Remembering A Time Beyond Us

Joe Brainard’s I Remember teaches us a vital aspect when it comes to our memories and.      how we access them. The sporadic nature in which we take the god, the bad, the unimportant and the mundane. In many stanzas we are given what matters most of each memory. Some may have more content than others, but most opt to focus on the main points and finer details. No long build ups to some of the memories, just the key points and how that connect to other memories residing within us. A collective of memories are used to convey a central idea.

This is not just Joe Brainard using writing to effectively get at some idea in his head, he is displaying what is the beginning of any autobiographical material. The act of remembrance and what that did to us and for us. How does the act of remembering something affect us from the time of the memory to the current you?  Perhaps you was once mad at the memory, but now view it as nothing. Brainard explores the depth of his mind and in doing so allows us to reminisce. This is autobiography at its base, being able to take an experience and convey that to an audience who may gain from it. Some of those memories may be spotty or even incorrect upon initial review (as shown in the text) but it is us nonetheless. That is the point, that is a message, perhaps not the message but a point that his works is meant to evoke.

I remember a time before now, one where my mind was clouded and full of resentment for past actions. I remember viewing it with a strong sense of melancholy. I now view it with a bittersweet after taste. These points on which I reminisce  may not be the same but I remember  that both matter to me and those around me. A change in perception automatically means a change in a memory. Not the truth nor the autobiographical pact that one must upkeep changes, but what I see in them always does. I Remember is simple yet complex, just as the way we traverse truth and excavate old scenarios in our conscience. The book is in some ways the autobiographical pact, and in some ways an antithesis to it with parts of memories being rearranged or expanded upon.

 

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1 thought on “Remembering A Time Beyond Us

  1. Terrell.
    I love this passage in your post:
    “I remember a time before now, one where my mind was clouded and full of resentment for past actions. I remember viewing it with a strong sense of melancholy. I now view it with a bittersweet after taste. These points on which I reminisce may not be the same but I remember that both matter to me and those around me. A change in perception automatically means a change in a memory.”

    It’s so interesting to think of perception and feeling as the remnants of memories. I appreciate how you use the metaphor of taste to contextualize the moment before the present becomes a memory as if time is the aftertaste of memory. You make a great point that the autobiographical pact is complicated since there is no objective or temporal truth when recalling memories since memories are inevitable to change.

    After reading your post, I’ve been thinking a lot about “accessing memory” as brought up at the beginning of your post. When we think of bringing forth memory, we use terms like “conjure” or “access.” When I read or hear those words in this context, it makes me think of something fantastical or qualitative. Fantastical in the sense that I am rewarded something after taking steps to achieve it via an adventure/journey. Qualitative as if I am infiltrating a database that has meaning embedded in number sets. Both terms involve preplanning and energy devoted to bringing forth memory. In this way, memory involves struggle as grief involves the work of mourning.

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