Friday, December 17, 2010

"The mind is an enchanting thing"

Marianne Moore writes in "The mind is an enchanting thing":

It has memory's ear
that can hear without
having to hear.

and she goes on to say:

it is memory's eye;
it's conscientious inconsistency.

I thought of this today and at the same time I think of how dark my mind is to me, how untrustworthy memory may be, how associations trigger memory and thought, seemingly out of nowhere.

Recently I watched Taxi Driver for the first time in about twenty years. The things that stuck in my mind from before were Albert Brooks arguing with the button people about "we are the people" and Martin Scorsese's sinister cameo riding in the back of DeNiro's cab talking about how his wife was having an affair and how he was going to kill her. However, I'd forgotten about how many appearances Jodi Foster made in the movie, how many times DeNiro had seen her, how she'd almost gotten into his cab, how he tried to talk her out of what she was doing while he was paying for her time, how they met for breakfast soon after. And I had totally forgotten his relationship with Crystal Sheppard, taking her to the porno film and confronting her at her office. A disturbing movie.

And not that any of this matters, but if I had forgotten so much in twenty years, then what about other memories that I take for granted, assume that I remember correctly? Maybe they are distorted, corrupted by fantasy and association? I have no idea. Admittedly there's a big difference between a movie that I saw once and didn't think about and something or things that I lived through, was supposedly there for and during. ( Not only with movies do I see how much I've forgotten, but rereading text after some time realizing it's different from how I remembered it.)

I used to think I had a sharp memory (perhaps because so little had happened in my life,) but lately I have forgotten whole stretches of time, only vaguely remembering having been somewhere.

It is very easy for me to deceive myself with my thinking, for example focusing exclusively on the positive and ignoring certain truths about myself: promises broken or unfulfilled, where I've indulged myself too much and grabbed for more of anything than I need (food, attention, rest,) applauding myself just because I wrote a thank you note or let someone into traffic or cross in front of my car.

I must accept the past, what I know of it, and that what I "know" may be wrong.

And the mind always wants something to do, as this short talk of Jon Bernie reminds me. (Thanks, Liz!)

So the mind is extraordinary and enchanting and it is constantly moving and I need not put too much faith in my own (perhaps it is not even mine.)