J. Moore’s Book, Memory, and Tattooed Pigs

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               JJ has this theory that memory is still there; like in a computer; in the recesses of your brain. Like you never really forget things; not even in regard to Alzheimers. He feels that you never really delete anything from your hard drive per se. As in with the right computer tech, you can retrieve just about anything after you hit the delete button on the PC (just ask the FBI). So who is JJ? He’s a character in a book I just read and memory is the plot.

The book is “The Memory Artists” by Jeffrey Moore.

I’m just getting around to this book; it came out in 2004. It involves four very different, very interesting people who are trying to develop an Alzheimers cure. Norval, the good looking, arrogant womanizer. Sam, the actress who contributes to Stella’s recovery, as does Norval. Stella, Noel’s Mom, who ends up with Alzheimers. Noel the synesthete. who is gifted with eidetic memory. And lovely simple brilliant towering bomb-making pun loving JJ. Be careful about reading reviews online; because there a few that give away the ending of this book.

The book is BRILLIANT. It’s not for everyone, but if you like brainy, unusual weird books about flawed geniuses, then read the book. It’s like Oliver Sacks meets Steve Martin at an acid party. No it isn’t like that at all. It’s a smart book. It’s sad and silly and I wasn’t going to do a book review but this has been consuming me so here it is.

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Moore’s book is NO tattooed pig. Why do I say that? It’s not a whim. It’s very well thought out.

Now, about tattooed pigs. Well, there’s a Chinese man by the name of Wim (I can’t make that up) who tattoos pigs in China. That’s a FACT. Moore’s book is fiction. However, The Memory Artists is FILLED with so much research that it reads like non-fiction. It will blow you away. It reads like a tattooed pig. You can’t believe it’s fiction. Much in the same way that you can’t believe that Wim really tattoos pigs. See? Wim’s work is not whimsy. It’s as real as these:

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(he sedates them, don’t worry)

But tattooing pigs is neither here nor there. Sorry…sometimes my muse is Thalia (comedy). Usually my muse is Melpomene (tragedy, which I shall no doubt be visiting again soon so no worries). In fact my “caregiver collapse years of 2002-2005″ which I wrote about in Under The Banana Moon I owe to Melpomene…but I digress again.

QUOTES from this weird book are as follows but:

First of all, know that this book has a character who has synesthesia. As an extremely gifted  synesthete, Noel sees, feels, hears colors…He hears a sound and sees forms, shapes, colors…Noel also was not able to forget a single thing he ever learned. He was eidetic.

In contrast, his mother developed Alzheimers and that’s an interesting polarity…

“Our memory is like a dispensary or chemical laboratory in which chance steers our hand to a soothing drug, or dangerous poison: Love is a drugstore, where, where hazard guides our hand to a painkiller or poison. Memories are enclosed, as it were, in a thousand sealed jars, each filled with things of an absolutely different colour, odour and temperature: Memories are stored in a million vessels, each with a different scent, colour, texture, and each in a different state of decomposition.” end book QUOTE

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I didn’t intend for this to be a book review as I said… I had other things on my mind to blog about. For instance. Did you know, that to keep the taste of Coca-Cola consistent, certain standards are maintained? Obviously, right? So they always purify their water. Makes sense. But overseas they use sugar, whereas in the U.S. they sweeten it with corn syrup. I just hadn’t known that. Speaking of coke bottles, remember those 1970s polyester suits? Some of the same things they make coke bottles out of were used in making those suits.

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Okay I tried to blog about something else but I keep thinking about synesthetes. How amazing would it be to have synesthesia? The character in Moore’s book (Noel) has an extreme case…. He sees colorful shapes too. He assigns colors to letters. To numbers. To days of the week.

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               Imagine…Seeing spirals of red and orange in your mind that no one else can see when a plane flies overhead. Your grandmother speaks and her voice floats in the air in silver cones and swirls in tunnels of charcoal black. You are listening to rap music and close your eyes. You see cobwebs drip; then yellow and pink honeycombs burst like ‘acid trips’ in your head. The lady at the DMV calls your name and you see green lumbriciforms (earthworm-like shapes) twisting in the air around her desk. No one can see them writhing in the air but you.

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                The list goes on. They often see scutiforms, (shields), cochlears (snail shells), doughnut shapes, amygdaloids (almond shapes), botryoidals (bunches of hanging grapes), clothoids (tear shapes),ensiforms (sword-like shapes), infundibuliforms (funnels),moniliforms (strings of beads), pinnate shapes (feathers), sagittates (arrowheads), unciforms (hook shapes), villiforms (velvet or bristle), virgates (rods, wands), scroll shapes, and sigmoids (S shapes…) see page 302 of book.

I’ll not list “famous people with synesthesia” here.

But I’ll leave you with this:

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“Memory is deceptive for it is colored by today’s events-” Albert Einstein

Excerpt from Under The Banana Moon, ONE single memory, from me, from my recesses when I woke from a coma, and I saw my mother. No I’m not a synesthete. 🙂

Here’s “a memory” I pulled one out, an excerpt just for you, from my own head:
Why not, the topic of this blog is memory—–

“Me” swam up fast- like the cartoon sperm in the school health films.

“I” paddled up with the rest of me stuck in a bogged down place. I kept going even though I was stuck in quicksand then broke through to consciousness. My eyelids bounced. I saw a large black numeral 2- and it was floating. Oh my God I was dead and in a Dali painting that I’d seen in my library book! But, no because aches and pains and smells were here…

I glimpsed my physical self. In a bed under good quality linen. I considered I might be dreaming but there was a clarity I could not ignore. You can’t smell stuff in sleep. Can you? The over-large 2 was hovering like a space-craft. Something was wrong with my eyes. Edg-es of everything were indistinct, blurry and every single thing was white. I blinked and blinked again. My eyelids felt like they hadn’t been used in a while. I tried to command the 2 into focus. It was apparently on a white wall above a bed across from me. A grey head stuck out from rumpled blankets in that bed under the 2. My peripheral vision was working. I looked sideways. Specks of many colors were there. I knew what they were and they made me glad. The specks were my mother.”

(nonfiction)

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