1. No memory exists in a vacuum. To remember is always to remember something else, and be reminded of yet another something, and another thing. These cascades of associations and remembering scaffold the depths of our psyche, out of which our minds grow roots and stems. These roots ground and maintain the continuity of our selves—of our inner lives.
  2. To remember is to be. Remembering is the practice of being something, of being someone, over time. “To remember something (se souvenir de) is at the same time to remember oneself (se souvenir de soi)[i]. It is the practice of being one who remains, one who is afforded the opportunity to remain, becoming itself, over and over, even when interrupted by oppression or violence.
    [ see 9, 16 ]
  3. Why do we remember? To remember is to feed the roots that sustain one’s continuity as a person, a self, over time. This self is always rooted in the soil of community, where all roots are in conversation. To remember is to feed the roots that sustain our continuity as communities over time: reshaping ourselves, always in dialogue, bargaining, becoming, even when interrupted by oppression or violence.
    [ see 1 ]
  4. Why do we remember? To remember is to survive, to extend an entity stretched from the past into the future. We remember to honor and extend our dead, our culture, our past. We remember to become who we are. Not just to repeat, but also to produce or reconstruct the past. “Memory… is not a faculty of putting away recollections in a drawer, or of inscribing them in a register”[ii] and simply retrieving them later.  Memory is a faculty of producing recollections.
    [ experience censored—silence ] [ see 6, 31 ]
  5. The materiality of a life is not bound to the borders of one’s body. We are rooted in one another, alive or dead. The materiality of being remembered by others constitutes the material afterlife of the dead, in the minds and hearts of the living. The dead live on in remembered narratives, regardless of where their atoms end up. For the dead, more than the living, “the universe is made of stories, not atoms”[iii] . There is the slaughter of the body, and there is the slaughter of one’s memory, one’s stories, and there is the slaughter of the memory of the dead. The dead live through us, we are “authored by what precedes and exceeds” us[iv].
    [ experience censored—silence ]
  6. The heart of Antigone’s revolt is the need to honor the memory of the dead, to bury the body of her dead brother. Creon disallows Polynices’s rites of burial, bans his commemoration, because true death is the death of one’s memory. All Antigone wants to do is grieve and honor her dead, that is to say, to extend them by keeping their memory alive. She is willing to risk her life to perform the rites, grieve, to honor, in public. Grief is the honoring of memory, the extension of the lives of what is lost, the keeping alive of a soul in the hearts and heads of who survives them, and as such, grief is radical resistance against Creon. Antigone’s is a story about the radicality of grief, of forming and sustaining a living bond with what is lost.
    [ see 31 ]
  7. If we do not get to grieve at the same rate as atrocities and loss, trauma takes over memory.
    [ experience censored—silence ] [ see 9, 16, 18, 23, 29, 31 ]
  8. Trauma disrupts remembering. It infects and lodges itself inside benign memories, silently, slowly, and overtime. It disrupts the chain of associations that are pulled, the roots that are fed, the whole that no longer remains.
    [ see 7, 31 ]
  9. When remembering is disrupted by trauma, the roots branch out, die out, get corrupted, and the continuity fractures. The traumatic feeling is no longer remembered in harmony by the mind and the body, nor consciously. “We may speak of the body as an ever advancing boundary between the future and the past”[v]. When trauma quietly takes over the body and overshadows the past, the future shrinks. The mind remembers what the body does not, like losing a skill. Or the body remembers what the mind avoids at all costs: such somatic remembering can feel as fresh as experience. This rupture dissociates remembering from experiencing. The self is no longer on the same trajectory as before. It branches out from its previous timeline and its future shrinks. It is no longer self-possessed, no longer in the know about the sources of its experience.
    [ see 2, 7, 11, 16 ]
  10. Memory is fallible—because it is alive. It changes and adapts and updates itself. The roots of what it is to be a human, remembering. The materiality of memory is biological and chemical, yet memory follows the logic of narrative and myth as much as the logic of cells—cell assemblies, dendrites, and neurotransmitters that modulate them, transforming the body and mind from one state to another. Logos and mythos both inhabit networks and bundles of cells, through which memory materializes. Though conceptualized as topics of empirical investigation through the lens of logos, these networks—the material of memory— are not governed by logos. They do not follow the logic of circuits, gates, and transistors. “Matter and meaning are not separate elements”[vi].
  11. The logic of memory is the building block of our inner world. Some memories pile on to build a home here, a play space there, a sanctuary, and an experimental lab. The logic of memory is mythological. Memory has an underworld, a basement where unprocessed calamities and monsters are kept. The fallibility and opaqueness of the memories acting from the underworld, subconscious, context-dependent nature of remembering can make one’s self fallible and opaque—to oneself and others.
    [ see 1, 32 ]
  12. The logic of remembering is that every memory is a door to another, and many doors can lead to a given memory.
  13. The logic of remembering is that how a memory makes us feel depends on the door through which we arrived at it. We do not feel the same way when remembering the same memory.
  14. The logic of memory is that we reinforce memories each time we revisit them. But each time we reinforce a memory, we also forget its neighbors a little. The doors leading out of a reinforced memory become just a little harder to open the more you get comfortable with it. You get stuck in it longer. You sink deeper. This is known as retrieval-induced forgetting[vii]. It is when remembering something causes forgetting a neighboring memory. This leads to “the unsettling spectacle offered by an excess of memory here, and an excess of forgetting elsewhere… [calling for a] just allotment of memory”[viii]. That is why it is crucial to remind oneself of and honor the memories behind neighboring doors, honor the neighbor’s dead. [ experience forgotten—silence ]
  15. In the logic of memory, two plus two is not four, and two minus two is not always zero. Sometimes more of the same experience makes it less memorable, and too little of another makes it more.
  16. Trauma is an assault on memory. It is an assault on the inner world. In the logic of memory, the addition of one traumatic experience could equal infinite pain, a lifetime of PTSD. Trauma’s one plus one plus one does not equal three, but complex PTSD, a perpetual loss of safety, a disruption of who one was for life. It is the plus one that could equate the self to zero, and the self that is resurrected from the ashes is another. Not the same.
