rough notes

gone away: ramblings

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(poor crackpot-theory alert. read at my peril and yours.)

I’ve just come back from a trip.  I’ve been away.  I was gone.  I left my existence in one space and ventured forward into another for nine days. 

Then I returned.

I think the manner in which we describe ourselves – often through the verb “to be” – is incredibly fascinating.  We don’t think about it too often (and nor should we, frankly), but when we do, I think it’s easy to see how the manner in which we use this verb can throw our understanding of ourselves for a loop. For instance,  “I am sick” connotes a momentary case of illness, or better yet, plays on a sense of “sickness” that adjusts the statement into an outright personification of A H1N1 and our acclamation thereof.

But to say “I’ve been away” or “I was away” drives home for me the temporal and unfixed nature of being.  Our understanding of ourselves – all of our moments when we introspectively identify as x or y – are like a string of pearls on a necklace: each are separate and distinct moments.  To say “I was away” suggests that I left or was away from the person I am/was on the east coast of Canada for a time and became some one else in the intervening days.  Perhaps it would be better to say “I am returned” as opposed to “I have returned”, then, in order to reinforce how the experience of the journey makes my life as it is today, May 10, 2009, distinct from my life as it was before I handed a flight attended a boarding pass on May 1, 2009.

All this faux-theory draws me toward the nature of memory and experience.  (It doesn’t help that I was reading a book that questioned the nature of remembrances in a world without time, but it is nonetheless a topic I’ve studied in the past.)  We have memories of people, places, things, moments, and experiences.  We remember the party we last attended or the dread of an spiked utility bill or of that pleasant picnic with Jack and Diane.  We commonly hold these memories as remembrances of the world and of our experience in it.  But when it comes down to brass tacks, these memories are interpretations, made in this present moment, of how we want to remember ourselves vis-a-vis that previous experience.  I can try to look back into the past, but all I’ll discover is the memory-outcomes of the previously experienced moments as I want to perceive them in the here-and-now.  Therefore, how I was then, before I was away and before I was returned, are particular identities and states of existence, but they are identities and states of existence we can’t ever return to because they have been co-opted by the needs of the immediate-present self.  Even our understanding of these states is nothing more than a sorry attempt to fool ourselves into believing we can understand the present and the future from a past that is constantly consumed and regurgitated by the here and now..

(If you’re curious, my trip was fairly uneventful.)


Written by mitchellirons

May 10, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Posted in ecrits

Tagged with , , , ,

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