“There is such pressure to remain true to the facts, and it seems so important somehow, so vital to preserve events and people as they really were. But he knows how memory can make a shattered dream come true. Sometimes he loses the strength and vigilance to stand up to its forces, and thinks he would do just as well to let it transform the past as it wishes.” (Harvey p127)
I had the joy of reading recently Samantha Harvey’s novel ‘The Wilderness’ (Random House 2009). It is the humourously melancholic story of a man experiencing Alzheimer’s in his later years and the increasing liquidity between what is real, what is remembered and what is fantasy as the disease erodes his ability to deal with the reality of presence. It is tragic but Harvey explores so beautifully the themes of memory and what could be real or even fabricated.
I never think you can trust memory, it is fluid, it changes; things are lost or found. As the ages increase it is no longer possible to retain years of information and experiences.
Jane Boyer wrote and interesting introduction to the Core Gallery Open Exhibition Catalogue reflecting on how many artist selected are grappling with ideas around memory and the distortion of time and space. “…These works speak of fractured and fragmented experiences; the search for meaning between the two selves; private/public; a bombardment from technology and media images; place which is no longer actual but has become a representation, a symbol, an icon; a preference for constructed memory because real memory has become suspect…… Constructed memory becomes as defence against an invasive barrage of technology.” (Boyer 2011)
It is increasingly hard to engage with the present when we are communicating with numerous people on line, being subject to thousands of images, sounds, personal stories, expectations and demands for our time. If we cannot be aware of our present how can we possibly have a consciousness of our past? Our minds are powerful things and our ability to create, fabricate and believe is incredible. Why would we not want to create for ourselves a more romantic, interesting, intelligent, fun and care free past?