October 09, 2004
Memory is like fiction
Memory is like fiction; or else it's fiction that's like memory. This really came home to me once I started writing fiction, that memory seemed a kind of fiction, or vice versa. Either way, no matter how hard you try to put everything neatly into shape, the context wanders this way and that, until finally the context isn't even there anymore. You're left with this pile of kittens lolling all over one another. Warm with life, hopelessly unstable. And then to put these things out as saleable items, you call them finished products--at time it's downright embarrassing just to think of it. Honestly, it can make me blush. And if my face turns that shade, you can be sure everyone's blushing.

Still, you grasp human existence in terms of these rather absurd activities resting on relatively straightforward motives, and questions of right and wrong pretty much drop out of the picture. That's where memory takes over and fiction is born. From that point on, it's a perpetual-motion machine no one can stop. Tottering its way thoughout the world, trailing a single unbroken thread over the ground.

Here goes nothing. Hope all goes well, you say. But it never has. Never will. It just doesn't go that way.

So where does that leave you? What do you do?

What is there to do? I just go back to gathering kittens and piling them up again. Exhausted kittens, all limp and played out. But even if they work to discover themselves stacked like kindling for a campfire, what would the kittens think? Well, it might scarcely raise a "Hey, what gives?" out of them. In which case--if there was nothing to particularly get upset about--it would make my work a little easier. That's the way I see it.
Haruki Murakami, The Last Lawn of the Afternoon. From the collection The Elephant Vanishes Posted by Bill Stilwell at October 09, 2004 11:43 AM


Posted by: stacked on November 12, 2004 2:40 PM
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