Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Wordsworth, you see, was Enchanted. He got delicious gleams of memory from his early youth and took them at their face value. He believed that if he could have got back to certain spots in his own past he would find there the moment of joy waiting for him. You are Disenchanted. You've begun to suspect that those moments, of which the memory is now so ravishing, weren't at the time quite so wonderful as they now seem. You're right. They weren't. Each great experience is

"a whisper
Which Memory will warehouse as a shout."*

[*footnote: from an unpublished poem by Owen Barfield]

But what then? Isn't the warehousing just as much a fact as anything else? Is the vision any less important because a particular kind of polarized light between past and present happens to be the mechanism that brings it into focus? Isn't it a fact about mountains--as good a fact as any other--that they look purple at a certain distance?
~C.S. Lewis, Present Concerns: Essays by C.S. Lewis, "Talking About Bicycles" (1946)

You can purchase this photograph at Grand Teton Imaging.

Cool link of the day: View time-lapse and panoramic images of the Grand Teton near Driggs, Idaho, USA.

2 Comment(s):

At Tue Oct 12, 10:45:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kerewyn: Nice piece!
There are times you already know will be memorable, because you know you are enjoying yourself. But sometimes the actual moment-to-moments of existence are quite ordinary to experience. It's only in retrospect that we realise we were deleriously happy at that time in our life. These are the memories that have been 'warehoused'.

At Wed Oct 13, 06:26:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

The first thought that came to me when I read this was: childbirth! (I'm pretty sure that's not what Lewis had in mind, though.)

But most parents' memories of the day their children were born tend to be filtered through a rose-colored lens, so that the tremendous joy over the birth takes center stage and the pain and labor fade into the background. Fortunately, I might add, or there would never be any second-born children!

If I can just tell a little story:

After my first daughter was born I was laying in my hospital room and the nurse came in to talk to me. Mind you, this was only a few hours after I had endured a very difficult and protracted ordeal! She wanted to talk to me about birth control, and to make sure that I had a "plan in place" to prevent another pregnancy right away.

I think I looked at her as if she had asked me whether I had a plan in place to go to the moon the next week. I mean, there was NO WAY I was having another child after going through all that!

She smiled sweetly and said, "You have no idea how many mothers we will see back here with another delivery inside of a year."

Now, I didn't have another child for another couple of years, but she was totally right to think about the possibility. Many of my friends have children with birthdates less than a year apart!

But I agree with Lewis that the filters our memory uses to "warehouse" our experiences do not make those experiences less authentic. Rather, they act to show us the memories that are important, and forget about the things worth forgetting.


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