Thursday, December 12, 2013


The human memory is a very poor storage medium. The very questionable accuracy of recollections aside, the mind is much too easily tricked into seeing things not the way they really are and distracted from noticing perhaps crucial details. When the brain fails to connect completely the chains of events due to the imperfection of the memory, it invents details for filling in the blanks... and this is not done consciously so the human would sincerely believe in the abridged version of his memory.

Growing up, I believed that my grandfather had super memory powers. The adults were always talking about how the stories he told never differed in a single detail, no matter how many times he told them, over the span of tens of years. I fancy my father inherited that from him, for I remember he too, could repeat flawlessly identical retelling of encounters. I realise now, these are all, literally, just memories of memories.

Convinced as I am in my own "elephant" memory, science tells me I am not to trust my brain completely. This is why: it is easy for me to see how conveniently my memory keeps parts of certain conversations and not the rest, because I keep records (journals, blog posts etc.) of any events or incidents I deem significant (or not... oh, well). This, perhaps is, although not consciously thought of at the time, the reason I started keeping written accounts. I don't want to forget. I want to always remember it when someone does something nice for me. I want to remember every enjoyable discourse I had with people I cherish and every light-headed moment and folly that had me in tears of laughter. Over the years, I've come to be known as having an excellent memory among friends and family (hence, elephant memory). Truth is, I have a better memory-keeping system than them. Not much else.

In some strange way, it is not altogether unwelcome to think that there will always be, in someone, a memory of my memories published in this virtual space. I guess, in some not-so-strange self-serving way, I don't want to be forgotten.

We will all, one day, die and be forgotten, unless we leave behind writing so important humanity will not forget us - achieving, in effect, immortality. This idea didn't come from me - if I remember correctly, it was William Saroyan.

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