Rusty Memory Collage

Found this collage recently. When I pulled out the pin that had been securing the organza to the bark paper, a streak of rust remained. I liked that — Rusty Memory.

For pieces like this, I get stalled at the finishing. Does it get framed? Do I add a thread for hanging so that no frame is necessary? Do I scan it and transfer it to fabric so that I can use is as cloth in a quilt?

‘Course, I could do all three of those things.

Now, what is the opposite of Rusty Memory?   I wasn’t consciously wrestling with this, but when I saw a photo from one of our recent sessions of deconditioning our Corgi of his camera terror, I thought — AH HA — the opposite of Rusty Memory is Conditioning —

memory so tightly embedded in the cells that they cause unwilled reactions to certain stimuli.

Good to ponder the two extremes.

Jack is such a reminder that we need to be gentle with all the things that scare us. We don’t know what happened to him in his first two years in Puerto Rico. We do know that he was NOT one of the large population of street dogs down there. He had been cared for and then abandoned, tied to a fence and left to starve. He weighed twenty (!!!) pounds less when we got him and his ears were infested with bugs.

Obviously, something having to do with flashes of light gave him a real fright. Perhaps it was just surviving a few lightening storms while unable to take any kind of cover. Most dogs HATE thunder and lightening. But sometimes I think it must have been something more awful — burned with a cigarette?!  (Because it seems even the red ON button of the camera terrifies him, as does the striking of a match).

We’ll never know. So in that sense, the rusty memory and the conditioning overlap… just as they might in a trauma survivor who uses amnesia to block out the memories.  So here is an instance where polar opposites can and frequently do, overlap.  A spectrum that circles ’round on itself.

7 thoughts on “Rusty Memory Collage

  1. albedoarlee

    Rusty memory, faulty memory, false memory–often wonder what we choose to lose–conditioning the brain is a way of knowing you’re still learning :}
    I do like that piece—-perfect as it is

  2. deemallon

    arlee — thanks for your thoughts…

    as for continuing learning into our dotage (!!) — it is nice to know that the brain does NOT lose its elasticity in childhood as originally believed…

    more and more, I see our lives as a fiction that we can believe, react to, or not…

    i love the bumper sticker that says, “Don’t Believe Everything you Think.”

    and jude — maybe not remembering is a way to stay present?

  3. Victoria

    I have had three rescue dogs in my life and I wondered about the past of each one. My one girl, Gypsy, was terrified of stairways and archways. Dear Mo had B.B. pellets embedded all over her body, as if someone had used her for target practice. (can you imagine?) Still getting to know little Ellie, and how she responds to things. As for rusty memories… I can barely remember yesterday!

  4. deemallon

    Strange how particular a dog’s fears can be, isn’t it? Oh, the pellets make me shudder.

    Your little Ellie is adorable. I hope you’ll be posting more pix of her!

  5. Ginny

    Its so sad when you think of the harsh lives the rescued pets lived before finding a good home. My chihuahua was rescued from a kill shelter but then spent 4 years at a nokill in a cage before we got him. He licked his feet constantly as a nervous habit. I guess all you can do is give them tons of love and let them know they’re in a safe place.

    Re memories, sometimes I think it is a blessing to forget, that rusty is good. I remember too much, I wish I could pour half of the memories out and just keep the good ones. But I guess it is the balance of the two that makes for good art.

    1. deemallon

      Hi Ginny, it IS amazing what cruelty (never mind neglect) that people can inflict on animals… when we first got Jack, he wouldn’t let us touch him, and we thought he was mute, because he didn’t bark or make noises of pleasure… it is nice to see, three years later, that lots of love can sometimes make a difference…. while I don’t think he’ll ever really be a completely relaxed dog, he DOES bark, he DOES let us rub his tummy, now, and make noises of doggie-delight!

      I agree about the blessings of forgetting — something as I age, I perhaps need to celebrate more (lol)… in YOUR particular case, I have to beg to differ about ‘remembering too much’, having read some of your writing because it is precisely your capacity for remembering the details — voices, scenes, tensions, family dynamics, the clothing you wore at age six, what your DOLLS were wearing — that makes your writing so lively and readable for others.


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