uncertain hoarding moments

Now that our departure is likely delayed for a few months, I’m a bit stalled with the project of this blog. I was at the point of beginning the serious removal of things and sifting through the real items of importance, including books or clothes that I’m not quite sure about. Today, as I started a new research project, I dipped into a packed up box and pulled out two theory books I wasn’t expecting to need. I also have a mental list of items in my campus office that have to come home to help me.

In addition to the physical aspect of hoarding and my current uncertainty, there is the parallel activity of memory hoarding that occurs. I was beginning to feel emotional about experiences that I thought were the “last time for a long time” such as our university’s pathetic bowl game that had me momentarily choked up. This, too, has gently subsided as I float along uncertain about the next few months.

from Elisabeth Fechner, Souvenirs d'Alger

This reminds me of a literary snippet that I cannot immediately locate in which the author, Marie Cardinal, complains (paraphrased in English here), “Had I known this was the last time I would see that beautiful port, and that sun on that sea from that angle, I would have soaked it up and treasured it.” Instead, she felt robbed of that memory because she left her homeland when it was still rather peaceful, fully expecting she would return. Then when (an expected) calamity struck, she was cut off for about twenty years, forced to remember her homeland and painstakingly recreate it in her writing. Cardinal was most definitely a memory hoarder who obsessively rewrote Algeria. I wonder if I might someday nostalgically rewrite my home or if my sense of home is sufficiently destabilized to keep my nostalgia at bay.

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2 responses to “uncertain hoarding moments

  1. Today I searched for memory [and] hoarding, trying to understand if this connection has been studied. So far, I am disappointed. Your blog, however, brings it to light and I can only hope it will spur more consideration and research.

    • Thank you for your comment M_S_. I also started out looking for a link in hoarding and memory and came up sort of empty-handed except for my own experience and observations with my father. Nonetheless, I’ve read research by Frost and Steketee who suggest there is a strong connection between the two and that hoarders see links with objects and more abstract things such as memory, art, relationships and so on. This would be (partially) why it is so difficult for (some) hoarders to let go of the things they keep.

      My central interest right now (besides the personal catharsis of finally discussing my parents and my own issues) is in the idea of saving memorabilia, but to such an extent that the memento is actually ruined. What remains, then, of the memory if the souvenir is kept but in many ways disolved?

      I’d be very happy to hear what caused you to look for a link between memory and hoarding, if you’re interested in sharing.

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