Friday, March 25, 2011

On Memory and “Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything”

If you're into taking pictures as a way of documenting your life, you're not alone. Others do just that. If you're lucky to have people in your life who are photo-philes and who particularly like to take images of you, be thankful to them. They're helping document your own history.

Peculiarity is a basic to remembrance. This is the premise of Joshua Foer's new book Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything which, by the way, is worthy of all the praise it's getting from the literati.

As the author points out: "Once upon a time people invested in their memories, they cultivated them. They studiously furnished their minds. They remembered. Today, of course, we've got books, and computers and smart phones to hold our memories for us. We've outsourced our memories to external devices. The result is that we no longer trust our memories."

I need time to remember stuff, the stuff that happens daily. I suppose I've said the following more than a few times as it's quoted back to me in a way that mirrors my usual syntax.
"How was your day?"
"Haven't had time to stare at the ceiling to remember it yet."

I tend to do that, stare at the ceiling. I got to thinking this morning when the habit started and it was back in childhood when I'd wake up at the crack of dawn and the only thing I could do was stare at my ceiling and wait till it was semi-okay for me to leave the room and go bug someone like a sibling who loved to sleep in.

As an adult, I find ceiling-staring time most helpful when it comes to filing my to-do lists, interpret the experiences I'm having in the week, make sense of what I'm reading, and so forth. Ceiling-staring time is also quiet time. I like the quiet of early mornings as it primarily helps me file my current memories and make sense of existence.

Foer's book channels that which most people are, de naturae, programmed to get: sexuality. One of the main points of the book is quite simple: that which helps improve one's mnemonic skills is our basic sensual drive. Few things are better to use when it comes to maximizing one's memory than resorting to erotic memories.

I get this. I often write about the deep effect music has on me and how I use it to journal my life experience. Some use pictures, others music, a few more words. The point is, regardless of which medium one employs, creativity serves primarily a memory-recording function. And if you'd like to read more on the topic while being thoroughly entertained as well as revisit your own sensual history, do give this book a chance. Man, is it ever well written!

1 comment:

Nicki said...

Erotic memory as a mnemonic device? I'm so reading this. I read a review elsewhere a few days ago too. Added to the list.