Forgetting as Writing: Towards a Psychoanalytic Graphology

The fact that we seemed to have almost perfected forgetting rather than remembering in the context of the worlds of the internet brings us to the door steps of an extreme form of forgetting. Each one of us firmly suppresses tragic and painful memories. Psychoanalysis deals with suppression of these pathological memories. Archiving of these memories or repressing them appears to be topographic or spatial in character. Freud for instance, offers the analogy of the photographic picture to illustrate that everything conscious begins with the unconscious just like the positive photographic image arises from a negative one. Just like meaning is words turn inside out (the semantic interiority forces us outside or words move our mind to the outside world), repression is also marked with duality of an inverted symmetry. Inverted symmetry is an inverted mirror image. Maybe an example will help. Sadistic aggression and tender love live together. We keep on pushing lender love into the zone of repression and become aggressive when we hate people whom we once loved.

Freud clearly teaches that repression involves an interplay of diagrammatically opposite states. He teaches that repression is a conflictual process. It is crystal clear that Freud thought that repression does not follow our familiar either/ or structure of logic. We can also trace this thinking in the fort/ da game played by his nephew to cope with the anxiety of the absence of the mother. Fort/da involved the disappearance and return of a wooden reel standing for the absence and presence of the mother. It is by repeating this unpleasant disappearance and pleasant return of the mother through the play of the game that the child becomes the master of the situation. It is a kind of attaining substitutive satisfaction using a symbolic disguise. We can also find similar mirror inversions in dreams which Freud views as wish fulfilment.

Stepping into the shoes of grammatology, we may view forgetting as a form of non-logocentric writing. The graphology of pathological forgetting can be seen in repression and resistance and is studied by psychoanalysis. Derrida radicalizes Freudian mirror inversions by introducing a background dynamism and structure of difference to the unconscious. While Freud highlighted the two way movement in the manner repression works or writes. Derrida sees repression works through a series of interruptions and restorations at different heterogeneous levels. Derrida adds temporality to Freudian topography. Besides,Derridian perspective accounts for the number of repressions that a single person may be afflicted with at a time.

From the Derridian point of view repression writes through the alphabets of interruptions and restorations. They have the undertones of the fort/da disappearance and return. This shows repression has diametric and concentric spatial differential relations. Diametric stands of separation/ interruption/ disappearance while concentric stands for connections/ return. Derrida thus proposes that repression is a dynamic process of archivization, writing, recording that both engages splitting and connecting processes. Derrida sees the unconscious as an archive and suppression and resistance as a process of archiving. Hence, the compulsive repetition is viewed as a desire to return to the archive in this Derridian point of view.

Our study of the graphology of psychoanalysis with regard to repressions does provide us an insight into the workings of forgetting. Forgetting is not logocentric. We cannot simply erase memories like the way we can erase what is written on a blackboard. Forgetting leaves traces of memories behind. They have the tendency of disappearance and return like the forta/ da game. That is why we have an intense desire to return to the archive in (Derridan sense). The desire is irrepressible and wishes to return to the origin, the place of absolute commencement/ the zero point of life. This might explain why we seem to be repetitively escaping into the worlds of the internet. Perhaps our real world has become less than the hyperrealism of the worlds of the internet. It may have become original and we are trying to reach this zero point by hopping on the networks of the internet.

Grammatology leads us to understand that our engagement to the point of addiction is the way that forgetting is writing in our society. This means our archive/ unconscious is the internet and we nurse a constant desire to come to the original place. The fact that it is not really the original place, we keep monkeying all over the net in search of the absent original point. This is why we are condemned to monkeys on the web. Hence, we have the challenge not just to deal with the way forgetting is writing in our society but also deal with residual traces of memories left by forgetting. One cannot forget that it is we who are writing forgetting in our society and hence the solution is with us too.

This study tries to manifest how grammatology is illuminating our forgetting as a form of writing. It is non-phonic writing. It is erasing our memories while keeping their traces. This means traces of memories are dynamic and they play a hide and seek kind of game allied to the ford/da game used by Freud’s nephew to cope with his anxiety of the absence of his mother. The absence of mastery over our real world pushes us into the hyper real virtual world which gives us a sense of ‘return and disappearance’ in complexly dynamic and heterogeneous forms. It is only by this repeating return and disappearance states of experience that we get some semblance of mastery over the dynamic world of the internet. The sense of mastery over a virtual reality is only transient and hence the monkeying leaps on the sites of the internet.

We, therefore, have to deal with the way we write forgetting on the web which in turn produces the culture of forgetting in our society. Maybe it is not an exaggeration to say that the non-logocentric world of the internet that stays in dissolved state till we choose to google is a new world of the unconscious. It is a playground where we are playing the fort/da to cope with anxieties of our life. This play is producing a culture of forgetting in our society. Since there is no pure forgetting, the residual traces of memories can be explosive. This is why we have to deal with the return of the traces of the memory. Social mavericks may reanimate and re-signify or semiotize the residual traces of memories. This can have drastic consequences if manipulated by vested interest. To resist mind manipulation and our enslavement, we have saved our memories and their traces from being manipulated in our society.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao