Memory Lane

[...] remembering-what-never-happened must rightly be called imagining, and this sort of memory is imagination. Memoria was the old term for both. It referred to an activity and a place that today we call variously memory, imagination and the unconscious.

Memoria was described as a great hall, a storehouse, a theatre packed with images. And the only difference between remembering and imagining was that memory images were those to which a sense of time had been added, that curious conviction that they had once happened.

The way into these memorial halls is personal; we each have our own doorways which make us believe that memoria itself is personal, our very own. The psychoanalytical couch is one such door; the poet's notebook, the writer's table are others.

Yet the memorability of specific images - the little neighbourhood girl in a yellow sunsuit digging to China on the July beach; the lost bloodied tooth in the party cake - that precisely these images, and these images so precisely, have been selected, retrieved, recounted tells that their vital stuff is archetypally memorable.

Memory infuses images with memorability, making the images more 'real' to us by adding to them the sense of the time past, giving them historical reality. But the historical reality is only a cover for soul significance, only a way of adapting the archetypal sense of mystery and importance to a consciousness engrossed in historical facts. If the image doesn't come as history, we might not take it for real.

Remembering is thus a commemoration, a ritual recall of our lives to the images in the background of the soul. By remembering, we give a kind of commemorative legend, a founding image to our present lives ...

I need to remember my stories not because I need to find out about myself but because I need to found myself in a story I can hold to be 'mine.'

As we muse over a memory, it becomes an image, shedding its literal historical facticity, slipping its causal chains, and opening into the stuff of which art is made. The art of healing is healing into art.

[James Hillman]
Healing Fiction, p.41-3

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I guess the difference there with "ossessione," the obsessional part, is if that repetition, that rhythm doesn't deepen by return, if it doesn't turn by return, if it doesn't revision, or echo, then there is something merely obsessional. But the obsession is an attempt to get to that deepening. To rework it again.

If you watch anyone doing handwork, it's all obsessional. You can't make lace without an obsession. You can't turn a pot. Art has that constant fussing with the same little place. Now that's exactly what we do with a symptom. We keep going back and fussing with it.

You are jealous, and you go back fussing and fussing over a little suspicion, working it over a thousand times. The obsessive jealous thought can also be seen as a way of making something happen. It isn't just "working it through" as the psychoanalysts say: actually, you maybe making something out of it, making something up, making a fiction, an imagination, and the fussing in jealousy can be polishing the image, so to speak.

[James Hillman]
Inter Views, p.22

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Related posts:-
Creative Partnerships
Make Yourself Up
Tell another story
Per-Fiction
Guiding Fiction
Soul-making

3 comments:

  1. [The psyche] spontaneously historicizes, even in dreams, and it does this, I believe, to gain a particular kind of distance as a means of separating an act from actuality.

    Lying, masturbating, hallucinating become psychic events not ego events, something for reflection rather than control. They are now less affective and personal, more collective and general, part of a story rather than a report.

    We historicize to give the events of our lives a dignity that they cannot receive from contemporaneousness.

    ... a case history, because it is history and therefore fiction, is a move into imagination. For it is imagination that gives distance and dignity, allowing us to see events as images.... the possibility for revisioning and enhancing who we are lies within the events of each case history, if we learn to read it as fiction and its events as images of Memoria, and she needs remembering in order to create.

    [James Hillman]
    Healing Fiction, p.43, 45-6

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  2. I think there can be a collective nostalgia but I think nostalgia is frequently more related to the present than the past. Rather than something that actually existed in the past and left there I see it as related to a sense of lack that we feel today that we project onto an image of the past.

    This lack maybe something that is unobtainable due to present circumstances, or something that we want but may not be able to articulate. For me this produces a reading of nostalgia that is potentially active and unfolding rather than relegating agency or action to the past.

    [Corin Sworn]
    Interview with Whitehot magazine: http://whitehotmagazine.com/articles/october-2008-corin-sworn-interview/1598

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  3. Nostalgia as a way of understanding what it is you are to create now - here, in the present.

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