A meditation on memory and art

25 Jul

From Hinton Als in The New York Review of Books:

“I offer all of this not by way of aimless self-revelation, but as a way of provoking you to remember your stories about similar incidents in your life, stories about the night, and who smoked what and who was doing who mixed in with outside events, such as the politics of your time, mixed in with the books you were reading, the films you were seeing, the poems you were memorizing, because all of it is your source material. Stories like that girl with the hoagie will end up being the stories you end up telling, take it from me: memory is your greatest ally and your primary source material, because memory is your body as it was in the world and the world as it was and will be; memory is the people you have loved or wanted to love in the world, and what are we if not bodies filled with reminiscences about all those ghosts in the sunlight?”

The essay’s title, “Ghosts in Sunlight,” is borrowed from an essay by the same name by Truman Capote. According to Als:

“At one point Capote relates how the actors impersonating the real-life protagonists in his famous “non-fiction novel” unsettled him, rattled him, for there they were, alive and interpreting the thoughts and feelings of men he had known long before, dead men he could not shake. Capote describes this experience as being akin to watching “ghosts in sunlight”—a lovely metaphor about memory and the real converging to make the world something else, and the artist someone else, too.”


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