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Remembering, Repeating, Working Through
Contemporary scholars, artists, curators, governments, and citizens everyday have responded to the near repetition compulsion of catastrophe in diverse ways around a single belief: human suffering recurs because we forget to remember the traumatic experience of pain. ‘Never Forget’ has become the global humanitarian mantra of our post-Cold War world. Yet catastrophe, human suffering seems to persist, indeed perdure the more we remember its supposed pastness; remembering has become an almost auto-erotic activity without goal. In this talk, we will reorient the faculty of memory – work through human suffering – by asking why catastrophe repeats, how memory has become untethered from its goal, by considering trauma outside experience in contemporary philosophy and the visual arts.