    [ see 2, 9 ]
  17. Propaganda is a war on remembering—remembering who we are, who counts as human, living. It is an assault on memory. [ experience censored—silence ] [ see 24 ]
  18. What remains when we survive? What survives and what dies? She who survives is not the same as one who was interrupted by trauma. She, whose memory was violently interrupted, does not remain. [ experience censored—silence ]
  19. We do not remember in isolation. Memory is a collective practice. Memory demands to be voiced to stay alive. Memories do not survive on an island.
  20. The logic of memory demands articulation. Being voiced. She who chooses silence to survive does not remain. She, who remains silent, does not survive. Baldwin’s reminder still rings true: “We live in an age in which silence is not only criminal but suicidal”[ix]. She who remains silent dies, and the one who survives in the comfort of the job, the home, the security, the relationship that demanded silence, is another. And she who survives silence pays the price with the loss of desire. She, who remains silent, loses the right to her own desire.
  21. The body does not remain silent. If memory is not spoken, it speaks through the body. The rage, the crying fits, the insomnia, the loss of desire, the possession.
  22. There are crimes against memory and crimes against collective memory.
  23. Healing of trauma needs mending of violently disrupted memories—individual and collective. Remembering in the face of violent erasure requires courage. It requires community, articulation, expression. She who returns upon the mending is still not the same as she, who once was.
    [ experience censored—silence ]
  24. “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human”[x]. The goal of propaganda is to convince us a group of people is not grievable, nor worthy of mourning rites and rituals. To be human is to be grievable. To make a group of people ungrievable is to erase memories of their human lives, erase evidence of their humanity, dehumanize them. Propaganda’s assault on memory is an assault on our humanity.
    [ see 17 ]
  25. “Whose life have you been socialized to see no value in?” I read it written in black, oversized, maybe in Palatino, over a beige background.
    “We might think of war as dividing populations into those who are grievable and those who are not. An ungrievable life is one that cannot be mourned because it has never lived, that is, it has never counted as a life at all”[xi].
    [experience forgotten—silence ]
  26. The logic of memory is nonlinear. There is no past that is now gone and a future that is not here. To remember is to be a time traveler. To be slipping through time at any moment, to various points in many possible pasts and possible futures.
  27. The logic of memory is that the past is malleable; not over, not deterministic. Each time we remember, we change something about the past. Every time we remember we create new pasts that, depending on the door from which we have arrived at them, branch out into new futures.
  28. The logic of memory is that there are infinite pasts. Every moment has infinite pasts, and infinite futures, and remembering is the vehicle of time travel through it all.
  29. Forgetting is a gift to the time traveler. Without it we would be buried under the proliferation of infinite pasts and infinite futures, and we may lose any sense of continuity. Forgetting is a reminder of what is rehearsed, what is repeated, what is hammered into existence, and what is ignored, abandoned, marked for destruction, obliterated. “To make peace is to forget. To reconcile, it is necessary that memory be faulty and limited”[xii].
    [ experience forgotten—silence ]
  30. Science treats memory as a subject of empirical investigation. We conduct experiments, categorize different types of memory, scan people’s brains, and dissect worms, searching for the logic of memory, its logos. We decode memory from cells and model it with math, we identify biological circuits and patterns that give rise to it, we predict or induce memory and forgetting. But the logic of memory is also mythological, and mythos is not concerned with the practical, the empirical, the predictive, but with the timeless, with narrative, with meaning that moves us deeply [xiii]. Mythos and logos both live in the same cells that participate in the matter of memory. Like mythos, a recurring narrative can lodge itself over memory, and never let it go, like a shapeshifting furious god, consuming all other interpretation, all other narrative. Such is the logic of trauma, lodging itself over memory, mythological. The matter of memory lives beyond its mythos and logos, dissolving their strict boundaries.
  31. The logic of memory is similar to the logic of time-traveling in a multiverse. With similar choices, and similar perils and consequences. Not only by changing the past do you change the future, but by moving in time across the multiverse you are changing something in the larger meaning of the whole thing, that combination of all timelines and multiverses, what is that thing? What is that ‘that’, branching into infinite pasts and futures? What is the word for it?
  32. Honoring memory changes the course of that, that mesh of ever-branching ever-expanding possibilities of being. Grief is radical—because it has the power to reshape ‘that.’ As infinitely immense as it is.
    [ see 6 ]
  33. The logic of grief is the logic of memory. You may run away, door after door, as far as you can. But no matter how far you get from the room where grief lives, there is always a door, a portal that will pull you back to it.
  34. Each time you visit the subjects of grief you are not the same. Nor is the memory. You evolve. Together. Slowly. Over time. Either to heal, or into the depths of insanity.
  35. The logic of memory is mythological. Memory has an underworld, a basement, where unprocessed and forgotten calamities and monsters live. “Buried under the footprint of memory and history then opens the empire of forgetting”[xiv]. The underworld demands ritual visits and sacrifice. If not revered, the underworld grows even bigger monsters that lurk in the shadows—in every room, in every corner, overshadowing reality, unannounced, unnoticed.
  36. The underworld births nightmares. It haunts, possesses, and speaks through our tongues and bodies until we pay the dead a visit. Until we honor each and every calamity, one by one, until the dead are honored, and the task of grief is complete. Until we reshape the past and the future into recognizing humanity as grievable, that is to say, worthy of mourning, of being held, of pause for grief. “One way of posing the question of who “we” are in these times of war is by asking whose lives are considered valuable, whose lives are mourned, and whose lives are considered ungrievable”[xv].
    Grief is radical. Grief has the power to reshape that ‘that.’ As infinitely immense as it is.
    [ silence ]


