Fragmented yet continuous.

A mess of thoughts, apologies in advance.

In her 1935 essay “How Writing is Written”, Gertrude Stein claims that we no longer want to write or read about static events, but about existence and its simultaneous fragmentariness and continuity — an unfixed state of thinking as well as being. There is a facet of ourselves, a tiny moment of ourselves, in each piece of work we write — that is each piece of work we write.

We are time and experience?

There’s a widespread expression in photography, and I cannot track down its origin: ‘every photo you take is a self-portrait’. Applying this to writing, is every piece of my writing a ‘portrait’ of me at the exact moment I wrote it? An honest account of my self at that time, flaws and all? Could the collection of my writing until now be some sort of album of my mind and experience, regardless of how literally it is represented on the page?

I’m thinking about these ideas of memory, and of the limits of recollecting memories — are they to be recorded more accurately in my old diaries, or in my mind? Through the writing I’ve completed for my project so far, meditating on subjectivity, I’ve found that Jung was right when he declared ‘memories return to us in fragments’. Contemporary memoir essayist Kim Dana Kupperman calls the process of writing memory ‘distilling a drop of consciousness’. Having written directly from memory, in fragments, tangents and nonsensical perspectives that could go on forever, I’m now asking if these incoherent passages are as true as they will ever be? How will the process of editing shape and change my memories on the page? Should fragments and tangents be cut? How does the simple construct of coherency change the truth presented?

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One thought on “Fragmented yet continuous.

  1. Great post, Ruby.

    This is something I often think about, as I find myself editing my own memories when telling stories or writing memoir pieces – in order to make the story flow better. Is this dishonest? I will cut out trivial aspects of the memory, or emphasise what I think is interesting or exciting – is that just part of the memoir process? Is it possible to honestly recount a memory?

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