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?
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,
does Joel see? What does he remember seeing?
the beach at Venice three or four summers ago.
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?
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.