Memory and Other Fluids

Memory is another word for story, and nothing is more unreliable.

–Ann-Marie MacDonald, Fall on Your Knees

It doesn’t matter who my father was. It matters who I remember he was.

–Ann Sexton

We narrate; therefore we are. And yet, we are all unreliable narrators.

The memories and stories in “Bedtime Stories,” and in all narrative, in all of this project, from all narrators, primary and secondary, are always and already interpretations of experiences. There is no pure memory, just as there is no pure self.

I am an unreliable narrator, as an essayist, as a theorist, as a graduate student, as an English professor, as a adoptee, as a daughter, as a hundred other subjectivities, relying on my always and already interpreted, perspective-laden, interested, partial, through-a-specific-lens, rhetorical, always-in-the-process-of-formation, pregnant with, infused with, negotiated with ideological and ethnic and religious and community and national values and beliefs, performed . . . memory.

Angel Guardian is an unreliable narrator. I am interpreting Helen Negri’s letter which is interpreting a file which is an interpretation of an interview which is an interpretation of a performance of a birth mother, a role that was interpreted by both my birth mother and by everyone watching that performance, each according to her own perspective, her own values and beliefs and discourses, the ideologies in which she was raised, in which her lives were transcripted and interpellated.

The voices in my mother’s adoption story: unreliable narrators; there is no center there, nothing to hold on to.

My father, in all his good will, the will-to-family, is an unreliable narrator.

My cousins: unreliable narrators.

There is no center at all. Memory, story, identity, subjectivity: molten, fluid, protean, kaleidoscopic.

One Response to “Memory and Other Fluids”

  1. Memory is the first narrative we ever compose.

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