Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Memory and the power of diner food

December 22, 2017

Yesterday’s Zippy (“The flying bucket on Sepulveda”) took us to Dinah’s Fried Chicken on Sepulveda Blvd. in LA. Today, Zippy continues the narrative with remembrances of diner foods past — rice pudding, creamed spinach, corned beef hash — and their ability to evoke specific moments from times gone by:


The day when Zippy spilled ketchup on his styrofoam shoes at Dinah’s; the day when Dinah’s ran out of rice pudding and substituted creamed spinach; Marcel Marceau’s recollection of May 14th, 1894 in Fresno CA, a memory triggered by just a whiff of corned beef hash.

All of this is just absurd if you don’t know about Marcel Proust, the madeleines, Remembrance of Things Past, and involuntary memory; in case you’ve forgotten, the title, “Remembrance of Flings Past” is there to nudge your memory. All this Proustian stuff comes from high culture, but like other Great Books, Great Art, and Great Music, it’s worked its way into a pop-culture meme that anyone can use for jokes and that everybody’s supposed to recognize.


Music the trigger of emotional memory

November 20, 2017

(About memory and my life, not much about language. Some oblique references to (fondly recalled) mansex, but nothing graphic.)

The context is the Enhance Fitness classes at the Palo Alto Family Y, for which the instructors use playlists of (dance) music as background for our exertions. Last Tuesday, we sweated to a series of British Invasion hits (from the 1960s), among them “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”, which produced in me a powerful wave of pleasurable recollection — of  a time in the Queens Club, an after-hours gay dance club below the Queens Hotel in Brighton, Sussex. Oh my, oh my, oh my. Forty years ago, but oh so sweet.


Pride Time #4: gay porn and gay bioflicks

June 14, 2017

In recent U.S. mail, a flyer for Falcon Studios (now in Berkeley CA), announcing the ambitious, elaborately plotted gay porn flick Earthbound: Heaven to Hell 2, with a large cast, including (in a key role) Brent Corrigan. Corrigan leads to the recent movie King Cobra, a dramatization of his life story; which leads to James Franco, who played a major character in that movie; Franco leads to the movie Milk (a dramatization of the life of Harvey Milk), in which both Franco and Corrigan have roles; then on to the movie Howl, in which Franco plays Allen Ginsberg; along the way, these three gay bioflicks take me to the topic of fictobiography, memory, and fidelity.

(Warning: discussion of men’s bodies and mansex in street language, plus sexy, though not technically X-rated, photos. So not for kids or the sexually modest.)


Memorial Saturday 4

May 27, 2017

Four recent cartoons in my feed that have to do with language: Mother Goose and Grimm (attachment ambiguity), Zits (greetings), Bizarro (labeling a bat(h)room), xkcd (knowledge about the referents of names).


The little kid (part 2)

April 10, 2017

Another set of photos of my family, this time a page of 6 shots of me as a little kid (age 4-7). Some notes on memory, clothing, and names for things.



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”.