Hope against Hope

Saleh Najafi


‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌    Looking, however vainly, backwards for a ray of light out of the gloom of our shattered hopes, we are still to retrace the last traces of the rare redemptive moments, which, despite getting lost and repressed through the liberal-democratic rejection, live on in the memory of the great failures of the past. Since the greatest historical accounts of the past attempted revolutionary projects are finally nothing more than reports on some partial successes and ultimate failures ( of the German Peasants` War in 16th century, of the Jacobins in the French Revolution in 18th century, of the Paris Commune in 19th century, of the October Revolution in 20th century, and ,who knows, maybe of the Iranian movement in 21th century), it is precisely those redemptive, even though repressed, moments that must not be missed. For  fidelity to those moments and therefore to redeem the emancipatory potential of narrated  failures require the (re)examination without any nostalgic attachment and at the same time accommodation to new seemingly disenachanted circumstances. Tarrying with the history of these numerous failures confronts us, inside with the traumatic core which refers to the repressed memories of great hopes and desires lost in the failed processes of emancipation and blurred by the dominant narratives. Nevertheless it is exactly this traumatic core that is the privileged object of historical narratives.                                                       

   Traumatic events are the privileged objects of repression. Trauma ( or more precisely the traumatic core of every event) is exactly what one is  unable to remember , and as Freud showed us, is condemned to repeat. That is, one is condemned to repeat the inability to recollect, to make the lost memory a part of one`s symbolic narrative.

It could be claimed, therefore, that in relation to trauma one is condemned to repeat one`s failure and impossibility of recollecting the core of the trauma. Yes, the question is not that of remembering things lost, it is the struggle to redeem the potentials and hopes of the past, the lost causes and failures in all the past processes of emancipation.                                                                                             

   It is in this way that the dreams become important and the part and parcel of every emancipatory project-- the dream, in its precise Freudian sense, as the "unauthorized emergence of suppressed desires and wishes under false features and name", as "a (disguised) fulfillment of our (repressed) wishes"[1]. And it should be added that dreams not only give us knowledge of the past but also, in a very certain sense, tell something vitally important about our future. As Freud writes at the end of his masterpiece on the dreams, "by picturing our wishes as fulfilled, dreams are after all leading us into the future. But this future, which the dreamer pictures as the present, has been moulded by his indestructible wish into a perfect likeness of the past."[2]                  

 This latter, very decisive point, has, in my opinion, a highly significant, albeit ignored and unappreciated, political implication. The truth is that the revolutionaries of all time have been the great dreamers of mankind who picture our hopes and wishes for emancipation as if they were fulfilled, and in this way lead us into the future. They have already pictured this future for us as the present, because they all experienced the so-called utopia as actuality, and it is up to us to narrate these actual failures as some virtuality, as the paradoxical past which is still before us, which we have to catch up with. In this way, we may deduce that the true value of the revolutionary dreams of our past (often failed) struggles exists in the present of our process of becoming. It is in this sense that Kierkegaard speaks of the eternal victory of the Good[3], and it is in this  sense that we should think of  history as the often slow, and always infinite, procedure of making true the dream-fictions which turn the past into memory. This points to the very, forgotten, relationship between emancipatory politics and art (as one of the truth-procedures). This relationship is best articulated by Andrey Tarkovsky: "In a sense art is an image of the completed process, of the culmination; an imitation of the possession of absolute truth (albeit only in the form of an image) obviating the long—perhaps, indeed, endless—path of history"[4].                                                                                                      

   The path of history? Which history? In general, there are two grand historical narratives. Both see the world as a story. One relates the tale of human progress, while the other is the story of a world besieged by dark forces and destined for destruction. In fact, we live in an era of the stories which are unable to give any meaning to lives of hopeless and disillusioned people, restless economic crises, increasing inequalities and injustices, and at the same time despair of any radical change in the social spheres. All refer to the essential need for emplotment of the confused and scattered moments of the past that resist becoming memory. In other words, the main question is how to narrate a story without a plot, how to read the unwritten story, how to enact a drama whose script has been lost forever. How to be free from the dominant historical narratives that have no place for the story of revolutions but do relate a great number of attempted struggles and catastrophic failures. My thesis is that releasing the desired freedom in these emplotments is only possible through the process of traumatization of the memory of our past failures—although this process itself requires enacting a new event. For instance, on as March 18th 1996, three hundred African immigrants occupied St-Ambroise church in Paris in order to appeal for regularization of their papers. This event, perhaps unintentionally, revived the memory of another March 18th in the history of redemptive struggles, and forced all the perplexed onlookers to (re)encounter that (mostly, repressed) event.                                                


