The Memory of Place
A Phenomenology of the Uncanny
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Ohio University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Preface: Touching the Past
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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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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...
Introduction: Phenomenology and Place
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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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1. Between Memory and Imagination
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“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...
2. Monuments of Memory
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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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3. Memories of the Flesh
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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...
4. The Dark Entity
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“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
5. Traumatic Embodiment
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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...
6. Ruins of Trauma
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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...
Conclusion: This Place is Haunted
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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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Page Count: 347
Publication Year: 2012