Diasporic Inscriptions of Loss and Grief in
Atom Egoyan’s Calendar

by Karen Jallatyan

Atom Egoyan is an Egypt-born, Canadian-Armenian filmmaker who for the past three decades has enchanted viewers with his incredibly suggestive films. In this article, I will focus on his film Calendar (1993) for a singular reason. Shot in Canada and Armenia shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, it is Egoyan’s only film that stages an encounter between the capitalist ‘West’ and its post-Soviet other. This makes Calendar, more than any other film by Egoyan, particularly powerful in registering the anxieties of contemporary capitalism right when it was adjusting to the official ending of the Cold War. Yet, the anxieties registered by the film do not just pertain to the past thirty years, but instead evoke the disasters that define the industrial world of the 20th century. Realizing that the film’s exceptionally wide temporal and spatial reach is made possible by contemporary Armenian culture in its diasporic and nation-state configurations, the reading that follows hopes to reaffirm the paramount importance of studying diasporas in understanding contemporary culture and globalization.

 

Calendar takes place between 1991 and 1992 and is set in two locations. It opens with a Canadian-Armenian couple, a photographer and his partner Arsinée, visiting Armenia to take photos of churches and castles for a calendar commissioned by a diaspora Armenian organization. Arsinée speaks Armenian and acts as the photographer’s translator. Once in Armenia, they hire a taxi driver, named Ashot. As the three travel, there is a growing attraction between Arsinée and Ashot which leaves the photographer increasingly alienated. Eventually, Arsinée decides to stay with Ashot in Armenia while the photographer returns to Canada. In the privacy of his living room, he obsessively watches footage brought from the trip to Armenia. He also hires escort women to dine with him in his apartment more or less every month in a predetermined arrangement evoking the circumstances of the deterioration of his relationship with Arsinée. A calendar with images of Armenian churches presumably taken by the photographer hangs from the kitchen wall and marks the progress of time (see image below). Eventually, the photographer accepts the breakup.

As we can see, Calendar is about trauma and mourning. There are three layers of trauma affecting the photographer. First, the nightmarish collapse of the relationship between the photographer and his partner Arsinée during their visit to Armenia. Second, the photographer’s assimilation into Anglophone Canadian society at the cost of forgetting the Armenian language, which he spoke in his childhood. This happens after the photographer’s Armenian family moved from Egypt to Canada in the 1950s. Third, the trauma of the Armenian genocide of 1915, which transgenerationally affects the photographer. The most recent trauma of the breakup activates in the photographer’s psyche the earlier traumas.

 

The third, earliest layer of trauma, the 1915 Armenian genocide, is mentioned in passing in the beginning of the film through the following prompt for a voicemail left by the photographer on the phone in his apartment in Canada. “Hi. It’s April 24th and I am working in the dark room all day. Please leave a message at the sound of the tone. Thanks.” The viewer familiar with Armenian culture would immediately recognize that the date mentioned—April 24th—is the day of the commemoration of the Armenian catastrophe. On this day in 1915, the Young Turk government of the Republic of Turkey, formed recently after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, rounded up, deported and murdered hundreds of Armenian intellectuals, as an early stage of the Armenian genocide.

 

The second layer of trauma, the loss of the ability to speak a language with which one grew up, is invoked in the conversation between the last escort woman of Egyptian origins who visits the photographer in the month of November (see image below). During this exchange, the photographer remarks

No, it’s really difficult, I mean, getting . . . I actually didn't speak any English and, ah, like I remember this one time where,
ah, I was on the beach, and there were all these kids and they were all singing “Yellow Submarine” and, ah, and I didn't
know the words and all I could hear was like “yallah submarine, yallah submarine” [the woman laughs], and so I started
singing with them, and I was going “'yallah submarine, yallah submarine.”[1] [He starts pouring wine.] I mean you're so
vulnerable to that right when you are a kid
, you're just sort of like [pouring more wine], you're just sort of like imitating
what like other people would wanna hear, but it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with what you're feeling or hmm
what's going through your mind, or anything like that. (emphasis added)

