How is restitution possible or conceivable when that which is to be
restituted belongs in the order of
The one who expresses heart-
felt gratitude in this sense resembles the mourner: both are engaged in a
restitutive task perceived to be imperative and impossible, ineluctable yet
necessarily failed. Both are involved in ritualized practices that exceed,
and are exceeded by, the affect they attempt to translate and express.
As a requisite for the very writing of their books, the thankful have to
conjure and actively forget the proper names they now bring back to
presence and remember in their notes of acknowledgment. The mourn-
ful, in their turn, bring the other back into presence as part of a labor
the ultimate horizon of which is active forgetting itself Across that dia-
lectic between reminiscence and oblivion all work of mourning and all
gestures of gratitude find their conditions of possibility and their limit.
This book will have the opportunity to ask whether there is anything
accidental about this convergence between mourning and gratitude, be-
tween remembering-to-forget and forgetting-to-remember, between the
impossibility of properly thanking these proper names and the impossi-
bility of properly mourning the proper names we Latin Americans lost
under dictatorship.
The possibility of posing these problems would not exist were it not
for the interlocution with and friendship of Alberto Moreiras and George
Yudice throughout virtually all of the past decade. Alberto Moreiras
wrote the first theoretical exploration of postdictatorship as a concept
in 1993, and his dialogue, gUidance, and generosity in the early stages of
this project helped not only get it off the ground but provided it with its
tentative but growing coherence. From Hegel to Piglia, from Gadamer
to Borges, we covered quite a bit of ground together, and to him lowe
sincere thanks. George Yudice has been a dear friend for almost a de-
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