Forgetting What Is Remembered

Friday 13

Photo by Samuel Ace

I promised my next report from the Symposium on Trans & Genderqueer Poetry. But the Symposium has come and gone and I did not post. I took notes, lots of notes, but I didn’t post.

So often, when something “special” happens these days, I resolve not to share it on the Internet at all. It’s become a bit of a habit, this stealing away of the most important moments far away from the roar of the Internet. I can’t be the only one doing this. And I think I’ve held back from writing about the weekend for that reason. Because of its mix of intense thinking and (dis)comfort and awkwardness and beauty. Like I didn’t and don’t want to risk spoiling it. Like I’d hold it close and not let it go.


It was a gorgeous weekend. One of those weekends that leaves you happy and full and itching to write. But also, a bit upset that the world couldn’t be like that all the time. A world with so many dizzying gender possibilities, a world with so much belief in poetry.

We talked about bodies in writing, forgetting as resistance, forgetting as beautiful, (soma)tic exercises, backwoods queer killings, the part of your body your writing comes from, reimagining the present and the future, writing absence, legibility versus illegibility, creativity in a dangerous world, (un)safe spaces and more and more. Part of me wants to just download the notes from the weekend, but maybe that would not be responsible. I should craft some kind of narrative.


Saturday 2

Photo by Samuel Ace

Let’s start where I started: working on an introduction for Dawn Lundy Martin. I’ll quote from it:

Her book, Discipline, has become a text I go to continually. A paean to the city, an undone city, a killing here, a killing there city, a familial remembrance, an autobiography of an I always losing ground. A self in terror, a self on the streets of the city with all its porn stores and reeking bodies. And yet, so much is missing in this writing. So much asking to be pieced together out of the trauma become “events” that cannot be spoken, that resist language or butt up against language, to leave only the resonances of what might be said in a more sayable case.

As Dawn writes, People are fond of saying everything happens for a reason, which is complete bullshit.

As Dawn asks, What is falsified if one tips over into coherence?

Maybe, maybe what we’d lose is, as Dawn writes:

The ripe, the gentle, the buried, the unseen, the melancholy, the yearning, the always-wanting, the always-calling, the here-I-am-please, the who-said-I-am-yours, the the the

In the end, Dawn signals: we fabulously forget (occasionally as a way of getting over), we lose track of, we move through and neglect to mention. As she says:

These are acts of forgetting, though they appear to be acts of resistance or love.


I wonder what it would mean to forget the weekend, forget the symposium. I wonder what all this forgetting means. I think part of me doesn’t want to post anything about the weekend as an act of forgetting. But that doesn’t seem right. It’s a real challenge for me to get my head around this concept of forgetting as productive (and maybe that’s why I like it). I spend so much of my time arguing for remembering, arguing for the value of rooting around in the archive, not so much to develop a narrative, but rather to unearth the language, the thinking in those pages.

lone starYet, I keep going back to one of my favorite scenes from movie history: the ending of John Sayles’ 1996 film Lone Star. Here’s the dialogue:

Pilar: We start from scratch?
Sam: Yeah.
Pilar: All that other stuff– all that history… to hell with it, right? Forget the Alamo.

I love the scene, but it also comes after an entire movie spent digging into the past: the complicated alliances and conflicts haunting the history of a Texas border town. If we hadn’t spent all that time digging into the history of the place, that final line would not work. It’s almost as if we can forget once we know exactly what we are forgetting. We forget once we’ve done the work of remembering in the most intricate and difficult ways possible.

I need to ask Dawn Lundy Martin more about this concept of forgetting.

I’ll keep posting this thinking in writing about the weekend. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.

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