Elaborating a precise psychoanalytical notion of Trauma in relation to History                                                                                                

   Let`s begin with Freud`s development of his theory of trauma. Freud changed his position in a way similar to Einstein`s shift from the special to the general theory of relativity according to which matter, far from causing the curvature of space, is in fact its effect and therefore the presence of matter signals that space is curved. As well known, Freud started the notion of trauma as something that, from outside, intrudes into our psychic life and disturbs its balance, throwing out of joint the symbolic coordinates that organize our experience -- think of a brutal rape, or of witnessing (or suffering) a torture or perhaps, in social field, a military coup or an invasion by another country or, in the sphere of natural calamities, a disastrous earthquake and even a failed or despairing revolution. From this perspective, the problem is how to symbolize the trauma, how to integrate it into our universe of meaning and cancel its disorienting impact. Freud himself finally gave up this perspective and argued for a more radical treatment of the trauma and the subject`s relationship with its symptoms. Thus the trauma can be claimed that is an effect, or the inner limit, of the very process of symboliztion.                                                           

   In sum, there are, generally speaking, three distinct, and yet interconnected, conceptions of trauma: physical, psychological, and psychoanalytical.  The word trauma, derived from the Greek word, originally names a serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident. In medicine, it signifies any bodily injury or wound. In psychological terms, it refers to a powerful shock that may have long-lasting effects and, as often used in the discourse of various contemporary media, refers to some human disasters. But in psychoanalysis a trauma is not necessarily something that happens to a person in reality, it might even be said that trauma in the strict sense of word is usually a psychical event, that is to say psychic trauma arises from the confrontation between an external stimulus and the subject`s inability to understand and master these excitations (best exampled perhaps by the Emma`s case).[5] And as Lacanian psychoanalysis taught us such confrontations most commonly arise from a subject`s premature encounter with sexuality and the inability to comprehend what is taking place, it means that an event which would be later recognized as a trauma might be not a traumatic event in itself at all and only retrospectively traumatized in the wake of some later, perhaps insignificant, event that would bring the initial seemingly commonplace or meaningless one to consciousness. Most importantly, we are dealing here with an event taking place before the puberty or maturity which leaves a psychological scar in the subject`s unconscious that will resurface in later life. The notion of trauma, according to Freud, is essentially linked to the primal scene, whereby a child has either a real or imaginary experience that it cannot comprehend. That scene as such has no traumatic or disturbing aspect in itself, but when the subject, after the experience of (sexual and of course bodily) maturity and through an encounter which is associated to that event, comes to the question of the meaning of that (somehow forgotten or repressed and, note, not suppressed) scene, he-she retroactively traumatizes the prematurely encountered scene, in that now the question is how to symbolize or narrate or give meaning to the event that by nature cannot be symbolized. Therefore the event functions as the limit of symbolization and thereby sets into motion the process of symbolization itself and structuring of the new sphere of meaning. So the subject encounters an inassimilable memory, a forgotten and repressed one, a paradoxically non-memorized memory, an impenetrable core in the body of memories that resists our struggle to narrate and incorporate it into our world of meaning and challenges our powers and resource for archiving anything that happened and took place in the past.                                                     

    Again, it is the traces that matter, the Freudian scars in the subject`s unconscious, and as far as the historical situations and social memories are concerned the notion of trauma cancels out the Cartesian split of mind and body, of memory and desire, because there we deal with some collective cut or wound in the body of a collective entity, therefore it does not make sense here to speak about the distinction between physical and psychological trauma, and more importantly the trauma in its precisely psychoanalytical sense cannot refer to some spectacular natural/historical disasters  of which the media incessantly speak but rather to the crucial confrontations between some external stimuli-- in the sense of the unrealizable desires the Spirit of a collective entity finds in its own Body-- and the collective subject`s inability to understand them. In this sense, we can claim that every revolution has a traumatic core that, only after the gradual coming of age of a society having undergone a radical change in its symbols and institutions(and thus becoming ripe for its past) will traumatize the collective memory of that society, resurrecting the desire for emancipation which had come to the being through the experience of revolution but at the time was impossible to come true.  So everything would be contingent upon a contingent occurrence that in itself might have no significance (say an alleged widespread fraud in an election) but could bring the memory of desire for emancipation inherent in the revolution to the consciousness of the people.Thus everything is contingent upon abiding with and being true to the memory/desire which awaits to come true.  No existing traumatic core,election fraud itself directly politicized people, then turning the 1367 massacer into a trauma for Mussavi and everyone else.m.f.                                                                                                             


