Friday, July 15, 2005

You, or Your Memory

I threw away picture-frame wire, metal book ends, cork coasters, plastic key tags, dusty bottles of Mercurochrome and Vaseline, crusted paintbrushes, caked shoe brushes, clotted correction fluid... I bore a personal grudge against these things. Somehow they'd put me in this fix. They'd dragged me down, made escape impossible.
- White Noise, p.281
About two years ago, I read this essay, which I forget now who it's by or what it's called. But the author talked about how she used to take her camera everywhere and take pictures of all her doings, fearful that one day she'd look back on her past and remember nothing.

Then one day she tried to look back on her past and all she could remember was a string of snapshots, the memory of these having replaced the memory of the events themselves. So she stopped taking pictures, preferring to experience and absorb her life.

There's an obvious correlation between taking taking pictures of everything and hoarding all your junk. They both attempt to preserve the now in case it should become useful in the future, the obvious problem being that they preserve it imperfectly, and sometimes end up destroying and replacing the memory they were meant to preserve.

The difference between that and this blog is that I'm not trying to preserve events or memories, but rather ideas and thoughts. Although I'm not sure, actually, how I'll feel about this blog in the future. Even now, I look back on many of my former entries and blush. I've felt tempted to edit them, or hide them, or pretend they never happened.

There's this great quote by Fitzgerald in one of his letters to his editor, but the book's a million miles away so I'll just paraphrase it. After rereading his Great Gatsby a few decades after it was first published, he says (much more elegantly):
Looking at it now, there are many places that ought to be fixed and touched up, characters that need to be redrawn. But it's a finished work, and I'm a different man now, so I can't do anything about it.