on phenomenology of place, calls The Memory of Place “genuinely unique and a signal addition to phenomenological literature. It fills a significant gap, and it does so with eloquence and force.” He predicts that Trigg’s book will be “immediately recognized as a major original work in phenomenology.” 

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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Preface: Touching the Past

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pp. xiii-xxvii

I have seen this place before. It is three o’clock on a Thursday afternoon, and I am standing outside my childhood home. On the upper right, through the tree, is the room I slept in. From within that room, I would be able to hear a train in the distance...

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pp. xxix-xxxi

This book has been a long time in the making, its inception beginning long before the writing itself commenced. Over the course of writing its contents, different places have cast their presence upon these pages before receding into the past...

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Introduction: Phenomenology and Place

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pp. 1-42

This book is about places. More specifically, it is about the memory of places that human beings inhabit and pass through. As bodily subjects, we necessarily have a relationship with the places that surround us. At any given moment, we are located within a place...

Part One: From Place to Memory

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pp. 43-98

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1. Between Memory and Imagination

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pp. 45-70

“In the memory,” so writes Augustine, “everything is preserved separately, according to its category. Each is admitted through its own special entrance” (1961, 214). If our faith in memory’s ability to preserve events in a discrete manner, as Augustine suggests...

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2. Monuments of Memory

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pp. 71-98

We move through places and in the process gain a wealth of memories, some of which return to haunt us while others fall by the wayside. Yet our memories do not begin and end with the idea of a center, less even of a “home.” Nor, for that matter...

Part Two: From Flesh to Materiality

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pp. 99-226

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3. Memories of the Flesh

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pp. 101-166

In a hallway pockmarked by dark green organic spores, a wooden door has swung open. Through the door is a room that I have yet to set foot in. Already, however, my body is in the room, stretching its sensory organs toward the horizon of this strange new world...

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4. The Dark Entity

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pp. 167-226

“He needed,” so writes Georges Rodenbach of the widowed protagonist in Bruges-la-Morte: a dead town to correspond to his dead wife. His deep mourning demanded such a setting. Life would only be bearable for him...

Part Three: From Black Holes to Specters

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5. Traumatic Embodiment

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pp. 229-256

J. G. Ballard presents us with a disarming image. In an unspecified time, we are summoned to an abandoned space center in Florida. Up above, a “strange pilot” is flying in circles, the result of which woke the story’s protagonist “Dr Mallory soon after dawn...

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6. Ruins of Trauma

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pp. 257-278

In the opening scene of Claude Lanzmann’s documentary film Shoah (1985), we follow Simon Srebnik, a former Polish prisoner, in his return to the ruins of the Chelmno extermination camp. As he approaches the site, Srebnik pauses, surveys the space...

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Conclusion: This Place is Haunted

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pp. 279-326

Why do the dead return? Why, in the darkness of the night, when all activity has been reduced to a trembling in the distance, do the dead disavow their rest and return to the living? What strange beacon is emitted in the world of the living that draws...


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pp. 327-335


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pp. 337-347

E-ISBN-13: 9780821444047
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821419755

Page Count: 347
Publication Year: 2012