Frame 7

Fredric Jameson and others have critiqued postmodernism's ahistorical turn. The surface-y flatness of our era, a ladder with no rungs to climb down into history. But, in fact, we suffer from the opposite. Not too little history, but too much. It is everywhere, inescapable, the one iron fact of our time. We are not cursed with amnesia (what a relief that would be!) but hypermnesia, an abnormally strong memory of the past. A film like Christopher Nolan's Memento is a fantasy film, a utopian document. Leonard Shelby cannot make new memories. If only we could be like him, and forget, shedding our old selves hour by hour. His madness is not in forgetting, but in struggling to create history through his notes and tattoos. But we are not so lucky. We have no choice. Even here, now, these words appear beneath film images from the past. The cruel technologies of our time have not erased the past, but made it impossible to escape.

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