Article: 179004 of talk.bizarre
From: (a hurricane triggered by butterfly's wings)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: Disposable Memories
Date: 1 Dec 1994 17:59:30 -0500
Organization: the breaking of small, important bones
Lines: 86
Message-ID: <3blkgi$>
Status: O

Step inside my mind for a moment.  Reify a memory for me.  
A tisket, a tasket, a nostalgia basket.  

Months ago, ceej said:

>I'm thinking about a particular mild form of nostalgia.
>I'm thinking about familiarity without emotional attachment.
>I don't miss them, but I'm aware they're gone.

Right now, I'm thinking a lot about something more subtle, more sinister;
something that tastes of irrecoverable tragedy, and possesses no small
amount of contradiction: "disposable memories."

You see, nostalgia happens to you.  It's a feedback loop, one you can't
necessarily predict.  You simply become aware of it and respond.  The
particular nostalgia ceej mentions above is familiar enough, but lately I've
been realizing that what I am calling disposable memories are the evolved,
killer mutant variety.  I dislike them with some fervor.

I can remember something, a person, a place, a situation, but these memories
come to me with a very odd detachment.  Most of my life from birth until age
sixteen or so falls into this category.  Much of my early college years does
also. This is hardly inconsequential stuff.  While it was all happening the
first time around, I know I frequently mused on my good fortune to have such
good friends and such wonderful times.  I was completely content with the
knowledge that I was experiencing one wondrous thing after another, and that
these memories would last me through my dotage.

But they didn't.  They're gone.  Well, not entirely, but what I recall now
is frame without substance, signs without full presence, metaphors without
myths behind them.  It's as though my memories have been fed through the AP
wire or edited at Reader's Digest.  I remember who was where and what we
did, but the meat and the meaning is gone.  What seemed at the time to be of
the utmost importance to remember, so I could cherish it and relive a
particularly poignant joy, is now a hollow shell with a faded label on it. 
I was creating disposable memories the whole time, and now that the
freshness date has passed, I'm slowly losing them.

If I go down to Harrisonburg these days, I sometimes run into people I met
my last semester there; I don't remember their names, and I don't recall
that I said this to them or did that at so and so's party, because I was
deliberately creating disposable memories so I would be able to leave "with
no fathomable regard[1]" when the time came. Most of the time, though, I am
certain that I intended to retain the real meat and meaning of the memories,
and they have vanished nonetheless.  

What bothers me most is that I'm unsure if I miss the actual substance of
the memories or if I miss the illusion of substance that I created around
them.  To flip ceej's idea around, I DO miss these things, and I AM
emotionally attached to them in some odd way, but I'm not always aware that
they have gone until I try to express their substance.

It's really fucking with my writing.

I mean, I have spent at least 1/10th of my lifetime engaged in some form of
competitive aquatic activity.  That's between four and six hours a day from
age 5 through age 22, inclusive.  You would think, somehow, that some
specific memories would be recoverable from that immense collection of
experiences.  I know for certain that there are dozens of keen moments that
might have some literary merit surrounding each and every event in a swim or
dive meet.  But I can't GET to them.  I can't tell you what competitive lust
smells like.  I can't describe, in a 100 word story, the thought processes
that occur during a really short sprint.  I can't find enough substantive
memory bits to explain, in excruciating detail, the ten million things I
used to think about during a one-and-a-half with a full twist, nor to
capture the wonderfully detached sense of kinesthetic body-omnipotence that
caused me to switch sports in the first place.  Yeah, I can tell you about
it, but I can't show you.  I can write fucking captions for stick figure
drawings.  I can get you a goddamned list of every medal and ribbon I ever

I wonder if I am living in a disposable memory zone right now.  I wonder how
much of this year will still be important to me five years from now.

I have no dount, though, that I will remember to return to this topic in the
coming days.  I have more that I want to say about it, but I dont, um...
remember what.

"Tis not alone my lettery pompous inky cloak, good mother, nor customary
suits of solemn black...that can denote me truly.  These indeed seem, for
they are shadows that a man might play." - Hamlet
[1]the other hamlet