Gems

Jonathan Carroll, a fantastic novelist — I tore through about eight of his books a couple years ago — has got a blog. It’s made up of the same kind of heart-stopping observations that fill his novels. On July 23, he said:

> Usually at least once in our childhood we lose an object that is both invaluable and irreplaceable to us then although it is worthless to anyone else. Many people remember that lost article for the rest of their lives. Whether it was a talismanic pocketknife, a plastic bracelet given to us by our father, or a toy we’d longed for and never expected to receive but there it was under the tree that Christmas?¢‚Ǩ?°?É‚Äû?Ǭ? what it was makes no difference. If we describe it to others now and explain why it was so important, even those who love us generally smile indulgently because to them it sounds like a silly, slight thing to lose. Kid stuff. But it is not. Those who happen to forget about this thing have lost a valuable, perhaps even crucial memory. Because in that object there was something central to our younger self. When we lost it, for whatever reason, something inside us shifted permanently.

For me that’s a wicker wastebasket I kept my letters, drawings and other important bits of paper in. Well, I didn’t know it was a wastebasket — I wasn’t old enough to look at it and see

> short > cylinder > wider at top

and tag it ‘wastebasket’ like Robocop in flashing red letters. For me it was just my flexible brown treasure trove. One day I put it under my nightstand (where else would you keep your keepsakes?) and the maid emptied it the very next day. I have no memory of what specific things were in there and adult me says ‘probably nothing I would pause more than 30 seconds over if I came across it in the attic’ but I can’t be sure.

p.s. I would have called this post “totemic accoutrements” — a phrase I once trotted out on the last day of my LCST Vampires class in college — if not for my new Orwellian focus.

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