Monday, February 25, 2008

Memory And Oblivion

I watched Bridge on the River Kwai twenty or more years after I had read the book. The story had made a deep impact back and I that thought (at least at the time) the impressions were indelible as well. Watching the movie, I realized how little I remembered - everything was new and unexpected once again except for one thing. The Colonel Bogey March theme was the surprise connection between the past and the present.

They use to play this among other march music during morning assembly at school. I must have heard it several hundred times in my school life and was able to recognize it at once. I had the strangest dreams in the nights following the return of the Colonel Bogey March theme in my life. A lot of them involved classmates I have not thought about in all these years. For a few days it was like having gone back in time with all the experiences from the years in between.

While so many forgotten fragments of my childhood returned to me vividly, the book and the story itself remained forgotten. It was like I had never even read it. I thought it was rather strange that the mundane should be easier to recall after such a long time than one of the best books I had read in my childhood. Maybe such are the effects of the passage of time and the unequal struggle of memory against oblivion.

Danger
lasts longer than it seems as do difficult times. The best times of my life seem to have passed in a heartbeat - the happiest memories seemed to be a distilled essence of that time rather than time itself with its many charming distractions. It is possible to remember the past differently than it had actually been. If mice can be made to forget they must fear cats, you only wonder what can be possible next.

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