What is it like?
“Memory Lane”—that fictitious place down which we stroll. There, everything is manicured just so (there could hardly be a crack in the pavement). The weather is forgettably idyllic. The whole picture beckons nostalgia, and how I should yearn for this. But it seems artificial—and totally alien, when compared with how memory sometimes visits.
Like in dreams, the fluttering behind lids, the chaotic re-exposure to images and the like, the brain’s haphazard way of making sense of things—the unconscious process of memorization. Sometimes, memories will allow themselves to be shaped, but most of the time, they shape you. With certain cues, we can conjure up this or that memory, but certainly, there are vastly many more, accidentally stored, waiting to surprise you.
In School (Déjà vu)
What a foreign concept.
“Can we use a formula sheet?”
“We will always be able to look things up, in the real world.”
One might as well remain the cave and enjoy the shadows.
The mind needs time to build.
(“The roots are bitter, but the fruit is sweet” –Aristotle, on education)
“When I look back on my life, it’s not that I don’t want to see things exactly as they happened, it’s just that I prefer to remember them in an artistic way. And truthfully the lie of it all is much more honest because I invented it.” –Gaga, Marry the Night
Your memories, your personal history, they’re created by you, through conscious and unconscious activities—reflecting and reliving, forgetting and forgiving—merely inspired by reality. All this is inevitable. All of this is essential. Your memory informs your perspectives and attitudes. But most important, it informs you.
“The lie” is your creative license. Use it wisely.
History: The most troubling topic of all
For the most part, your memories get to be yours. But we all claim history.
And what happens when we disagree?—when we inevitably take sides? Should we forget the injustices of the past?—Is that even possible?
In an efficient society, in an age of excess, we will be inclined to leave these questions by the wayside. We shall associate with those with whom we agree. And these questions, more and more often, will go unanswered. They will, increasingly, become moot.
Is it not already happening?
Caution to the man who is without strong foundation, without a strong sense of history.
(This piece was prompted)