On Memory, and Other Things

There is a town in north Ontario
with dream comfort memory to spare,
and in my mind I still need a place to go;
all my changes were there.

Neil Young, “Helpless”

Memory oppresses me.

The Shadow of the Torturer, Gene Wolfe

Great is the power of memory, an awe-inspiring mystery, my God, a power of profound and infinite multiplicity. And this is mind, this is I myself. What then am I, my God? What is my nature? It is characterized by diversity, by life of many forms, utterly immeasurable…

Augustine, Confessions X. xvii (26)

The priest in the booth had a photographic memory
for all he had heard

Belle and Sebastian, “The State I Am In”

I have recently been reading Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun tetralogy and thinking about how torture, time, memory, and confession are twined together. This essay, “Torture and Confession in Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun”, has been a kind of starting-point.

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