Saturday, March 29, 2014

Falling into Memory: Strange Platypus(es)

I cannot trade, my hands are empty.
All I have are these,
Broken memories,
Little fragments red and gold and the scent of maple smoke
Rising from forgotten chimneys in the valley of the soul
Who will take them?
Who will take these wampum beads? 
This blog is a house of memory.  Like the Sybil, I write down my thoughts on leaves and store them away for safe keeping.  As the Sybil found out, memories left unattended scatter, become disordered, and are lost.  This was Augustine's problem as he constructed his Confessions: how can a being distended in time hope to draw all his members together and make his confession before Almighty God?  The Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci wrote a whole book on memory in order to convince the Confucian scholars that Western learning had something to offer them.  Things are always slipping away from us, both as individuals and as a community.  Humans die and forget, and thus the ability to remember is precious.  So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna on the field of battle...

*The final quote is taken from The Dry Salvages by T.S. Eliot.  The initial poem and photo (Huntington Cemetery) are by the author of the post.

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