The ego is as you think of yourself. You in relation to all the commitments of your life, as you understand them. The self is the whole range of possibilities that you’ve never even thought of. And you’re stuck with your past when you’re stuck with the ego. Because if all you know about yourself is what you found out about yourself, well, that already happened. The self is a whole field of potentialities to come through.
The mythology of a people is far more than a collection of pretty or terrifying fables to be retold in carefully bowdlerized form to our schoolchildren. It is the comment of the men of one particular age or civilization on the mysteries of human existence and the human mind, their model for social behaviour, and their attempt to define in stories of gods and demons their perception of the inner realities. We can learn much from the mythologies of earlier peoples if we have the humility to respect ways of thought widely differing from our own. In certain respects we may be far cleverer than they, but not necessarily wiser.
That was the problem with ones actions. They would always remain ‘acted’. They always remained ‘being done’, and their influence on the world, whether small or big , would always be palpable. You couldn’t refute the past. He would always remain liable for the consequences of his actions. Should anyone knock on his door and ask for reparation, he would give what was asked of him without question. There simply was no way of clearing the world of its history, and its history was simply a compilation of the existence of people and other organisms , and their actions. Of things which had been done.
Perhaps they thought they could bring to this valley only those things they loved, leaving behind all ugliness.
We are not, however, a species that can choose the baggage with which it must travel. In spite of our best intentions, we always find that we have brought along a suitcase or two of darkness, and misery.
Suddenly it seemed to me that I looked back from a great distance on that smile and saw it all again – the smile and the day, the whole sunny, sad, funny, wonderful day and all the days that we had spent here together. What was I going to do when such days came no more? There could not be many; for we were a family growing old. And how would I learn to live without these people? I who needed them so little that I could stay away all year – what should I do without them?
―Jetta Carleton, The Moonflower Vine
We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.
The photograph is in my hand. It is the photograph of a man and a woman. They are at an amusement park, in 1959. In twelve seconds time, I drop the photograph to the sand at my feet, walking away. It’s already lying there, twelve seconds into the future. Ten seconds now. The photograph is in my hand. I found it in a derelict bar at the Gila Flats Test Base, twenty-seven hours ago. It’s still there, twenty-seven hours into the past, in its frame, in the darkened bar. I’m still there, looking at it. The photograph is in my hand. The woman takes a piece of popcorn between thumb and forefinger. The ferris wheel pauses. Seven seconds now. It’s October, 1985. I’m on Mars. It’s July, 1959. I’m in New Jersey, at the Palisades Amusement Park. Four seconds, three. I’m tired of looking at the photograph now. I open my fingers. It falls to the sand at my feet. I am going to look at the stars. They are so far away. And their light takes so long to reach us… All we ever see of stars are their old photographs.
Here there is buried legend after legend of youth and melancholy, of savage nights and mysterious bosoms dancing on the wet mirror of the pavement, of women chuckling softly as they scratch themselves, of wild sailors’ shouts, of long queues standing in front of the lobby, of boats brushing each other in the fog and tugs snorting furiously against the rush of tide while up on the Brooklyn Bridge a man is standing in agony, waiting to jump, or waiting to write a poem, or waiting for the blood to leave his vessels because if he advances another foot the pain of his love will kill him.
The moon had been observing the earth close-up longer than anyone. It must have witnessed all of the phenomena occurring – and all of the acts carried out – on this earth. But the moon remained silent; it told no stories. All it did was embrace the heavy past with a cool, measured detachment. On the moon there was neither air nor wind. Its vacuum was perfect for preserving memories unscathed. No one could unlock the heart of the moon.
―Haruki Murakami, 1Q84