Christine Blasey Ford's most vivid memory of a high school assault implicating Brett Kavanaugh uttered at the Supreme Court confirmation hearings - “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter” - was stenciled in large white-painted block letters on the paving stones leading to the entrance of Kavanaugh's alma mater, the Yale Law School. Laurel Raymond, a law student at the school, posted a photo of the sign to Twitter.

Heart of the matter

Explaining why she tweeted the photo, Raymond told the Huffington Post, “This graffiti is that arresting...Something about the permanence of paint speaks of how deeply betrayed and disappointed people feel.” Not just at Yale.

The New Republic called Ford's recollection of laughter during the assault, “the most powerful moment” in her testimony - “both moving and horrifying.”

Brain freeze

As it turned out, the stenciled letters at the law school were washed away, but the words linger in the mind's eye reminiscent of the way Ford, a clinical psychologist, described how the brain's hippocampus records bad memories. And given the weight of her words, they have the potential to enter America's lexicon of catchy phrases not unlike old movie lines. These are like, “I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore” from “Network” in 1976, or “Houston, we have a problem,” from “Apollo 13” in 1995, or that golden oldie, “Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore” from “The Wizard of Oz” in 1939.

Signage as art

More pointedly, the sight of Lauren Raymond's photo of the white letters stenciled byYale law school's door brought to mind the text-art of Barbara Kruger who is famed for emblazoning black and white photographs with red-letter words. Some examples are, “Your body is a battleground” written over an image of a woman's face bisected into positive and negative photographs, as if to imply the duel between good and evil.

The work was used on a poster for the 1989 Women's March on Washington in support of abortion rights. Another of Kruger's text-art protests from decades ago also stayed relevant: “Look for the moment when pride becomes contempt.” Thoughts of Donald Trump calling himself a Nationalist, which carries a suggestion of racism, makes the point.

Visual art without pictures

The sight of Ford's publically stenciled words also put me in mind of a Museum of Modern Art exhibit of words without pictures by Jenny Holzer in 1999. MoMA presented 86 examples that the artist titled “Truisms,” Exhibit examples included “Categorizing fear is calming,” “Abuse of Power comes as no surprise.”

Thanks for the memories

Ford's words “Indelible in the hippocampus” could be the start of a Holzer Truism one day. Whether Ford's testimony will transcend time can't be known. But since we suffer traumas of some sort in our lives when they come back to haunt us, thanks to Ford, we'll know why: our hippocampus is at work.

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