Sunday, March 18, 2007


I had spent my life waiting for something, not knowing what, not even knowing I waited. Killing time. I was still waiting. But what I had been waiting for had already occurred and was past.

One of my favorite stories in the American Gothic Tales anthology is John Crowley's "Snow".

"Snow" is set in a world, where the rich can afford to document their entire lives via camera for future generations. It tells the story of a man who seeks the memories of his deceased wife through eight thousand hours of video.

By that time it had transmitted at least eight thousand hours (eight thousand was the minimum guarantee) of Georgie: of her days and hours, her comings in and her goings out, her speech and motion, her living self---all on file, taking up next to no room, at The Park. And then, when the time came, you could go there, to The Park, say on a Sunday afternoon; and in quiet landscaped surroundings (as The Park described it) you would find her personal resting chamber; and there, in privacy, through the miracle of modern information storage and retrieval systems, you could access her: her alive, her as she was in every way, never changing or growing any older, fresher (as The Park's brochure said) than in memory ever green.

But the narrator soon discovers that there is a flaw in the system, and begins to understand the exact nature of the video that has been recorded.

"Snow" examines memory through the apparatus of technology. It dissects the way that we access our memories, and reveals to us the ephemeral nature of our lives.

There is no access to Georgie, except that now and then, unpredictably, when I'm sitting on the porch or pushing a grocery cart or standing at the sink, a memory of that kind will visit me, vivid and startling, like a hypnotist's snap of fingers. Or like that funny experience you sometimes have, on the point of sleep, of hearing your name called softly and distinctly by someone who is not there.

No comments: