You must remember this

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”.

On the song, from Wikipedia:

“As Time Goes By” is a song written by Herman Hupfeld in 1931. It became most famous in 1942 when part of it was sung by the character Sam (Dooley Wilson) in the movie Casablanca… It has been used as a fanfare for Warner Bros. since 1999 and was the title and theme song of the 1990s British comedy series As Time Goes By.

From Casablanca:

And as the theme for As Time Goes By, sung by British pop singer-songwriter Joe Fagin:

The relevant text:

You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by
And when two lovers woo
They still say I love you
On that you can rely

(Brief semantic digression: The must in the first line is a modal verb that could express deontic modality — the must of obligation (conveying roughly ‘I require you to remember this, I insist that you remember this [in the future]’) — or the epistemic must (conveying roughly ‘Surely you remember this [from the past]’). Poignantly, both senses are live in the contexts of the two stories.)

On the tv show, from a summary in a guide to British television comedy: The romantic comedy ran from 1992-2005, and starred Judi Dench, Geoffrey Palmer, Moira Brooker, Jenny Funnell, and Philip Bretherton. Very brief summary of the premise:

Lionel [Palmer] and Jean [Dench] were young lovers until accidentally losing touch. Years later they meet again by chance and unexpectedly rekindle their romance.

I’ve written a brief appreciation of Dench here. Palmer deserves his own posting — but not today.

In both these contexts, the song refers to the reunion of lost lovers and the rekindling of their romance.

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