Observing the difference between the memory functions of a young child and an old person is interesting...and depressing. There are times when an old person does not remember what he or she did a few minutes earlier. A child, on the other hand, is able to recall actions from a week ago or several weeks ago. Age might have the advantage of more knowledge, but not all circuits fire all the time, as child strive to catch up. Life is not fair...
Supposedly, the taste of a madeleine caused old Marcel Proust to recall his past. Watermelon did the trick for me.
I like watermelon, but only good watermelon. Each time I eat some, I recall summer trips to visit relatives in Virginia during my early years. The drive was long and hot (glad I wasn’t driving), but the excitement of long trips erased any displeasure. These trips are always associated with black farmers selling huge watermelons off trucks beside the road (no Interstate back then) in the part of Virginia the sticks up into Maryland across the Chesapeake Bay. I recall the price: 2 cents a pound, and buying an eighteen pounder: 36 cents.
That was a time of first exposure to racial inequality, because I noticed the shacks in which those farmers dwelled.
The watermelons I buy now are round and about the size of a basketball (have I mentioned that this is a dumb sport?), but the flavor can be sublime. Most are grown in Spain, but not all are equally flavorful. Supermarket melons tend to not so good, whereas ones from my fruit and veg Turk are great...and always gives me those Proust moments.
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...
This afternoon, I had an idea about which I wanted to write. I can’t remember what it was; I should have made a note. A chance thought can be like a leaf fallen onto a fast moving stream: visible for a moment and then carried away.
That happens a lot, which can be disturbing. One does not like to be forgetful or stupid or infirm.
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but...lies.
There is a familiar saying about justice being blind. It truly is.
Human memory can deceive its owner. Even for an intelligent person with the best intentions and the best effort, the past quickly becomes grainy. Memory is fragile, even if people believe what it tells them. Selective recall and mixed reminisces lead to incorrect testimony. Increased use of closed circuit television does not completely solve the problem. Every event is witnessed from myriad angles; each person has his or her own narrative and selective memory of what transpired. Few jot down notes at the time of witnessing something about which they might have to testify in court.
A person might swear on a bible (Are atheists free to lie?) to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In reality, they are making a promise they cannot keep and only hoping to tell the truth, an edited version of the whole truth, and nothing but little more than omissions, wishful thinking, and lies. And, of course, that is without considering intentional efforts to attack and discredit the victim, which has become a standard feature of all trials.
I read today that the average person is believed (rather wishy-washy wording for a scientific finding) to have 70,000 thoughts each day.
If I had so many thoughts, when would I find the time to write my blog. I recall having about a dozen yesterday, and most were worthless. Like this post...
On the other hand, the rest of the article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/mar/13/memory-techniques-joshua-foer) was interesting. It explained humans' growing inability (or lack of effort) to memorize information. Having instant access to so much information devalues much of it. Does having access to everything basically mean having access to nothing in particular?
During the Cold War, communication specialists used to say that information was more valuable and longer-lasting in communist countries than in the West, because the truth was so rare. Fleeting stories on the 24-hour news cycle gain no traction on the human mind.
If people don't value something or are too lazy to remember it, then what happens when the power goes off?
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.