In the conversation above, the photographer mentions explicitly the difficulties involved with not understanding English while being transposed to live in an Anglophone society. He also admits to having felt very vulnerable as a child to all kinds of social and cultural pressures. What he avoids mentioning, and, I argue represses, is the fact that as a result of his move to Canada, he stopped speaking Armenian, a language that he grew up speaking in Egypt through his Armenian parents. By defensively pouring wine, he silently signals the woman to end the conversation, a gesture which, as with previous escorts, signals going and pretending to have a sexually suggestive conversation on the kitchen phone in a foreign language. Trying to sweep under the rug the trauma of losing Armenian language and presumably growing distant from its culture, the photographer’s mind nevertheless displaces it by making him talk about the reverse process of acquiring the English language. What is more, the loss of Armenian language through assimilation buries even more deeply the traumas that were already encoded in the Armenian language when he was learning it in the 1950s in Egypt, namely, the trauma of the Armenian genocide.

 

A similar kind of repression and its return is marked during the conversation with the same escort woman after the photographer unexpectedly asks her to stop talking on the phone:

Photographer: You can put down the phone now. Yea, that’s OK. It’s enough.

Escort Woman: [walking towards the photographer] Is everything all right?

Photographer: Yea. No, everything is fine. [She returns to her seat.] So, when you said before that your father was Armenian, I mean, he is not really Armenian, or like…

Escort Woman: Well, he considers himself to be Armenian.

Photographer: But, why? I mean; it's ridiculous. It’s like saying that he considers himself to be Yugoslavian or an Inuit or something like that.

Escort Woman: hhhh

Photographer: I mean, I mean it’s just like, I mean, I mean it’s just because he has, I mean, I mean because his grandfather was Armenian, you know.

Escort Woman: Yeah, I suppose it is strange.

Photographer: Yeah, yeah, I mean, I mean, my, I dunno, it’s kind of weird, I mean, it . . . 

Escort Woman: I mean I consider myself to be Egyptian and I grew up in Canada, I was born in Canada and I still trace myself, you know.

Photographer: Yeah, but you act Egyptian, like the way you walk in here and stuff, you know . . .

Escort Woman: How does one act Egyptian? [laughs]

Photographer: So, hmm, I dunno, the way you sort of moved around, it’s kind of, like I can tell, sort of you know, it’s kind of, kind of the way you, just the perfume . . .

Escort Woman: Just very much so?

Photographer: Well, the perfume and stuff, kind of, you know there is kind of, a kind of a tendency to have towards a, a, a kind of, of appearing in profile all the time, you know like, you know like you do…

Escort Woman: [laughs]

Photographer: No… You know like, kind, kind of cryptical . . .  

Escort Woman: [laughing; unintelligible dialogue.]

Photographer: Well sort of, yeah.

Escort Woman: Oh, I see, I see.

Photographer: Yeah. But you wouldn't probably get that in me, or anything like that.

Escort Woman: Well, I can, I can see it in you. I mean, I wouldn’t think that you are a Canadian.

Photographer: You can conceive it in me?

Escort Woman: I can see it. I wouldn’t think that you are a Canadian.

Photographer: Oh, you can see it, oh, ah.

Escort Woman: Just the way you look . . .              

(emphasis added)

As we can see, the conversation shifts towards identity and its markers. They talk about individual and cultural identity in relation to Egypt, Armenia and Canada. The photographer is curious about the Armenian roots that the woman might have. At the same time, he operates with an essentializing conception of identity based on stereotypes. To the escort woman’s answer regarding her father “Well, he considers himself to be Armenian,” he adds: “But, why? I mean; it's ridiculous. It’s like saying that he considers himself to be Yugoslavian or aa Inuit or something like that.” For him, ancestral blood-tie seems to be the sole criterion for a real claim to an ethnic identity. When the escort woman concedes with some hesitation that it is a strange claim, he pauses and says, “Yeah, yea, I mean, I mean, my, I dunno, it’s kind of weird, I mean, it . . .” (emphasis added). It seems that he attempts to talk about his roots but avoids doing so; he is unable to face his past. Yet, once again, the repressed trauma returns in a displaced fashion by fueling his interest in the possible Armenian roots of others. The inflexible judgments which he passes on identity claims reflect the traumatic psychic impasse which remains repressed in his mind. While the events that transpire in Canada are on the surface attempts to mourn this most recent trauma, the two previous traumas are also triggered and possibly mourned.

