Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Memory and "Closure"

The point that struck me most poignantly in Rushdie’s writings was his claim that the fractured mirror has just as much worth as the pure mirror, maybe even more in certain outlooks. For example, he describes bits and pieces of a memory: each bit and piece is almost worth more than the memory as a whole as each one represents a sort of special and precious springboard from which a whole new experience is obtained.
For example, Rushdie describes remembered certain details such as the fashions of the decades and clever advertisements. Each of these fragments is like a piece of the puzzle, he claims, and from these a memory can be reconstructed. Naturally this memory won’t be exactly the same experience that formed it, but there exists a concept called “closure” which author/artist(/genius) Scott McCloud describes as “observing the parts but perceiving the whole.” In this way pieces of a memory come together with the “glue” of imagination, which fills in the missing bits.
This idea, I think, is what makes Rushdie’s comments about the concept of immigrative writing so unique. No “Indian” can ever write from his perspective, no “Indian” can remember India the way he does with his own special memories. This idea of a whole arising from fragments which do not necessarily recreate the whole completely on their own is a concept which relates directly to Chandra’s Love and Longing in Bombay. In the same way Chandra uses the narrator Subramaniam’s many stories to paint a picture of an old India as it grew into the new and how the new reflects the old. Here the old man uses his own memories in his retellings to influence his own stories, giving each of them a unique twist. This effect is impossible without the fractured nature of remembrance; in fact, one is dependent on the other. What truly makes this a great facet of literature, however, is reflected by Rushdie’s comment: “A book is not justified by it’s author’s worthiness to write it, but by the quality of what has been written.” It is not enough to piece together some good memories; if the gap is too large and the imagination too limited one’s sense of closure may not be enough to bridge the gap and create a truly separate and special experience with which to share.

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