Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

You must remember this

October 12, 2015

The Dilbert from 10/10, on the fragility of memory:


Memory is fragile in the here and now, as for the pointy-haired boss and Dilbert (above), but even more so in the longer term, as in this Zach Kanin cartoon from the October 12th New Yorker:


As I’ve posted about many times, this sort of memory is a construction, often in flux, showing the effects of selective attention, expectations, and later experience (including things you’ve heard about). The white whale loomed big in (this) Captain Ahab’s mind, and so in his memory.

Now the title of this posting, the first line of the song “As Time Goes By”.


Childhood memories

August 4, 2015

Yesterday’s Bizarro, with a poignant reflection on the memories of childhood:


Associative thinking

July 26, 2015

Today’s One Big Happy:

In trying to recover a memory, we are all inclined to wander from one idea to an associated idea, sometimes losing track of the point of the original mental search — but some people are especially given to this kind of associative thinking, as here.

Ingrid Bergman, by the way.

Confounded memory

July 21, 2015

You might wonder how I got into posting about actor Scott Bakula earlier today (aside from the fact that he’s an interesting actor with a long career). Well, it all started with Dan Hedaya, believe it or not.


Pernicious nostalgia (with John Stamos)

July 14, 2015

In the NYT on the 12th, an opinion piece, “What Type of Nostalgic ’90s TV Fan Are You? (The Wrong Kind)” by Maris Kreizman, which begins by reounting childhood gatherings of the writer with other young girls.

We had gathered to discuss “Full House,” a sitcom in which a recently widowed man named Danny Tanner teaches his three adorable daughters very important life lessons, with the help of his brother-in-law and best friend. The show was the perfect answer for little girls who had enjoyed the wacky nontraditional family structure they saw in the 1987 film “3 Men and a Baby” and thought, “I’ll raise you two more kids.”

… This was my childhood in the late 1980s and early ’90s, a time that, hairstyle-wise, and even teen-idol-wise, is perhaps better forgotten. But it will not be. Especially not now. Our nostalgia is greedy. It’s not enough to look back fondly on the past; now we are rebooting it. Our nostalgia compels us to go beyond rewatching dusty old VCR tapes, to actually wanting fleeting childhood obsessions to be revived and re-enacted to fit our own times. This is why Netflix’s announcement this spring that it would air a 13-episode continuation of “Full House” in 2016 made my inner 9-year-old swoon, even though adult me remains wary.


The stories of our lives

May 29, 2015

Yesterday’s Calvin and Hobbes:

From a 4/4/09 posting:

Human beings are story-tellers. As Erving Goffman once observed, we spend an enormous amount of time telling each other the stories of our lives. We use stories to make sense of things.

And we tell the stories of our own childhoods to our children and grandchildren, hoping to give them some sense of history and change, My daughter and I often do this with her daughter — who, unlike Calvin, seems to welcome the stories, even when she finds some of it incredible: did we really grow up in neighborhoods, and go to schools, that had essentially no racial or ethnic diversity? What, no Chinese or Indians, even? (In my case, no Jews, all the way through high school.)

Like a rock

May 12, 2015

Yesterday’s Dinosaur Comics, on remembering names:


The feminine counterpart to the name Peter is Petra, both ultimately from Greek πέτρος (petros) ‘stone, rock’, but there are also women called Pete — and some called Peter.


Laughter and forgetting

April 20, 2015

Today’s Zippy, set in the town of Prosaic:

With apologies to Milan Kundera, it’s the strip of laughter and forgetting: forgetting the catch-phrase, forgetting to rewire the CD remote, forgetting that Dingburg is only 12 miles away. Apparently Happy Boy interferes with memory.

(Note that there are three argument structures for forget here: forget NP, forget to VP, forget that S; remember and, for that matter, know have the same possibilities.)


Where do you get your facts?

March 24, 2015

From an opinion piece “Why Movie ‘Facts’ Prevail” in the NYT on February 15th by psychology professor Jeffrey M. Zacks:

This year’s Oscar nominees for best picture include four films based on true stories: “American Sniper” (about the sharpshooter Chris Kyle), “The Imitation Game” (about the British mathematician Alan Turing), “Selma” (about the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965) and “The Theory of Everything” (about the physicist Stephen Hawking).

Each film has been criticized for factual inaccuracy. Doesn’t “Selma” ignore Lyndon B. Johnson’s dedication to black voting rights? Doesn’t “The Imitation Game” misrepresent the nature of Turing’s work, just as “The Theory of Everything” does Mr. Hawking’s? Doesn’t “American Sniper” sanitize the military conflicts it purports to depict?

You might think: Does it really matter? Can’t we keep the film world separate from the real world?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Studies show that if you watch a film — even one concerning historical events about which you are informed — your beliefs may be reshaped by “facts” that are not factual.


whom from long ago

March 19, 2015

In the NYT Magazine on Sunday (the 15th), an article, “The Last Volunteer”, with an account, as told to Dan Kaufman, from Del Berg:

Del Berg, 99, is the last known surviving veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a contingent of nearly 3,000 Americans who fought to defend the democratically elected government during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.

The beginning of his story:

It was 1937, and the Fascists had already revolted in Spain. I was walking down a street in Hollywood when I saw a sign — “Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade” — written on the side of a building. I turned the corner, opened the door and went in. The people inside said, “What can we do for you?” I said, “I want to go to Spain.” They couldn’t legally send people to Spain, they told me, but did I want to help? I did. My life started with poverty and then came the Depression. I felt a certain responsibility to help the Spanish workers and farmers.

They told me to go to an organization called the Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy. I was put to work there helping organize meetings and collecting clothes for the Republic. There was a younger guy working with me. One day he turned to me and said, “Do you want to go to Spain?” I said yes, I sure do. He said, “I’ll tell you whom to go see.”

That whom caught my eye; it sounded awfully formal for the context.



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