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Memory - may be beautiful. And yet...

With apologies to Alan and Marilyn Bergman

Graeme Smith. That's me. A soon to be published fantasy writer. Mostly comic fantasy (which is fantasy intended to make you laugh, not fantasy in comics).

That’s what it says, right there on the front page :-). And it’s true. But it’s not all the truth :-).

I have a confession to make. Comic fantasy isn’t all I write. I also – try not to hold it against me :-P – write poetry.

No, don’t worry. I’m not going to make you suffer any :-). It’s just that sometimes, that’s how the words dance.

So why mention it now? Well, I was talking to someone who does read it. And she said something interesting. Graeme, she said (mostly because, um, that’s my name), why are your poems always about, like, death and sad stuff?

OK. She didn’t say ‘like’. But I’m told it’s, like, conpils… er, compals… er, contrails… er, I’m told you have to do it these days. Like, say ‘like’. So let’s pretend she did :-).

Anyway. I went through most of the things I’d sent her with her. Things she liked. Well, or said she liked :-). And you know what was interesting? It was about fifty-fifty. About half had what might be called ‘sad stuff’ in them. About half didn’t. But the ones she remembered? Those were the sad ones.

Paul Newman’s made a lot of movies. What? No – we didn’t just lose a wheel as we screeched off topic :-). Mr Newman has indeed made a number of movies. A number of very memorable movies. ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. ‘Cool Hand Luke’. He’s made movies I remember very well. Movies I like. But my favourite Paul Newman isn’t any of those, as much as I like them. My favourite Paul Newman movie isn’t, in many ways, ‘memorable’. It’s a movie called 'Nobody's Fool'.

In ‘Nobody’s Fool’, nobody dies. Nobody robs a bank. Well, a snow-blower gets stolen. A lot. But nobody leaves a trail of burned rubber while being pursued by a hundred police with guns blazing.

In fact, nothing much happens. No, it isn’t 'Waiting for Godot', but for the most part? People do, well, people stuff.

I love that move. But it’s not ‘memorable’.

So when we remember things, when movies, people we know or even (dare I say it?) books stick in our memory, is that it? Are they memorable for the intense things, the ‘sad things? Are even the beautiful things sad because beauty, by its nature, is something that passes, that dies? And are the things we remember so vividly necessarily the things we like the most?

Or are the things we like perhaps the things we don’t remember, or don’t have to remember, in the same detail. Like an old, worn bear. We may not remember if it was his left eye or his right that had come loose. We may not remember quite where the stain on his chest came from, or what colour it was. But that bear?

We love that bear.

So what do you think? Are the things we remember best (good or bad) the things we love most? Do we remember, do we love more ‘Butch Cassidy’? Or the guy whose name we can’t remember, sneaking into his ex-boss's back yard to steal a snow blower - again?


Kelly Hashway's picture

I think it's normal to try to forget things we don't want to remember so going in that line of thinking we probably do remember best what we love most. I'm sure there are exceptions though.

Graeme's picture

But that was what interested me with the friend who suffers my poesy, fair one. She remembered best the sad ones, or as she put it 'the dead and dying'. She didn't remember as well, but liked more, the ones that didn't.

So the ones she remembered best were the ones she liked less than the ones she remembered least but, um, liked more :-P.


Tricia Linden's picture

Memories, light the corners of our minds.... those dim dark places that need all the light they can get. And yes, we do remember what we choose to remember, whenever we remember the way we were, or the way it was or the way we would have liked it to be. We carry our picture postcard memories with us, because we rarely want to carry all our baggage all the time. We all have baggage, I've just tried to reduce mine to carry-on.

And I knew exactly where you were going with the Paul Newman thing. Very nice.
Enjoy always, T

Elizabeth Maginnis's picture

Love your mention of the worn bear. I have one like that. Notice that I said "have," not "had." Still love that beat up old thing; he sits on a dresser in my office, radiating comfort.

Graeme's picture

And if we get really lucky - we _are_ someone's worn, but well loved bear :-).

DM's picture

Interesting blog. First of all, I love your poetry whether it is sad or not. You have a talent for what you write. I think we remember what we need to remember at the time.

Graeme's picture

Well, you've suffered more than most, wise lady. You've actually had to _read_ some of the things I write when I'm not writing comic fantasy :-).

But you honour me too much. When the words dance - the keyboard clatters is all :-).

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