Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Alcove: Memory of the Future

A memory of taking the blue bowl down from the kidaka. A secret object enclosed in a pouch will have been placed behind the bowl. Or in the bowl. It will come back to me, but it won't all come back to me. In the center of the room a bowl of oranges. Come sit. We may be on Lamu, or we may be on Unguja. We may be in Malindi. My thoughts return to the mountains, as always.

Sean M. Kelly (not to be confused with the Sean Kelly of Seeing Things), in an essay (pdf) for the latest Integral Review, quotes part of a passage from Sri Aurobindo's The Synthesis of Yoga concerning a capacity for having a memory of the future. Kelly's quotation leaves off just before Aurobindo says, "But this capacity works at first sporadically and uncertainly and not in an organised manner" (Part 4, Chapter 26). This sentence of Aurobindo's vitally qualifies the idea of a memory of the future. It invites us to examine experiences of imagination, or specifically imagined events (and thus also our understanding of time) in such a way as to not obliterate the vicissitude or otherwise completely level out experience–it should be clear that here I am not pursuing a perfection of consciousness but rather attempting to gain some insight on a phenomenon of experience. How would a memory of the future be experienced? Would we say that the future is remembered, or might it be memorized? What can't we commit to memory?

What is the relation between memory and thought? If it seems that the cogito remembers, that it exists temporally, is it also apparent that memory thinks?

What is the relation between memory and imagination? If we view a relation to the future through memory as paradoxical or nonsensical does it follow that we are viewing memory as something other than a mode of the imagination? Must there be in memory an unquestioned relation to the past? I ask again, what is passage? If we reject memories of the future on the grounds that memory must concern the past, are we in danger of being baffled by passage? Are transcendental consciousness and the passage of time ideas equally about passage? (It is not my place to deny extension to consciousness, and I have not yet assigned any such meanings to interiority.)

We may be lead to believe that the dream takes place in the loneliest of lonelinesses. If we stay true to the path of the dream, however, the loneliest of lonelinesses is shown to be a place reserved for the appearance of demons who offer demonic choices as to how we are to respond to their riddles–demons only ever offer demonic choices. They are after all not sphinges but demons. Let's ask whether the oneiric temporality properly takes place, or whether it represents a passage out of place. Have I just presented you with a demonic choice? To answer dreaming with dreaming. The residue of a contour.

What would oneiric translucency say to us about passage? I follow the aporetic ways of anamnesis; aporetically is how I begin to see through to the meaning of passage.

A trailing off into the dew. It's still like being inside the brool. The bedroom window. Waking up from a heart attack into a heart attack. Adrenaline. They dragged the lion off for questioning, the police. They broke his throat. Two or three blows and he went silent, limp. They dragged him away while we lay dreaming. For anamnesis.

When I hand you an orange the surprise of your laughter has been no less dreamy for having been remembered as a surprise. To live with our vicissitudes means to allow for surprise. Does memory concern those things which may be repressed, things which may be disallowed? What would make surprise irrepressible? That surprise would be irrepression itself?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 2:59 PM.


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