The Cause of Gauze

This is the first proper one, and already I’m trying to think of something interesting to put up here, and coming up with only a handful of half-formed ideas and a collection of crappy lists. Lists are a cop-out, unless you go all-out. (That’s just justifying yesterday’s entry). Forgive the lack of research, but I’ve got an idea for this one, and I think it might approach interesting. Which is what you want. At least I’ve got a title. And sometimes, a title is all you need. Especially when you’re stealing it from Of Montreal and it’s rhyming. Shove a line break in there and you’ve got a couplet, yo.

Radiolab is something that you need in your life. It’s a one hour podcast that usually puts out an episode each month, with the odd short in between. It’s about science, whether it be the social, chemical, physical, theoretical, or whatever else there is kind, and it’s the best way to learn about things that I’ve yet come across. Two presenters go in with a vague idea on a theme, and they talk to people who do know what they’re talking about, and the episode structure emerges out of that. Favouring story-telling over raw facts, there’s usually something compelling in there to keep you listening, even if it’s only the audio production, which is startling.

Anyway, a while ago they did an episode on Memory and Forgetting, which featured a segment on how we remember. Turns out it’s not the filing cabinet that we all assume it is (even if this isn’t a completely 100% proven thing, run with me on this, because I’m going to get theoretical anyway), but rather a creative process. Your mind is littered with all these details like the feel of a pen, or the way a window causes a reflection, or the fabric of a jumper, or whatever, and when you create a memory of an event, it’s more like you’re tagging all of those details so that when you remember, it finds all those tags and puts the whole thing together. Or at least, that’s what I understood from the episode. Over time, those tags deteriorate or get mixed up, and each time you remember an event, those details change a little. The crux of it was that a memory you remember every day is much less likely to be accurate than the one you remember once.

But I’m not really concerned with that. Because I’m far more interested with your memory being a creative process, because that’s the sort of thing I’m interested in. The temptation here is to draw some wild assumptions; claim that people with bad, inaccurate memories are actually far more creative than others, because they’ve cast themselves free from the regimental tagging that your brain does, instead conjuring up the details on the fly each time. It also leans you towards thinking that there’s a tendency to assume liars are merely less tied down by assigning those details; creating a lie is much easier when you don’t have the truth cluttering up your mind, after all.

But then, on the other hand, this all relies on that library of details. You’ve all seen Inception, right? That scene in the dream Paris, where Ariadne creates the arched walkway, only to get chastised by Cobb for creating from her memory rather than just using little details to make entirely new places is probably the best way to understand the way I’m now thinking of memory. You can use the details to make new things, but they’re still grounded in reality that perhaps larger constructs aren’t.

I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make here. I don’t think I’m trying to educate or explain this theory of how memory works, as such. But at the same time, I don’t think there’s something larger here that I’m trying to address. I guess, when it boils down to it, I just like the idea that something seen as such a relatively infallible thing is suddenly creative and nebulous, drawn out of aether rather than pulled from a mundane filing cabinet. Of course I’m manipulating the metaphors to better suit my ideas, but that’s what writers do, after all. And that’s really what this boils down to; I create, all the time, and so every bit of extra creation is appreciated and analysed.

And that’s Day 3, I guess.

About Phill Cameron

I've graduated, had a look at the world, and spat. Now I'm devoting my time to moving from 3/4 of a games journalist to 9/10ths. I figure I can get away with 9/10ths.
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