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2005 10 05
I seem to have lost my digital camera.

It would be easy to blame it on the fact that in the last three months I have lived in three different countires on two continents, moved between six semi-permanent residencies, as well as having schlepped and re-convened personal belonging between three separate storage facilities.

Freud (or was it Jung?) would say that every time one loses something, the thing you lose points to some deep psychological longing to be rid of that thing's referent. Keep losing your mother-in-law's phone number? Maybe you don't really want to see her (and her yappy dog) this weekend. Lose your wallet? Maybe you can't quite keep a handle on your identity.

So what what Freud have to say about a missing camera?

Was it a longing to stop seeing things mechanically 'remembered' for me? A latent desire to get back in touch with my old Pentax 35mm? Who knows.

A new friend of ours who runs a weekly 'vente garage' nearby, has a passion for remembering the artifacts in this neighbourhood. In fact, he has made it his personal mission to collect as much as he can in order to abate the loss of memories. He has stainglass windows from the church he was christened in, an entire street car that used to ply the streets around us, and has even asked us to ask our landlord to save for him the old doors on our apartment when they are replaced.

The slogan on the licence plates in Quebec says Je me souviens. 'I remember' (or is it better translated as 'I should remember'?) Remembering seems to be an institutionalized practice here--a loaded political quandry that never really vanished. I wonder if Montréalers raised on a Separatist diet take more pictures or have to leave fewer notes for themselves on their refigerators than people in other cities?

One thing that is interesting though: that lost digital camera was a gift from a family member who has Alzheimers. I think maybe every time I used that camera I was reminded that he was steadily forgetting more and more. And here I am in a city that can't forget, wishing I had a camera to record things for posterity, but I can't remember where it is.

[email this story] Posted by David Ross on 10/05 at 12:08 AM
  1. on the subject of collecting mania:
    a new work’n’progress project i’m doing – invertedly inspired by the Manchester Litherium project…

    a open source mp3 version of a dead artists artifacts…

    curious to hear what you think…


    Posted by jon knowles  on  10/05  at  02:09 PM
  2. On memory and personal identity, an article on Slate by Jay Michaelson talks about how his own 6 month bout of amnesia and short term memory lost forced him to live in the moment and “be in the now”. He believes it was the sense of being in the present that effectively cured him of his depression.

    Posted by peter rogers  on  10/05  at  08:33 PM

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