Saturday, March 7, 2009

I just heard the wonderful Eric Schmidt, Chairman & CEO of Google, speaking of what technology cannot purvey, though Google gives us the Earth and the Seas and the Sky: "the smell of bread on a Paris morning".  Now I hadn't actually remembered that as a Memory, but when he mentioned it I recalled having smelt it, and not only there but in Athens and wherever I have been where neighborhood bakeries baked every morning, including a number of Italian towns.  I had not, however, registered it.  Therefore, instead, I shall have a Memory of Schmidt's example on Charlie Rose, but it is only my own 'registered' memories that I shall try to describe here.
My own analogous memory is the wonderful aroma of roasting coffee as we approached San Francisco on the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge, mostly from the Caswell's plant but perhaps also from Hill Bros.  It is associated with the two neon billboards with animated elements that were the only ones that worked all the way through the War, one of Coca Cola, with some sailboats, I think, and, I suppose illustrating the Pause that Refreshes (quite evidently not my favorite of the two) and the other of Sherwin-Williams, Sherwin Williams Paint Covers the Earth; the Earth sphere was green and blue, and above it in three stages a paint can emptied to cover it in red paint.  All of both of these in neon-tubing outline.  In those days, sometimes, we could look down and see the Sixth Fleet in.
What I do not spontaneously remember or is not directly provoked by something someone else says I am not including here.
A narrative is a most dangerous thing to essay.  A narrative is expected to make sense.  Sequence and causality are usually essential to it.  My mother was full of narratives, and most of them were false.  Her narratives of her wondrous eldest child were almost all of them false.  And they were sentimental.  One thing I do remember was listening to her narratives.  It is proving difficult to be satisfied with many things that, narratively considered, were of no importance at all.  I remember when I moved to Oregon in 1962 smelling in the autumn on the railings of the bridge over the mill race what I realized must be creosote.   It was.  It is, s.v., no. 2 in Webster's Collegiate (how quickly I have found having that in my Dock on my computer to be indispensable).  That is memory, and I'm sure it is quite unimportant.