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?
“Can the poem,” Robertson asks rhetorically, “become the space of that solitude? In this instance I took 9 years to build a pronoun. During that time I didn’t talk about it, and that was a freedom and a pleasure.” The solitary struggle “towards a pronoun caked in doubt” has culminated in the “complex structure” of Cinema of the Present, her most extended essay at the autobiographical poem of distributed subjectivity—and its pronoun is “you”:
What is the condition of a problem if you are the problem?
You move into the distributive texture of an experimental protocol.
A bunch of uncanniness emerges.
At 20 hertz it becomes touch.
A concomitant gate.
At the middle of your life on a Sunday.
A dove, a crowned warbler in redwood, an alarm, it stops.
You set out from consciousness carrying only a small valise.
The “I” is not entirely absent from Cinema, but Robertson drops it rarely and when she does, it is subordinate. Most appearances of a first person pronoun are accompanied by a “you” or “your,” as in “I’m in debt to your radiant obscenity,” or, more conspicuously, “If I want to cry it’s because I’m not a pessimist, you said.” The second person is a notoriously tricky voice to pull off in a literary work of any length; “you,” to modify Robertson’s opening line, is a problem. It can lead to unproductive alienation of the reader, who might, upon reading a sequence of sentences seemingly addressed to her directly, respond defensively: “No, I damn well am not.” There are good reasons that participants in mediated counselling are urged to frame their remarks in terms of how they feel, rather than in terms of what their antagonist does. Another problem with “you” is its potential haziness. An “I” or a “she” is almost always specific in its reference, but the indefinite “you,” even more than “we” or “they,” can refer to no one in particular.
The polyvalent character of the second person pronoun, however, is precisely what makes it the mot juste for a hundred-page extension of Robertson’s earlier ventures. The “you” is the very embodiment of “distributed subjectivity”: it can be singular, it can be plural, it can be the reader, it can be the poet, it can be anyone and everyone.
Source: SEVENTY HETERONYMS
Across the street rests the ugly national machine: a filthy station wagon, its family’s movements through pink plastic and spittle too slow to replace Sunday cutlets for missing hubcaps. Spill out the smeared window draped in a beige patriotism, wooden cross dangling from your forehead: walk with arms crossed, a reactionary cutout unable to exchange sermons for picking up the litter of the littering nation. Do not nod but stare, take odoriferous bows to the envy of all those living west and south: to their techné comforts and atrocity shows, their constipated sugar energy. The country’s savior eases into emulation: Family and Mister God are all that need comprehending.
As if still surrounded by fields of cabbage, scream all night: before falling from balconies, snapping necks like stale cigarettes, toast, blow , spit, and scream some more. Clear your throat in unventilated rooms five times a minute: but never suffocate from those who do not yet know how to wash beyond Saturday evening. With a face full of pork and dough, leave the standard trail of a proud national occupancy: fruit vodka bottles mark time made advantageous beneath brutalist slabs and anti-Semitic and/or football hooligan graffiti. Float kebab wrappers down broken sidewalks, yet another foreign delicacy to be admired at a distance: the littering never cancels out love for soil, for blood. Leave empty beer bottles for comrades in need: a strategy of protectionist taste, support of local economy, reflection on bald heads.
Swerve your way towards shop, church, government office, bus stop: then stand fiercely, frown, move for no one. Even when curbing yourself blind-drunk in the main square Saturday night: do not ever mistake passing thug skulls for martyr halos. Await exorcisms on every street corner: bow for forgiveness to the fat skirted priest who has never looked a layman in the eye. Breathe against the stranger’s back and white-knuckle your coins: return home to blast the overhead fluorescent lights. Stay ready to worry something will end: no more bread, ham, cheese, pickles. No more of the only spice that makes sense: salt. No more sustenance to complain a route through this geographic contempt: protect it to the death. Come to us, come to your family: we invite you, very please.
