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31.07.10

By Cassandra Moss | 2010 July 31

Lately, I keep seeing faces that I either used to come into contact with on a regular basis or only ever met briefly. It's happened when I've been on my way to something, on public transport, or just when I've been aimlessly wandering through the streets. My first instinct is to hide. Not necessarily because I don't like whoever I've seen, but because her or his appearance is unrequested and with it comes an uninvited former life. It surprises me how frequently I amputate parts of myself, how they drop off and are forgotten. Occasionally, there's a phantom limb moment whereby I'm convinced I can still command that part of myself to action and am then left at a loss when I realise there is only an absence instead of a definite. But, mostly, it would be an encumbrance to be in possession of more limbs than I have reasonable uses for. So seeing a particular grouping of features sets off a tingling in the stumps, as it were: it's not so much the prior circumstances that belong to having known that person – jobs and geography are easy to accept as transitory – but, rather, an exact memory of a thought that occurred whilst engaged in an exchange with that person. In an eidetic recreation of a scene, with all the sounds, scents, shades in place, the content of the exchange becomes peripheral as I hone in on the inner things I was thinking to myself, things that may or may not be linked to the person I'm with, but things that were, at that moment, expressing something of myself. And, perhaps, these things do still resonate, but perhaps they don't and have no connection to what I think now. If it's the latter, recalling these things is to be confronted by a stranger, an impenetrable being who offers no reason or insight into why she did the things she did, why she had the thoughts she had. I can give likely explanations for them, construct motivations from an obvious narrative thread, but I can't capture the essence of what was 'now'.

Memory, Past, Selfhood

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