Kellan Smith & Mike Gebhart - November 10, 2013
“I was talking about time. It’s so hard for me to believe in it. Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place- the picture of it- stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.”
“Can other people see it?” asked Denver.
“Oh, yes. Oh, yes, yes, yes. Someday you be walking down the road and you hear something or see something going on. So clear. And you think it’s you thinking it up. A thought picture. But no. It’s when you bump into a rememory that belongs to somebody else. Where I was before I came here, that place is real. It’s never going away. Even if the whole farm- every tree and grass blade of it dies. The picture is still there and what’s more, if you go there- you who never was there- if you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will happen again; it will be there for you, waiting for you.”
-Toni Morrison, Beloved
Rememory is a concept that Morrison posits in this novel that I would explain as meaning a memory that has an afterlife- a history that lives on and haunts the present and dictates the experiences of the living moment. I believe music can be a manifestation or unveiling of rememory; a way to convey and to make clear connections that are otherwise unconscious, disguised, and undercurrent in our lives. Since I first read this passage I believe I have had a more clear understanding of what kind of experience I value in music. I remember listening to a piece by Mozart and seeing/experiencing a connection to a memory that was not my own. However, what I am most interested in for this Racer Session is how playing improvised music with Mike has unearthed hidden memories for me, and I believe for him as well. Meaning, I believe that we emote memory when we play together and that we draw upon the history of a decade of friendship and also two decades of life, and these memories interact in dialogue and become rememory when we play together. In this novel there are many instances of rememory, but none so dominant as the afterlife of slavery, a rememory that continually dominates the lives of the characters. The memory of slavery and its afterlife is the one true shared cultural experience in America that is not an imagined nostalgia trap. Music has long interacted with this wound in our country. I think it is prudent for us to ponder this, to accept or reject this sentiment accordingly, and to decide what our music is and why we do it.
“Together they stood in the doorway. For Sethe it was as though the Clearing had come to her with all its heat and simmering leaves, where the voices of women searched for the right combination, the key, the code, the sound that broke the back of words. Building voice upon voice until they found it, and when they did it was a wave of sound wide enough to sound deep water and knock the pods off chestnut tress. It broke over Sethe and she trembled like the baptized in its wash.”