I’m getting old enough to have a new relationship with the past, whose present is forever closed off. The feeling, I’ve discovered, is one of claustrophobia: the panic of being unable to move, change position, connect, communicate, as if I were trapped in a box here and the past, my memory of it, was out there, and now I could only think it, remember it, but no longer touch it.
What if claustrophobia were less a spatial than a temporal fear? In claustrophobia, do we fear the physical confinement (of course, we do) or the social isolation? Since it is always an idea that we fear, then it is also memory we fear.
The fear is being denied access to the content of memory. Perhaps claustrophobia is a fear of loss, not of memory itself, which is a different kind of fear, but of life then, which, except in memory, is now denied.