Monday, May 02, 2005

Stephen Dunn- Technology/Memory

Okay. So maybe not everyone has to read it or have it read to them, but I would recommend that everyone I know and anyone who might come across my blog should read it. So once again, the poet's name is Stephen Dunn. The book is called Riffs & Reciprocities: prose pairs. There are forty five pairs in the book. Here is the first:


Maybe we've always been transported by what we can't explain. But if the world were almost destroyed and only a few of us remained, who could reinvent the telephone, no less the radio or the car? I'd be a man with hopes for a farm. I turn the television on, and there's baghdad, and there's a missile and a rationale. I could be in a cave watching the Northern Lights- it's all so out of my control. I watch a laser repair a heart. I look in atmy daughter before she is born. There used to be a gulf between empiricism and faith. Now an e-mail message arrives on my turned-off machine. Somebody who lives in cyberspace- where my mother never roamed- could say how. Normal: the most malleable word our century has known. The light bulb changed the evening. the car invented the motel.


A kind of achievement, William Carlos Williams said. Or a curse, said the man who couldn't get the phone book out of his head. Speak, Nabokov asked of his. Which it tends to, if we invoke it often enough. Imagination is its most important friend, selecting, coloring, casting aside. Without imagination, an endlessness, like my colleague's story of his summer by the lake when he listed birds and his wife was tortured by a lingering cold; he told me so much I didn't know what I'd been told. More and more I forget what I need, and remember what I'd like to forget. And sometimes I keep talking, keep recalling, as a way of not saying what I feel. Memory's law: what we choose to say about our past becomes our past. That other past, the one we've lived, exists in pieces that flicker and grow dim. I can buy memory in a store called Circuit City. I can press search, and find a fact, a person, but not what I've most dearly lost. Every time I save I exclude.


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