Discursive Proximities: Distances and Mobilities in an Israeli Commemorative Visitor Book.

Chaim Noy

The lecture addresses the politics of proximities and mobilities, as these are discursively performed on the pages of an Israeli Commemorative Visitor Book. The visitor book under examination is located in a National War Commemoration Complex in Jerusalem, and serves as an interactive device where visitors perform their arrival to a symbolic site (Picture 1). The entries that occupy this volume amount to a spatiotemporal nexus, to a web of international and intra-national pilgrimages to a symbolic site. They are “traces” (Derrida 1976) of arrivals and departures, of maps of Jewish global and local identities, diasporas, and peripheries. In this context, the book functions semiotically as a site of performance, where physical and ritual proximities are embodied, and where cultural capital is materialized. Different types of proximities are indexed, including relations to the Holly Land, to the Dead Soldiers, to God, and to Jerusalem. In addition, proximities are performed between the visitors themselves, intertextually: the entries inhabit a shared public space and create a communal effect (Picture 2). Interestingly, the volume’s surface affords the construction of proximities by the fact that, rather than being mobile (as documents usually are), its material condition is stationary in a site of ritual significance. Hence what circulate are the visitors and not the entries. Yet mobilities are also evinced, and re-created by the device of the visitor book. While the entries seem like stationary “traces” of the grand movements of the visitors, as visitors flip through the pages and scan the dense images, the “traces” are put back into (cinematic) motion.

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