Preface

In the Shadow of Memory is a first-person account of living with brain damage. In December 1988, most likely on a plane trip from Oregon to Washington DC, I contracted a virus that targeted my brain. Details of this event and its aftermath will be described later; at the outset, I want to suggest that my book is about the experience of sudden and enormous personal change.

You don't have to be brain damaged to know what this is like. Illness, devastating loss, unanticipated alteration in circumstances: so many of us go through catastrophic life changes that our experience often seems defined by a radical unpredictability. I am hardly alone. The letters and calls I've received as these essays have appeared in print make that clear. We are all riding “the ever-whirling wheel of Change” that Edmund Spenser wrote about, a wheel from “which all mortal things doth sway.”

But brain damage intensifies the meaning of sudden personal change by affecting the very organ with which we define who we are. The brain, where mind and body come together, where Self originates, is transformed in an instant. Not just how we see or speak, how we feel or think, what we know or recall, but who we

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In the Shadow of Memory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • In the Shadow of Memory *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • 1 - Gray Area *
  • 1 - Gray Area: Thinking with a Damaged Brain *
  • 2 - Wild in the Woods: Confessions of a Demented Man *
  • 3 - In the Shadow of Memory *
  • 4 - Reeling Through the World: Thoughts on the Loss of Balance *
  • 5 - Living Memory *
  • 2 - The Family Story *
  • 6 - The Painstaking Historian *
  • 7 - Zip *
  • 8 - Dating Slapsie *
  • 9 - The Family Story *
  • 10 - The Year of the 49-Star Flag *
  • 3 - A Measure of Acceptance *
  • 11 - Kismet *
  • 12 - Counteracting the Powers of Darkness *
  • 13 - What is This and What Do I Do with It? *
  • 14 - A Measure of Acceptance *
  • 15 - Jangled Bells: Meditations on Hamlet and the Power to Know *
  • 16 - The Watery Labyrinth 218
  • 17 - Tomorrow Will Be Today *
  • In the American Lives Series *
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