One more question, in terms of this ethics of memory—won't that make us, perhaps, overly nostalgic, always looking backwards? Then we might lose sight of how to gauge progress. How do we start thinking about progress if we always thinking from the standpoint of an ethics of memory, of memorialization? (p.102)
I think it's not so much an ethics of memory or memorialization. Maybe “remembrance” in Benjamin's term is a little different. It's not that we turn to the past and lose ourselves in the past. It's rather that the past flashes up in what he calls “the time of the now,” the Jetztzeit. What actually happens is that something about our present experience is interrupted by what he calls an image of the past, but I think we could translate that in several different ways. Some undocumented or unarchived history of oppression emerges within our contemporary life and makes us rethink the histories we have told about how we got from one place in history to the present.
It also, I think, has the effect of producing converging temporalities in the present, which allows us to reorient ourselves in nonidentitarian ways so that we are not just looking out for our own history or oue own people, but our history turns out to be interrupted fundamentally by an effaced history. I think Cornel's example of the effacement of the genocide against native peoples in this country is exactly such a moment*3. Do we allow that amnesia to continue? What are the public moments in which that amnesia is broken apart?
I think it is not only recalls us to a past—or, rather, lets the past into the present—but it reorients us toward a broaderm more capacious idea of social justice.
So I'm not sure about progress. I guess I'm maybe too much with Benjamin and Kafka in this way. (pp.102-103)
*1:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070926/1190818757 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090412/1239471374 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110520/1305883663 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110919/1316402409 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20111006/1317828846 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160108/1452219494 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160201/1454311360
*2:Mentioned in http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20180526/1527360637