chapter
6 Pages

Yes, Now I Remember: An Introduction

In his 1972 film Roma, Federico Fellini lucidly illustrates the

collective nightmares shared by the engineer, the builder,

the cinéaste, and the archaeologist. While tunneling for a

new subway line through the soil beneath Rome, the great

digging machine is brought to a stop as it encounters a huge

hall lined with murals from ancient times. The builder and

the film crew hesitantly enter through a small rent in the

wall and stand in awe of the painted figures who seem to be

looking at them. And then, without warning, the frescoes

begin to disintegrate before their very eyes-the air entering

the hall from the tunneling catalyzes a chemical reaction

that is destroying the pigments. The intruders stand fixed

and horrified, but there is nothing to be done-the process

is rapid, and irreversible. The destruction of these ancient

images has erased these likenesses, their histories, and the

memories that accompany them. What part of the heritage

has been lost will not be ascertained. We will never know-

or forget-these someones, somethings; these memories

have vanished in the clear, modern air.