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New Essay - Memories Are Made Up

Perry Norton

Cyburbian Emeritus
Memories are made up
by Perry L. Norton FAICP

Memories are made of ribonucleic acid and protein synthesis operating with undamaged temporal lobes and hippocampi in both hemispheres of the brain. And I haven't the faintest idea what that means - I read it somewhere.

We've all read enough to know that things can get awfully complicated whenever you deal with a function of the brain; and there are many books and much important research all geared to learning more about that function we call memory. But for most of us the important thing about memory is whether we can
remember what we want to remember and forget what we want to forget.

For example, I would like very much to remember people's names better than I am able. Many times I have deliberately avoided making eye contact for fear that it would lead to a howdy-do, and I hadn't a clue to remember the name. This can get downright embarrassing, especially when the party of the second part not only remembers your name, but your whole life history since you were ten years old.

Apparently there IS a way of getting at this problem. It's called Mnemonics (in which the first "m" is silent). Trickery, really. The idea is to find some device you CAN remember to help you recall what it is you keep forgetting. Suppose, for whatever reason, it is terribly important for you to remember the name Frank Spivey Mutilva. Your problem is that you can remember the "Frank" part, but you keep forgetting the rest. Solution: think of that most unforgettable phrase, "Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate." (The old FSM trick.) Of course if this results one day in your saying, "Good morning Mr. Mutilate," you'd better find yourself another mnemonic.

A simple mnemonic is a string tied around your finger to help you remember to pick up a quart of milk on the way home from work. In this case what you will want to forget is the ribbing you take all day long from co-workers singing songs with the word "remember" in them. Cretins.

One of the more interesting things about memory is that particular form called sensory memory. We all have a massive set of visual memories, some of them beautiful and much to our liking, others ugly and much to our dislike. We have good and bad memories of taste, smell and odor. With no conscious effort on our part these sensory memories impact our reactions to the here and now.

For example, if I see a person who is neatly dressed, who speaks softly and is eating an apple, I will probably believe what that person says. I will most likely not believe another person saying exactly the same things if that person is slovenly dressed, speaks loudly, with a drooling lisp, and is eating cold oatmeal from a bowl with his fingers. What truth could possibly come from such an apparition. You get the point, I'm sure.

Maybe it's the forgetting that bugs us the most. "Where in the heck is that pencil? I have it right here in my hand just a minute ago." It might be weeks before that pencil will show up again, precisely in the place where we put it down. We forget dates, appointments, anniversaries, half the items on a mental shopping list. We forget to gas up, we forget keys - but can you imagine what a burden it would be if you never forgot ANYthing? Great for trivia, but what else?

Do you think this has nothing to do with Planning? Think again

Earl Finkler

Great topic on memory Perry. My 86 year old mother is in a nursing home in Milwaukee with moderate Alzheimers and it is so sad to see her memory eroding every day.
Makes a person realize what we take for granted.
Mom fights hard and tries her best to remember, and still recognizes me in person and on the phone. We talk and pray and sing old songs she remembers from her youth.
Best wishes to all of you and let's all work together to keep what we can in our memory and help others.

Bob Schermer

Looking for Perry


Greetings from the past.

I saw your name and am wondering how you are and if we can exchange a few words.

Bob Schermer
NYU 63-65