Maël Renouard

from Fragments of an
infinite memory

the internet has written a new chapter in the history of infamy. Damnatio memoriae—the punishment of oblivion that the Romans imposed upon some of their emperors, whose statues were toppled and whose names were erased from the public monuments—would naturally be an even harsher penalty in our time, as the space for posterity has been greatly stretched and harbors names that formerly wouldn’t have been deemed worthy of even a footnote. But it wouldn’t be easy to accomplish. What was deleted from one place would always reappear in another. This way of doing things would be too contrary to the material’s inner tendency: the internet abhors non-entity, and hungers for exhibition; exhibition is the element in which the internet burns the victims upon which it feeds each day. The simplest thing to do is to follow this tendency by leaving one’s prey a prisoner to the web; for the difficult thing today isn’t to become known, but rather to be forgotten. Never has Phèdre’s cry of anguish—”Where can I hide? For Hades’ night I yearn”—resonated with such force; never has it been so common.