This afternoon author and neuroscientist David Eagleman read from poet Nick Flynn's new book, The Reenactments, a memoir about his movie, Being Flynn, about his memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, about his memory of his life. As the audience listened to Eagleman speak of his prospective project with Flynn, we saw an infinite number of angles to perceive the stories. Before Flynn took the stage to talk about his book, we were mesmerized by the layers of time and memory.
When the pair discussed Flynn's experience making Being Flynn and The Reenactments, Flynn admitted that he experienced pain during his memory's reenactment of tragic scenes. The reenactments of the stations of the cross is an example of how watching someone suffer, he said, helps one, hopefully, feel empathy.
His hopes are that his readers feel empathy for his past.
As a poet, Flynn uses his work to enliven his past perceptions through poetry and memoir and so on. He expects us as readers to reach him halfway using our empathy.
The inceptions he created by perceptions are ineffably powerful--they unlock different forms of feelings we cannot experience from our lives alone.
Should Flynn take his work to the next level by transforming his memories into fiction, he'd unlock another dimension where he personifies feelings into new characters. Perhaps as he entertains his readers by embracing a writer's power to bend perceptions, he can shine light from a different angle and, thus, finally reach catharsis through writing.
At the end of the live interview, the question I wanted to ask still remains: For both the scenes of tragic memories regarding his mother's suicide and of his clear memories at the shelter, did he more often consciously recreate scenes or did he let his subconscious run the reel (or his fingers' typing) when he wrote The Reenactments?