I noticed a headline claiming that scientists have managed to implant false memories into mice.
I, and surely most humans, have false memories all the time. They are called illusions and/or delusions. Shrinks could offer a variety of reasons, all for the price of consultation and none backed up by science. I assume that some people color their past to impress other people; some do it to avoid facing reality; and others still make up stories to feel better about themselves.
My false memories are used to develop stories for potential novels. Just as the creator of L’l Abner (can’t recall the name, but have a memory of his actions) used to make faces in a mirror to help draw his characters, I twist my past, present, and future in my mind to help imagine fictional characters.
Fortunately, I am able to keep valid memories and bogus ones in separate boxes (if such a receptacle exists in the brain). Still...
The kitchen situation at home caused me to have a Marcel Proust moment, although not one piqued by the taste of a madeleine, something I must have eaten but which is associated with no memories. No, quintessentially American taste sparked thoughts of past repasts: I had a simple McDonalds cheeseburger, small French fries (less French than a madeleine), and a small coke. Few recall that this was the original menu offering, when the chain first spread across the land. My first taste was in the early 60s in Connecticut on the way to visit relatives in Virginia (the land of “whites only” signs).
I cannot count the times I have enjoyed and/or eaten such a simple meal. I remember the pleasure after summer hockey games at the Worcester Arena (one of the worst rinks ever). Or the time I drove from Texas to Massachusetts in 26 hours, stopping only for gas and to grab food from a drive in window. Of course, I preferred Friendly’s, but their spread was limited.
I grown up to quarter pounder with cheese, to large fries, and to large coke, with the occasional hot apple pie or “milk” shake, but the need to drive and eat forces one to choose simple cheeseburger can be eaten with one hand and no worry of spills.
If he were alive today, old Marcel would surely be able to empathize...
_ I’m in the process of scanning old photos into my computer. Instead of languishing in a box in the attic, they can languish in a computer file.
At some point, as I decided whether to “save” a photo, I recalled a Communist habit of airbrushing certain figures out of official photographs. Kremlin watchers would try to discern internal politics from studying the line-up at official outings. We now know that airbrushing meant an untimely end or spent years in Siberia.
I have some sympathy with the eraser, not the erasee. I have not saved photos of people that I do not like or wish to forget. How is that different from the Russian habit? It is natural for humans to want to erase bad memories (either ones you have or caused)...or at least to try.
Certain tastes evoke childhood memories.
Yesterday, I found wonderful spinach at the farmers' market. My wife thought it looked dirty (duh, spinach is dirty) and did not want to buy it. I employed a rare veto and took it anyway. Good decision. Even she liked it, after I had cleaned it twice and she had steamed it.
My preferred manner of eating spinach is with a touch of white wine vinegar. I learned this from my father as child. There is no better way to enjoy spinach. My children like frozen spinach with cream sauce: I refuse to eat such abominations. Give me the old-fashioned taste of my childhood. Even in a foreign country, it is possible to relive old memories through the sense of taste. But, I'm sure the white wine vinegar from Italy is better than what I got as a kid.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.