Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the value of misremembering

There is an interesting idea on cbc's Spark today, the interviewee talks about the idea that we have that being able to record everything about ourselves - our conversations, our ideas, our stories - so that we remember them accurately is really, really important. She says that we haven't considered what kind of value there might be in the ways our memories work naturally, what if there's value in the way we misremember things? What does it mean to forget things? What does it mean to remember them?

The first thing I thought about was folklore and legends and how a lot of cultural stories seem to be broken telephone type elaborations on something that may have actually happened years and years ago. What would happen to these kind of stories if we could remember everything exactly as it happened?

The full episode is available online at Spark's cbc page.

1 comment:

Mr. Gabe Saucer Stein said...

I think memory is something people take for granted, but at the same time there is such a thing as remembering too much. How many times have there been horrible memories that people want to forget? And they end up being played over and over in our minds like a broken record.

Memories can even distort our present condition. A lot of the times we end up hating somebody because they remind us of somebody else, or we end up prejudging people because they seem similar to someone in the past, but are not.

Memory can be something we use too often as a crutch, when there are too many things we don't know. The danger is when people believe that their memories of the past can help them to settle present problems. The present problems will never be the same as past ones, so we are capable of not seeing the proper solution.

And lastly, in the end, we don't know everything and we certainly can't remember everything. Everybody has a limit to how much they can remember, and so they must pick and choose what's important to remember, rather than trying vainly to remember everything. We can value every experience we have, and remember the feeling of it, but we can't really hold on to every detail of it. At the very end of our lives we die, and all those memories disappear. So in the end, how important are memories really?