Mar 302013

Like an inhabitant of Novillas (or Buenos Aires), I have begun reading Jacqueline Rose, On Not Being Able to Sleep. In dialogic mode it was only a matter of time before I would begin doing so, but like an inhabitant of Novillas I have lost my memories of why I should have to. Somebody must have mentioned it in passing somewhere. I suppose. I only know I feel compelled.

At the beginning I note the inverted commas in the title to the Introduction: ‘Shame’ . ‘Signifying what?’ I wondered (equally in inverted commas), ‘Including us two naughties, and other literary devices, such as that all us men should be ashamed of ourselves and our history (if we hadn’t forgotten it all)’. Rose’s introduction gives the examples of the 1998 Australian ‘race’ election where the opposing parties competed in shameful exposure, and then all describes the similar process of the South African Truth and Reconcilliation Commission.

I also began to think of the 1973 Commission set up in Buenos Aires 1973 under the chair of Ernesto Sabato to preside over the investigation of the fate of the 30,000 disappeared, and the further shameful exposures as/when the bodies buried on the Pamapas came to light (if they ever did).

When we speak our shame, Rose tells us to keep a triptych in mind: shame, disgust and guilt. And not to short circuit the process, stay alert in the tragi-comedy to the moral irony through the full 3 Acts of the opera:  the LULU (say) a free earth spirit woman. Stick with it Rose suggessts, and neither grasp at melancholy (self-abasement as a matter of pride), nor rash acts generally speaking (survival for as long as possible rather than suicide – if possible).