Monday, September 28, 2009
Up the Long Memory Ladder
Click to embiggen!
I've long been preoccupied with the problem of memory as it relates to identity. In this photo, I can be seen perched on a ladder, helping raise a painted backdrop for the Leduc Junior High Grade 9 Farewell ceremony of 1984.
I remember the backdrop; I remember the ceremony. (As Student Council President and MC, I delivered a pretty good speech - or at least, a speech that was well-received - I'm a little afraid to read it now.) But I have no memory of climbing that ladder. It may as well have happened to someone else.
Earl's speech. Note backdrop.
I realize that this is pretty sophomoric observation, but I find it quite chilling that everyone I know would claim that I am or was the person pictured on that ladder, but if I have no recollection of the event, how can I really claim to have experienced it? Can I really lay claim to that young man's identity? Is his experience of that day equally my own?
I feel bad for that kid. Maybe that was an important day for him. Maybe he thought to himself, "I want to remember this forever." Who knows what else happened on that day?
If he wanted me - his future self - to be the guardian of some special moment, some important learning experience, then I've failed him.
On the other hand, maybe it was just another day. I was a bit of a geek during my grade school years (shocking, I know), participating in a lot of activities - scenes like this were actually pretty common. Maybe it would only have been memorable if I'd fallen off the ladder. Or maybe I did fall off, and that's why I don't remember - concussion!
"The cells I am at the moment will soon die, but I will be here...yes I'll still be here..."