Richard Powers on Biography and Memory

I continually write my own biography by my actions, mixing involvement with knowledge, accountable to those moments when both drop away to reveal the act of mixing--something a priori recognizable. This process doe not differ measurably from the way I come to understand others, my time, or past times. Memory, then, is not only a backward retrieval of a vanished event, but also a posting forward, at the remembered instant, to all future moments of corresponding circumstance.

We remember forward; we telegraph ourselves to our future selves and to others: "Rescue this; recognize this, or not this, but the recognizing." If we constantly re-form the continuity of our past with each new experience, then each message posed out of an obscure or as yet unexperienced past represents a challenge to re-form the future. No action unchanged by observation. No observation without incriminating action. Every moment of unsponsored recognition calls me to return to the uninspired world, to continue the daily routine of invention and observation, to dirty my hands in whatever work my hands can do.

Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance, p. 209

(and as in tune with this series of posts)

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