Trauma and Mourning Inscribed

 

Nevertheless, to merely claim that Calendar is about trauma and mourning is to reduce the complexity of the film into a conventional narrative form. Broadly speaking, analyses of literature and film dealing with trauma and mourning have led scholars to question the possibility of representing trauma in a conventionally descriptive, realist manner.[2] They agree that narratives of trauma and mourning are non-linear, fragmentary, and repetitive.[3] Others, while affirming the impossibility of positively representing trauma due to the difficulties involved in witnessing it and assimilating its experience into history, have nevertheless insisted on the need to discuss trauma and mourning in various representational media (textual, visual and auditory) to counter its numbing and repressive tendencies in the name of a society that is more aware about the ethics and politics of violence.[4] Calendar also acknowledges the inadequacy of representing trauma and mourning through conventional narrative means by inscribing it into the film’s form.

 

In analyzing Egoyan’s Calendar, I am not alone in noticing and focusing on the film’s recursive narrative form. In her essay entitled “The Thirteenth Church: Musical Structures in Atom Egoyan’s Calendar,” Katrin Kegel argues that the film has the form of a “musical exercise.” She claims that “the film’s specific situational arrangements and the repetitive elements within its narrative recall baroque contexts, specifically the musical form of theme with variations” (emphasis added).[5]  Her demonstration goes even further, stating that “the personal transformation of the photographer, which is accompanied by a heightening and resolution of the narrative toward the end of the film, conjures the nascent nearly classical sonata form.”[6] Kegel acknowledges the significance of trauma and mourning in the film, but her analysis treats it as part of the demonstration of structural affinities between baroque music and the film.[7]

Inspired by Katrin Kegel, I analyze the recursive narrative form of Calendar as inscribing the photographer’s traumas. Each narrative recursion in the film is composed of a number of recognizable but changing elements. I begin this formal analysis of Calendar’s narrative by looking at the events taking place in Armenia. They “show” the photographer, a culturally assimilated Canadian-Armenian visiting his partially lost ancestral homeland, become traumatized (in a state of withdrawal) as his partner grows estranged from him and develops an attachment to their driver and guide. The events in Canada, on the other hand, play out the effects of the trauma experienced by the photographer and, towards the end of the film, even suggest a possibility of mourning. These intertwined plots develop recursively. The visits to the churches in Armenia and the escorts’ visits to the photographer’s apartment in Canada mark the beginning of a new cycle. The footage brought back from Armenia and obsessively watched by the photographer in his apartment, along with the conversations between Arsinée, Ashot and the photographer at the various sites which they visit in Armenia, are rhythmically woven in a highly evocative manner. As these two plots weave Calendar’s narrative fabric, a powerful cathartic charge accumulates with the oscillation between the events that traumatized the photographer and those that invoke and mourn his loss.

 

To see the development of plot through differences in Calendar’s narrative recursions, I will take a closer look at some of them. In the beginning of the film, when the Russian- and German-speaking escorts visit the photographer, in the months of March and April respectively, the photographer seems so overwhelmed by his recent trauma that their pre-arranged performance is cut short. There is almost no conversation with these women. In almost no time, the photographer signals them to go and talk on the phone by pouring wine in their glasses; their contrived romantic talk on the phone is heavily overlapped with audio and video material from Armenia. These overlapping audio and visual material cinematically mark the traumatic memory intrusions for the photographer. With the Russian speaker, for instance, the viewer even hears Arsinée’s voice message on the same phone, emphatically asking the photographer to communicate his feelings to her. Then we see footage from Armenia. There, the photographer, Arsinée and Ashot have just begun their visits. Afterwards, we return to the photographer, distraught by his emotions, sitting in his apartment in Canada. The back and forth movement from Armenia to Canada speeds up and thus charges the recursive narrative with affect. During early visits (and this is one of the significant markers of difference within narrative recursion of the film), the photographer is unable to write, which indicates that he is not yet able to start mourning.  

