Sunday, April 3, 2011

Memory and Continuity

Imagine someone who has lost his or her memory. Who do you see?  Can they move about the room or space they're sitting or standing in?  Can they answer questions?

If they can move about and function, then they haven't lost all of their memory, just the finer points about who they are precisely in the world--not the details of the world itself.  They might not be able to tell you if they prefer McDonalds or not, but they'd most likely be able to tell you what McDonalds is in the first place.

I'd imagine, though, that someone in this state would probably move about tentatively for a while, and, more often then not, have pangs of nostalgia that could be frustrating, or fascinating.

Memory is a funny phenomenon, because we need it as a reference to the patterns we see in front of us, for sorting and categorizing, and separating out a road from a tree, for instance, and at the same time, we have such an urge to literally discriminate the world, that we often times rush to judgment about the facts of a situation, or, it turns out, the prior facts of a situation. It is not only highly possible that two different people have different perceptions of one situation, but also have highly different memories of the same experience as well.  Neither need be right.  Consider that, though, for a moment: allowing your own memories and assumptions to fade out.

I've held on to a lot of different beliefs, and they've at times provided me some comfort, and at times anguish.  What I've failed to see is that it wasn't the belief as much as the need to hold on that proved harmful.  My instincts--our instincts as people with tremendously large brains--is to hold on to what our senses tell us, and what our instinct sings at us almost instantaneously, to "know" certain things.  A lot of times, though, we fail to see larger patterns because they're hard to look at, and take the conscious repression of our instincts to know what is right or wrong or obvious.  That, and a lot of concentration.  Is it worth it?  Well, what I can say is that "trying" is worth it.  Trying generally, and doing with a deep suspension of belief about conclusions, is most certainly worth it.  I think it is the most essentially rewarding characteristic--to produce effort.  That, and talking a lot about potential outcomes with other humans. 

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