The novelist Walker Percy once asked, “Why do human beings driving round on beautiful Sunday afternoons like to see bloody vehicle wrecks?” With this easy question, Percy famous the depth of human malaise. We seek the bloody inside the lovely and savor the gratifying and self-satisfied thrill of knowing we ourselves have momentarily escaped the suffering of the accident. In her really stunning series of essays, The Unreality of Memory, which is a part clinical and mental sleuthing and element memoir, Elisa Gabbert takes up Percy’s question and places it in our contemporary cultural context.
Gabbert’s establishing essay, “Magnificent Desolation,” explores the human loss of three catastrophic events: the sinking of the Titanic, the collapse of the World Trade Center and the Challenger disaster. She ends the essay by using admitting she has a “peculiar instinctual choice for matters to get even worse” when terrible things happen, and she or he is aware of she isn’t alone in feeling this way. “I worry this a part of me, the small however plain pull of disaster,” she writes. “It’s something we all must have interior of us. Who can say it doesn’t have influence? This secret want for the blowout ending?”
Gabbert doesn’t most effective probe into our fascination with the pull of demise and disaster. She additionally peers in the back of the curtains of mortality and time to discover the approaches that reminiscence and tale both lull us into complacency about moral evil or allow us to embrace impending loss of life. In “The Great Mortality,” approximately being confronted with overwhelming records about a natural disasters that might extinguish a huge variety of human lives, she reflects, “In this age of terrible information all of the time, we recognize it instantly: ironic suicidal ideation . . . There’s some thing actual behind it—the fantasy of the swift loss of life, the instinct just to get it over with.” In her essay “I’m So Tired,” Gabbert concludes, with some relief, that human beings don’t honestly want to witness a disaster and stand aside however that “compassion fatigue stems from a choice to help.”
Gabbert candidly asks startling and unsettling questions on our view of human nature and the approaches we are often complicit within the struggling of others. With the world teetering getting ready to the political, social, environmental and clinical abyss, The Unreality of Memory is a book for our times.