Thursday, April 1, 2021

Actuality, an Hypothesis (Existentialism 101)

As possibly a blanket defense, or biologically as the first faint dimmings of the onset in me of Alzheimer’s (with or from which my father and his mother died), no memory of anything in my past stands out in any sharp detail. The stories I’ve told and repeated to myself about signal moments in my life are what recur, but nothing with the clout of the initial substance of a moment - vivid smells, colors, faces, places - all of that is sort of what my memory has turned into hearsay. Frankly that’s true of whatever it was that happened to me this morning walking to and back from Rite Aid where I picked up a prescription and stopped in at my Chinese takeout place to pick up lunch. It’s a sort of hazy view, no real sense of immediacy. I’m only ever sure I’m in ‘reality’ in the instant I’m in. The tapping of my index finger on the iPhone keyboard is actual because I can see and hear it (my fingernail, though trimmed, still makes contact with the screen and audibly clicks). But when I stop doing it its reality will become hypothetical almost. I’ve never expressed this instant swallowing of the actual with quite this clarity before. It’s not exactly a surprise - I can’t imagine anyone not knowing through his or her experience what I’m saying - it provides an angle of perception which seems to me almost designed to tamp down memory so that it doesn’t interfere with the immediate impact of actuality. But the forgettingness of things also seems to me so self-protectively defensive. And one of its casualties, for me, is to becloud any memory of anything. It becomes harder to believe in actuality if our experience of it can’t be entirely recollected. How do we know that anything actually happened? Or that anything remembered isn’t just a story we made up to provide evidence that corroborates what we want to believe happened? I know this is Existentialism 101 but it bites me anyway.

Attached are pics of what caught my attention en route to, from & in Rite Aid. It would be churlish of me not to accept them as things actually perceived. So I’ll coast on the sleigh that says they are such a thing.

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