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The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory (Haymarket)
Los Angeles is a city which has long thrived on the continual re-creation of own myth. In this extraordinary and original work, Norman Klein examines the process of memory erasure in LA. Using a provocative mixture of fact and fiction, the book takes us on an ‘anti-tour’ of downtown LA, examines life for Vietnamese immigrants in the City of Dreams, imagines Walter Benjamin ...more
Paperback, 330 pages
Published June 17th 1997 by Verso
(first published April 1st 1997)
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An ambitious and utterly powerful, staggering, work of urban history and the history of planning, concerned with how LA has time after time reinvented itself, often to the chagrin of long-time residents. There is, in essence, the author argues no historical Los Angeles but only the present-tense. The author, a professor of history and long-time resident of LA himself, picks up where Mike Davis left off with his seminal City of Quartz, refining the working theory of how Los Angeles began building ...more
Far more palatable than Mike Davis' seminal work of adverbial porn "City of Quartz," Klein delivers a well researched book about how the DNA of Los Angeles is built around fixing perceived mistakes by destroying them and in turn, building something new and "contemporary" (I use that term in the temporal sense) in its place without thought of the historical ramifications. In turn, the city loses a sense of identity because of constant self-destructive reinvention.
I'd argue that this has changed i ...more
I'd argue that this has changed i ...more
I probably shouldn't write a review of this, as I didn't finish it due to getting crazy busy with other stuff and having to return it to the library. That was too bad as what I read was surprisingly good for an academic book. It takes an art historical critique of urbanism and urban planning in Los Angeles and stretches it from your usual academic writing about this sort of thing to a number of fictional pieces (including one that imagines Walter Benjamin in LA!) and a whole bunch of psychogeogr ...more
Apr 10, 2011 Ian rated it really liked it
"So do not get confused by the glitz. Outwardly, scripted places like Victoria Gardens, or Citywalk, or the Grove may look anti-urban; artificial [...] They seem to epitomize neoliberalism, where every public act is privatized [...] But actually this is meta-urbanism: a metropolitanized suburb (a way to grow public money) [...] The message is paradoxical. These scripted illusions are monuments to the independence of cities, but also to private wealth taking over [...] [C]ities must turn in to de ...more
I struggled to finish the book. If the writer fills Part V Conclusion with 4 chapters: Chapter 12 , Appendix, Afterword and Epilogue, he makes clear to me that he finds it hard to choose what to tell and what to leave out. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading so many narratives and witnessing how Klein dismantles these narratives about Los Angeles. It certainly deepens my understanding of this "hard-to-get" city. Klein states that LA is a master in erasing and forgetting its history and he proves his ...more
LA is one of those cities we all like to think we know, after all we see it in our mass and popular cultural texts, hear it in the news, read it all over - its sheer ubiquity makes it a know. Norman Klein challenges that notion to argue that our knowledge of LA is a kbowledge based on forgetting, that is popular and mass cultural texts make LA an unknown and continually invwented and reconstrcuted before our very eyes. Contrarian and as such quite brilliantly insightful.
It is always dangerous to post an academic book as it is easy for them to go unfinished. That said, so far this book is incredible! I am absolutely loving it and it is speaking to the intersection of a whole lot of stuff I am currently fascinated by. Note: Goodreads has just made me aware there is an updated version. That is not the one I'm reading but now I hope to rectify that situation :(