0256 - Smile and nod. - 2022.08.29
How much do you remember?
I have a pretty good memory for song lyrics, the plot beats of my favourite works of fiction, and assorted useless trivia... and I cannot bring to mind the name or face of a single person I attended college with. Many people seem to think that memory is tied to how much someone values the information given, or respects the person giving it, or exerts willpower to retain, but that's clearly not the case.
I'm cognizant of my poor memory, which is why I augment it with written notes or clever mnemonics, especially if anyone tells me something after midnight or when there's some sort of recreational substance in my bloodstream. I'm aware that my memory is not tied to how important I think the thing I'm trying to remember is - the same is true of motivation, excitement, phobias or philias. The human brain is inexact, and I try to bear that inexactitude in mind when dealing with others.
What if you could control what you remember and what you forget? What names and faces, what events from your past, what useless trivia would you willingly give up? What would you prioritize?
Conversely, what if you couldn't control what you remember and what you forget? If you knew, for an ironclad fact, that you won't be able to recall anything that happens to you after midnight, or when you're in a car, or when you're hungry or horny or angry... how would that change your behaviour? Would you tell your friends about it? Would you disclose it to strangers? Would you expect to be held responsible for things you did or failed to do as a result of this memory issue? Would you expect to be held responsible for things you did that you can't remember doing?
Many works of fiction feature a tabula rasa amnesiac protagonist, simply because that's the best way for the audience to learn about the world alongside the hero. Like quicksand, the prevalence of amnesia in media might lead you to suspect it's a more common problem in daily life than it actually is. If you flash-wiped your memory, right now, how would you reconstruct your life? What clues in your immediate vicinity would tell you who and what you are?
What clues would tell you what your purpose is, or what sort of person you should be, or what right and wrong are? Is that the sort of information that you can forget?