Tuesday, July 20, 2010


When I was 22, I lived in this converted office space. I had the smallest office on the floor, shared a washroom and a kitchen with five fellow artists and one physicist. Over the previous three years, I'd moved away from home, lived in about five different countries, and I had a wild sense of possibility, life moving forward in so many potential directions, the past being told in so many possible ways.
So, on this one particular night, in the quiet of my empty office, where there was just enough room for me to roll out the inch-thin futon, squeezed tight between close walls, and the child-sized desk where a computer from the mid 90's shone the green light of an “experimental” project I was working on, I decided to write my life—not just the chaotic pile of experiences I already carried, but the ones I was bound to live in the future. This future I wrote about was the future of that precise moment—the future of everything within that moment, if things followed their natural course, if I remained unchanging, and the world kept unravelling in the manner in which it seemed to be unravelling. I wrote myself into my eighties. It was a slow journey from year to year, grad school, art projects, failed relationships, more travels, every imagined experience stemming from a deeply anchored sense of self. This was a time in my life where I was very centred, focused, and singular.

I was thinking about this autobiography, a few days ago. In a way, the autobiography itself is fiction—its predictions for the future meander far from my present reality. But, I carry this future in my memory, it branches out next how I saw my past, at that moment, on that office floor.
Superimposed, onto that autobiography, are the unwritten autobiographies of so many other moments. For each of these moments, for each of these slightly different people I've been, both past and future vary, experiences are told differently, different experiences are remembered or forgotten, emphasis and meaning shift. My singularity breaks down, over time. This breakdown allows me to carry multiple pasts, multiple futures, every present-self is complete, nestled within an ever-changing appreciation of its placement within a mostly-imagined life.

*I'm reminded of Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, and his story, “The Lost Mariner”, where a man (suffering from Korsakoff's syndrome, experiencing partial and anterograde amnesia) is unable to form new memories, or remember anything since the war (hence forgetting his whole adult life, family, etc.). He reverted to that moment in time, right after the war, when he was much younger—to a previous autobiography, a previous self. I'm endlessly fascinated by the idea that we might carry an accumulation of these complex systems of thought, and of identity, throughout our lives—as we change, and rewrite our pasts and our futures.

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