Memories about memories

Every home has, should you look, peculiar and useless items, from a practical point of view. The prevailing characteristic of these things, just like dust, is to gather in some hard to reach place. They are in no way used (and how can they be?!), they possess no collector, monetary or other value, nor are they family heirlooms. The house of my childhood had also had such things: father’s broken spectacles that have had better vision than father for a long time, threadbare wallets with holes, coins of varying denominations and nationalities that have made their way to us only God knows how, old ID cards, greetings cards from unknown or forgotten relatives, and broken watches wearing a permanent imprint of the date and time of their own demise. We even had a heavy paperweight. All this was kept in an old writing desk with a broken door. I always believed that this desk was a place that hid secrets. It truly was my treasure island. I never played with these things. Or rather, you wouldn’t call what I did playing. It was all very serious, even ceremonial. I would lay these things out, admire them, and try bringing them back to life by using them according to their original design… And now, many years later, I find myself wandering through a flea market. I feel that here they are selling off my old apartment, my childhood, my memories. The span of a flea – is the span of my memory. Or, actually, it is the other way around.
In the Talmud, wise men contemplate the question of «who were those people who were risen from dry bones by the prophet Ezekiel?» The most incredible theories are put forth. One of the wise men even presumed that these people had returned from Babylon to the Land of Israel, settled there, got married, and had children. It appears that the argument is built following a theoretical path since the fact of resurrection seems inconceivable. And then one person solemnly declares that he is a descendant of these very people! And as proof he presents an old tefillin passed on by his grandfather, one of the resurrected… From my great grandfather I received only a photograph of a pencil portrait sketched of him by one of his sons, my great uncle. A copy of a copy. A memory of a memory. At one point I suddenly realized what it means to lose those strange, nonsensical items from my childhood. It means that I have no material proof of my origin, of my past! It means I can remember anything I like. I write my own past. Memory merges with imagination.  And as evidence, I present various items – old photographs, toys, an alarm clock, etc. But I do not create them and I do not recreate them. I remember them. I create memories. Things accumulate time, they accumulate memory. And I bring them out. Like sometimes in a random stranger you glimpse the familiar features of a loved one, the same way, the most unexpected things – the rust covered tins, rotten wood, a burned rail, an old boot – can evoke half-forgotten images of things you love. But this happens only if the thing itself, the material, is ready to tell its secrets. The material can be broken or destroyed, but it can’t be forced to share its memories. Insofar as you can’t peek into the memories of another or see their dreams. An old thing (corroded, rotten, broken) is the ultimate phase of itself, the tiniest indivisible fraction of itself. It is impossible to make anything else from it by sawing it or cutting it in half, for example. An old thing, just like an old man, is capable only of remembering. And old things, when meeting one another, begin to share their memories.
A memory object is actually a non-object or an invisible object (which is probably why my objects are very difficult, practically impossible, to photograph). After all, one cannot see memories of another. My objects are a flea market through which the viewer wanders and feels that here their memories are being sold, things from their own childhood, from their own past. This is why the first words from viewers are practically always «Ah, yes! I remember!» And if this happens, it means that the man is alive, because as a friend once said «to live means to remember».