Topical Guide 125
I had one of those flashes of inspiration that go off in one’s brain now and then like a flashbulb or a bolt of lightning. I said, “I’d like to take a picture of all of you so I can be sure that I’ll never forget you.”
I had all my classmates gather at one end of the room for a group portrait. I spent some time moving them around to get a good composition, and then I said, “Okay, everybody, that looks just perfect. Now everybody smile.” Everybody smiled, and I held the camera to my eye. The familiar uncertainty gripped me, and my finger trembled over the button. I clamped my teeth together, closed my eyes, and pushed.
“Okay, everybody, you can relax now,” I called out. I wound the knob on the bottom of the camera. “You know,” I said, “snapshots capture your memories forever.”
I wasn’t using film in the camera, of course, so my memories began to fade as soon as I walked out the door.
Little Follies, “The Girl with the White Fur Muff”
Unfortunately nothing is so difficult to represent by literary means as a man thinking. A great scientist, when he was once asked how he managed to hit upon so much that was new, replied: “By keeping on thinking about it.” And indeed it may safely be said that unexpected inspirations are produced by no other means than by the expectation of them. To no small extent they are a success due to character, permanent inclinations, unflagging ambition and persistent work. How boring such persistence must be!
Memory is a central component of the brain mechanisms that lead to consciousness. It is commonly assumed that memory involves the inscription and storage of information, but what is stored? Is it a coded message? When it is “read out” or recovered, is it unchanged? These questions point to the widespread assumption that what is stored is some kind of representation. This chapter takes the opposite viewpoint, consistent with a selectionist approach, that memory is nonrepresentational. We see memory as the ability of a dynamic system that is molded by selection and exhibits degeneracy to repeat or suppress a mental or physical act. This novel view of memory is illustrated with a geological comparison; memory is more like the melting and refreezing of a glacier than it is like an inscription on a rock.
Gerald M. Edelman and Giulio Tononi, A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination
One of the many reasons for my suspecting that I am headed for the last break-up is my Subconscious is getting to be a better man than I am. In fact, I am thinking of resigning and letting my Subconscious take over the business.
I go through the day in my bungling way, making mistakes, forgetting names, going north when I mean to go south and, in general, messing things up pretty thoroughly. I can get affidavits to this effect from five hundred disinterested observers. My average of direct hits is getting smaller and smaller each day and I am afraid that, before long, I shall have to hire somebody to go about with me just to keep me from hurting myself on sharp corners.
But once I get to sleep and my little old Subconscious gets started working, things begin to pick up. It does everything but sing to me. Dates and names that I have been unable to remember during the day are flashed before my closed eye-lids; ideas which have kept coyly hidden behind a barricade when I wanted them suddenly trip out and say: “Here I am, Daddy!” Solutions to problems which had me beating my head and heels on the carpet when I was awake offer themselves with startling simplicity, and if I could only train my Subconscious to make notes during the night, I could get through the next day with flying colors.
Memory, Faulty: Causes of, Results of TG 34
Memory, Remembering, Forgetting, and the Search for Lost Time TG 22
[more to come on Friday, November 5, 2021]
A note from Candi Lee Manning, Kraft’s bubbly publicist:
Hi there! I’ll bet you’re asking yourself, “Why should I subscribe? I mean, like, what’s in it for me?”
Well, I’ll tell you!
By subscribing you’ll you’ll stay up-to-date. You won’t have to worry about missing anything. Every new edition of the newsletter will go directly to your inbox.
By subscribing you’ll gain access to every one of Mark Dorset’s Topical Guide commentaries. To see how extensive, thought-provoking, and entertaining those commentaries are, take a look at the index to the Topical Guide.
By subscribing you’ll join the crew. You’ll be part of a community of earnest screwballs who are reading the serial republication of a work that Newsweek called “great art that looks like fun,” the Seattle Times called “an ever-evolving comic masterpiece,” and the New York Times Book Review called “a weird wonder.” You’ll be able to post comments, join discussions, exchange clam recipes, discuss recherché allusions and more!
Did you click that button? I hope you did! If you did, thank you!
Have you missed an episode or two or several?
You can begin reading at the beginning or you can catch up by visiting the archive or consulting the index to the Topical Guide.
You can listen to the episodes on the Personal History podcast. Begin at the beginning or scroll through the episodes to find what you’ve missed.
At Apple Books you can download free eBooks of “My Mother Takes a Tumble,” “Do Clams Bite?,” “Life on the Bolotomy,” “The Static of the Spheres,” and “The Fox and the Clam,” the first five novellas in Little Follies.
You’ll find an overview of the entire work in An Introduction to The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy. It’s a pdf document.