Here are the assignments for our group to complete prior to our discussion of
Christopher Priest, The Affirmation, London: Faber and Faber, 1981.
Is one’s life recalled a regrettable riot, an island fantasy, a deteriorating memory regrowing like calcium in a mossy stream, or a dream written down in blood on a cypher-script? Are islands or factories a place, given your scheme of things, that flash across your eyes before the current is cut off and the curtain is closed?
Consider Paul Valery “My soul is nothing now but the dream dreamt by matter struggling with its self.”
Or Ralph Edwards: “This Is Your Life was an American Reality documentary series broadcast on NBC radio 1948 to 1952, and on NBC television 1952 to 1961. It was originally hosted by its producer Ralph Edwards. In the show, the host surprises a guest, and proceeds to take them through their life in front of an audience, including special guest appearances by colleagues, friends and family. Edwards revived the show in 1971-72, while Joseph Campanella hosted a version in 1983. Edwards returned for some specials in the late 1980s, before his death in 2005.” – Wikipedia.
Club members, You have finished this month’s reading by now, so as promised lets move on to the second part of a book club challenge: write your own obituary. Consider the questions of identity, reality, and memory that The Affirmation may have brought to mind. Are we reduced to only who we remember, or are we much more than the manufactured memory of who we once were? Take anywhere from 50 to 250 words to accomplish this lifetime task. Points are awarded for brevity, creativity and imagination. Picture and music files are encouraged – you get to employ them as cited references for free!
To help on this path of self distillation (clarification, discovery, curiosity, invention, deception) I refer you to these threads for fabric making – mostly works brought up and studied in our recent book club gatherings.
“Orpheus: The Song of Life” might help you pluck your tune with defining rhythms and beats. Watch this video for a refresher course in the obituary techniques employed by the familiar author Ann Wroe.
Or if landscapes rather than character studies are your narrative vehicle of choice, skim through “Invisible Cities” – the enchanting travelogue of memory and desire by Italo Calvino.
– Or if you wish to take a point of view that projects into the future and then looks somewhat sorrowfully back – let Earth Science professor and Universe Story narrator Naomi Oreskes future-set your cosmic mind with manners of self correction. Go to the Grand Cinema this week to see her in the documentary Merchants of Doubt.
“What soul would hesitate to turn the universe upside down in order to be a little more itself?” – – Paul Valery
Ralph Edwards, Ann Wroe, Naomi Oreskes, Italo Calvino, Christopher Priest – above the fold writers on life and death. Into the rear view mirror of an auto-obituary column who and what will you make your appearance to be? Am I who I remember or was I who I forgot?
“For a moment I thought I knew where I was, but when I looked back …” – C. Priest