Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

A rich internal life

October 8, 2019

(The beginning of this posting is about the complexities of conscious experience — attentional foci and internal lives — but midway through it veers into sexual matters, eventually into a raw account of steamy mansex, entirely unsuitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

The Zits strip from 10/5, about Sara and Jeremy’s fugitive thoughts:


(#1) Sara’s conscious attention is on her homework, but anxieties about her academic life and about current events intrude; meanwhile, Jeremy is consciously focused on listening to Sara’s lament, but finds thoughts of food intervening

What’s involved is a division between two parts of the stream of consciousness: an attentional focus, the central concern in what you are doing at the moment; and any number of peripheral concerns, matters that crowd your consciousness without being chosen for attention, these peripheral concerns together constituting what I’ll call your internal life at the moment.

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Where are you going with that?

April 30, 2019

The One Big Happy from 4/3, recently in my comics feed: the tough neighborhood kid James and his sledgehammer:

(#1)

What I hear in the first panel is an echo of a quotation with an ax, not a sledgehammer:

‘Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

One of the great first lines in English literature, just grips you right off, does E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

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Moon shorts 1a: Cosmé McMoon

April 2, 2019

A sidebar to the Moon family history in my 3/31 posting “Moon shorts 1: the Moons”, with the extraordinary character Cosmé McMoon, who was embodied (or realized) by the pianist and composer Cosmé McMunn (using the stage name Cosmé McMoon) and, in a 2016 movie, by the actor Simon Helberg:


(#1) Cosmé McMunn/McMoon with Florence Foster Jenkins (FFJ)

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F-sharp

February 28, 2019

(Mostly music. I know you’re thinking: Jesse Sheidlower wrote “The F Word”, and now it looks like I’m writing on “The F Sharp Word” — like the F word, only more pointed. But no. No sex, and barely anything to do with language. But you’ll have to endure Antonio Soler and Muzio Clementi.)

From the lgbt+ neighborhood on Facebook, in a discussion that started with ukuleles — there was actually some convoluted lgbt-relevance in that — and turned to accordions (plus some bagpipe stuff), whereupon I spoke approvingly of Astor Piazolla’s music as performed on accordions and even more of Antonio Soler’s keyboard music (in particular his sonatas for various keyboard instruments, including the organ) as arranged for accordion. Adding that Joseph Petrič has wonderful recordings of some of the sonatas on accordion (I have his 1997 CD).

Jeff Shaumeyer responded:

Oh, I particularly like the F♯ Major sonata — it strikes me as rather silly, and *who* writes in F♯ major anyway?

And that set me off.

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Annals of misreadings: the Cthulhu caper

February 26, 2019

From linguist Avery Andrews on Facebook:


(#1) Avery: “My first reading of this was ‘Cthulhu Towers’, indicating that whatever the top-down constraints on my linguistic processing may be, real world plausibility has at best a delayed effect”

To judge from my own misreadings — some of them reported on in the Page on this blog with misreading postings — real-world plausibility has virtually no role in initial misreadings; we tend to notice these misreadings, in fact, because they are so bizarre.

On the other hand, they sometimes clearly reflect material currently or persistently on the hearer’s mind — if you’ve been thinking about cooking some pasta for dinner, Italian pasta names are likely to insert themselves into your peceptions; if you’re a gardener, plant names will come readily to mind, even if they’re preposterous; and of course it’s common to see sexual vocabulary where none was intended —  but often they look like the welling-up of material from some deep chthonic place in memory, inexplicably in the context.

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Background foods and food discoveries

June 15, 2018

The spur: this brief moment from the NYT obit for chef, author, tv personality, and social critic Anthony Bourdain, by Kim Severson, Matthew Haag, and Julia Moskin, on-line on the 8th as “Anthony Bourdain, Renegade Chef Who Reported From the World’s Tables, Is Dead at 61”, in print on the 9th as “Anthony Bourdain, Renegade Chef, Dies at 61; Showed the World How to ‘Eat Without Fear'”:

  (#1)

He first became conscious of food in fourth grade, he wrote in “Kitchen Confidential.” Aboard the Queen Mary on one of the family’s frequent trips to France, he sat in the cabin-class dining room and ate a bowl of vichyssoise, a basic potato-leek soup that held the delightful surprise of being cold. “It was the first food I enjoyed and, more important, remembered enjoying,” he wrote.

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Involuntary memory

May 26, 2018

From Day 2 (May 25th) of the 2018 Association for Psychological Science’s convention in San Francisco:

“For many years, involuntary memories were ignored. I’m here to tell you what we have learned about this intriguing phenomenon,” said APS Board Member Dorthe Berntsen in the 2018 Presidential Symposium. Berntsen’s multi-decade body of research on this unique form of autobiographical memory has shown the wide-ranging influence of the memories that simply pop into our heads without intentional retrieval. She presented an impressive body of experimental findings on the role of involuntary memory across the lifespan in humans as well as in apes.

For some time, I’ve been collecting examples of one particular form of involuntary memory in my life — morning names, the expressions that come to me unbidden when I rise in the morning. There’s a Page on this blog listing my postings on them. So it’s nice to discover that there’s actually a research community working on involuntary memories.

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Family matters

April 6, 2018

(This posting was a couple of sentences from being finished when the Ramona Xfinity Internet Crash occurred, two days ago (service has finally been restored). This in the midst of the (overlapping) Ramona Respiratory Pestilence and the Ramona Gastroenterological Pestilence. It’s been an unfortunate week.)

A posting about my family, and, mostly, about the fragility of memory. But first, an ornament, a layered spiral design from Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky’s Instagram site yeserday:

(#1)

I prefer to see this as a fancy script Z, for Zwicky.

Then the story starts with a day Luc Vartan Baronian and I spent together back in late December, talking about linguistics and our lives. (Luc is a 2006 Stanford Ph.D.; now Associate Professor at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi; specializing in phonology and morphology, French varieties and creoles of the Americas, and Armenian studies.)

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It was 53 to 55 years ago today

March 26, 2018

A bit of intellectual and social history, plus a lesson in the fragility of memory. Set off by the British scholar Chris Knight on his Science and Revolution website, in two postings there:

from 2/18/18, “Chomsky’s Students Recall their Time at the MITRE Corporation”

from 3/4/18, “The MITRE Corporation’s project to use Chomsky’s linguistics for their weapons systems”

I come into this because I was one of those students of Chomsky’s who worked at the MITRE Corp. (in Bedford MA), in 1963-65 (53 to 55 years ago). Some of us have been trying to reconstruct those days, for Chris’s sake but also for our own.

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Vronsky & Babin in the morning

February 20, 2018

Yesterday morning, up and brushing my teeth, the name Vronsky & Babin came to me unbidden. At first I thought Vronsky must be the Count Vronsky of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, but I was baffled by Babin (some transformation of the writer Isaac Babel?), and in any case the pairing sounded vaguely familiar. I went to the computer and discovered that V&B were indeed familiar, though I don’t think I’d heard about them for decades: a great duo-piano team of the last century.

But why had their names popped into my head? There turned out to be a clear answer, involving intricacies of memory and the unconscious.

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