The Visual Memory

Out of the Tunnel, New Jersey

Out of the Tunnel, New Jersey

My family lived on the first floor in an apartment house on the corner of Skeppargatan and Storgatan in Stockholm. The dining room faced on to a dark back courtyard with a high brick wall the outdoor privy, dustbins, fat rats and a carpet-beating stand. I am sitting on someone’s knee being fed with gruel. The plate is on grey oilcloth with a red border, the enamel white, with blue flowers on it, and reflecting the sparse light from the window. By bending my head sideways and forwards, I try out various viewpoints. As I move my head, the reflections in the gruel plate change and form new patterns. Suddenly, I vomit over everything.

That is probably my first memory.

This is from the early pages of Ingmar Bergmann’s autobiography, The Magic Lantern, 1987

The image inset has nothing to do with the words from Bergmann’s book, but given how inward a time this is by the enforced hold of an unremitting winter, who better to read than Bergmann, a Swede with a sense of the dark seasons in his DNA.




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