 

The subsequent visits by the women who speak languages from India, Macedonian, Arabic, Hebrew and Italian are by contrast markedly different. A notable case is the Arabic-speaking Sarah, who visits twice. The photographer shows her the small photo-portrait of an eight-year-old girl in Armenia whom he has been supporting through charity (at the time, a common way for a relatively well-to-do diasporan to help Armenia) and they have a conversation about it. In contrast to the earlier visits, the photographer is able to write a letter to this girl in Armenia. Through it, he reactivates the traumatic aspects of his experience in Armenia by asking about Arsinée and Ashot.

The photographer’s ability to write, which is a significant difference in the recursions of Calendar’s narrative, is indicated also during the two subsequent visits, corresponding to the months of September and October. In the case of the latter, the photographer quits writing, stands up and looks at the escort woman talking on the phone. He does so after writing to Arsinée what he thinks he was feeling during the conversation about leaving the camera and walking around in the country near the ruined castle of Amberd. By writing this letter he is able to release some of the painful emotions that lay unassimilated under his traumatic experience. Meanwhile, the plot in Armenia has also been developing. When Arsinée and Ashot leave the photographer with the equipment to take a walk around the country, they walk away affectionately holding hands as a sign of their growing intimacy. This the photographer sees and records on his video camera in a state of traumatic withdrawal, unable to react to it in any meaningful way. 

 

In the month of November, during the visit by the last escort woman of Egyptian descent, there is another new development. This time the photographer writes in his notepad, feels unsatisfied and crumples the paper, but also continues to talk to the escort woman afterwards. Such a development suggests that this conversation is outside the usual arrangement and marks an advanced stage of mourning. As we can see from this formal analysis, the elements which, with varying constancy, comprise Calendar’s narrative recursions compel us to see the film’s narrative texture as developing in a helical motion. These formal features, however, do not represent trauma and mourning in the conventionally realist sense. Rather, through inscribed traces of trauma the viewer is invited to draw affective associations between narrative elements, to reconstruct the loss and the grief experienced by the photographer.

 

Above, I argued that Calendar inscribes trauma and mourning in its narrative form and in doing so marks the limits of conventional representation. In this regard, the most compelling moment in the film is when the viewer is shown the ruins of the medieval castle of Amberd followed by the dramatic and complete whitening of the screen. In contrast to all the churches and ancient sites that the photographer visits, and right before the whitening of the screen, the photographer addresses this ruin through a voiceover: “A church and a fortress; a fortress in ruins: all that is meant to protect us is bound to fall apart, bound to become contrived, useless and absurd. All that is meant to protect is bound to isolate and all that is meant to isolate is bound to hurt.” The viewer might associate this text with what the photographer wrote during one of his mourning sessions in his apartment in Canada. As light pours on the ruins of the castle from all sides, traditional duduk music and the echoes of Arsineé’s singing voice mingle in the soundscape.

 

The photographer consciously addressing the ruined castle as a symbol of loss and the whitening of the screen signal a turning point in Calendar. Both the whitening of the screen and the photographer’s subsequent thoughts suggest that he is starting to grieve. In comparison to his earlier conversation with the escort woman of Egyptian origin, the photographer’s thoughts here imply a heightened realization of the pain involved in emotional attachment and signal his readiness to accept giving up what is dear. What the photographer gets in return is a deeper insight about what it means to construct culture and to commit to claims of identity, especially in the context of traumatic catastrophes where individual and collective identity is broken down.

Loss In Translation

 

It is clear that the photographer’s inability to understand Armenian is part of the circumstances of his trauma. This experience of incomprehension is triggered when, once in Canada, he asks the escorts to speak in a foreign language. Here, I further develop the link between trauma and language in Calendar by focusing on translation understood both as a strictly translingual semantic operation and as a transcultural embodied affective encounter.

 

Two figures of linguistic translation are mobilized by Calendar. First, there is the photographer immersed into Armenian society and language while his partner acts as interpreter for him. Second, and linked with the first, is the translation space opened between the film and its viewers, many of whom do not understand Armenian. While the DVD release of the movie contains subtitles in English and French languages, when it comes to translating the Armenian dialogue in the movie they simply state “Speaking Foreign Language.” The same is true regarding the languages spoken by the escort women.

