Courteous memory and friendship

One theme that pervades Anne McCaffrey’s Killashandra is the occupational hazard of forgetfulness.

It is directly linked to politeness.

“[…] I can’t help it if singers lose their memories . . . and every shred of common courtesy.”
“I’ll program eternal courtesy to you on my personal tape, Bajorn.”
“I’d appreciate it. Only do it now, would you, Killashandra, before you forget?”

And directly to friendship…

Antonia shrugged. “One establishes a friendship by sharing events and opinions. They remember nothing and consequently have nothing to share. And less to talk about.”

And thus indirectly are courtesy and friendship linked.

I am reminded of David K. Reynolds’s description of Naikan therapy as a practice that “leads to a deep sense of gratitude for the concrete and specific ways in which we are supported by our world” (Flowing Bridges, Quiet Waters: Japanese Psychotherapies, Morita and Naikan). Via Reynolds we come to understand ourselves as creatures of care.

The recognition of this [parental] care provides a template for viewing the specific ongoing care our surroundings (including other humans around us) provide in the present. This recognition, in turn, prompts us to evaluate the actual ways we return these favors and cause trouble to those who provide them. […] Attempts to begin to repay our debts are beneficial, although we accumulate debts to the world faster than we can ever expect to repay them.

It is a type of accounting that is similar to that traced by the narrative arc in McCaffrey’s novel. And if I credit myself for the juxtaposition, I am but vaguely aware of all the various circumstances that contributed to having the two books cross my awareness in a time and place that permit me to remember to make a record of their similarities.

And so for day 441

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