Memory and recollection are not the same thing. A recollection is an image that makes its way through consciousness somehow. Memory, however, is everything — from the millisecond to the epic — that has happened to you. And is still happening to you.
This is to say, you are not just this vessel to whom things might or might not happen. You are something that has always already had something happen: there is no pre-experience self. What it is to be a self — whatever that is — is to be something that interacts. The self, then, is an event — not a thing but a happening.
In this sense, a self is an infinitely vibrating collection of events — or the traces of events. I want to say that you are all the events that have ever happened to you as experienced by your particular constitution, your particular metabolism. What the fuck does that mean?
Well, it means you experience things — a meal, sleep, a conversation, eight million conversations, glances, whispers, sighs, dreams, burps, breaths, kisses, hallucinations, loves, fears, cuts and bruises. All of these things reverberate throughout your very constitution — some of these events move very slowly, some very fast; some in even rhythm, some syncopated, some in 7/4; some of these events resound, others tail off in a whimper. All of this activity — all of these reverberations, this incredible calculus of events — is memory.
And this memory is you.
Memory is not a past event. It is a present event. Or, rather, it is the persistence of an event. Memory is how you know how to tie your shoes, brush your teeth, how you know what you like and don't like; it's how you think and what you think. This is quite different from a recollection which is a more or less discrete and conscious event. Memory endures, necessarily.
And is in relentless flux. After all, all those events are still happening to a greater or less degree of intensity. Some events skip across consciousness, hitting down here and there every few years. Some are tightly knit balls that rumble and roll, day after day, through our very becoming. Some are like scents that drift by.
The very manner of these events is still being worked out — right now, by you, in you, as you. This working out is you. Which is not to say that we are always wrestling our pasts. No, it's to say that we are always living through our pasts right now — and that our pasts are living through our now, through us.
Memory is not something that is, some static repository. It's not a library; nor is it an archive. Memory is a living thing. Memory is something that happens.
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