Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Memory is deceptive. It cannot be rationally calibrated. It seems as if the fact that it constitutes, to some degree, an orderly chronological procession  ("episodic" as opposed to "procedural" memory) should make it like a slide rule that responds to mechanical jogging. However, remember Proust coined the term “involuntary memory," referring to his famous madeleine.  “The Proustian equation is never simple,” Beckett remarked in his famous essay on the author. Freud famously said “hysterics suffer mainly from reminiscences,” a neat phrase that actually alludes to a rather tortured path. For instance, many people who cannot remember a name run through the alphabet, but the mind is resistant. The very brake applied by the unconscious, which made it hard to recall something to start with will be reinvoked when you come to the letter P when it was the name of that supermarket chain headquartered in Florida , you were trying to think of, Publix. Why were you having so much trouble? Maybe it has to do less with Florida than the idea that you have had so many aging relatives who’ve retired there or the fact that you yourself are aging. Memory is a hot ticket item. Memories get flagged the way the way suspicious transactions are targeted on financial sites. Sometimes memory is like a good run on a ski slope in which you easily skirt the moguls and end up with a dramatic sashay at the bottom. Other times, you take a spill when you're caught in the soft snow of a blizzard and you can’t see anything.

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