 Foucault`s encounter with an Iranian Revolution and traumatizing the Western idea of Revolution                                                                              

   In the last years of 1970s, nearly ten years after the obscure events of May 68 and at the top of despair and disillusionment of western intellectuals apropos of the possibility of revolution in conditions of late capitalism when the working class was entirely integrated in the body of the system and had no desire or passion for the radical change, Michel Foucault engages himself in a somehow pre-post-modern insurrection in a Middle Eastern country. I believe Foucault’s risky encounter as a radical intellectual with a non-western –though non-Communist, either Leninist or Maoist – and non-archivable revolution in order to cover and record the events within then existing coordinates of the historical archive of revolutions necessarily traumatizes the very idea of revolution in the West. It  is why the most of intellectual circles for a long time preferred to ignore or consider as unimportant Foucault`s writings of the Iranian Revolution. The question was and continues to be that whether Foucault was right in engaging himself in such an attempted process which led to the establishment of a theocratic, repressive, and allegedly totalitarian regime; whether he was right to detect the emancipatory potential of some new form of political spirituality different from all the familiar forms of revolutionary struggles; and finally whether this was not another case of western radical intellectuals projecting their own fantasies onto an "exotic foreign zone of turbulence" which allows them to satisfy simultaneously their emancipatory desires and their tacit masochistic longing for harsh discipline and oppression? Slavoj Zizek claims that Foucault "did the right thing for the wrong reason".[6] In his opinion, Foucault based his analysis on the Kantian opposition between the revolutionary Event (the sublime enthusiasm of the united people who became indifferent to their differences in that magic moment of suspension) and the pragmatic politics of interests and strategic power calculations. In fact Foucault sought for a lost moment of a utopian opening in the revolutionary struggles of a people who were historically not ripe for the revolution, or put it differently, in the process of becoming-people of a forcefully modernized nation which strived to commit a revolution in an era of the impossibility of revolution.                                                                   


As Janet Afary and Kevin B. Andrson point out, many scholars of Foucault view his early writings and provocative statements on Iranian Revolution as aberrant or the product of a political mistake. Contrariwise, they argue that his writings on Iran were in fact closely related to his general theoretical writings on the discourse of Power and the hazards of modernity, and that his experience in Iran "left a lasting impact on his subsequent oeuvre"[7]. On the other hand, some radical thinkers as Zizek suggest that his Iranian engagement, his seduction by an obscure Event, was not only an appropriate gesture but might be also "the best thing he ever did", albeit "a commitment in the wrong direction". Furthermore, one can argue in a Kantian manner that the true significance of every great socio-political event, including the Islamic Revolution of 1979, does not reside in what actually went on where the event in question has taken place, but in the enthusiastic response, the thoughtful reaction, that the event– despite the terrifying and even disastrous things accompanying it and its undesirable objective consequences – generates in the eyes of sympathetic but enlightened observers. And in the contemporary global situation, when we are "moving through a very bleak period in human history"[8], in the age of Post-modernist cynicism and the lack of any commitment (except to opportunism), it is up to the Western intellectuals to appreciate the enthusiastic response that the events in Iran generated in the eyes of such a sympathetic observer as Foucault. For he was, above all, an external observer struggling to revive his hopes in the possibility of a new form of "spiritualized political collectivity" in some place other than the disillusioned West. But this other place, be it Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, or Iran of 1979 or 2009, inevitably implies a traumatic encounter, with an everlasting impact on every historiographical attempt at archiving a non-western revolution.                                                                                                           

