Saturday, 27 August 2016

What you remember and

what actually happened may be two very different things.
Even two people at the same event and from almost exactly the same vantage point will see that event differently. It's the way we are programmed. We can all look at the same picture, or read the same book, observe the same person and more and we will see it differently. We see it through the lens of our own life experiences. The Senior Cat, who still likes to think about such things, was trying to remember a sequence from Ulysses yesterday. How, he wanted to know, does a writer write that? 
He remembers studying Ulysses as part of his degree in English literature. I remember him reading part of it to us when I was at school and he was teaching us. I was still only a kitten in the primary school when he did that. I reminded him that he had done this and he claims to have forgotten...but it had an enormous impact on me. 
"But I couldn't have done that," he told me yesterday, "You wouldn't have understood it."
Actually I think I did. I went inside the thoughts of another person for a moment. It was a very strange experience. I haven't forgotten it. 
Why my father read it to us I don't know. It must have had an impact on him at the time. There was only one other child in that little school who would have had any understanding at all of what the passage was intended to convey. He and I would have seen it in an entirely different ways. If I met him again I wonder if he would remember it? It's unlikely. 
But yes, it happened.
Perhaps it was good to be reminded of that because this week I had to face a rather difficult situation. I have been told that something happened. I have the paper work but I wasn't present at the event. I know what the paper work says. Three people have given me three slightly different but closely corresponding accounts of what happened. A fourth person has given me an entirely different account.  There will be a meeting next week to try and resolve the problem. Everyone - except me - will try and remember what happened. I am inclined, for more reasons than one, to accept what three people have said rather than just one.
It does make me wonder though what happens when we "remember" something? How does a writer "know" this? Even if they are writing in the present tense do they "know" what has happened or are they "remembering"? If they are writing in the past tense is it "knowing" or is it "remembering" - and what effect does that have on the writing?
I'll put the idea to the Senior Cat this morning - and let him think about it while he weeds his flower pots.

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