HOW LONG TO FORGET THE SECRET?

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?

SOFT MALL MEMORY MUSIC TECHNOLOGIES, LTD. (SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA, 1989)

America is the original version of modernity. We are the dubbed or subtitled version. America ducks the question of origins; it cultivates no origin or mythical authenticity; it has no past and no founding truth. Having known no primitive accumulation of time, it lives in a perpetual present.

– Baudrillard, America

dead mall 5

Pass the time while your mother looks at Easter dresses on sale at Belk by brushing against the silky prints: run your fingers over the lace collars with a slight urge to rip one off. Take a sip of the watery Mountain Dew from lunch at Sbarro: right by the arcade in the Hillcrest Mall food court. Bounce the pink-speckled rubber ball you got for 10¢ out of the drugstore machine a little too hard: watch it hit the corner of the silvery dress rack and fly towards a display of double-laced LA Gear high-tops. You run past the perfume counters in chase and breathe in the Estée Lauder light: overhear talk of a 10 minute makeover. Retrieve the bouncy ball near a mannequin modelling DKNY: blouse buttoned low, pale lips mouthing aspiration. For a minute you cannot find your mother: but there is perfume in the air, grey mannequin eyes, classy sounds emanating from the high department store ceiling, and she is just twenty feet away looking at pastel jackets. You have one more token in your Jams pocket for a video game: who wouldn’t want to play Out Run again in an afternoon, piloting that Testarosa convertible with a blonde in the passenger seat into an orange sherbert sunset? You ask your mother if you can go to the arcade when she is done, just for five minutes: we need to look for some new Bugle Boy pants for you first. You drive home listening to “Higher Love”: you practice ollies in the driveway till dinnertime.

 

Mnemonic triggers from 1993 (helluva year): desire shaped with discomfort in Shopping Center Morumbi. The many moods of waiting rooms, grille doorways, hotel lobbies, business foyers, plazas, outlet shoppes, 1987: jazzy guitar licks, big snare hits, straight lyrics of love, consumer bliss. You wear Airwalks 540 high-tops with lace-savers as you approach a vortex delineated in purple neon and black leather fringe: the shopping data leaves you flabbergasted yet you remain perfectly relaxed, somewhere in the sun, somewhere beneath glass. A nightmare: you are belted into a 1985 Camaro shooting down the Florida coast and forced to wear a neon green mesh muscle-shirt. You are not allowed to read Time Machine: World War I Flying Ace: there is no time for books in the diamond room. In Brentano’s in The Galleria, you spot a cheap copy of Notes from Underground: but you cannot decide how the glass facade of the office block across the street makes you feel. A breeze and a burst of Lexus exhaust passes over you: was this what the corporate client had in mind when envisioning his ideal techno-business park?

Slippages of forgetting well before buyer’s remorse and the banality of purchase made themselves felt: shiny business always being conducted. Smiles exchanged, “what a hoot,” perms guarding the cash register: children crying for lack of a new Pound Puppy. Ltd. and Inc. soundtracked by sleek synths, rubbery bass, glassy e-pianos with exotic pan mallets: they were luxuriant.

Rehabilitate your memories of the empty malls, noxious colors, smeared plastic: help to smash timbral fascism. You are a fabulous customer, you have class, you know what you want and how to get it: allow yourself to feel the faceless muzak you always secretly loved. All that was made to become obsolete, all that which was discarded from hot pink Trapper Keepers on the last day of school: you will never forget the appeal of summer store oblivion and minivan FM radio. The air conditioning is on high and the candy wagon is fully stocked with gummy worms: put on your new Ocean Pacific t-shirt and dream of boogie-boarding.

Return to the lingerie section of the Walmart in Gaffney: it is the lip-synching contest of 1990. Donny, Charlie, Nick, and you do “Poison” by Bel Biv Devoe: it took a week to work out the dance choreography in Nick’s garage between skate sessions on his homemade jump ramp. You beat out the girl who does “Been Around the World” while dancing with a golden framed photo of her boyfriend: each of you gets a gift certificate for $10. MC Hammer’s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em tape is your logical choice: Donny goes with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack tape. While at the cash register you hear a music so smooth, so motivating: you know this is a major accomplishment, a goal achieved, business potential fulfilled.

Another world of materiality with a southern nostalgia always pastel-tinged: there is no rain, only the brightest sun and the endless promise of new, clean smells for sale.

