Coming Home (Working Titles 8.1)
- By Judith Filc
In Minima Moralia, Adorno reviles U.S. highways. They represent the irruption of capitalism in nature: “the more impressively smooth and broad they are, the more unrelated and violent their gleaming track appears against its wild, overgrown surroundings.” They are artificially devoid of marks—neither foot nor wheel can leave a trace on them, just as their manufacture is devoid of the impress of the hand. “It is as if no one had ever passed their hand over the landscape’s hair. It is uncomforted and comfortless.”
The highway as a landscape removed from human hands recalls the feeling of inaccessibility linked to the sense of foreignness and uprootedness. Does his refugee status color his view? And he’s not just any refugee; he’s a half-Jew who has escaped Nazism. He suffers the pain of losing one’s loved ones and the guilt of the survivor on the one side, and on the other the loss of a home. What he says about the highway could very well refer to the migrant: “It is as if no one had ever passed their hand over the landscape’s hair.” Dispossession is starkly present in the lack of a mother’s loving touch. What clearer invocation of the unconditional love embodied in motherhood than that blind feeling, your hair being gently stroked?
The traces I’ve often experienced on Argentine highways: the cracks and holes caused by the weight of trucks and the ravages of winter; moving at great speed and feeling the car jump and shake; moving forward in the dark, hearing the crackling of the icy drops against the windows, of the ice under the tires; moving forward on a route across great expanses of darkness broken only by the lights of other cars; crisscrossing routes stretching over the country, neuronal networks, networks of memory; and other trips in which the dark of dawn heralded the sunrise over endless spans of grass and cows, over elms bent by the wind, when moving at great speed over the asphalt preluded adventure.
The Urge to Remember
The drive toward memory: envisioning an object in its absence. We strive to preserve/recover something through the power of evocation. Our aspiration is to conjure it as minutely as possible—to have it in our mind as if it were still with us. Like the first communities, painting animals in their caves to ensure their capture.