Michel Foucault wrote a book entitled “the lives of infamous men,” in which he essentially studies and focuses on these little snippets of memory from the past. (era, the 17th and 18th centuries) These snippets are court complaints, sentences, or grievances taken from archives of confinement, of police and petitions from the King. I have only read the intro, but Foucault makes an interesting few statements. The first is that the lives and memories of these people have been protected and preserved only because of their relation to power, and their ability to make a commotion. It is their infamy that gives them existence. the idea is very close to the idea: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
These short documents, poems of history really, are what protects the identity of these people. And really, they are only known for their crimes, or grievances Everything else about them, their personality, their habits, skills, day-to-day life is gone. Perhaps that is what really scares people about dying. When we die, do we just vanish? When everyone who knew us is gone would our existence have even mattered? perhaps this is the reason for tombstones, and wills, and journals, and blogs.
As a writer we tell stories, sparked from memories and embellished by our imaginations. Will our stories outlive us and successfully insure our own memory? Or will be become merely the author and be forgotten, much like how the only aspect that remains of the people in Foucault’s book, are the stories of their infamy. But then again, what is more important? Would I rather be known as Stephanie the person, or Stephanie the creator of a new world, or a great idea that may spark more great ideas?
What do you think?