 

An example is the scene of the Odzun Church in Armenia with Arsinée and Ashot talking to each other in the foreground (see image below). The topic of the conversation is the places around the world where Armenian is spoken. Arsinée says that outside Armenia she does not speak enough Armenian; the driver replies that he wishes that Armenians abroad would speak it, but that they do so only sporadically. That’s right, she adds, it depends on where Armenians live, and that there are countries in which Armenians have institutions to learn Armenian and to live among Armenians. The driver, at that moment, changes the topic, complimenting Arsinée’s spoken Armenian. At first it is not exactly clear how she responds, but later she states that she speaks Armenian not as well as she would like to, that she used to speak it much better, and that she has not used it for years. The driver at that moment suggestively states that to speak very well she needs to visit Armenia more often, at which both smile, adding that she probably needs a better reason to visit Armenia. The driver concedes and asks if they have any children. She repeats the question and signals negation with a movement of her head, to which he adds that if they had a child there would be a reason to visit Armenia.

I recount this conversation in detail, by relying on my own translation of the Armenian spoken in it, mainly to point out that to a large extent the viewer, who like the photographer does not understand Armenian, misses it. This way, the viewer who does not speak Armenian is induced to identify with the photographer. Interestingly enough, when the photographer asks his partner, “What are you talking about?” Arsinée hesitates, thinks for a moment, laconically answers “children” and continues her conversation with the driver. A few moments later, when the conversation around children is resumed, we hear Arsinée saying to the photographer in English that she has been worrying about having children who would have to grow up outside Armenia, presumably with an unclear sense of identity. Then she turns to the driver and continues to talk to him. The details of this conversation about the anxieties regarding the degree to which Armenian language is spoken among Armenians in the diaspora, and the implied affectionate attitude between Arsinée and the driver, are left without translation. All that the photographer and the viewer can do is guess, relying on scant hints by Arsinée, while observing an apparent attraction between two individuals and two bodies very much aware that there is a camera recording them. In other words, semantic translation and incomprehension serve as smoke screens to hide the embodied affective intimacy between Arsinée and Ashot. In this manner, Calendar inscribes trauma at the site of the formal superposition of the photographer’s and the viewer’s gazes, which exposes the dangers of the space, beyond and irreducible to semantic translation, opened when languages meet. 

From Traumatizing Work To Mourning Consumption

Freud, at the end of the essay “On Transience,” writes, “Mourning, as we know, however painful it may be comes to a spontaneous end. When it has renounced everything that has been lost, then it has consumed itself, and our libido is once more free (in so far as we are still young and active) to replace the lost objects by fresh ones equally or still more precious.”[8] In conceiving mourning as auto-consumption, Freud does not address how “external” economic institutions might relate to it.[9] Later cultural critics, such as Ramazani, Skoller and Ricciardi, have defended the need for ethical mourning as a way to become more attuned with the past as well as to advance human rights. For instance, Ricciardi writes: “Without a sense of memory’s ethical urgency, we have been left with the ability to relate to the past only as a spectacle, as an image to be consumed in the virtual reality of mass culture.”[10] Thus Ricciardi and others suggest incompatibility between mourning practices and commodity consumption.

 

Egoyan’s Calendar, by contrast, does not operate within the limits of an incompatibility between mourning and economic consumption. Arsinée’s increasingly partial translations, hiding behind them the growing intimacy between herself and Ashot, suggest that pre-arranged and rational economic relations are always vulnerable to disruptive interference from embodied affective desire. The film registers such interference through traumatizing figures of work. What is more, the escorts pretending to have steamy conversations with a lover over the kitchen phone in Canada recreates the traumatizing economic-affective arrangement experienced by the photographer in Armenia. Scholars suggest that by consuming the services of the escorts the photographer represses mourning. In Calendar, however, such consumption conjures up the photographer’s trauma, allowing him to gradually mourn.

