Notebook (nitrate)

August 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Anyone can observe that the duration for which we are exposed to impressions has no bearing on their fate in our memory. Nothing prevents our keeping rooms in which we have spent twenty-four hours more or less in our memory, and forgetting others in which we passed months. It is not, therefore, due to insufficient exposure-time if no image appears on the plate of remembrance. More frequent, perhaps, are the cases when the half-light of habit denies the plate the necessary light for years, until one day from an alien source it flashes as if from burning magnesium powder, and now a snapshot transfixes the room’s image on the plate. Nor is this very mysterious, since such moments of sudden illumination are at the same time moments when we are beside ourselves, and while our waking, habitual, everyday self is involved actively or passively in what is happening, our deeper self rests in another place and is touched by the shock, as is the little heap of magnesium powder by the match. It is to this immolation of our deepest self in shock that our memory owes its most indelible images.”

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