To write often means remembering what never existed. So how can I know what has never existed? Like this: as if I were remembering. By an effort of memory, as if I had never been born. I was never born. I have never lived. But I remember, and remembering is like an open wound.
The music of video games. They are fitted into tables. You can drink, you can lunch, and go on playing. They open onto the street. By listening to them you can play from memory.
The Pizza Hut in Gaffney had a cocktail-table video game of “1942.” Mom buys me a pair of Solar Shades and passes a quarter to play while we wait on a pepperoni with green pepper and onion. I play from memory: take a barrel roll and blow those Nakajimas out of the sky.
He claims that electronic texture is the only one that can deal with sentiment, memory, and imagination.
I’ve never agreed. Who says no? It’s not so easy forgetting how to play the drums.
He described to me the ceremony held at the zoo in Ueno in memory of animals that had died during the year.
At the Cleveland Zoo, I asked my aunt why she married my uncle.
And beneath each of these faces a memory. And in place of what we were told had been forged into a collective memory, a thousand memories of men who parade their personal laceration in the great wound of history.
Each leaving a loss, each loss a wound: Canton, Gaffney, São Paulo, Tokyo, Wooster, London, Pittsburgh, Prague, Brest, Dębica, Kraków. Even leaving Dubrovnik after a few days is masakra.
That’s how history advances, plugging its memory as one plugs one’s ears.
Memories are knocked out poorly without earplugs.
I’m writing you all this from another world, a world of appearances. In a way the two worlds communicate with each other. Memory is to one what history is to the other: an impossibility.
Memory all too possible: forgetting does the real damage in its impossibility. History is never impossible; only as compared to history is memory sometimes impossible.
I envy Hayao in his “zone,” he plays with the signs of his memory. He pins them down and decorates them like insects that would have flown beyond time, and which he could contemplate from a point outside of time: the only eternity we have left. I look at his machines. I think of a world where each memory could create its own legend.
A world in which each memory creates its own machine, more likely. Cannot—must not—sufficiently investigate that simulation. Too fatigued by outrage and devtool-babble.
Everything works to perfection, all that we allow to slumber, including memory. Logical consequence: total recall is memory anesthetized. After so many stories of men who had lost their memory, here is the story of one who has lost forgetting, and who—through some peculiarity of his nature—instead of drawing pride from the fact and scorning mankind of the past and its shadows, turned to it first with curiosity and then with compassion. In the world he comes from, to call forth a vision, to be moved by a portrait, to tremble at the sound of music, can only be signs of a long and painful prehistory.
To understand that prehistory before forgetting it. To understand very little, to already have forgotten some, most.
But it was then that for the first time he perceived the presence of that thing he didn’t understand which had something to do with unhappiness and memory, and towards which slowly, heavily, he began to walk.
After each happiness of memory, ASMR.
I remember that month of January in Tokyo, or rather I remember the images I filmed of the month of January in Tokyo. They have substituted themselves for my memory. They are my memory. I wonder how people remember things who don’t film, don’t photograph, don’t tape. How has mankind managed to remember? I know: it wrote the Bible. The new Bible will be an eternal magnetic tape of a time that will have to reread itself constantly just to know it existed.
I remember snow in the month of January in Tokyo. Two inches, max. School called off. We met in Harajuku and tried out some longboards. By afternoon the snow had melted, we skated around Shinjuku.
That a short wave announcement from Hong Kong radio picked up on a Cape Verde island projects to Tokyo, and that the memory of a precise color in the street bounces back on another country, another distance, another music, endlessly.
Is it a choice? Precise colors on the streets of Santo Amaro, Ebisu, Ohio City, Farringdon, Ridgewood, College of Wooster, Squirrel Hill, Žižkov, Krowodrza, Hongdae, Újlipótváros, Delfshaven.
All those who remember the war remember him.
His father took photos in Vietnam with a Japanese camera. The tail of a downed American bomber, torn off the fuselage, down the road.
Madeline traced the short distance between two of those concentric lines that measured the age of the tree and said, ‘Here I was born… and here I died.’ He remembered another film in which this passage was quoted. The sequoia was the one in the Jardin des plantes in Paris, and the hand pointed to a place outside the tree, outside of time.
To meet the person you could have become, become that person prepared to meet who you could have become.
He said, “I will have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering, which is not the opposite of forgetting, but rather its lining. We do not remember, we rewrite memory much as history is rewritten. How can one remember thirst?
How long will you take to forget the secret?
I can’t trust the accuracy of my own memories,
many of them having blended with sentimental
telephone and margarine commercials
plainly ruined by Madison Avenue.
– David Berman, “Self Portrait at 28”
When everything else has gone from my brain—the President’s name, the state capitals, the neighborhoods where I lived, and then my own name and what it was on earth I sought, and then at length the faces of my friends, and finally the faces of my family—when all has dissolved, what will be left, I believe, is topology: the dreaming memory of land as it lay this way and that.
– Annie Dillard, from An American Childhood
Henry’s been dead a long time in that ghost
Wood, planted somewhere ‘tween truth
And fiction, taking and taken advantage of,
Like mice at dusk on a cool summer evening,
Maybe in Patagonia, never lying or lied to,
Especially after a fresh haircut, listen,
He went West still longing for Slavic heat,
Knowing we’re nowhere near there, we’re still
East, seeing it all as terrifying but hilarious.
One day, quite some time ago, I happened on a photograph of Napoleon’s younger brother, Jerome, taken in 1852. And I realized then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since: “I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor.” Sometimes I would mention this amazement, but since no one seemed to share it, not even to understand it (life consists of these little touches of solitude), I forgot about it.
– Barthes, Camera Lucida