(Part II of the introduction to “Mnemosyne: A Love Affair With Memory.)
Thorpe continued. “I am not an impostor. I am not insane. I beg you to suspend judgment until you hear me out. I was a military physician. I was in a field hospital when a soldier who had been shot twice was about to die. What he told me might sound quite startling, but strange things are the norm in times of war. The soldier, Adam Clay, offered me “‘Shakespeare’s Memory,” and then, on the final minutes of his life, he struggled to explain the singular condition of the gift. ‘The one who offers the gift must offer it aloud, and the one who is to receive it must accept it the same way. The man who gives it loses it forever,’ he said to me.”
“And you now possess “Shakespeare?” Sorgel asked.
“I am now in possession of two memories — Shakespeare’s and my own. They seem to merge, or maybe I should say that two memories possess me.”
I’ve searched the works of Shakespeare for years, Sorgel thought. What better gift than to know the inner workings of Shakespeare’s mind, and maybe touch his soul. “Yes,” Sorgel declared with an assertive tone. “I accept ‘Shakespeare'”s Memory.
“Shakespeare’s is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. While the work is fiction, Borges’ insights into memory are both precise and profound, and as real as life itself. Borges leads us through a maze of discoveries as bits and pieces and chunks of memory begin to unfold.
Sorgel recalled Thorpe’s words. “It will emerge in dreams, or when you awake, when you turn the pages of a book, or turn a corner. Don’t be impatient. Don’t invent recollections. As I gradually forget, you will remember.”