Summer 2010

Inventory / An Anthology of Memories from Cabinet’s Published Past

Working through our issues

Alejandro Cesarco

“Inventory” is a column that examines or presents a list, catalogue, or register.


Inadvertent memory

Millions and millions of pixels, stored in memory, waiting in databases.

This memory of being recognized by the victim is quite common among soldiers; however, military statistics show that the bayonet is rarely used in war and that most of the killing in war is done from a distance where the killer remains anonymous.


The Center decided to keep the original gallery name, “Pavilion Veljkovic,” in memory of the family.

Who wouldn’t consider, however briefly, a Borgesian schema, that of a labyrinthine universal library (pace Alain Resnais’s documentary on the old Bibliothèque Nationale, “Toute la mémoire du monde”—“all the memory of the world”), where each reader is lead through a surreptitious but efficacious rhetoric to his or her own utopia?

During field work in 1989, one Inuk elder told me that he had drawn detailed maps of Hiquligjuaq from memory, but he smiled and said that long ago he had thrown them away.

Subversive mapmaking tries to reassert the map as a dialogic tool, tries to revive the aura of presence and integration symbolized by the Inuk elder’s memory.

The difference between internal memory-map and surveyed document also runs parallel to the anthropological (and literary critical) distinction between storytelling and writing, wherein the artifactual, written text signals a loss of communal interrelationship, a shift away from the conversational nature of oral transmission around the fire.

His crystal-clear memory of a moment ago suddenly evaporates.


Please draw that famous photograph of “The Lightning Field” from memory.

The horrors of the return journey are blurred to my memory and I know they were blurred to my body at the time.

Husserl added that our expectations for the coming moment and the memory of the one just passed are all members of our “now.”


An emotion is a thing waiting to happen to a person who has no memory of (i.e. is flirting with) time passing.

The most interesting mode of being oneself used to be “having a memory.” Both lacked memory.

Warhol preferred boredom, empty spaces, killing time, and no memory.

Maybe the reason my memory is so bad is that I always do at least two things at once.

But at some point it started to seem like it might be best to leave the image, like the specific story it illustrates and the general kind of history it epitomizes, in the memory space where it already resides, open to further layers of retelling, available to yet more speculation.


In the late 19th century and early 20th century, “memory men” (and they were usually men) were a familiar act on the music hall circuits of Europe and North America.

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