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Jane + Jim

January 26, 2011

Thank the world for great good friends! Thank you, yellowfish (aka awesome college friend Katie who now works as a superscientist studying memory processes) for forwarding this quote:

“If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient, at others, so bewildered, so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control. We are, to be sure, a miracle every way, but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem particularly past finding out.” – Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

About ten minutes after I read my friend’s email, I found, through work, an article by Allen M. Jones, about poet Jim Harrison and his creative process, how he writes in a shed without electricity or much else. “It’s the room of a writer leery of all distraction save memory.”

So my memory mashup idea: Imagine installing yourself in a bare shed devoid of all comforts and relenting to the power of memory, a power described by Austen as sometimes “tyrannic.” The same memory that can also be “obedient” meaning there’s some room for our autonomy, but that autonomy can’t be trusted. So, according to the Jane + Jim combo-quote: Willingly walk into the lawlessness that is your memory, because it’s the one thing of which you can be certain. Is there a locked-in-like condition that would have us so captured and enraptured?

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