Incognito Ergo Sum:Language, Memory and the Subject

Sayer, Derek (2004) Incognito Ergo Sum:Language, Memory and the Subject. Theory, Culture and Society, 21 (5). pp. 67-89. ISSN 1460-3616

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Abstract

Drawing upon a range of theorists (Derrida, Lacan, Barthes), photographers (Adams, Weston, Lange) and literary texts (Baudelaire, Proust, Breton, Camus, Barnes, Kundera), this article explores the role of memory in grounding identity. If the subject is constituted in language, it is argued, identity can be achieved only in the realm of the imaginary, through fixation in an imago of the self. It is memory above all that gives this being-in-denial its imagined solidity; but that solidity is an effect of language’s ability to create verisimilitude in an eternal present of signification, and not of memory’s relation to a real past. Identity therefore always remains precarious, because the signifiers that furnish the points de capiton of what we remember always also defeDrawing upon a range of theorists (Derrida, Lacan, Barthes), photographers (Adams, Weston, Lange) and literary texts (Baudelaire, Proust, Breton, Camus, Barnes, Kundera), this article explores the role of memory in grounding identity. If the subject is constituted in language, it is argued, identity can be achieved only in the realm of the imaginary, through fixation in an imago of the self. It is memory above all that gives this being-in-denial its imagined solidity; but that solidity is an effect of language’s ability to create verisimilitude in an eternal present of signification, and not of memory’s relation to a real past. Identity therefore always remains precarious, because the signifiers that furnish the points de capiton of what we remember always also defer elsewhere.Drawing upon a range of theorists (Derrida, Lacan, Barthes), photographers (Adams, Weston, Lange) and literary texts (Baudelaire, Proust, Breton, Camus, Barnes, Kundera), this article explores the role of memory in grounding identity. If the subject is constituted in language, it is argued, identity can be achieved only in the realm of the imaginary, through fixation in an imago of the self. It is memory above all that gives this being-in-denial its imagined solidity; but that solidity is an effect of language’s ability to create verisimilitude in an eternal present of signification, and not of memory’s relation to a real past. Identity therefore always remains precarious, because the signifiers that furnish the points de capiton of what we remember always also defer elsewhere.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Theory, Culture and Society
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300
Subjects:
ID Code:
49217
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
27 Jul 2011 14:15
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
01 Jan 2020 07:35