Michael: I'm curious about your memory for visual things. As your eyesight has dimmed and blurred, does that affect your recall of things you used to see vividly? Like, can you summon up an image of my face that's better than what you see now when you look at me?

Joel: I think I should take the Fifth on that. But seriously, yes. I have in my memory a whole archive of visual images of you upon which I draw when thinking of you or even in your presence, to clarify the flesh-colored blur that is all I can see lately. Some of these images are from real life, where I conjure up for myself how you looked, say, sitting across from me at the 24th Street hash house where we used to meet for breakfast, or talking to me as you bent over a woodworking project in your studio. But then it gets like nested Russian dolls, like the facing mirrors in old-fashioned barber shops: I also may draw on the last time I saw the pictures I took of you, framing my shots with difficulty,

What does Joel see? What does he remember seeing?

on the beach at Venice three or four summers ago.
Michael: Can you say more about the facing mirrors and nested Russian dolls? Are you saying that the different images you have from different points in time somehow compete with each other?

Joel: It isn't that the various images available in my mind compete with each other for credibility. Of course, time is changing our features, and no remembered image can be counted on for accuracy any more than a snapshot in a family album can. Which brings me back to the sense I get of layers and levels of image memory, of a kind of doubling. It's ironic. For instance, if I'm trying to remember how you looked on a hike at Pt. Reyes once, I may, without much deliberation, call to mind one of the photographs I took that day, instead of the moment just before or after. So it's a remembered image that itself is a mediated and fixed version of the real thing, which is receding faster from memory than the photograph is. Maybe because I've seen the photo several times, the live event only once.