This ugliness surrounding you is a lie: the lie to end all lies but not all failures. The failure of your ancestry resounds deep in your name: the joke of all our genes. You too walk like a peasant dressed like a cow for a cancelled costume party: you too are tied to the fields. You too stare blankly through intersections with five toes in the road: you too trigger vitriol with your blank wide face and suspicious eyes. You too swerve to avoid interminable potholes and puddles: you too forget to shoulder-check. You too fail to acknowledge strangers passing: which would entail vulnerability, invasion, domination, partition. Which would mean exile from the holy family: from the holy mother, holy nation, holy pork cutlet.
Study the consonant-clustered passwords to their ultraviolence: their tribalism, suffering, and fear carved into an exhausting language. Buses bear down on you as construction spills out onto the sidewalks: you too are forced into zones of centuries of unplanning. Commit a little suicide, diminutive and sweet, after betraying these patriotic values: car, coal, conservatism. Listen, you bicycling vegan Marxist: you do not belong here unless you can stomach the smog. Postwar pollution shall become normal to you: normal is the nation’s synonym for aspiration. Hostile drivers unable to make clean turns, streets of great problems and shoulder jousting: you shall miss the aggression you succumb to.
In one week, the first event: you cycle into the bike lane to cross the intersection and in his beige SUV, clad-in-all-gray fails to judge the geometry of his turn, yells at you from his seat, crosses against your bike’s front 29er. The second event: on the station platform there are expert performances of the ancient Slavic swerve, and amidst the overtaking and jostling, bearded-Napoleon-Complex-hipster slams into your shoulder, you are rigid but give way to the fuzzy responsibility, he grabs your arm and says “are you really running into me right now,” you reply in the master language “are you really running into me right now,” he says “learn how to walk” or something, you reply “learn how to walk ” or something and then “take it easy and have a nice holiday,” he replies “you too.”
There are choices to be made for this bulwark: this Christ of Nations. A nation on the edge of rebirth: one that encourages mutual respect. A nation on the edge of regression: one in which everyone knows that to thrive, you must leave. A nation described as a beast with a sweet side: good luck. A nation looking to hire a foreign PR team to rescue its reputation: accused of breaking its constitution, undermining democracy, and scaring away foreign investment. Read it and weep: take your choice.
Look in their eyes: they look away and stare in equal measure. All the middle fingers, curses under the breath, shoulders knocked, patronizing patriotisms: karma wrapped like the tendons of a dead animal around the chakra buried beneath the castle. There rests the difference between love and hate: there is no blasphemy in the national mirror. Your bow of tension is infinitely elastic: look away.
Water has its own archaeology, not a layering but a leveling, and thus is truer to our sense of the past, because what is memory but near and far events spread and smoothed beneath the present’s surface.
– Ron Rash, “The Woman at the Pond”
I spent fifteen minutes strolling under the arcades with their metal beams, slightly surprised by my own nostalgia and aware, at the same time, that the place really was extremely ugly. Those hideous buildings had been constructed during the worst period of modernism, but nostalgia has nothing to do with aesthetics, it’s not even connected to happy memories. We feel nostalgia for a place simply because we’ve lived there; whether we lived well or badly scarcely matters. The past is always beautiful. So, for that matter, is the future. Only the present hurts, and we carry it around like an abscess of suffering, our companion between two infinities of happiness and peace.
– Michel Houellebecq, Submission
The flight, in a too-small jet, dodging thunderstorms, cured Pip of any desire for future air travel. She expected death the whole way. What was interesting was how quickly she then forgot about it, like a dog to whom death was literally unimaginable . . . Dogs again had it right. They didn’t trouble themselves with mysteries that could never be solved anyway.
– Jonathan Franzen, Purity
Anamnesis means remembrance or reminiscence, the collection and recollection of what has been lost, forgotten, or effaced. It is therefore a matter of the very old, of what has made us who we are. But anamnesis is also a work that transforms its subject, always producing something new. To recollect the old, to produce the new: that is the task of Anamnesis.
