Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

by Edgar Allen Poe, William Saroyan, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:48 am

Do you think that the art form is the only way to counteract impermanence? If not, what other possible ways are there? Is there anything you do personally to keep memories alive?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:45 am

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Do you think that the art form is the only way to counteract impermanence? If not, what other possible ways are there? Is there anything you do personally to keep memories alive?


All manner of souvenirs can help keep memories alive . Brochures, post cards, knick knacky things, t shirts.........all of those kinds of things you might accumulate on a trip. Gifts received (or even given). Books, here I am thinking particularly of prayer books I had as a child. I think most of us save special items that have a meaning for us.

I also find that certain smells bring memories flooding back. Not only things like flowers or candles, but perhaps something that has the personal scent of a person on it. I am thinking particularly of someone who is deceased, an item of clothing they wore will carry their scent and make them come "alive" again.

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby trygirl » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:46 am

I mentioned this in my other post but home movies are a great way to ward off the pesky impermanence of life. Perhaps it's the newest form of art. Videographers get paid to document moments at weddings, birthdays, showers, etc. Today, all you need is the right modern convenience and then immortalize any occasion. As Nebraska said, photography is a great form of protecting something near and dear to you.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby sweetchia » Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:37 am

I think the greatest form of permanence is children. People have children to keep the line going...to leave something of themselves behind. Of course, if the children do not have children of their own, the impermanence ends, but there is the assumption and hope that a little part of you will go on and on and on through your offspring and theirs and continue on through infinity.
Last edited by sweetchia on Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby Buster » Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:38 am

Well, reminiscing with the other perpetrators can certainly keep memories active - some of my exploits have reached almost legendary status. And the interesting thing is that historical accuracy seems relatively unimportant.

We each have a different point of view, even as the event is happening, and time gradually changes our memories. As new information arrives, we may see an event in a totally different light. (I always liked getting sent out of the room in school, because it was less boring than class, but in hindsight, I suspect it wasn't intended as a reward for my creative behavior).

To me, photographs and videos can actually distort memory. They only show one vision, while memories are often multi-faceted and deeply layered. Memories include previous events, reactions to them, feelings and thoughts, as well as what is going on off-camera.

Sometimes I just stop, focus, and actively store a memory. What it smells like, feels like, tastes like, looks like, right in the moment. No problem sitting in a sweltering car in traffic, if you can truly be in the memory of shoveling snow after dark, with only the sound of your breath and the scrape of the blade, the flakes swirling in the porch light...

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby ladylinn » Tue Nov 03, 2009 4:14 pm

When our family gets together for dinners, holidays and such - there is always a time when family stories are told. Some funny, some embarrassing, some disastrous, some probably better untold. This is our way of keeping memories alive by including everyone from littlest grandchild to oldest elder.

Pictures are also important and I wish now that I had kept a journal of my life and experiences.

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby suec » Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:42 pm

I think on balance I'm pretty happy with impermanence really. I suppose I've had time to adjust to that not having children, and knowing my line won't continue. I really like Buster's idea of actively storing memories. I've done that for years, mentally logging and reflecting on what I call the champagne moments. Life is measured by the moments that take our breath away, and all that....
I do keep souvenirs though in my special box.
As far as art forms go, I would vote for writing every time. It captures the soul. You write something, you reveal something of you. The truth of who and what you are, even if it's fiction. Makes no difference. There you are.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:41 pm

Great answers all around! I was thinking of oral history, and as ladylinn mentioned, family stories. Our family is big on that too. In many cultures oral history was all there was for generations, and I'm sure it is still that way in some places.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby Liz » Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:54 pm

Buster wrote: No problem sitting in a sweltering car in traffic, if you can truly be in the memory of shoveling snow after dark, with only the sound of your breath and the scrape of the blade, the flakes swirling in the porch light...

Did somebody say that writing captures the soul? Well that sure did for me. :dillingerhello: Right there is a record of the memory of sight, sound, and touch.


I like the varied answers in today’s discussion.

Nebraska, smell is a really good way to remember someone or something. And so is taste. I remember when we discussed Perfume and talked about what memories and feelings certain smells evoke. With taste, I don’t have to actually taste something to remember it. I can still remember the taste of Pepsi when I was about 6. I had forgotten about that memory when I was talking about my earliest memories yesterday. It is still a vivid memory. I really miss how Pepsi used to taste when it was still being made with real sugar.

On keepsakes, I think I jumped ahead and brought that up yesterday. Keepsakes are very important to me and my memories. That is why I keep scrapbooks, presents, souvenirs from trips and certain pieces of clothing (my own and my kids). A Christmas tree and Christmas photo cards, collages or letters are a great way to keep memories alive also.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby gemini » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:04 pm

suec wrote:I think on balance I'm pretty happy with impermanence really. I suppose I've had time to adjust to that not having children, and knowing my line won't continue. I really like Buster's idea of actively storing memories. I've done that for years, mentally logging and reflecting on what I call the champagne moments. Life is measured by the moments that take our breath away, and all that....
I do keep souvenirs though in my special box.
As far as art forms go, I would vote for writing every time. It captures the soul. You write something, you reveal something of you. The truth of who and what you are, even if it's fiction. Makes no difference. There you are.


I agree with everything you said here. I wish I understood it better when I was young and impetuous and thew out letters, photos, and keepsakes from all my boyfriends after a death in the family and I decided to get mature. I wouldn't mind going through them now. I have started collecting again but its not the same as having things from younger years. Sort of why I identified so much with Mr. Grantham and his watch.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby gemini » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:27 pm

Just had another thought on impermanence. I am into family genealogy and after awhile my family started sending me dates of offspring, funerals, etc to keep the genealogy up to date. I think this hobby is very much to do with impermanence. It's an extension of yourself to find your ancestors and keep tabs on the next generation.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby stroch » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:32 pm

Liz, your talk of Pepsi made me think of Nehi grape soda! I doubt if I drank it after the age of 10, but I can still smell it, and feel the ice-cold burst of carbonated bubbles on my tongue, and taste the sugar, and 1950’s chemicals and food coloring. Delicious.

Another way that impermanence is evaded is by tradition, your own family’s or the community’s. I feel blessed to live in an area of the U.S. where celebrations and activities are repeated decade after decade. All Saints Day has just passed, and the graves were cleaned and cared for just as they were in 1809. 90% of the tables this Thanksgiving will feature oyster dressing, and red beans and rice will always be served on Mondays.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ Question #2 ~ Impermanence

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:36 pm

After my daughter died, I wrote long rambling letters to my sister, filled with ..... I am sure some very raw feelings and disturbed thoughts. She saved them all and after a period of time she returned them to me. They have sat in a box in my attic for several years now, I am afraid to read any of them yet because I am sure they will bring back things I am not ready to face. During that period of time right after the death I put my favorite music tapes away so they would not be spoiled forever by my grief. I haven't thought about those things for a while, until this discussion, although I have purchased a program to convert my old audio tapes to CD and I am eager to hear that old music again now.


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