Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

Awesome Essays: No Shell, Just a Ghost

I found today's awesome essay mostly by mistake. I went to the Believer's website to get the link for a different essay I was going to talk about, but in that time I perused other full length articles and that is how I found No Shell, Just a Ghost by David Givens (apparently there is a David Givens who is some kind of football player, it's not that one). The essay is about memory, something nonfiction writers talk about with a somewhat alarming frequency. Probably because a lot of creative nonfiction is about memories. And memories are always changing, that's what is so strange about them. My memory is so different from your memory, but who is right? Is anyone right? Can there just be multiple memories of one situation. Well, I would say there can and that it's okay, but I won't go on about that because I want you to read this essay. I've read a lot about memory, but I think this essay talks about it in a way that I haven't really seen before. He relates it to film, although that isn't exactly what makes it special. It's just the way he describes memory that stands out to me.

I'm one of those people recalls things while I'm falling asleep at night. Or sitting on the couch not thinking. Sometimes when I'm alone a memory catches me, falls into my brain even though I don't want it there. I try to shout at the memory and tell it to go away, please, I'm trying to forget about you. But it comes back no matter what. I think Givens describes this phenomenon and the phenomenon of memory very well. Here is an excerpt:

It is night now and so, finding myself unable to sleep and rummaging idly in my mind, I am given to thinking about moments such as these, taking inventory, as it were, of my life in an attempt to slow it down and hold it close. It sometimes happens that when I am too full of my present, I methodically sift through the pieces of my past. On these nights I usually lie still in bed, eyes open wide, and stare at the ceiling. There I find memories, or images more precisely, and lay them out next to one another, as though they were on a table in my mind, searching them for clues to who I’ve been and who I’ve become. Comparing memories and images in this way one can sometimes arrive at intriguing connections. That blissed-out snow reverie from my childhood, in its hypnotic fascination and brilliant optical play, was not unlike the textured and sparkling surface of the Bell + Howell tripod movie screen onto which we projected home movies throughout those same childhood days. I had the same absorbed fascination when, on those rare movie nights, I stood close to it, watching the play of light, reflections undulating across its pearlescent whiteness with every gentle adjustment of my head. All this before the images would flow.

If you enjoyed that excerpt, and I really hope you did, then I would advise you to go to the Believer's website and read the whole essay online. The first two lines of this excerpt just left me breathless and the essay gets increasingly strange and fuzzy as it goes on, like a memory.

Also, I've heard from a few people that there might be some interest in turning this into a meme? If you are interested in talking about an essay you enjoyed on Saturday please let me know in either the comments section or email me at englishmajorjunkfood AT yahoo DOT com. I'd love to spread more awesome essays around the world!

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Awesome Essays: No Shell, Just a Ghost + TIME