Monday, August 4, 2014

Memory and Reality

Cormac McCarthy is a writer who takes the reader into the most bizarre and grotesque situations, grabs him and holds him transfixed.  His books are literally "can't put them down" adventures.  I have been riveted by several of his works.

For some reason I missed The Road when it was released in 2006, but that is okeh because now it is a new adventure for me.  I am not reviewing the book here, but rather I am lifting a sentence or two which give me pause.  "He thought each memory recalled must do some violence to its origins.
. . .What you alter in the memory has yet a reality, known or not." (p. 111)

I have been operating String Too Short to Tie for nearly six years.  Much of the material is drawn from memories of my life past, and of course in the assembling and publishing of that material, new memories are created.  McCarthy, in this brief reflection of his protagonist, has caused me to reflect on the questions, "What violence have I done to the past, to the origins of those memories by my recalling them, by recording them?  And how much warping of reality have I engendered?  Or have I, in fact, created new realities thereby?"

I wonder if other writers reflect on these questions as they are relating the tales they remember or create.  What of the historian?

I have thought on occasion about the players that appear on the stage of my memory.  Do those actors exist in our shared reality; or do they exist only in the reality created by my mind?  Do they still exist?  I have thought, for example, of certain individuals who played a role in a scene of my early life, recalling clearly (to my way of thinking) the incident and the behaviors of the participants, yet my mind may be completely void of any recollection of a name to attach to one of these players.

Why is that surprising?  There is a chance that, were I to be introduced to you today, I would not remember your name tomorrow.  Am I revealing too much about the inner workings of my mind?  Indeed I am.

Good day.


Vee said...

It's probably true that we create "new realities" as we recount things. Hence, the arguments with others who disagree concerning what happened. But the things we recount are just as true for us as what might actually have happened.

Sharkbytes said...

There are so many threads of road to travel all leading back to whatever the event really was. Do any of us "see" it accurately.

Grace said...

There is a school of psychology called phenomenology - it concerns itself with only the client's view of happenings based on the theory that we react to what we perceive happened which may be different than what actually happened.

Secondary Roads said...

Deep thoughts for me to try to wrestle with on a Monday morning after an exhausting weekend.

I recently was talking with one of my sons. What I remembered most about an incident from his freshman year in high school, he could not recall.

vanilla said...

Vee, oh, I have those discussions with certain of my offspring. My perceptions, however do represent reality. For me. Their reality may vary.

Sharkey, since we seem to be dependent upon our senses for our perceptions, I have to say, "Who knows?"

Grace, The philosophy of phenomenology has had considerable influence in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and even theology. Inasmuch as we cannot experience the thing-in-itself, but can only interpret it through our senses, it is not surprising that there are adherents in various fields of thought.

Chuck, or as the Lorrie Morgan song says, Except for Monday, which was never good anyway, Tuesday I get a little sideways. . .

The usual pattern here is the kid recalls something, and I don't.

Secondary Roads said...

I love that song by Lorrie Morgan. Thanks for giving me a smile on a[nother] gloomy day

vanilla said...

Chuck, you are welcome! I like Lorrie Morgan. This one, and "Something in Red" may be my favorites.