Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Chains of Memory

June 05th, 2014 by G.

Remebering the Past

What is the strange power of chains of memory to move us?

The Spoon River Anthology has an ubi sunt poem called The Hill. It’s catalog of the dead builds to this climax, “Where is Major Walker who had talked with venerable men of the Revolution?” The other dead, only they died when they died. With Major Walker, other dead died with him.

I’m rereading the Last Lion, about Churchill’s pre-war years in the political wilderness. To make the point that Churchill was a bygone relic, the Last Victorian, out of step with his times, the author writes that Churchill remarked in Parliament one day that he himself remembered being a young man in the House listening to Gladstone recall the bonfires all along the coast at the new of the victory of Waterloo. It was unexpected and sublime.

Moroni was the last of his race. All his people, all their laws—he was the last. Now his memories of them are scripture.

There is a beautiful book called Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream. It draws on chains of memory. It is almost a book about chains of memory. “I saw the Tsar, blessing the Neva.”

I used to sit on my grandma’s ratty couch before she died and here the tiny, bent old woman croak out her young memories of seeing the last great cattle drive before the railroad extension came, of the days living out of a covered wagon, or when she rode her horse into the tiny town to waitress at the only café for the WPA men who were building the road. When I remember her remembering, I feel that I am precious.

Joseph Smith taught that we cannot be saved without our dead, nor they without us. As usual, his romantic ideals are more real than any amount of common sense. Of course we can’t. My dead are me. I can’t be raised without them anymore than I can be raised without my innards.

Comments (5)
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June 05th, 2014 09:55:56

Bruce Charlton
June 6, 2014

Modern man (me, I suppose) has all-but lost the ability to see an alternative to the dichotomy of myself-doing-what-I-want; versus me-doing-what-‘society’-tells-me-to-do.

You can find the dichotomy starkly stated as a fact in Thoreau, more than 150 years ago – atomistic egotism versus subordination to social norms.

Both are false, neither is acceptable, both lead to nihilistic despair – but somehow they are presented (in mainstream culture) as the only possible alternatives.

I have guessed before that Mormonism’s greatest contribution may be to refute this dichotomy – at the deepest possible, the metaphysical level – so that the world, the universe, *reality itself* is structured by sexual complementarity, marriage, family.

June 6, 2014

Professor Charlton touches on this chain and its importance at the end of his book _Thought Prison_ at: http://thoughtprison-pc.blogspot.com/

But it is on somewhat of a pessimistic note.

So, how to reject PC …

2. Positively, an immersion (as much as possible) in traditional non-PC discourse (which will necessarily mostly be written, and from the historical sources, and from an ‘orthodox’ religious perspective).

Except, of course, that tradition is borne not by the written word, but by its interpretation; therefore by humans. On that basis we haven’t got a chance, since the thread of tradition has been broken, and there are no (or almost no) wise and adept non-PC spiritual advisers.

I hope Professor Charlton has since discovered adept non-PC spiritual advisors among the leaders of the CJCLDS.

I find it interesting that the most PC faction of LDS seem to have rejected living prophets for what they deem to be the positions of future prophets.

June 6, 2014

I meant to add to emphasis to these phrases above:

… tradition is borne not by the written word, but by its interpretation; therefore by humans. …

… the thread of tradition has been broken, …

Bruce Charlton
June 7, 2014

That book was mostly written in 2010 when I was deep into Russian Orthodoxy – and that is the perspective reflected in the quotation. And from that perspective, it is correct. Of course the Restoration is what makes the difference – without that it would indeed be true.

[…] G. ponders the chains of memory over at Junior […]

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