Somewhere in the bands of memory’s focus lie the roots of learning, of language, of consideration and work. The collective record of the human species is filled with images of the exercise of remembering, whether through the passage of explanatory stories, the lineal descent of families, the reasons for war, or the final rites of a soul bound for death. It would not be possible to overstate memory’s importance, for in a sense we are nothing more than memory, each one of us a lightly-recorded collage of personal and public memory, and the cumulative effects of that memory’s forgetting. The ideas and images which exert the greatest pull within each mind are the deepest imprints of experience, and perhaps additionally a set of remembrances bequeathed to each of us before our births. Some of these motivations will evolve with time and further experience: the process of our own internal sculpture; others will remain, much as we found them in childhood, solitary beacons. With each step in time, forward or back, the expansive fractured glass takes on a new perspective, and we are able to trace differently the wandering episodic routes. These are narratives: multiple, multiplying; seeded junctures, ambiguous horizon lines, ends temporarily reached. Within the density we recognize structure and its absence; we regret perhaps a few paths missed or abandoned; we savor certain other unexpected connections. This is the recursive demonstration of ourselves, elaborated by a language which is most often verbal but not always so – the memory of memory. And immediately following this recognition: the divergence of public and private. We recognize certain perimeters in language, certain vagaries in comprehension, both within and without. We recognize distance, and the urge to overcome it. In speaking to another’s narrative, we are mining linkages which have perhaps always been latent – in the same way that the brain at birth has yet to close off any pathways. We may use words, images, touch, sound – any means in this construction. We may create whole environments, or messages of the most discrete simplicity. The work then becomes an attempt to find modes of sympathetic resonance within a limitless and partially understood series of reflections.

But now, when I try to remember them… I think how little we can hold in mind, how everything is constantly lapsing into oblivion with every extinguished life, how the world is, as it were, draining itself, in that the history of countless places and objects which thetmselves have no power of memory is never heard, never described or passed on.

W G Sebald

Copyright 2001-2010 Dorsey Dunn