Thursday, June 5, 2008

"[O]ur past inside us"

Freud's insight that we carry our past inside us as a permanent present seems completely, physiologically factual. The distant past accrues innumerable new meanings and connections through the experiences of intervening years, but inside us the past is still there, as it if were occurring now. As memoirist Anne Thackeray Ritchie wrote in 1894, "There is often a great deal more of the past in the future than there was in the past itself at the time … one learns little by little that a thing is not over because it is not happening with noise and shape and outward sign." No matter how old and jaded we have become, how long our parents have been dead, or how far we have traveled from their world, inside we are still waiting for our mother to come in and kiss us good night, holding our ears from angry outbursts, cowering from being struck, or are hoping to be rewarded for eating our vegetables with a warm hug.

Allen Shawn, Wish I Could Be There: Notes from a Phobic Life (New York: Penguin, 2007), 174–75
Very Proustian. Reminsicent too of what Wallace Shawn says at the end of My Dinner with André.

Related post
Reliving our learning

[The source for the Anne Thackeray Ritchie quotation: Chapters from Some Memoirs (1894).]

comments: 0