PSi 17 - Utrecht

CFP - On Memory and Forgetting: Between Philosophy and Performance

An open call for proposals for a roundtable
hosted by the PSi Performance & Philosophy working group
for PSi #17, 25-29 May 2011, Utrecht

Memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred (Benjamin).

In the case of the smallest or of the greatest happiness… it is always the same thing that makes happiness happiness: the ability to forget or, expressed in more scholarly fashion, the capacity to feel unhistorically during its duration (Nietzsche).

Continental philosophy provides us with a great many conceptual resources for contemplating memory and its relation to the past, present and future: Henri Bergson’s concept of ‘involuntary memory’ and its reinvention in Deleuze’s Bergsonism; Jacques Derrida’s emphasis on the differentiating effect of memory’s immanence to perception and his interest in the work of mourning; Hélène Cixous’ ruminations on memory prompted by an excavation of her family photograph albums. Correlatively, the continental tradition also includes Nietzsche’s concept of ‘active forgetting’ and his affirmation of forgetfulness as a necessary means ‘to provide some silence, a “clean slate” for the unconscious, to make place for the new’.

Of course, performance too does its own kind of thinking around memory and forgetting: the images of memory provided by Beckett in Krapp’s Last Tape, Eh Joe or Not I; the emphasis on the politics of cultural memory in Heiner Muller’s work, including his claim to have written Explosion of a Memory for an audience of ghosts; Forced Entertainment’s staging of the relation between memory, loss and repetition in Exquisite Pain and Tim Etchells’ emphasis on the creative possibilities opened by forgetting in works such as in pieces.

The proposed roundtable aims to bring together these two interconnected strands of research into memory as part of the working group’s ongoing investigation into the nature of the relationship between performance and philosophy. We want to look at the points of coincidence, resonance and connection between philosophies and performances of memory, whether this occurs in the use of theatrical metaphors in philosophical discourse (as in Walter Benjamin’s vision of memory as a theatre of the past) or the staging of philosophical thinking, in the performativity of philosophy or the philosophizing of performance practice.

In an effort to emphasise discussion, all participants will be expected to submit final drafts of their papers 3 weeks before the conference. Papers will then be distributed between participants and to the audience, who will be invited to sign up for the session in advance via the PSi website. On the day of the roundtable itself, participants will not read their papers, but will be asked to give a 5 minute summary of their text before inviting comments and responses from other participants and the audience.

Please note that papers are invited from any areas of performance and philosophy and are by no means restricted to addressing the philosophical and theatrical figures cited above. In turn, please note that an acceptance of your proposal to this proposed working group session is not a guarantee of participation in the PSi conference, since we will still have to have our session accepted by the conference organizers. Finally, please do not apply for this session unless you are willing to source your own funds to attend PSi in Utrecht. The working group cannot provide funding.

If you would like to propose a paper for this session, please send a 500 word abstract and bio to the Chair, Laura Cull:||lluc.arual by Monday 20th September 2010. Successful applicants will be informed by the end of September.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License