Memory is as much fiction as it is non-fiction. The boundaries separating one from the other are difficult for anyone to trace. Remembering to see and say I know fact from fiction, I just remembered that “The Earth is flat” was once a fact. How do I recollect what I remember, separate what I remember from what I recall? How are they each different from the others. Documentary is another genre still. Is memory a genre? How many of us watch documentaries on PBS and suspend our disbelief–we do not take what we are given cum grano. All remembering is recording of a kind, but all recording is filtering.
To record comes from the Latin recordare, as in the Spanish recordar. Recordar, Galeano reminds us, is to pass through the heart again. In all matters of recall, of recollection or of remembering–herein we assume greater synonymy than is in actuality true–there is an element of again and again, but what gain is there from memory in itself functioning as memory is another mystery to me.
Imagination, I’m sure, needs heart for it to function as imagination should, and I have not dispensed with should’s in order to raise in esteem my personal whims and fancies. This would be deluding myself there are no hierarchies of Truth or of Beauty or of ethics or of epistemology.
If we look at the history of the earth, if we take a paleontological account of its life from the beginning to the present, we will certainly see more extinct species than all the living species here on earth at present. Death is the rule, extinction the one unwavering maxim of Life. If the center cannot hold, if the second law of thermodynamics is the rule of maximum entropy, then why are we always so certain of remembering? Of being able to recollect faithfully . . . persistently and at will. When will we ever? What I remember, what I recollect; how and why do I recall anything at all anywhere, any when? I’m not certain of their synonymy. I’m sure they possess connotations that leave them distinct, separate, incompatible as interchangeable lexical items in all contexts of usage.
Synonymy or the lack thereof not in itself antonymy, I have always imagined that it was appropriate to throw confetti at the turn of the New Year. I imagine there are numerous minor New Years of the mind. How do we record anything mentally? What brings something to bear on my present from my past? We don’t lie to ourselves as much as we unavoidably create a past out of the confetti with which our minds are left. Imagine pasting the confetti of your life together, piece by piece. What abstract design would be revealed, what surreal revelation of our unconscious would come to the forefront of our thoughts.
Memory is as much fiction as it is documentary, and it so much other than the latter. We must never forget that documentaries have a unique camera eye, a lens that frames as well as occludes, that both points at something and acts as a filter of this something. There is always a mise en scene, is there not? There is always a context created.