|The Non-Remembrance of Things Past - Page 7|
Okay, okay, it isn't just the Michael Jordans of the mind who have a memory. Yes, you still have one, too. You're not brain-dead, you don't suffer from Alzheimer's, you're not diseased, you're not a total loss. You still remember that Eleanor Rigby car ride, and a few other things as well. And sometimes, after you've given up hope, the fog does lift. What you'd thought was gone forever unexpectedly bubbles up from the darkness: "Of course! I left the damn keys in my overcoat."
But all those years you spent with Joanne, why do you recall so little about them? Or her? And the books you've read, the books you've loved, why is there so little, if anything, you can remember of them, or of the countless movies you've seen? Why do they all seem so hazy and blurry, sparse and fragile? Why do the memories you have seem black and white and gray? What happened to Technicolor? Why, when you were visiting Hawaii, did you just laugh at the very idea that you'd ever be able to remember all those odd-sounding place names, no matter how often you might say them aloud? Could you even think of learning a foreign language or mastering some new discipline? Are you entering the zoned-out state your father always seemed to be in when you saw him at the nursing home, staring so fixedly off into space that he appeared to be watching the wall he was sitting passively in front of? What show is playing so insistently inside your head these days? Or is it just a blank screen in there with nothing on?
Or is it that you are just not paying attention? Is that it? Thinking about something else when you should be absorbing (for future remembering) whatever happens to be staring you in the face at any given moment? (If that's it, then what keeps making your mind drift elsewhere? And where is it drifting to?) Or have you just reached that point in life where you really can't pay attention anymore; that point where you don't even want to pay attention; that point where you're so damn old, where things—people, places, life, things—are just so familiar, so reminiscent, so tiresomely repetitive that they lack any significance they might once have held for you and now simply don't—can't—sink in? Is that why memories don't form? Because you're going through the motions, a kind of replicant on auto-pilot, unengaged, coasting through life with far fewer fantasies of love or fame or bliss or wealth? Because you've been there, done that? Or because you've convinced yourself that you have? And does that blithe indifference, that buffered stance, increasingly hinder your ability to recapture the past as well?11