Since Valentines Day I have been grappling with an intense desire to write a post that expresses some personal emotions and reactions to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. I say grappling because, in so many ways, it hasn’t been an easy process. The following post is soft-core political (depending on one’s perspective) and will be connecting some Roachian ideas to the shooting, gun violence, and how national identity plays a role in all of it.
Joseph Roach mentions in “The Segregation of the Dead” what Joseph Addison calls “the Confines of the Dead,” the boundaries which “separate life from the afterlife,” and elaborated on their physical manifestations in cemeteries (48). Roach describes the omnipresence of the dead both in their spirits and in their physical remains, the latter of which oversaturated their intended grounds and “literally overflowed into the space of the living” (48). And despite this overflowing, Roach notes the social engagements of life around death: “burial grounds often provided the most convenient public spaces available to merchants, mountebanks, jugglers, and their mixed audiences” (48).
This led to a class discussion regarding the place of the dead in normal life, and where they physically and metaphorically lay in regards to other events happening in the same area.
I then remembered an element of my childhood that I had not thought about in several years – my elementary school class would clump together several late June birthdays, mine included, into a class-wide celebration for the end of the school-year, annually hosted at Greenwood Cemetery. Tents were pitched and food was catered on a clear field near the administrative buildings, where venturing too much further would find headstones, obelisks and civil war monuments. Continue reading “Cemetery Celebrations and the Segregation of the Dead – Part 1”
“…Catastrophe may reemerge from memory in the shape of a wish.”—Joseph Roach
I feel that this is a quote that we have not yet unpacked so deeply in class. Even so, this piece of Roach’s discussion on performance, autochthony, allochthony, and origins stuck out to me. Maybe it’s partially the elegance of the phrase: the juxtaposition of starting with the heavy consonance and lexical drama of “catastrophe” and ending with a wistful “wish.” Plus, the evocations of “wish”, for me, are almost magical—of blowing out birthday candles and of coins dropped into fountains—and I think of our most treasured hopes and dreams.