Wednesday, August 31, 2011

John O'Donohue
Quite a few years ago I came across this Irish Poet and Philosopher and was quite taken by his slant on life the universe and everything. Sadly he died suddenly aged only 52 in early 2008 and his last book as far as I know was a book of verse called Blessings. The Blessings were for every facet of human life and death and as it was soon after my own husband died it really struck a chord. Especially his poem "For Grief". Only yesterday I found this and wanted to share it with you.

The Invisible Sanctuary of Memory

August 28th 2011

“In the existential biography of human subjectivity there is no threshold more creative than that between memory and possibility.  Though possibility is always hovering near and experience is the arena where possibility is realised, the future of every experience is still disappearance. Transience makes a ghost of experience.  Human life is a threshold where lived experience is continually falling away and vanishing.  One of the key questions of identity is: where do these experiences go?  As the Medievals put it: Where does the flame go when the candle is quenched?  Is there a place where our vanished days secretly gather?  Perhaps there is and the name of that place is memory.  Experience is the continual conversion of possibility into memory.
While experiences vanish, memory remains.  Indeed, the narrative of an individual life is the secret construction of this invisible sanctuary of memory.  This is where all the known and unknown substance of our days and nights is gathered and selected until it finds the form of memory.  This is subtle imaginative work.  Memory is not merely the reception of the raw imprint of experience nor its simple storage.  There is a harvesting imagination that works at the heart of memory which searches the lived substance of our days until it clarifies and settles into a form that abides.  Almost without noticing it, the individual sanctuary of memory is forever finding its way further into structure and shape.  This work continues until the substance of our last hours on earth is received into its deeper lived form.  When at last the body falls and the visible life vanishes, the finished sanctuary of memory holds all the harvested possibility.” From an essay titled “Towards a Poetics of Possibility” by John O’Donohue that he delivered in January 2005 at Trinity College, Dublin.

1 comment:

JahTeh said...

"Where does the flame go when the candle is quenched?" That's why I believe we return here at some time. What is the use of gathering a lifetime of knowledge only to have it disappear so I believe we keep coming back to use it and gather more. Do we ever gather enough knowledge, I'm not enlightened enough to know.