The Progress of Memory

My mental abilities are in decline. In theory this can motivate a swifter recovery, as the danger is very real that I will soon be incompetent to continue therapy. Indeed, I have trouble remembering what we’ve already hammered out. I chew over old questions, wasting precious time, and I’ve caught myself letting fresh questions slip, under the murky pretext of half-remembered answers. My psychotherapist, taking pity on my state, has donated me two Analyst’s Notebooks. When a question comes up, I open a ticket in the “Questions” notebook. If the previous question was number 343, for example, I write, on the next line, “344.” Over the course of the day, as I ruminate, if I come to complete resolution (and it’s extremely important that such resolution be utterly unshakeable, or the entire procedure would be annulled) I write the same number in my “Answers” notebook, thus closing the ticket. In this way I have been spared much doubt. If I am in remiss, I do penance; if not, I enjoy a clean conscience. At first it was extremely easy to verify my status. I leafed through the first notebook and, if I didn’t know off the top of my head whether “344” had been settled, I scanned for it in the second notebook. It’s true that on occasion several new doubts would arise in me over the course of the process of verifying; these I would write as incrementing letters, “a,” “b,” “c,” on to “aa,” “bb,” etc., on a disposable slip of paper and afterwards transfer them into the “Questions” notebook, often to find that the same tickets had already been opened under lower ordinals. When that was the case, I closed the duplicates immediately, putting off all other thoughts for the brief duration of this simple task. But for longer tasks, as when, though I have reason to think a ticket has been resolved, it is not forthcoming in the “Answer” notebook, I have much need of these auxiliary slips, since certainly so much repressed material is unearthed simply by association as I scan through the reams of my case-history.

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