Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Persistence of Memory: A Conservative Made Me Think...

No, I'm not harshing, I'm shouting out the latest post over at Irina's, sort of a thought experiment about amnesia which got me to thinking about my own memory loss. (And I swear, I wrote my title without even looking at hers, because I was reading quickly due to ass-early reveille tomorrow. Great minds...)

There are parts of my life missing, reduced down to a few hazily remembered fragments. I didn't have a childhood horrific enough to make a bestseller out of, but I did have sort of a Cat's Eye time of it in school.

If I think about it, I know I got paddled in fourth grade, for cheating, and detention too. I don't remember if I actually cheated or not. I don't remember getting hit. The only piece of that memory I have is that at some point afterward I sat in a beanbag chair and read a book about cats while I was waiting for my mom to come rain down the wrath of God on me. But I don't remember that rain.

There are a lot of things in my life, repressed I suppose, that I reduce only to a tiny fragment of memory -- that is the only part of that experience that I can relive, that isn't just a story about someone else.

In more recent years, there are legitimate holes in time in my memory, times I don't remember at all, times that what stands for memory could quite possibly have been a dream. Luckily, there aren't many of those.

This is a function of my disease, and to some extent the drugs they use to treat it. It is the thing I hate most about the reality of my circumstances.

More and more often now I'm aphasic, "seeing" simple words in my head (for those who are interested, words in my head appear in Courier font) but being unable to say them for the life of me. Being a verbal and literate person, this drives me bugshit.

The memory loss mostly relates to events rather than facts. I can call up most anything I've read a few times in near-perfect detail, and my boss, who has been reading Robert Heinlein for about thirty years longer than myself, has gotten me several times to consult my head for a game of "Which Book, Which Aphorism?" when his own memory failed him. It's the stuff most personal to me that I lose, often without realizing it.

I compensate by having near-perfect recall on most of what I can remember. I have details about high school locked away in my head that sometimes amaze Design School Homie. I can remember most of the happy times perfectly, if in a bit too high relief. I know who instituted which catchphrase Like everything in my life, it's either too much, or not enough with me.

This season is about balance. Unfortunately, it appears that this particular imbalance is (hail Discordia) hardwired. The question is, what else must be unbalanced to negate its effect?

Thoughts to ponder...thanks, Irina.
Another fourteen hour day tomorrow...time for bed.


At 4:56 PM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

Hmm... selective memory... memory suppression... what do you think about getting hypnotized? It's quite interesting... things about yourself that even YOU don't quite know!

At 8:01 PM, Blogger parcequilfaut said...

I've been placed under hypnosis several times (the Artist is particularly good at hypnosis, although not a "trained hynotherapist") and find it quite useful for understanding things. It doesn't, however, tend to suborn the actual memory loss...there are pieces that are Just. Gone.

Have a good weekend!

At 2:06 AM, Blogger Gothamimage said...

Be carefull about Irina. She is very persuasive.

At 2:09 AM, Blogger Gothamimage said...

parcequilfaut, I must say, you are very aware. that has its cost...emotionally.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

How did hypnosis helped you? I'm interested in trying it someday, but am wary of the power of suggestion which can mess up things that are messed up enough as it is! ; )

At 2:27 PM, Blogger parcequilfaut said...

I'll email you, Irina, when I get home.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger parcequilfaut said...

WhispCamp --

The Artist's mom is a teacher with certifications both for teaching the gifted and the learning disabled (not that those things don't sometimes overlap, as in my case); she states unequivocally that being above average is just as difficult, if not more, than being below average. I assume that applies in self-awareness as well. But "the unexamined life is not worth living" -- I like to play with my brain, make sure it's working, and so I tend to think deeply, and find answers...and sometimes resort to outside sources (hypnotism, deep relax, pathwalking...yes, even Tarot and other forms of divination) to find out what I can't find out on the surface, as, like most organisms, the brain resists any attempt to examine its own workings too deeply, however good it may be at dissecting the working of other things/brains.

enjoying gothamimage btw...

At 3:01 AM, Blogger Bradley Egel said...

Interesting...repressed memories certainly can spring up in later life with astoundingly powerful repercussions...I have a degree in Psych and Soc and I always am facsinated when people "our age" say that they don't have these kind of memories...although simply not having remembering them does not necessarily mean that they are bad...sometimes people unknowingly repress good memories too...


The Egel Nest


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