Let’s pause for a minute and reflect on how fortunate we are to have such high quantity and quality of materials to exploit. Posters, handbills, advertisements, previews, blurbs, mentions, reviews, ledgers, contracts, calendars and other sources overwhelm us. (By the way, where are the personal diaries/journals, a la Faren Miller's amazing chronicles of QMS? If anyone reading this kept any notes relating to GD and Garcia, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
Personal memories remain alive and frequently (if imperfectly) captable by those who might seek to document them. They’re often pretty good memories. I’d suggest that levels of intelligence and education among those who remember these things, these “subjects” whose memories we seek to record, explore and understand are generally a way north of the population mean. This is a smart and often articulate bunch. The consciousness that one was engaged in something special or unusual seems to have quite often produced reasonably conscious memory as well – a good thing.
A final point on personal memory, a very meta point that I’ll nevertheless indulge. In comments on my listening notes for May 6, 1983, Corry discussed his ca. late April 1983 data generating process in his role as Keeper of The List, which is very helpful. I produced a nicely anchored memory, one that’s bound up in other important or noteworthy or otherwise salient events, in a kind of syndrome or complex. In the case of the venue for 5/6/83, I find myself persuaded by the participant recollection (i.e., that it was at the Keystone in Berkeley, not at The Stone in The City).
Finally (not really finally, but finally for my purposes here), are events for which there is neither paper nor memory, the shows that happened and that we know about only because of tape recordings. How many were not taped and hence remain unknown? I do not know and I prefer not to think too long on it. Instead, I want to use the lifetimes-worth of taped material we do have as best I can. My listening notes are an attempt to recode the raw data from tapes into other useable (for my purposes) forms. These data, like all of them, have their limits. In a view that Corry has been articulating (e.g., about GD Matrix Tapes from late 1966) and that I suspect is correct, it’s possible that the taped record systematically biases against the quotidian and in favor of the unusual and/or excellent. Recognizing this only reinforces why we need to practice convergent operationalism, i.e., triangulation across sources. We all already do this, but I want to recognize it explicitly as a valuable part of the enterprise.