Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Memories Old And New

They say memories fade. I don't think that's quite right. Memories aren't like photographs or drawings. That's the wrong simile. They're more like stones- and they get abraded, worn down by time, but the core of them remains as hard and bright as ever. Take the memory I trawled up yesterday of myself as a very small person playing at my mother's feet. That's as clear and vivid as my memories of yesterday or this morning. Put it side by side with a recent memory and it's as if the intervening period- a mere sixty years- had been cancelled. If memories were like photographs the old would- figuratively speaking- be in black and white or the saturated colours of Kodachrome and the new in pixels, but in fact both have exactly the same quality of now-ness. I don't notice that my mother as she was is wearing the amusing fashions of the late 50s. Her ancient self is as present and contemporary as her modern self. The only difference between the two memories is this: that the new is still connected to an ongoing narrative- is a bead on a string- while the old is all on its own- has lost its context, most of its supporting detail, its before and after, its quality of story- and has been reduced to a hard little nugget of instantaneous experience. 
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