Of What We Are Made

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Because we are engaged in a day-by-day process of self-invention - not discovery, for what we search for does not exist until we find it - both the past and the future are raw material, shaped and reshaped by each individual." (p. 28)

"These are lives in flux, lives still indeterminate and subject to further discontinuities. This very quality protects me from the temptation to interpret them as pilgrimages to some fixed goal, for there is no way to know which fragments of the past will prove to be relevant in the future. Composing a life involves a continual reimagining of the future and reinterpretation of the past to give meaning to the present, remembering best those events that prefigured what followed, forgetting those that proved to have no meaning within the narrative." (p. 29-30)

"We also edit the past to make it more intelligible in cultural terms. As memories blur, we supply details from a pool of general knowledge. With every retelling, words that barely fit begin to seem more appropriate as the meaning slips and slides to fit the stereotype... And what about the smoothing that denies the painful parts of happy memories and even makes nightmares more consistent? What about the inappropriate emotions denied and the anomalies that drop out of our storytelling? Even for the recent past and in situations where there would seem to be little motivation for distortion, memories are modified and details supplied to fit cultural expectations." (p. 32)

All quotes from Mary Catherine Bateson's Composing a Life.


Alethea Jordan said...

Okay. I know this has NOTHING to do with this post, but I had to say I LOVE your new look! I gasped when it came up! It's so beautiful! I love the fall picture on your title.

Kelly Sauer said...

Thanks, Kris. It's actually an old look that I couldn't resist using again. Glad you like it!

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