Memory’s poetry

In preparing this memoir, I have stuck to facts except when facts refused to conform with memory, narrative purpose, or the truth as I prefer to understand it.
— Michael Chabon, Moonglow

None of that’s very close to the truth, I suspect; part of it’s what my youthful mind made (and wanted to make) of the scaffolding of facts, the rest of it what memory (forever more poet than reporter) has pushed into place.
— James Sallis, The Long-Legged Fly

Memory and imagination cannot be separated. Remembering is always a form of imagining.
— Siri Hustvedt, Living, Thinking, Looking

Writing creates an artificial memory, whereby humans can enlarge their experience beyond the limits of one generation or one way of life.
— John Gray, Straw Dogs

Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.
— Joan Didion, Blue Nights

Memory showers desire, desire infects memory.
— Olivia Laing, Crudo

Still from Rashōmon, directed by Akira Kurosawa

Still from Rashōmon, directed by Akira Kurosawa

Memory is cumulative selection.
— Anne Michaels, ‘Miner’s Pond’

Memory would select, arrange, retouch, lie.
— Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

We are all wishful creatures, and we wish backward, too, not only forward, and thereby rebuild the curious, crumbling architecture of memory into structures that are more habitable.
— Siri Hustvedt, Memories of the Future

In memory, time collapses. Time-that-was and time-that-will-be become simply then.
— James Sallis, Sarah Jane

This is, of course, exactly how both events and memory of them proceed: associatively, digressing, sliding, jolting, looping.
— Tom McCarthy, Typewriters, Bombs, Jellyfish

With nothing but a single memory one can endure a long and tedious existence: repeating day after day, like oxen yoked to the miller’s wheel, the pedestrian gestures of everyday life.
— María Luisa Bombal, ‘The Final Mist’

Still from Wild Strawberries, directed by Ingmar Bergman

Still from Wild Strawberries, directed by Ingmar Bergman

unsettling to wonder how much of it was merely imagined or improvised; melancholy to realize how much of anyone’s memory is no true memory at all but only the traces of someone else’s memory, stories handed down on the family network.
— Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

But memory is cunning, it completes its sleepless marvellous task in secret, breaking the substance of lived experience into fertile soil for fiction
— Antonio Muñoz Molina, Like a Fading Shadow

Memory is repetition. Sure. But it is repetition with a difference. It is not recitation. It is repetition that creates a felt variation in the ways things appear. Repetition is what makes novelty.
— Simon Critchey, Memory Theatre

Writing fiction is like remembering what never happened. It mimics memory without being memory.
— Siri Hustvedt, A Plea for Eros

half of memory is imagination anyway.
— Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds

Memory, as it happens, is a fairly unreliable search engine. It’s fuzzy and utopian, honoring an imagined past over a real one.
— Jessica Helfand, Design: The Invention of Desire

Still from Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan

Still from Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan

man is separated from the past (even from the past only a few seconds old) by two forces that go instantly to work and cooperate: the force of forgetting (which erases) and the force of memory (which transforms).
— Milan Kundera, The Curtain

Things don’t always change for the better, but they change, and we can play a role in that change if we act. Which is where hope comes in, and memory, the collective memory we call history.
— Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

That’s the problem with history, we like to think it’s a book – that we can turn the page and move the fuck on. But history isn’t the paper it’s printed on. It’s memory, and memory is time, emotions, and song. History is the things that stay with you.
— Paul Beatty, The Sellout

Memory is a tough place. You were there. If this is not the truth, it is also not a lie.
— Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric

I watch my past recede. My old life still burns within me, but more and more of it is reduced to the ashes of memory.
— Jean Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I note that I’ve lived longer in the past, now, than I can expect to live in the future. I have more to remember than I have to look forward to. Memory fades, not much of the past stays, and I wouldn’t mind forgetting a lot more of it.
— Denis Johnson, ‘The Largesse of the Sea Maiden’

Still from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directed by Michel Gondry

Still from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directed by Michel Gondry