Thursday, January 20, 2022

Memory influencers


20 January 2022

Memory loves company. I told the man in the bus about the memory police, enforcing forgetting. Something worse than forgetting; no haze around the space where the object sat to remind us that it—whatever it was—no longer exists. A yellow box sits in your body, alongside a blue triangle. You remember them like twins on a park bench, looking out. The bench is a company influencer, short as a tweet, sturdy as a plank. Too much company becomes a corporation, its structure devolving into a man, all eyes. A student talks about the English teacher we’ve all had, the one who took a simple sentence and found so many things in it, as if to find treasure were to squander it. The white arm reaching toward a sleeping calf is beautiful as image, more complicated as memory. We’re invited to spin narratives from our memory of stories, moving out like spokes, forward and back, folded up into tiny napkins at a grand buffet. That the cow may end up there is one story, past as prospect. That the calf was born is another, more certain and more kind. The photograph may or may not gesture at God creating Adam; it resides on the page as in its stall. You (child or slaughterer) reach down to make sure it’s there. So much is not: a friend leaves, as on a trip, but there are no photos, no cards, no emails. Just a keen sense of obstacle, where the present was.

Note: this owes details to Robert Adams’s short essay on Nicholas Nixon’s photograph, “West Springfield, Massachusetts, 1978.”

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