Saturday, March 28, 2009

Please Rewind Me to Tell You!

Isn't it interesting that we use other people (very politely, of course, and kindly) to remind us to tell a story as if our memories / stories were stored somewhere else and had to be postponed to an undefined but near future time before being retrieved and activated by our listeners?  As if we were inviting our listeners to press play in the future and rewind us so we could then playback our already taped before a non-live audience story for a now live audience?  Here the postponing of our storytelling us in the name of displacing responsible for the telling of it on to a listener with a promise that the story will be good shows us that as  narrators of stories we want to retell, we are broken tape machines in need of rewinding and sweeding by and for our listener.  All we want is more time to tell.  Again.  Does this mean that our repetition compulsions are really death drifts rather than death drives since our compulsive narrative repetitions require the listener's hand or voice to (re)activate us?


Lupton said...

Yes, I am often telling people to "remind me" -- my husband, my kids, people who work with/for me, etc. It makes memory more dialogic, perhaps? But also outsourcing memory?

Danielle said...

Well, I don't know about you, but I've met plenty of people that just cannot be prevented from telling stories--the same ones, over and over again (I do it all the time). In most cases, it seems less like we actually require a listener to (re)activate the story, and more like we use the listener's mere presence as an excuse to retell it. Sometimes, even after being reminded we've told a listener a story already, we still feel compelled to finish it. What of that weird impulse?

I suppose this tendency to repeat stories could only be called a "drive", not a "drift". In my experience it's always the speaker controlling the retelling of the tale, not the listener. It's more active than passive.

(Not that I really see a connection between the repetitive compulsion to relive non-traumatic stories and Freud's death drive. I can't think of a way it could be harmful to the self, in any case.)