[i] Ricoeur, Paul. 2004. Memory, History, Forgetting, p 3. University of Chicago Press.


[ii] Bergson, Henry. 1928. Creative Evolution, p 5. Edited by Arthur Mitchell.


[iii] Rukeyser, Muriel. 2006. “The Speed of Darkness.” In The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser, edited by Janet E. Kaufman, Anne F. Herzog, Jan Heller Levi. University of Pittsburgh Press.


[iv] Butler, Judith. 2005. Giving an Account of Oneself, p 82. Fordham Univ Press.


[v] Bergson, Henri.1896. Matter and Memory (trans: Paul NM, Palmer WS 1911), p 88. Macmillan, New York.

[vi] Barad, Karen. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning, p 3. Duke University Press.


[vii] Anderson, Michael C., Robert A. Bjork, and Elizabeth L. Bjork. 1994. “Remembering Can Cause Forgetting: Retrieval Dynamics in Long-Term Memory.” Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition 20 (5): 1063–87.


[viii] Ricoeur, Paul. 2004. Memory, History, Forgetting, p xv. University of Chicago Press.


[ix] Baldwin, James. 1970. An Open Letter to My Sister, Miss Angela Davis. New York Committee to Free Angela Davis.


[x] Huxley, Aldous. 1936. The Olive Tree, and Other Essays, p 102. Chatto & Windus.


[xi] Butler, Judith. 2016. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? p 38. Verso Books.


[xii] Sontag, Susan. 2003. Regarding the Pain of Others, p 126. Penguin Books, Limited (UK).


[xiii] Armstrong, Karen. 2022. Sacred Nature: Restoring Our Ancient Bond with the Natural World, pp 20-21. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.


[xiv] Ricoeur, Paul. 2004. Memory, History, Forgetting, p xvi. University of Chicago Press.


[xv] Butler, Judith. 2016. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? p 38. Verso Books.