karaokegal (karaokegal) wrote,
karaokegal
karaokegal

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Norman Mailer quote about aging, memory and writing.

This is from a New Yorker article in the May 21 issue, about six months before Mr. Mailer's death. He was 84 at the time, and I found this very moving and somewhat scary given those little gaps I find in my memory at a far younger age.

It's awful-I'm absolutely without detail memory now. I kep referring to one metaphor: an old man who's still steering a course is analogous to the captain of an old freighter that may or may not make it to port. You keep throwing ballast overboard. The the hearing goes. The eyesight. The knees. This goes. That goes. Because what you've also got is the awareness that you're keeping the the boat on course and jettisoning certain ballast is the modus operandi. For a novelist, you really have to retain a memory of how things felt even if you're not reporting them directly. My memory for details of where something took place, when it happened, is very spotty. What I will remember is the emotional tone of a meeting. Facts you can always look up somewhere. If you're writing a novel, you try to keep the navigator going. If it veers off course, you're in trouble. Henry James used to talk about 'the keeping up.' He was referring to Zola. I knew exactly what he meant. On a given day you can lose six months. You try to steer it out of instinct."
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