I first thought about the problem of memory and how we know what words mean a few years ago. In Blood, I decided to make memory a central plot track. So, as Mitch writes his story, The Patron Saint of Blood, he finds that his memory of past events fades. It turns out that this idea is pretty well fixed in the psychodynamics of memory. Memory is a re-creative process and when we recall an event, it doesn’t come back pure and intact. And then, later, when you recall it again, you find that it wasn’t re-stored pure and intact. Psychologists know now that you can zap memory. It gets down to this–remembering kills memory. Below is the first cut at memory loss in Blood—
- Pieces of me fall away, invisible pieces of mind, of memory, of life…All fall away—there is no clatter, no marks in the world of my dying pieces, no one watches me don hallucinated morphine induced gloves—no one can mark the falling away, but I sense it. Sense the opening up of mind, not the way it opened to receive the light and the fact, and the memory, but an opening up as if some cerebral gate had swung free and all my memories fled like so many cattle escaping and there is less of me now—small holes open in my brain and one coherent sentence seems to work its way out of me taking more effort than an epic poem—each new thing becomes a Herculean task –to recall, to remember, and this is how, in the end, the love too dies—a piece at a time, peeling away like dried paint flaking down to the blank and bare wood of mind—where it would appear, nothing is writ—nothing remains, not even a single shred of evidence that I once had an encyclopedia in my mind.