Thursday, March 7, 2013

Eleven Years Later

Last week Annie McClanahan came to the UofR to give her a talk based on her current book project, "Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and Twenty-First Century Culture”, which, according to her website, “explores how cultural texts have been compelled to account for the expansion and collapse of a financialized credit economy.” Analyzing foreclosure photos and horror films like Drag Me to Hell (2009) and Dream Home (2010)—both which center on the housing market--

Normally, deciding whether or not I want to hear a talk is simple, depending exclusively on my interest and availability. Other factors were at play for me with this particular talk, however. Having experienced foreclosure at twelve years old, it’s hard to imagine anyone explaining or intellectualizing that which, for me, will always be duly ineradicable and impossible. And mine.

McClanahan gave an excellent talk and, I think, an important one. But I’m full of anger when I think about photographs of my old home enlarged and projected for the scrutiny of graduate students and educators. There were moments in the talk when McClanahan quickly showed stills from Dream Home, apologizing for their gruesomeness before moving onto a more pleasant picture. But she lingered over the photographs of gutted and vandalized interior spaces, remarking during the question and answer session that those responsible for the damage must have been “incredibly angry” about their eviction to have acted so destructively.

For me, the foreclosure photographs were infinitely more traumatic than those film stills of spilled intestines and blood-spattered floors. In fact, they might be quite similar, showing, as they do, different forms of absolute carnage. I’m not sure someone who hasn’t experienced the incredible anger of foreclosure can experience its photographs as truly traumatic—and experience their anger again as a result.

It’s strange to be reminded of the ways in which my past will reappear and challenge me in my academic life.

No comments:

Post a Comment