   To cast a new light on the Foucault-case, one can invoke the Deleuzian notion of the "intercessors", that is to say, the ones whose voices have not been heard, or, if heard, not really listened to: Spinoza in philosophy, Kafka in literature, and now the subaltern in history. By invoking them, Deleuze tried to open thought to movements and rhythms outside its traditional purview. Intercessors, in his view, "break open the walls of the theatre of philosophy and allow thought to move in `lines of flight` beyond its traditions, beyond its history, beyond its identity"[9]. Are not Foucault`s Iranians the same as Deleuze`s "intercessors"? And, as we`ll see in the following, I believe, Ranciere`s French workers of 1830s have the same status in relation to the official history and archive of the working-class movements. To a Western, eager gaze as Foucault`s, the chief quality of the Iranian revolutionaries as the Deleuzian intercessors appears to be fluidity, and so they were actually used to free up a tradition of Western philosophy and historiography that has been "grid-locked" for centuries in a strict and somehow rigid hierarchy of concepts and categories. But the more important point is that these intercessors have a real history by which they are constrained, and which precludes the longing gaze of French philosophers—"who are already free, who already have their passports, money, and access to world communication systems"[10]—to use light-heartedly the non-Western peoples as some intercessory metaphors. However, the issue of Foucaultean encounter is more complicated. He did commit himself to interpret the events of Iran as a singular artwork which requires new criteria of reading and critique, as a new story that was written in an unfamiliar language and followed the rules of narration different form the dominant ones in the West, and it is exactly his attempt to narrate this obscure story in western terms that, in a certain way, traumatizes the idea of revolution, for now it is the Western gaze that has been affected so deeply by its object of gaze.                               .                                                                                 .                                                                           

   Foucault wanted, indeed, to read and interpret a strange text written in a foreign, unfamiliar language and, if possible, include it into the body of historical archives of the worldly acclaimed revolutions. This surprising text was, as it were, itself written as the process of translating a non-existent western text, a not-yet written one, perhaps a lost story book, an attempted love story, an incredible fiction, who knows… Foucault, in the light of this approach, had to analyze a translated text that had no original to be compared and measured or judged against. After all he himself was a foreigner in the language of Iranian (mostly religious) revolutionaries; he was a foreigner par excellence, not only in another language but also in his own language, for in the terms of then recognized revolutions in the history, he chose the one to analyze, and even to elevate as an example for some new form of insurrection and revolt, that could not be easily and non-problematically accepted as a liberating event (in particular, from the point of view of the posterity and in the terms of the Iranian revolution`s own objective and actual consequences). However, as Proust said, "fine books have to be written in a sort of foreign language". Both the Islamic Revolution and Foucault`s essays on it can be considered, in a sense, as such books. And this is exactly what makes Foucault`s encounter and engagement such a traumatic moment in the history of confrontations between pre- and post- modern worlds: Iranians broke through their way into the (western, modern) history via so many pre-modern and even anti-modern reactionary contents, and emphasized in this way the (im)possibility of the Revolution and thus    traumatized the idea of revolution in the West.                                                  


(K)nights of Labor: counter-archiving or how to archive the forbidden archives .                                                                                                                                                              

