Friday, February 3, 2012

fear of forgetfulness

Watching "The Natural" on TV last night, I remembered that I had read the book. "The Natural" is a fairy tale story about a baseball player and I like fairy tales -- the stories that wisp and drift credibly across the boundaries of ordinary drama. Yes, I remembered reading the book in a flash. I had read pretty much all of the works of the author. "The Natural" was not the best of his books, I recalled, but he was a good enough author so that, in another time, I had read them all. But last night, I could not remember his name and was forced to look it up: Bernard Malamud.

Where once, like lightning, I could call up "Bernard Malamud" and the deliciousness of his writing and my own feeling that he was one of the greats, last night, I could not. It sent a jolt of panicky fear and loss bubbling through me, not least because, when watching the quiz show "Jeopardy," the questions asked have lately aroused the lightning certainty that "I know" the answer ... but I have to wait for the contestants to give it because I simply cannot. Somehow things come unraveled and the lightning goes dark. If I cannot remember, then who am I?

If every today is a re-new-fangled yesterday -- childhood, working, love, loss, books, thoughts, opinions, conclusions -- what happens when what is reconfigured is no longer available for reconfiguration? Is there any longer a 'there' there or a 'here' here?

If today's writer is just a re-new-fangled writer of yesterday, what happens when the yesterday refuses to find a footing? The matter seems to spiral backwards and backwards until...

The sperm and egg dance together in the moonlight....

And beg the question

What is it that sperm and egg and moonlight could possibly forget?

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