Memory has its own rules, first of all that it is subjective—no one else sees the objective events from the same perspective. Events on their own have no meaning. Human beings append meaning to events, and these meanings do not exist except invisibly, within each person. Autobiographies are meant to delineate a person’s life; memoirs allow you to understand them a bit and to share their lives from the inside.
This book is a memoir, based on memory. I often ask people to recount to me their first memories, whether it is sight or sound or an entire panorama. I am often surprised at how difficult this exercise can be, and how uncertain the phenomenon of first memory can be. In my case it is not like that. My first memory is as firm as the earth itself upon which I stand.
There is a game that young people play. They sit across from one another and they make a declaration: “I am dreaming and you are part of my dream.” They both say this back and forth until neither is certain. How can we know what is real, and if our memories are truthful? I suppose that one is left to one’s own inner devices. In my own case, I have always had very strong memories. In fact, I spent much effort and self-destructive behavior seeing if I could efface that photographic memory, but nothing I have ever done has attenuated it in the slightest.
from the Introduction to
Everything Is Combustible
Beech Hill Publishing Company
Mount Desert, Maine
EVERYTHING IS COMBUSTIBLE
Television, CBGB's and Five Decades of Rock and Roll