Maud Newton: Blog:
But by my 30s, those memories had started to fade. What I was left with was a memory of what my memory used to be like, a poignant awareness of my own deficit. I first noticed this about eight years ago: One day, rooting through a drawer in my mom’s house, I came across a photo of myself as a girl. In the photo, I’m about 5 years old, decked out in a swami robe, my eyes hidden behind enormous Jackie O sunglasses. But I could summon no memory of that day, no explanation, though I had the conviction that I used to know what that picture was all about, that there was some important story connected with it. It felt like I had lost a key that unlocked some inner door. I could still press my ear to it, could still run my hand against its grain and examine its hinges, but I would never get through that door again.
And so I began my novel about memory. I knew at the time that several companies, including one appropriately called Memory Pharmaceuticals, were working to develop real treatments for memory loss, but I didn’t pay them much mind. My drug would be different. It would be recreational-Proust’s madeleine reduced to tiny chemical specks. My drug would launch the user into the best moments of his life, allowing him to savor long ago joys, allowing him to meet his boyhood self....
[I]n the course of writing the novel, I saw just how dangerous this drug might be. The past is potently intoxicating, and if we could ever taste it purely, undiluted by forgetfulness, we would, I came to believe, disappear into ourselves.