– from The Speculative Turn (re.press)
Exile accepted as a destiny, in the way we accept an incurable illness, should help us see through our self-delusions.
– Czesław Miłosz
Leave, explore [expatriate] the grey grown
In another country, research the peasant
Rump genealogy of your particular
Surname mutation, cut through the din
To read aloud how we are surrounded with
This message: for some time you will
Survive, in some kind of horror perhaps,
But who hasn’t been destroyed before
And made a media-worthy comeback?
Bisected in movement, even if that
Movement is repetition, repetition fate,
Listen: there are those who drink international coffee
And think they are somewhere, even in the city
Which is named after the airport. Then
There are those upon whom a veil falls
While dialing the opposite city operator, who
Tells you: seekers of happiness are in danger
Of deluding themselves [exiles] that
At the proton level there is authority
In memory and at the neutron
It is in forgetting. And he continues: these
Are not levels but patterns of boredom. Fear
Of boredom is the first pattern, and there’s
A second pattern and it looks like this:
A field in Idaho, pink yellow grass
And behind are some rock bluffs, a few
Horses looking straight at you. Snap
A photo and they will look away.
We should read the diary of the splintering
Cross propped up against a beige Polonez:
It turns out those who voted in favor
Will not be excommunicated. We should
All read the diary of the huge respectable
Face: basically, they want the cigarettes.
Next up’s the diary of the imperialist ass: teach
The master language, try to find a way back
To the birth country. This series of diaries
Is called Sightseer, because he’s hers
And she deserves the best. Only then
Will you note how the people respected
Him [expatriate], because America
And cause he kept nothing for himself.
It was out by the Gaffney Day School he
[Immigrant] developed a taste for pecan pie
On cloudy afternoons: the Reverend drove
A white El Camino and did the Detroit Lean
While the kudzu crept over the billboard
Of a crying baby mumbling this speech
Bubble: “Pay attention to whom your energy
Increases or decreases around.” And yet
Another dream of the railway trestle
In a Tennessee marshland: the alarm
Wakes you to rain and a Central European
Heat wave. If you were home you’d be driving
Round Ridgewood dreaming of Highgate,
Middling in 1986: and that night yet
Another dream of a horse cart escaping you,
Of the co-worker’s gaunt prairie dog looks,
Of bashing your teeth out on the sidewalk.
Was it because you were pulled or pushed
Yourself into the woods of the foreign
That few started looking for you [refugee],
That you know not about having any of your own?
As the Incan rope bridge is rebuilt every year
From the community of grass, you are
Again branded fugitive beneath those
Coptering drum patterns of Meguro and Ebisu.
From the Carolina Piedmont to Lake Cable
To the Vistula, cross the Appalachians,
The Carpathians, battling the vapors
Of unbelonging: this has meant planning
Forays into other tongues while remaining
Unable to escape the American orbit.
Some say wrong paths right us: others say
Stay here till you can stand it no longer.
On the pleasure of wearing a wristwatch,
This separation of ebony statuettes: how many
Times this week were you almost hit by a bus?
The clear, hard light shone either on
The garden of delete or of peace. So much
You [migrant] don’t know: atomic or molecular,
The furloughs between Norway and Sweden, Civil
War border states, classical Indian literature,
Death drive, Baltic dolphins, Antifa, gold trains
Hidden in the mountains of Silesia. You [exile]
Wait out the latter days with forests, fields,
Rocks and weeds: your true companions
At the start of this fading frontier.
To start considering the cabins, mountains
More: to see a donkey in the Pyrenees
And wonder at her red sweater. These
Indulgences of summer have forced
You to wonder how to get there, how
To stay financed, keep it together: this
Is the story of that memory of a memory.
Where is the eighth continent? What [expatriate]
Is it to belong to this country?
Source: SEVENTY HETERONYMS