Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Figurative language to the rescue

September 24, 2016

The One Big Happy in my comics feed this morning (apparently from August 23rd):


Here, Ruthie doesn’t know (or has forgotten) the precise lexical item turban, so she uses figurative language to get a descriptive term. To understand this, you need to know about Jiffy Pop, of course.


Morning name: Nachlass

April 5, 2016

Yesterday’s morning name was clearly (well, clearly to my mind) a piggyback on a name from a previous pair of morning names: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, in my posting on divertimento and serenade. The Nacht of Nachtmusik apparently suggested to me the German preposition nach ‘after’ (among other senses, but this is the one in Nachlass). And I’ve been concerned about the disposition of my papers and books.


Today’s morning names: Skidelsky, Sidarksky

March 15, 2016

The morning name I just posted about (the extraordinary line “Hut-sut Rawlson on the rillerah”) presumably represented some welling-up of childhood memory. Today’s would, I guess, come from recent glancing references to John Maynard Keynes, possibly in some (really racy) stuff on his sexual appetites I stumbled on. But, wherever it came from, it brought me to the admirable Professor The Lord Robert Skidelsky (as he is officially to be referred to), and from there I went to a Law & Order: SVU character (in an incredibly wrenching episode) I remembered as Robert Skidelsky, but who turns out to have been Robert Sidarsky (my memory for plot, in minute detail, turns out to have been virtually perfect, but not so much for the names). So now you’ll get them both.


Ruthie and the tricks to aid memory

March 5, 2016

Today’s One Big Happy:

Ruthie heard a name new to her, the name of a country, but she understood than it was pronounced the same as I plus a motion verb (thinking this way wouldn’t actually require that she had the term motion verb, but she can have the category concept without the name: unnamed taxons are all over the place). People use tricks of this sort to aid memory, especially memory for names, all the time — and they don’t always work quite the way their users had hoped, since they can lead down false trails.

So what she retrieves are words she knows: first IHOP (International House of Pancakes); then, recalling that it was a past tense form (again, this doesn’t require knowing the term past tense), she tries hopped, then skipped. And then her grandfather nails it: ran.

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.)