   Peter Watkins`s La Commune is one the most important radical attempts to catch up with a past, realized though failed dream of all the human history to create a different world where every man is to rule and to be ruled, a liberated community in which the old-established and deep-rooted distinction between the political and policing the society could be eventually eradicated, a society based upon the radical fraternity, intellectual equality, and thoughtful liberty, a collective entity organized not around the ideological, holy liberal notion of private property and the consensual conception of men as infinitely engaging consumers of mass media and global market – but in sum, a truly proletarian polis where the genuinely collective, unified will takes the hold of the situation. Peter Watkins’s film project is an attempt to narrate, interpret, recollect, and properly describe the greatest failure of the Left radical memory, and one of the most precious struggles, in order to create a memory of emancipation out of fiction, or in other words, to fictionalize the fact of a failed process of a unique revolution. Watkins`s amazing  tour de force is the best example of how, as Andreas Huyssen put it, it isn`t easy to draw the line separating the legendary past from the real past: in this aesthetico-political re-enactment of the most passionate moment of all the emancipatory struggles of history, we are dealing with a radical politics of memory, in which one can see how groundless is the idea that the memory at best is but another footnote of history. Watkins deconstructs the traditional and conventional opposition between history and memory, challenging the generally accepted approaches according to which history is objective, memory is subjective; history is collective, memory is individual; history is scientific and memory is emotional; and so on and so forth.[11] He renders the radical and irreducible opposition of history versus memory a non-sense ideology, trying to (re)create the memory of the 1871 Commune in the same fashion as Jacques Ranciere writes in relation to Chris Marker`s The Last Bolshevik , "memory  must be created against the overabundance of information as well as against its absence", or differently put, against the over-democratized archiving of the post-Fordist Capitalism as well as the totalitarian, exclusive ways of archiving of ideological non-Western regimes: memory "has to be constructed as the liaison between the accounts of the events and traces of actions"[12], for, as Huyssen points out in his Twilight Memories, "the past is not simply there in memory, but it must be articulated to become memory". Watkins`s docudrama is an amorous effort to create such liaison between the past and the present, memory and desire, a sort of counter-archiving in order to give voice to those passionately and enthusiastically engaged in the revolutionary process of becoming and of breaking through into the history. He does this via extraordinary, impossible interviews with both revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries conducted by fictional TV news agents who attempt to archive the unarchivable moments of a realized utopia, culminating in a wonderful heterotopia situated in the borderlines of fiction and documentary, memory and historiography, all with some ordinary Parisians mostly immigrants from North Africa.                                                                                                       

   Watkins`s La Commune can be said to be organized around the two so-called short-circuits between past and present, between memory and desire, or, in other words, between imagination and anachronism. To represent the events of the 1871Paris Commune, he chooses the 11th arrondissment of Paris, and, through his film`s heroine, asks the audiences "to imagine that it is 17 March, 1871". Why Paris 11th, and why March 17th? Because Watkins thinks of the pressure of the place and the time in the process of making present a particular moment of the past, but the place as the site of an event, and the time as the one that Walter Benjamin qualified as "not homogeneous, empty time, but the time filled by the presence of the now", which in turn requires "the notion of a present which is not a transition, but in which time stands still and has come to a stop" (Benjamin`s 14th of "These on the Philosophy of History"). Watkins picks up the 11th arrondisment of Paris and 17th of March, because there is situated the Saint-Ambroise church that was occupied, on 18 March 1996, by three hundred African immigrants, the well-known sans-papiers (the "paperless" people) who claimed for regularization of their papers. Of course, after four days they were evacuated violently by police forces. This seemingly and comparatively small event, in which illegal immigrant workers "publicly declared the existence and valence of what had been without valence, thereby deciding that those who are here [in France] belong here and enjoining people to drop the expression `illegal immigrant` [clandestin] "[13], inevitably invokes the vagrant ghosts of the revolutionary communards of Paris of 1871. Watkins creates, through his unprecedented re-enactment, a universe that archives a reality so troubling in the eyes of those historians who put the Commune back into the cupboards of History for twenty years, or even to a black hole. Watkins struggles to "open a path to a new approach and debate", and, as he himself writes in response to the question "Why this film, at this time?": "what happened in Paris in the spring of 1871 represented (and still represents) the idea of commitment to a struggle for a better world, and of the need for some form of collective social Utopia—which WE now need as dying people need plasma."                                        

   Walter Benjamin said that the belief in historical evolution legitimates the victors, thus we have to see the revolts and revolutions as some cracks in the path of time that are not the work of time itself, and this requires an approach that denies the existence of a global temporal process that both creates and destroys form of life, consciousness and action. It is in such a fashion that Ranciere decides to (re)collect, from the point of view of social sciences and official archives, the little and insignificant or rather repressed dreams and stories of workers "taking an afternoon walk, or straying far from the solid realities of the factory and the organized struggle".[14] Ranciere`s nineteenth century workers are, in a certain sense, not real workers: "they are artisans from olden times, dreamers who dabbled in poetry and philosophy, who got together to found ephemeral newspapers and [in the process] became intoxicated by socialist and communist utopias but for the most part avoided doing anything about them". It is so evident that they and their experimentations can be easily included into the sociological, anthropological, and historical analyses, and so they seem to be categorized and archived without any trouble and beyond any doubt in pre-established frameworks. But a radical, eccentric archivist takes the risk of treating them as theoretical and philosophical texts, and therefore (re)record them in a process of counter-archiving: following on these men`s seemingly unrealizable dreams is to offer an untimely version of a sort of "fraternal communalism". Ranciere`s counter-archive is, in his own terms, a book which is "out of place", not only in classical modernist visions but also in postmodern ones. One is tempted to consider the locksmiths, tailors, cobblers and typesetters of his Nights of Labor as the French "knights of labor"—the Knights of Labor was the largest American labour organization of 19th century that was established in 1869. In 1860s, the tailors of Philadelphia attempted to establish a union of their trade, but the employers of the city forced their employees to choose between their union and their jobs. So the workers decided to dispense with usual and typical open forms of organization and instead take their union underground, using the methods of secret societies.                                                                