 

Still, not all scholars have been categorical in separating mourning and commodity consumption. Birger Vanwesenbeeck suggests a more nuanced relation between the two while echoing the incompatibility argument. In his essay “Loss in the Mail: Pynchon, Psychoanalysis and the Postal Work of Mourning,” Vanwesenbeeck links Jean-Luc Nancy’s argument that the work of mourning is a non-work “at which one works,” [11] instead of being a productive work with the Freudian conception of mourning as “an energy-wasting process,”[12] to read the operation of an interminable and an un-begun economy of melancholia in Thomas Pynchon’s 1966 novella The Crying of Lot 49. Vanwesenbeeck sees an analogy between the figure of the postal service and a protagonist’s loss and claims that, in the context of Pynchon’s novella, “Oedipa’s work of mourning constitutes a counter-economy of solitary, non-productive work that exists outside the officially sanctioned economy of the Military Industrial Complex” (emphasis added).[13] Vanwesenbeeck adds in the next paragraph, “That Oedipa’s mourning is interminable makes it all the more subversive to a system that relies on the timely and efficient delivery of goods and products,” alluding to the work of the postal service, and metonymically referring to the capitalism. He adds “Mourning depletes society of its economic resources, suspends consumer desire and/or career ambition, and gradually replaces any kind of productive labor for what Emily Dickinson – in a proto-Freudian fashion – already calls 'the solemnest of industries'” (emphasis added). [14] While Vanwesenbeeck’s analysis of The Crying of Lot 49 conceives mourning as outside and depleting economic resources, Calendar suggests that mourning can operate from within capitalist economic institutions in the form of the return of traumatizing figures of labor.

 

Looked from this angle, Calendar presents an array of such figures. In one instance, when Ashot asks the photographer if he has done any prior historical research on the sites which they have set out to visit and photograph, the latter, already in a tense state of suspicion and withdrawal, replies, “Oh, ah, I mean I am doing this as a job, right, I mean, it wasn't my idea, I mean the organization I guess must have done their research before they gave me their list of the places they wanted to have photographed, I mean …” Visiting and photographing Armenia (a part of his lost ancestral homeland) merely “as a job” is rather an unavowed defensive fantasy on the part of the photographer, hiding the trauma of assimilation into another culture and that of the earlier Armenian Catastrophe. With the break-up of the photographer’s relationship with Arsinée, his fantasy turns into a nightmare, troubling the feasibility of sustaining a strictly economic relation with Armenia.

 

A related figure of traumatizing labor is Ashot volunteering to tell stories about the sites which the three visit in the early fragments of the film, thus also doing the work of a guide in addition to that of a driver. When the photographer asks Ashot, through the intermediary of Arsinée, if he is doing this for money, he is offended. Ashot’s silently offered favor and its misapprehension by the photographer, foreshadowing the growing attraction between Ashot and Arsinée, is indicative of the differences with regard to the boundaries of the notion of economic work not only between Canadian and Armenian, but also, and by extension, capitalist and post-Soviet societies. Interestingly, Egoyan’s film The Adjuster (1991) was awarded a Special Jury Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival and received one million rubles as a reward. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union the prize money was not worth much. As a result, Calendar, one of the first foreign films made in post-Soviet Armenia, had a very low budget. Thus, the very making of the film is intrinsically marked by the destabilization of the economic that results from this encounter between capitalism and its post-Soviet other.

 

It can be further argued that most of Egoyan’s films, especially the earlier ones, explore and exploit the complex economic-affective links between trauma, mourning and capitalism. To mention just a few, in The Adjuster, an insurance adjuster insists on getting involved with the private lives of his clients. In Exotica (1994), a father who is grieving the loss of a child obsessively hires the services of a young stripper who used to be the child’s babysitter. What makes Calendar (1993) stand out, however, is the fact that it is the only film by Egoyan which stages an encounter between capitalist economy and its post-Soviet other. The economic unconscious, which Calendar inscribes with the return of traumatizing work as mourning consumption, marks the limits of the capitalist dreamworld. I use this last phrase in Susan Buck-Morss’ sense, who, borrowing it from Benjamin, paraphrases dreamworld as “expressions of a utopian desire for social arrangements that transcend existing forms.”[15] Calendar inscribes individual and collective trauma and mourning, which capitalism, as a mass utopia, tends to repress through instrumentalizing commodification.