Checking out the Micro Machines at Roses (where the memories are still plentiful), eyeing the Reebok Pumps at Hamrick’s, playing California Games with Casey while dreaming of skating half-pipes in Hollywood, wearing Vision Street Wear during “10 minutes in heaven” at Tiffany’s house, getting the Bon Jovi New Jersey tape at Camelot Music in Westgate Mall, summer tennis lessons and penny loafers, Charleston palm trees and deck shoes, Natalie wearing jellies, giving Nicole a Mr. Big cassette single for her birthday that she tells you she already has, greasy brick in a baked potato fast-food joint that also serves delicious hot soft pretzels, rollerskating with lasers, entering through the brutalist facade of the Greenville Mall for a 1990 Compuserve and a new friendship bracelet, dinner at the Wendy’s Super Bar, beating Contra over and over, drinking pink lemonade: all soundtracked by the David Sanborn CD on your father’s big Onkyo stereo.

Memory work: modes of indisposability. The plunderphonic sources are far less disposable than previously thought: there is emotion there, tender heart waves taking care of business. Material anchors stills seemingly innocent: a glossiness so particular it can be neither acquired anew nor disposed of once experienced. You hear and accept a peculiar mix of revulsion and desire: this is your memory working hard and playing hard.

 

 

You find yourself nostalgic for a time when this 80s-90s nostalgia was less common: things were so much easier in your asocial mnemonic void then. And now you are late to the vaporwave, newly entered into mallsoft, still free falling into dead malls: unable to forget all those trips full of laughter to Waccamaw Pottery Factory Shoppes. Accomplishments in accelerationism perhaps, but the maximum neo-digital perfect corporate magic enterprise remembering prism has not yet been reached: forget it all before it becomes even more played out.

THE MORE YOU KNOW

The art of forgetting would have to rest on a rhetoric of extinction: writing to extinguish – the contrary of making an archive.

– Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting

You are nostalgic for very little beyond the birches of eastern Polish forests, how they scrape your shoulders as you dash through them, minor wounds you refuse to clean.

You had early only certain understandings of discomfort, paradise, animals, and heroes.

Your memory remains an embarrassment of fruits soon to be fermented, soft peaches to leave in the sun and watermelons to slice up tenderly.

Tracing laps around this decay marks an inquiry only too happy to never be resolved.

You blunt the edges of your tool against your bookshelves soon to splinter.

Who ever built more miniature cities that lasted only till the rain?

You set gently any recollections of your first employment deep in the Stark County water table, hoping to imbibe them in some eventual form that will wash your organs.

You were known for devouring plenty of blueberry muffins in the back corner by the freezer.

Recently you look forward to tomato soup, a bicycle ride, and going to bed early on a Saturday night.

This, over recalling Saturday mornings when your knowledge of light and of war ran somehow parallel.

For now you need enough sleep to trust no other archive but your own, the one that disobliges anyone of caring about its maintenance and/or disintegration.

Halfway there you knew you would recall walking down Overbrook Drive to the corner store for candy with Randon, Donny, and Nick.

And while you fear the daily dismantling of your archive, you can laugh at such extinction in the form of hiccups that last for hours.

That quick, acrid smoke after the tiny explosion on your cousin’s driveway still surrounds you.

You exhaust yourself writing, recording, liking, and linking but you share few finds with anyone, nor do you ever need to sleep due to this particular reciprocation.

You read all of the books you received from B.D. Lee Elementary’s Scholastic Book Club twice once everyone began telling you how good your hand was.

You pay no attention to her eyes.

Natalie and Tiffany, maybe Ashley and Joy as well, had plenty of these.

When you write to produce and not to extinguish, to substantiate and not extricate, you ultimately recognize no difference in the impetus.

There were always a few games you could beat, and the one you always played upon feeling too little imaginative to go down the gully.

You wonder over breakfast about unfollowing him, and then unfollow him.

You traded something nearly every day with Matt in Mrs. Ford’s class.

You see no need to stop writing about those books, and then put them back on the shelf.

The only book you read repeatedly is the first one you never wanted to finish.

You see no need to stop posting quotes, and then delete each worthy as soon as you copy and paste it.

You have never worn a more appropriate outfit.

And you see no need to stop assuming their writing is comprised of only fragments to be repackaged with the blunt tool of your memory, until one morning you can assume this no longer.

A desire for air can only be described in so many ways.

You are now unwilling to gesture through a day of liking and following and repeating, unable to stomach any more hours spent clicking amidst the tired loathing in your skull.

It does not matter if you ever tried this, you may as well say you know the experience dearly.

Your memory has stopped seeking out those who used to know what you still do.

An afternoon across the street at Casey’s was never the same inside and out.

To complete the game of wrapping text around text is not an option, however much sleep you lose.

The stakes have certainly become much higher.

For it is only through crafting your tongue in that supposed rhetoric of extinction that you realize you ever had a memory in the first place.

Hasn’t the point always been the more you know, the more you treat yourself?