   Ranciere`s workers, however, nearly thirty years before the American Knights of Labor, far from establishing a secret militant association or underground organization, just wanted to make poems and in their dreams saw themselves as writers or even philosophers. They didn`t think about any kind of riot, social riot, or political revolution, and also didn`t organize any struggle in order to improve their conditions of labour or increase their wages. They rather attempted to do another, or the others`, work[15]. They composed verses—and this was a sort of displacement or "dis-identification", and what Ranciere does with the archives recording the memories of these strange and somehow vagrant knights of labor, these poet-workers, philosopher-laborers, is to displace their files in the official archives. Treating their writings as literary-theoretical texts, he has undertaken a kind of unprecedented counter-archiving which introduces the possibility of taking account of new possibilities and of a new way to interpret some forgotten, or rather forbidden, dreams, hopes, and wishes. Ranciere tries to revive some fictions hidden behind the veil of the facts of history, retracing the traces of so glorious yet repressed wishes of the French workers of 1830s. In other words, he seeks for the forbidden archives within the existing, official Archive itself in order to (re)create a (lost) promise of emancipation and in this way traumatizes a      since then insignificant moment in the path of history.             


On the (im)possibility of a necessary fiction                                             



   The bourgeois— And you believe in the revolution?                                         

   Me—I believe in it. Like you, by the way     Bourgeois— Me? You must be kidding! Is a revolution possible in our time? The armed forces; the wisdom of the proletarians—resolved to legally obtain the improvement of their lot; the will of the republicans—who have already done so much for the workers—to resolutely march on the path of social reforms: isn`t all of this guarantee enough for you?                                           

Me— No more for me than for you.                                                                   

                                  ( Bernard Lazare, Necessity of the Revolution, 1896)


   To put it frankly, we live now in a world designed and arranged as an unbearable drama based on a confused and valueless script, with the repugnant and repulsive self-satisfaction of its writers and directors (the bankers, stock-holders, businessmen, commercial marketers, and so on and so forth), with its ugly and bad-organized scenes (mass media, Hollywood, etc.) and the arrogance of its ham actors: everything attests to the necessity of a radical change—inequalities, injustices, sexual barbarisms, obscurantisms, hedonistic mysticisms,…And despite all this, there is no horizon of hope for any kind of global revolution or any sign of a real change in the international relations. The idea of revolution seems to refer to a fiction of the past, an idea based on an old-fashioned view of history that had been founded on a myth of an "achievable utopia" that caused the murder of tens of millions of people. On the other hand, there is a pitiful reality, the pitiable fact of the impossibility of revolution, of a world bereft of any hope for creating something else, something new. It is true that a misplaced faith in human ability to improve the world has actually made if far worse, it is more importantly true that one of the signs of "becoming far worse" of our world is the very loss of belief in the revolution, and although the revolutionary actions, in their traditional sense (as a scientifically-historically inevitable necessity) seem nowadays more impossible than ever, we should insist that the kind of revolutionary reactions as the examples considered in this essay, however contingent they might be, are highly necessary. Revolution as that necessary fiction we have lost in the clamour of free market today may be the very memory Jean Paul once described as "the one beautiful paradise from which we cannot be expelled". However we live in the inferno of a reality the fundamental principle of which is the separation of memory and desire, but the only hope that is left for us is exactly that (wonder)land of indiscernibility of memory and desire, that forbidden zone of faith and fidelity to our lost causes and ideals.                                                                                                        





3. “In the eyes of this double-minded person the Good is one thing, its victory is another, and its victory through him may even be something else. Now it is indeed the case, that eternally the Good has always been victorious. But in time it is otherwise, temporally it make a long time. The victory is slow; its uncertainty is a slow measure of length.”                      (Soren Kierkegaard, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing)                                                              







