Illustration by Jonathan Farr
This is a book of writing I obtained recently through a friend. I shall remark on it no further until the end. As I feel commenting now is of detriment to the reader’s understanding of this writing. On the front cover the words ‘The Chaos and Vagueness of Memory ‘ were scrawled.
This story begins in a cupboard. The cupboard in which I sit right now writing these words. Its exact location I am unsure of due to not having left this place in a long time. It is I am certain in the upper rear of a museum or maybe a library, but this is the all I can remember. Why am I in this cupboard writing these words you are perhaps wondering? It is not through choice that I am here, although at one time perhaps it was. Now though I am bound to exist in this small hidden away, living off the embers of the memories of others, out of sight from the human eye. I am rarely touched by the flesh or breath of another human except for when this building’s cleaners breach my solitude, which is not often. At first they were wary of me, my appearance I imagine can be a little disturbing at first sight, but now (after all, it must have been quite some time) they have grown accustomed to my presence and little oddities.
You are wondering what it is I do here? Why I confine myself to a cupboard and speak of the feeding off the embers of memory? Am I a mad recluse? (Well of a sort). Let me introduce myself, my name is Cyril. The reason I live in a dress made from the tears of my own isolation in a cupboard in some forgotten place is that I am responsible for remembering every memory that has ever been thought by any person in the world. A consequence of this being that when I forget something people all over the world forget something too. Hence you can understand the burden I carry. At the moment due to this very piece of writing, millions of people are forgetting the most simple of things; lost keys, shoes, old friends addresses, the faces and names of each other etc.
Then why do I distract myself from this task you may ask? Knowingly not remembering in order to write, leaving you to scarper up and around and about your abodes in search of the most frustrating reasons? My purpose, the reason for writing this, is to make a record of myself due to the fact that soon I am going to attempt to stop remembering, and possibly as a consequence cease to exist (do not inform the mirrors of this!) I have to tell of this burden I carry, I need to have a voice and make an attempt to be heard. But what about the memories, you may ask, where will they go? What will happen to people’s minds? Will moments of the past be lost forever? I have plagued myself with these questions for a long time. This toil of conscience I can bear no longer. My answer is simple, my reasoning clear. I do not care any more. I need to stop this. I am lonely and at the end of my tether.
I mentioned earlier that I have the sole responsibility of remembering each human thought and storing it within the vicissitudes of my moulded orange rainbow abused mind. The irony of this is that I have forgotten why I am here, and even who brought me here. The sheer weight of other memories has taken up to much space. Memories are akin to the layers that replace one another in our minds as we read books, I think it was Spinoza who said that, but I am unsure. One layer replaces another. As a consequence of this process, I have forgotten who brought me here and as such am bound to this place. Only recently have I conceived of the mirrors of memories, which are sadly too little to late to retrieve this lost information. My body has adapted to this situation and now survives (possibly thrives) on the sustenance of memory. It gets all it needs within the palaces and caverns of memory and I fear that if I stop I will perish. My body is a wire made from feathers and eggs, my hair has grown into a bramble patch of rotten nettles and soft cheese straw and my cheeks are as gaunt as an old weathered broken window. It does not matter any more whether my eyes are open or closed (I am unsure myself most of the time) such is the darkness. Within my cupboard, covering all walls and floors in a river of foiled eyes and glass veins that I have grown from seeds of my imagination, are the mirrors of memory. I constructed the mirrors as an aid to my system of remembering, they are a great help in lessening my burden. I mentioned earlier that memories are similar to the layers that replace one another in our minds as we read books, that one layer replaces another in a constant cycle. However, as with the elderly, who in a common generalisation reminisce a great deal about their youth. Our earliest memories, for instance glances of child hood first kisses or trauma, remain fresh to us.
