Posts Tagged ‘memory’


what new horror lurks
in the near-total darkness
of Llandaff Road? — can
all this ignorance be mine?
— and time only compounds it

My sister commented to me yesterday that our mother has always been a drama queen. I know what she means. Yet I also suspect my dream last night took me back to Llandaff Road which was our family home for four years 1969-72, as an indication or a nudge to remember just how much drama there was back then.


in old age

a man’s teenage pain
returns by devious paths
to haunt him — just one
final rebellion left
— the act of remembering!

A week ago I had my sixtieth birthday. Ageing seems to be a constant theme of this blog. Employing a title like this, ‘in old age’, does seem a bit melodramatic of me. I dreamed last night I stood accused of being able to alter someone else’s reality just by the act of remembering. I felt innocent. But at the same time, I did in fact feel as though I had engaged in some kind of subversive act, simply by allowing a certain thought into my head — which was the memory of someone named Howard Pollock, whom I knew for a couple of years in the mid-seventies.


without attachment
there’s no possibility
of loss — without loss,
there’s no finding and without
finding — no world, no being

Almost the only image I could recall from last night’s dreams, was of a container full of papers. They were precious memories, mementoes, and they were being upended and scattered downwards into a bottomless void. I dislike the highly abstract nature of the poem, but there we are. I suspect there is some kind of connection with having heard Bowlby mentioned in a talk yesterday evening. I know little about Bowlby except he is famous for attachment theory.  And I don’t know much about attachment theory though I am disposed to believe it because it arose out of Freudian thinking. It’s very odd indeed to observe my own willingness to believe two utterly different sets of theories about attachment — Bowlby’s and the Buddha’s. Neither of which I can claim to have studied. I know somewhat more about Buddha’s ideas on the subject, and yet I have the sense of psychoanalysis as my true cultural home in contrast to the exotic, imported flavour of Eastern wisdom. Why am I so ready to accept an external source of knowledge (in this case, Bowlby and/or Buddha)? I feel I must be some kind of naive schoolboy, still, at heart. Treating the whole world as though it were some kind of academic test. Crazy. The broad difference between Bowlby and Buddha seems to be, Buddha claims attachment can be (and needs to be) transcended, while Bowlby does no more than observe how it actually works in practice. The idea that Buddha succeeded in transcending attachment altogether, leaves me simultaneously sceptical and excited. What a wonderful vision! The Tale of the Man Who Achieved the Impossible. I only know it’s impossible for me, and that I’m unable to accept on faith that it’s even a wise goal to strive for. Of course Buddha said accept nothing on faith. But how on earth can anyone strive for an impossible goal except through faith? But the vision stands. And I’m pleased with my poem as an attempt to capture that vision.


memories stack up
in the brain — serving what end?
— what purpose? — futile
humanity cannot help
hoping to be remembered

What a strange thing it is, to be simultaneously both the person being remembered and the person doing the remembering! Does identity consist in doing the remembering or in being remembered? I’m led to reflect along these lines both by my mother’s gradual decline into forgetful old age, in waking life, and by a dream last night of filing away bulky sheets of A4 journals into a lever arch file.


human memory
— infinitely creative
resource — treasure trove
of scarce possibilities —
each one capable of truth

This was a based on a dream the morning of Boxing Day, which had something to do with a classic pop song from 1970. I would guess probably a reference to The Beatles All You Need Is Love which famously was written to usher in the new decade of the seventies. Casting my mind back to 1970, I began thinking about the process of memory. It really isn’t as simple as recalling facts. If I try and remember the person I used to be, it’s like retelling a story and realising it only ever existed as a story in the first place. Subjectivity can’t be recaptured because it can’t even be fixed and pinned down and captured in the present moment, let alone in retrospect.