1. Sigmund Freud, Interpretation of Dreams, p.244.                                                                                          


2. ibid. p.783. Freud points out that there is no question about the value of dreams in giving us knowledge of the future. Certainly, they give us some knowledge of the past, for "dreams are derived from the past in every sense". However, Freud adds that "the ancient belief that dreams foretell the future is not wholly devoid of truth". I try to apply this strange truth to viewing the past revolutions as the dreams of liberation and emancipation, and so examine how they could lead us to the future pictured as the present.                                                                                  


3. “In the eyes of this double-minded person the Good is one thing, its victory is another, and its victory through him may even be something else. Now it is indeed the case, that eternally the Good has always been victorious. But in time it is otherwise, temporally it make a long time. The victory is slow; its uncertainty is a slow measure of length.”                      (Soren Kierkegaard, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing)                                                                        


5. Andrey Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1987, p.240.                                                                                                                                                         




5. Sigmund Freud, "Project for a Scientific Psychology". Emma is the pseudonym of  one of  Freud`s patients, who was subject to a strange compulsion of not being able to go into shops alone. She herself pointed to a memory from when she had been twelve years old (shortly after her puberty), but after a period of analysis, Freud found out that the memory in question was significant only in that it revealed and revived a second memory from when she had been a girl of eight (i.e. before the puberty). Freud concludes that "here we have the case of a memory arousing an affect which it did not arouse as an experience, because in the meantime the change [brought about] in puberty had made possible a different understanding of what was remembered." In fact, we find that a memory is repressed which has only become a trauma by deferred action. And one can claim that exactly the same occurs in the sphere of memory of  the revolutionary events: we have some political redemptive events which took place before the (social) puberty or maturity, and are revived-traumatized due to some later event after the maturity of the social institutions.


6. Slavoj Zizek, In Defense of Lost Causes, Verso 2008, pp.107—117.                                                                  


7. Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson, Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, University of Chicago Press, 2005.                                                                                                                 


8. This is how Peter Watkins, an English film and television director whose La Commune (2000) will be discussed in this very essay as an exemplary case of retracing the historical traumas via the re-enactment of some moments of rupture in the continuum of History as narrated by the victors, describes our preset world in his official website. He radically criticizes the post-modernist cynicism and "the mind-numbing conformity and standardization caused by the systematic audio-visualization of the planet". He insists that we live now in a world "where excess and economic          exploitation have become the norm—to be taught even to children"........................................................................ .


9. Dudley Andrew, "The Roots of the Nomadic", in The Brain is the Screen, edited by Gregory Flaxman, University of Minnesota Press 2000, p.217.                                                                                                                  


10. Gayatry Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. C. Nelson and L. Grossberg, University of Illinois Press, 1988, p.280.                                                                                       


11. This crucial point is articulated very well by Andreas Huyssen, see his interview with the site of barcelonametropolis (January—March 2010): www.barcelonametropolis.cat/en.                                                 


12. Jacques Ranciere, Film Fables (Talking Images), translated by Emiliano Battista, Berg Publishers, 2006.      


13. Alain Badiou, "Thinking the Event", in Philosophy in the Present, edited by Peter Englemann, Polity Press 2009, p.37.                                                                                                                                                            


14. Jacques Ranciere, The Nights of Labor: The Workers` Dream in Nineteenth-Century France, translated by John Drury, Temple University Press, 1989. Ranciere`s book was originally published in France in 1981 under the title Les Nuits des Proletaires. This stunning work reinterprets a very special revolution of 1830 in which some workers rebelled against "the unyielding predetermination of their lives". In Ranciere`s account of these workers` writings, they are represented as some proletarian intellectuals, poets, and artists who "were able to articulate their longings" and so did not need any Althusserian intellectual to speak for them. In fact, they fought for "the possibility of living other lives".                                                                                                                                                            


15. I point here to the triple distinction that Hannah Arendt has made between labor (meeting needs), work (constructing a stable collective world), and action (public activity in the public sphere. In this light, we can say that Ranciere`s workers in their splendid nights were striving to work, transcending the world of labor and the mere satisfaction of their needs tied to the conditions of survival.                                                                                                      

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