Big philosophical forms of dread are fun to discuss but tiny terrestrial terrors just make me depressed.

Anne Carson, “We’ve Only Just Begun”

The better question may be what divides our past so radically between the things we remember and the things we don’t. It may be that the general force of anxiety that affects everything in modern life is also responsible for the way our pasts get divided. The truth about modern life is that it creates enormous anxiety at every moment. It’s like a traumatic force that suppresses some memories and refuses to suppress others at all. Our past is divided between the archival and the available exactly because it is so quickly past—so rapidly dissolved in confusion. We all want to stop the process of traumatic change from happening, and sometimes we do it by forgetting everything, sometimes by remembering almost too much.

Adam Gopnik, “Why We Remember the Beatles and Forget So Much Else”

In the public-private culture and politics of the contemporary United States, trauma has become the dominant idiom of subjectivity, citizenship, politics, and publics. It is a sensibility of impact for which there are, of course, many unspeakable referents […]. But it is also a technology and material trace in its own right. As a technology, or “still,” it marks the wound or gap where a public politics might be. It traces the conflation of the public and the private, the inside and the outside. It marks the nightmarish vulnerabilities of a subject who is subject to forces beyond her control or understanding and yet given total responsibility for everything that happens to her and to others. It marks a mode of attention at once deeply distracted and scanning for revelations and driven by the fury of its own traces.

Kathleen Stewart, “Trauma Time: A Still Life”, in Histories of the Future, edited by Daniel Rosenberg and Susan Harding