 

There is of course something perverse to the economic-affective arrangement through which the photographer puts the escort women in what constitutes mourning consumption in Calendar. Indeed, this reading of Calendar does not dismiss concerns for ethical mourning, raised, for instance, by Ricciardi and Derrida[16]. Quite the contrary, my analysis of mourning consumption in Calendar leads to the underlying contradictions of the capitalist system, which repress and hinder mourning the darker side of its utopia. This darker side in Calendar is the 1915 Armenian Catastrophe, one of the first modern genocides driven by the exclusionary logic of the nation-state. Its subsequent denial and almost complete forgetting demonstrates the inadequacy of the capitalist international community to rise above economic and political interests to acknowledge and mourn human catastrophes made possible by it. In this regard, the significance of contemporary Armenian culture, in its diasporic and post-Soviet nation-state forms, lies in being a space that registers the layered and palimpsestic inscriptions excluded by totalizing civilizational systems of modernity. This, in turn, reaffirms the importance of studying diasporas to better understand contemporary globalization.

End Notes

[1] In conversational Arabic, “yallah” means “hurry up” and is used by Armenians, too.

 

[2] See works by Jahan Ramazani, Alessia Ricciardi, Cathy Caruth, Jeffrey Skoller, as well as, and in particular, Nouri Gana’s Signifying Loss: Toward a Poetics of Narrative Mourning (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2011).

 

[3] See Jane Robinett, “The Narrative Shape of Traumatic Experience,” Literature and Medicine 26, no. 2 (2007): 290-311.

 

[4] See, for instance, Patricia Rae, “Introduction,” in Modernism and Mourning, (Bucknell University Press, 2007), 17-18.

 

[5] Katrin Kegel, “The Thirteenth Church: Musical Structures in Atom Egoyan’s Calendar,” in Image and Territory: Essays on Atom Egoyan, edited by Monique Tschofen and Jennifer Burwell, (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2007), 81. 

 

[6] Kegel, “The Thirteenth Church,” 81.

 

[7] Kegel, “The Thirteenth Church,” 86.

 

[8] Sigmund Freud, “On Transience” in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. and ed. James Starchey (London: Hogarth, 1981, vol. 14), 307.

 

[9] Freud wrote three essays on mourning in the context of the World War I. See Sigmund Freud, “Thoughts for the Times on War and Death” (1915), “Mourning and Melancholia” (1915) and “On Transience” (1916) in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. and ed. James Starchey (London: Hogarth, 1981), vol. 14.

 

[10] Alessia Ricciardi, The Ends of Mourning: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Film (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2003), 1.

 

[11] Birger Vanwesenbeeck, "Loss in the Mail: Pynchon, Psychoanalysis and the Postal Work of Mourning,” Postmodern Culture 21, no. 3 (2011): 4.

 

[12] Vanwesenbeeck, "Loss in the Mail,” 9.

 

[13] Vanwesenbeeck, "Loss in the Mail,” 11. 

 

[14] Vanwesenbeeck, "Loss in the Mail,” 12.

 

[15] Susan Buck-Morss, Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mas Utopia in East and West, (Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 2000): xi.

 

[16] See Jacques Derrida, The Work of Mourning, ed. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. 2001).

 

Bibliography

 

Buck-Morss, Susan. Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mas Utopia in East and West. Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 2000.   

 

Calendar. DVD. Directed by Atom Egoyan. 1993. Canada, Germany, Armenia: Zeitgeists Films. 1993.

 

Freud, Sigmund. “On Transience” (1916). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Translated and edited by James Starchey. London: Hogarth, 1981.

 

Kegel, Katrin. “The Thirteenth Church: Musical Structures in Atom Egoyan’s Calendar.” In Image and Territory: Essays on Atom Egoyan, edited by Monique Tschofen and Jennifer Burwell. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2007.

 

Ricciardi, Alessia. The Ends of Mourning: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Film. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2003.

 

Robinett, Jane. "The Narrative Shape of Traumatic Experience." Literature and Medicine 26, no. 2 (2007): 290-311.

 

Vanwesenbeeck, Birger. "Loss in the Mail: Pynchon, Psychoanalysis and the Postal Work of Mourning." Postmodern Culture 21, no. 3 (2011). doi:10.1353/pmc.2011.0021.