Saturday, November 10, 2012

Next Comes the P.O.V.

Where am I in the enduring memories? Am I always included in the action or has imagination co-opted this re-collection of life experienced second hand? When I reflect, superficially making certain something was actually present in real sequence, the intention is to savour the details later—in refraction, these scenes of memory appear as they do in cinema.

With an erudite imagination serving as film editor, I experience history first-hand: a backyard filled with enormous snow banks, our living room at Christmas, the upstairs hallway, the auditorium with the towering red velvet curtains filled to capacity in grade school—the recognition of place is instant. Then I see myself & immediately a feeling is re-captured. Typically, my senses are spread like a late afternoon sky, hanging in some limbo yet caught in the gentle tumble of stored emotion.

Memories are stored differently if I am ashamed to recall them. These scenes arrive suddenly, with a zap & there is no predicting their occurrence. They have a trigger, though it is often haphazard. When I suddenly recall something shaming, the same flush accompanies the memory as when it first occurred but time has diluted the intensity. I suspect imagination, operating in its most sinister mode, works in cahoots with memory in these instances. My sense of reason always comes to the rescue: it could not have been that bad.

Where is my ego in all of this painful remembering?

{Artwork by David Hochbaum}

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Chaos of Memory

'Soon, the remembered scenes would grow in vividness and depth.'
 Annie Dillard
In surveying a stream of passing, dislocated memories, the challenge arises to next pull them through the matrix of time in order to place them into some rational, chronological order. I desire to glean their most general essence; to learn the message my Unconscious mind is trying to communicate. Of all the myriad of events stored away, why do these persist?

I am not considered a visual person. In fact, I frequently struggle to describe something to a friend or family member when recapitulating a noteworthy event or someone new & memorable. I would make an appalling eye witness for I lack the ability to draw pictures with my spoken words. Yet my own personal memories are indexed with graphic details. If I am to permit my mind to run, like a slow purring engine, a picture book of flipping images flashes across the inner screen, each accompanied by its own powerful sensation. It leaves me feeling drained, as one often finds oneself after engaging a challenging person in conversation.

Dig & delve.

I remember being in my bedroom; it is small & messy. There is darkness outside but the room is still partially lit by the half-cast light which shines in through a rectangular window space. This opening has been built over the doorway, some years before when the house was used as a hotel. It was to permit ventilation in the days before artificial air but there is no longer any glass in the space, only light flowing in through the transom from the hallway which illuminates my task. I am supposed to be asleep in bed, on my way to Dreamland but instead, I am collecting books from the messy floor. Carefully, I take a pile of colourful books & having pulled back the covers of my single bed, I begin to lay them out, side by side in a tidy grid around me. It is the covers of these books which interest for I know the stories inside well. I place the books I favour closest. Once all the books have been laid out, side by side to cover the entire bed, I curl myself in the remaining space. I fall asleep surrounded.

When I analyze rationally what arises from the river of memories, rarely, almost never is it something which would elicit a laugh. It seems my process of reflection does not have a sense of humour. There is something more urgent to communicate.

{Photographs by Henri Cartier Bresson}