I’d rather live in the instant than ‘gram the instant

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This was just that good. Leading me to share more than a few excerpts from Walter Kirn‘s excellent essay titled: Remembrance of Things Lost:

What if Marcel Proust had kept an Instagram account? What if he’d used a smartphone to snap a photo of every evocative morsel he’d ever eaten? Would he still have written “In Search of Lost Time”…

…When I try to recall my childhood…I don’t have recourse to an exhaustive catalog of images and documents. My parents never shot home movies and they took family photos only rarely, on ceremonial occasions when everyone was compelled to smile tautly and mask what was really going on inside them. As a consequence, revisiting my youth can feel rather like a homicide investigation. Working from clues and the accounts of witnesses, including the highly unreliable one who lives behind my eyeballs, I wait for scenarios to form and patterns to emerge. If they seem plausible I delve into them further, especially if the images align with the murky emotions they conjure up. I tend not to question the resulting mental scenes despite being well aware that photographs and secondhand stories have been shown to create false memories. Clear or hazy, bright or dim, my recollections are private, mine alone, and written in synaptic smoke, not subject to verification by instant replay.

…What makes memories precious, even certain “bad” ones, is forgetting, of course. Remember forgetting? …Memory is an imaginative act; first we imagine what we’ll want to keep and then we fashion stories from what we’ve kept. Memories don’t just happen, they are built…the human mind is not a hard drive, a neutral repository of information. The melancholy passage of the years tends to change our values as we age, and the awesome backflips of 13 don’t hold the magic they once did; not when compared to the image of a loved one who has since gone absent, say. If I’d had a smartphone with a video camera back in my early adolescence, I doubt that I would have trained it on the things that matter to me now, like the sight of my mother reading in her blue armchair, underlining passages from Proust.

…One reason that I’ve never kept a journal is that the attention that goes into keeping one is, I feel, more profitably spent on engaging with the moment. I’d rather live in the instant than ‘gram the instant.

A remembrance never formed is worse, far worse, than a remembrance lost. At 52, increasingly forgetful, I sometimes rack my brain for past experiences that I’m positive are in there somewhere and draw a blank. It’s frustrating, but the blank still marks a spot — a spot where a memory used to be and might, if I eat the right cake, reappear. What makes memory magical is its imperfections and its unpredictability; try as we might, we never quite control it. It draws our attention to the margins of stories that once seemed to be the main events. Someday, when my son reviews his footage, what will come back to him may not be his ski stunts but other aspects of that winter day: the voices of his friends, the shadows on the mountain, the face of his father beside him in the car.

Don’t miss Walter Kirn’s entire essay @ Remembrance of Things Lost:


Image: NY Times Magazine.  A 2011 installation of printouts of photos that had been uploaded to Flickr over a 24-hour period.Credit “24 HRS in Photos,” by Erik Kessels at Foam in Amsterdam, KesselsKramer

Those nagging what ifs

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Everyone who gives up a serious childhood dream — of becoming an artist, a doctor, an engineer, an athlete — lives the rest of their life with a sense of loss, with nagging what ifs. […]

Only a very few loves can disappoint you so fundamentally that you feel you’ve lost yourself when they’re gone. Quitting music wounded me as deeply as any relationship in my life. It was my first great loss, this innocent, awkward failure to live with what I heard and felt. For more than ten years I avoided music. It hurt too much. My anger went as deep as my love had gone. I suppose this is natural. In the aftermath of something so painful, we subsist on bitterness, which sustains us against even greater loss.

~ Glenn Kurtz in Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music


Photo: By Majewska via banishedagain

TT*: Wow, I thought. What am I gonna do with love like this

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“I thought she was sleeping until I heard her call out from across the room, “Will you bring me a glass of water?” I did. Then in her always-sleepy tone and drawl she said, “Do you remember when you were a little boy and you would ask your mama to bring you a glass of water?” Yeah. “You know how half the time you weren’t even thirsty. You just wanted that hand that was attached to that glass that was attached to that person you just wanted to stay there until you fell asleep.” She took the glass of water that I brought her and just sat it down full on the table next to her. Wow, I thought. What am I gonna do with love like this.”

Dito Montiel, “One Night,” A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, A Memoir


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Photograph: Adriana Varela

TT*: “This is living,” he said, “huh, Charlie boy?”

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I watched the whole performance from a tiny table by the window. We’d done our business at the bank and now we each had big piece of chocolate layer cake, thick with icing. It was yellow cake. I don’t know how they got it yellow but they did and the yellow was beautiful against the warm brown frosting. We loved that chocolate cake. This was a good day, a really good day, and I knew what was coming next. My father stared for a long while out the window, at what, I don’t know, but I waited, waited for his famous phrase, sure it would come, and when his reverie broke and he returned to the bakery and our little table, he smiled at me, then looked down at his cake, and there it was, sure as rain.

“This is living,” he said, “huh, Charlie boy?”

~ Charles D’Ambrosio, This is Living. Loitering: New and Collected Essays


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Image: Add a Pinch

TT*: Hear the playing cards slap in the spokes

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The child is riding her bicycle up the hill. I stand and look around; the thick summer foliage blocks the road from view. I turn back toward the river and hear the playing cards slap in the spokes. They click and slap slowly, for the hill is steep. Now the pushing grows suddenly easier, evidently; the cards click and slap. At once, imperceptibly, she starts down. The pace increases. The cards are slapping and she is rolling; the pace speeds up, she is rolling, and the cards are slapping so fast the sounds blur. And so she whirs down the hill. I can see her through the woods downstream where the road evens out. She is fine, still coasting, and leaning way back.

~ Annie Dillard, “Aces and Eights.” Teaching a Stone to Talk.


Notes: TT* = Throwback Thursday. Image: Maurizio Raffa via Sensual Starfish

Throwback Thursday

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Source: Your Eyes Blaze Out

Nostalgia for a lost world, an unrecoverable childhood

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From Larissa MacFarquhar’s 2003 Profile of Quentin Tarantino:

“For every monologue he writes about an old movie or TV show, he writes one about European hamburgers or tipping waitresses or eating pork. … The love of minutiae, like the love of pop culture, is a form of nostalgia—a junk-food version of Proust’s madeleine. But, unlike madeleine-nostalgia—nostalgia for a lost world, an unrecoverable childhood—minutiae-nostalgia is nostalgia for a world that still exists, for a life you’re still living.”


(Source: newyorker.com). Photograph by Ruven Afanador

Breathe

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[Read more…]

Breakfast. Sweet.

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Source: Mme Scherzo

SMWI*: Take me back


Breathless,
at the speed
this video took me back.

Saturday mornings in January.
Crisp, cold mountain air.
A sparkling layer of frost on the snow.

Running in Sorel boots to the outdoor rink,
Snow crunching under each foot fall.
Rushing to lace up our skates.
And we go.
And we go.
And we go.

If you close your eyes and listen
You can hear
The steel blades cutting the ice.
The chop, chop, chop of cross-overs to accelerate.
The spray of fine ice crystals from a hard stop.

Take me back.
To our Golden Pond.
This Canadian’s Heaven.

~ DK


  • SMWI* = Saturday Morning Work-out Inspiration
  • Credits: Video – Thank you Rob @ The Hammock Papers
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