This essay identifies the banal temporality of endless war in both the affective disposition signaled by the POW/MIA flag and the conditions of apperception of the war planners who orchestrated the US war in Southeast Asia. To explore this banal time, the essay turns to Christopher Nolan’s neo-noir Memento (), a film that explores the interplay of memory, subjectivity, and violence. Memento’s ostensible opposition between memory as the return of origin and absolute temporal dispersal in fact gives way to a quite different conception of subjectivity’s temporal connectivity, based in routine repetition, habit, and conditioning—the “banal time” that Hannah Arendt sees as underpinning the banality of evil. In a reading of Homi Bhabha’s account of freedom as being based “in the indeterminate,” the banal time of Memento is shown to destabilize the opposition of grand narrative and temporal dispersal upon which contemporary theory has staked its political orientation. At the same time, the essay counters interpretations of Arendt’s conception of the banality of evil that reduce it to a dismissal of the perpetrator’s character or humanity. Rather, Arendt’s conception is shown to focus on the temporal conditions of possibility of responsibility, and to prioritize modes of connectivity that would overcome banal time.


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pp. 22-47
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