Several classes ago we examined the photo of the troubling, arguably morally ambiguous, scene of the ‘Tot-Tanic’ in a park that Professor McCoy stumbled into. I believe it is fair to say that most of us in the class were quite taken a back that this horrific, albeit quite deeply embedded in the past, event was willfully turned into a playground for children to jump on and slide down. This reaction got me thinking about what we have investigated into Roach thus far regarding the many kinds of performances of both remembering and forgetting.
Now to start off this blog post I definitely want to credit Catherine for writing about her response to the ‘Tot-Tanic’, and also about one of my all-time favorite TV shows, in her blog post (which you should totally go read here). In her post Catherine poses the question: “…how much history is allowed to be forgotten when honoring the past and its legacies?” I was really drawn to this notion and how it relates to Roach when he says, “…An Echo In The Bone dramatizes the cultural politics of memory, particularly as they are realized through communications between the living and the dead.” (34)
In my notes next to this line I was reminded by myself of the line that Professor McCoy had referenced in class, “…remember me, but ah! forget my fate.” This quote refers to a line from the opera Dido and Aeneas, which alludes to the Aeneid, in which the Trojan warrior Aeneas falls in love with the queen of Carthage, Dido, but must leave her to return to his native Sicily. Dido orders for a pyre to be built and set on fire in which she would use to show Aeneas how much she loved him before she kills herself. (This video is a beautiful rendition of this song. Skip to 2:33 to get to “…remember me, but ah! forget my fate.”) This concept I believe directly ties in to what Roach is exploring by showing the agency that one can have when creating a literal performance of how their own self will be remembered/forgotten, but it got me thinking about how this concept is performed by others when referencing an event that is not directly tied to themselves.
This sent me on a spiral (hurricane pun non-intentional) of stumbling upon examples in the media of this exact concept of remembering and forgetting. I found that it is so incredibly common, in varying forms of media, for us to perform the both/and of remembering and forgetting. A prime example of this that immediately came to my mind was an incredibly popular Vine, that I’m sure anyone familiar with the platform has seen or heard of at least once. In this six second long video a young boy demonstrates his understanding of the natural disaster that is definitely a large part of the foundation of this class, Hurricane Katrina, while concurrently substitutes ambivalence for the memory of this catastrophic, unfathomable event. While this might be a particularly niche example from a platform that has been since dismantled, I seemed to continue to unearth findings that supported my idea that we are constantly engaging in the dual performance of both remembering and forgetting.
This past weekend during a SuperBowl commercial break the automobile giant, Dodge, aired a commercial that many found controversial due to its arguably insensitive usage of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Many people on the Internet voiced their opposition to this commercial use of an incredibly important African-American activist’s words. This commercial demonstrates a remembering of the speech that Dr. King gave, but forgets its meaning. I also saw a relevant response on Twitter most likely in reference to this commercial, which I will link here, but also will add a screenshot of this that I took below (popular Tweets often have the propensity for being deleted).
All in all, I found myself engaging in the churn of thinkING as I composed this blog post as I processed Roach’s explorations of this concept of remembering and forgetting. While I’m not entirely sure what it means that this practice is so prevalent in our daily performances, I look forward to further examining what Roach has to say about all of this, and how much more I will notice this both/and occurring in my life around me.