chapter  14
3 Pages

What is the Spiritual or Affective Memory?

This feeling was mentioned for the first time about forty years ago by the French psychologist Ribot. According to his terminology the affective memory is the ability of the human organism to retain imperceptibly for man himself different psychological shocks and emotions and to live them all over again in case of an identical repetition of outer physical occurrences. For instance, while returning home with a bunch of freshly gathered

lilies of the valley, a girl finds out about the tragic death of her beloved fiancé. The very moment she was hearing the news she was inhaling the aroma of these flowers. Many years have passed since then. She was married and has lived in perfect happiness, – but each time she smelled the scent of lilies of the valley she would become nervously excited just as she was at the time of tragedy, without even being conscious of the fact. More than that, unconscious tears were coming to her eyes at the mere sight of these flowers. Later on this became so much of a habit that it remained with her until the end of her days. Second example: A young man made his love declaration, proposed and was accepted

by a young girl while walking in the country throughout a large vegetable garden. They were eating fresh cucumbers, just picked from a border-bed. They returned home with the taste of cucumbers in their mouths and carrying a basket full of them. Many years they were married and forgot about that particular

incident. – Yet each time they saw fresh cucumbers or had cucumber salad, a nice, kindly feeling came upon them. They grew gay and tender toward each other, no matter how discontented they had been a moment before. Third example: that I observed myself in New York. An old civil war veteran putting on his uniform on decoration day felt

much stronger and healthier than the rest of the time. The uniform was

carrying himself His grandchildren discovered that secret and whenever he grew especially grouchy they used to take out his uniform. Every one of you going carefully through your memory will discover

I am sure, lots of examples of “Affective Memory”. The “Affective Memory” is one of the most important factors of

our art. The actor can use it in order to reproduce in himself all kind of

feelings and fill his stage creations with the “life of the human spirit.” With the help of that feeling he does not have to “imitate” the outer

manifestations of actual life but can take an active part in the creation of that beautiful, “better” life entering thus into the ranks of independent and individual creators. No art can tolerate amateurishness and dilletantism! That is, if you bring it out before the public instead of keeping it for

home consumption. – In the latter case you may do anything you wish! You may play Lady Macbeth at 16 and Juliet at 50. I don’t care. But if you bring it before the public, if you try to satisfy the utmost

necessity of humanity to beautify its daily life – you have to do it honestly, taking the full responsibility of it on yourself. The members of a theatrical organization should be especially con-

scientious toward the performance of their duties remembering that the theatre is a collective or co-related art, where everyone is responsible for everyone else. Unfortunately this last stipulation is forgotten because of the seeming easiness of the theatrical work and the absurd “star” system. The absurdity of this system as applied to a whole production, is evi-

dent because of the following logical reason: The whole, consisting of several component parts can be harmonious only if all these parts have a definite mutual connection one with another. How can you expect to have a good watch if it has only a fine steel

spring and all the rest of its parts are “tin”? A show can not be successful if it has only one fine leading actor and the

rest of the cast is terrible (example – Hamlet – Bernardo – Marcello [sic]) The collective creation is submitted to three laws:

1. The single will of the leader 2. Even the smallest component part has to lend the maximum of its

energy for the sake of the common cause. 3. Each of the participants has to penetrate into the spirit of the

general work.