Does this old notebook look vaguely familiar? It’s the blue notebook in which, at age 11, I started recording my autobiography! I found the notebook tucked away in a box filled with old letters, school papers, and certificates. Can you imagine? I’m still in shocked euphoria. I hadn’t seen it in years, and I really believed it had been “lost along the way.” In fact, I have a faint memory of having thrown it away. But here it is, in all its blueness and sophomoric prose.
Remember the painting? It’s interesting to me that it’s both somewhat true to the actual notebook and inaccurate:
When things like this happen, do you question the fidelity of your memory? It’s a fascinating thing, isn’t it–memory? A few years ago, when my Fibromyalgia was at its worst, I suffered memory loss. Illness extinguished entire chunks of time from my brain. Details of significant memories vanished. Some of those lost memories eventually came back; others did not.
Right now, I’m reading The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. In this novel, Mark Schluter wakes from a coma with Capgras Syndrome, a rare condition in which a person believes his/her loved ones have been replaced by look-alike imposters. It’s an Oliver Sacks-like neurological case and more philosophical than thrilling, but interesting nonetheless.
And in another exploration of memory, last night, we watched the 1942 film, “Random Harvest,” in which an amnesia patient and a beautiful woman fall in love and marry. When the man is hit by a car, he recalls his prior life but loses all memory of his current life, including his wife. The man’s two lives, two sets of memories, are mutually exclusive.
Then there’s the woman with perfect memory who can recall minutiae from decades ago.
Our perception of self and other is rooted in the flawed memory of who we are, where we came from. How can our perceptions be at all accurate or meaningful amid the distortions of fallible memory? If we lose memory of ourselves, who are we? Alternately, if we were to remember everything in perfect clarity, would we know ourselves any better? These are some of the questions I’m asking myself lately. What do you think?