In each mirror exists a version of myself who looks slightly different. As these ‘me’ where born from my personal memory each mirror consists of a younger version of myself. There is the teenage ‘me’, who broods and sits arms crossed, slightly pissed off at not being allowed out to smoke and kick things. There is the young child ‘me’ who due his tender age has a power of imagination and wonder capable of absorbing a large quantity of memories at any one time. Then there is the early twenties ‘me’, who constantly looks uncertain at all the other mirrors for guidance and is also far too nostalgic of his youth. There are no other versions of ‘me’ I have been able to create except for these three. As those others I either can’t remember, or do not exist as I may have been here since my early twenties. Nevertheless they are enough. Within these mirrors, I have also been able to create temporary moments of memory; a pure snippet of thought, say for instance, an image from my childhood where I am by a lake feeding ducks, which is enough to sustain the demands of remembrance for a few minutes at a time. These snippets are not completely able to hold the weight of memory in totality on their shoulders, but suffice, to keep the process going for a few minutes at a time, so as to allow me time to write these words or dare I say it, indulge in my own thoughts. This process does however lead to temporary moments of minor memory loss in the outside world. For instance the loss of that piece of paper with your friends address on that you were certain you put inside your jean pocket or the pound coin you were sure you had in your wallet before you got on the bus to pay. These frustrating occurrences are the result of this process, and not the ‘bastard fairies’ as is commonly thought. The mirrors of ‘me’ and the spawn of snippets I have created, work together and enable me to remember the masses of memories I exist on. I have grown accustomed to their company in my dark cloth hovel and find their presence somewhat comforting. Sometimes we even converse a little about our youth, however not to often as it annoys and frustrates me to remember what life was like before I came here.
I want to get out. I need to leave. I have had enough. This writing is a record of my last moments, and possibly the last moments of human memory, before I attempt to leave this strange existence. But how am I going to do this you ask? This is my plan. I mentioned earlier about the mirrors and snippets of memory I have been using to ease my burden, and enable the creation of this written record. Soon enough the mirrors will have been in creation for over 300 days. I know this as I have been scrolling upon my wall with stray brown rust nail I found in the corner of this wood damp cupboard. This I feel shall have been a long enough period for them to have began formulating their own memories of my existence. If I am correct, and I hope I am, when I leave this place they will recreate a remembered version of me, which may or may not be capable of handling the sheer weight of the mass of memory. This memory of me may even be more effective, as it will not be composed of the wants and needs and emotions of a human mind. To accompany this, I have been working on a longer sequence of memory which I have cultivated from the seed of a snippet of my own childhood that I hope will provide me with enough time to free myself of the cupboard and facilitate the transition and formulation of the mirrors own memory. This pregnant snippet of thought is a sequence of all the walks I have ever taken my dogs on, throughout my youth. It is quite extensive, and I believe will be sufficient to sustain the memories and their will for long enough at least to get away from the building, which holds the cupboard before whatever happens, happens.
I am walking along summer paths and across winter lakes and branches. The sky sits and breathes with the barley hills and horse sunlight fields, which straddle the sky. A Welsh Collie. Black and white and brown patched is scampering ahead, rolling and jostling the soil and the air. Whilst behind my country legs trots a tiny Jack Russell, who loyally plods along and occasionally stops to sniff or eat something distasteful. I pick up a discarded tree crust; the collie bounds back, and begin to jump high with blue-sky enthusiasm. Whilst the little dog yelps with excitable joy, then nestles her mouth upon a confused lurking bee. I throw the stick with great might and clear pace, it fizzes in the air, and the collie scarpers quickly in the passion of a search.
I am back in the cupboard. The sequence I have just described is about to begin playing. This is it. The final moments. I am about to pull myself from here and leave forever. I am scared and playfully yellow tense. I start the sequence. A white fizz breaks the silence of the room. I reach for the door. There is light that blinds me as I pull on the door. In my head I hear the bark of playful dogs. I am holding the cupboard door in my limp pale fingers. In my mind I cusp a last glance of the silver and yellow ribbons of the mirrors.
This is where the writing of this book ends. A friend handed this book to me, but frustratingly and perhaps ominously, I cannot recall his name. A cleaner at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery found it. I have questioned her and the rest of the staff, and she and they have no clue as to the location of this cupboard, or ever-encountering Cyril.