Keep your memories accurate and put them in stories

27 Feb

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I went to a play called Someone Who’ll Watch over Me a few weeks ago, that had a profound effect on me. It was a story about three guys that were kidnapped in Lebanon, as a way of getting through the days they invented stories/events/memories to help them change their perception of what was really going on i.e. instead of being locked in a basement, they were at a party, having a lavish meal, getting drunk and singing songs.

Fake it, until you make it…out.

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Someone Who’ll Watch over Me is a play written by Irish dramatist Frank McGuinness. The play focuses on the trials and tribulations of an Irishman, an Englishman and an American (Edward, Michael, and Adam) who are kidnapped and held hostage by unseen Arabs in Lebanon. As the three men strive for survival they also strive to overcome their personal and nationalistic differences.

Related to this is each individual’s own attempt to maintain sanity under the watchful eye of both captors and supposed comrades. At times the dramatic dialogue reaches a level of Beckettian absurdity, as even the audience is unable to draw a distinction between the characters’ insanity and humor.

We are made witness and accomplice to a humour based on something apparently ghastly, the loss of rationality.

 

Shakespeare once said…1

I listened to a podcast about memories a few years ago, I remember the person being interviewed saying it’s not so much what happened to you but, how you last felt when you think of something that happened in the past, that shapes how you feel, she said if you want to keep your memories accurate, you need to put them in stories.

If you don’t like the memory, change the story, and re-frame it.

Likewise, it’s not what people say to you that matters, but how they made you feel, that shapes how you frame a moment in your past.

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Recalling a memory more often makes that memory less accurate, and that every time you take a memory off the shelf in your brain, you put it back just a tiny bit different.

That’s because instead of remembering the actual memory, you’re recalling the memory of the last time you remembered it and any mistakes that might have been introduced there. Like a game of human telephone, those mistakes can build on one another over time, leaving out details and introducing mistakes.

 

Introducing…

jaar

Now, a DJ I really like Nicholas Jarr, made a mix that won the 2012 BBC Radio one mix of the year, it is a mix like no other, with classical music, bells, folk songs and some electronic music, all up, he brings you on a wonderful musical journey for about ninety minutes.

What was Nicholas thinking? His idea for the award winning mix was Jurassic Park, he watched the movie when he was 12, then again the week before, even though it was the same movie, his perception of the movie had changed since he was a kid, which got him thinking.

 

I’ll bet you heard this a lot growing up?

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“A memory is not simply an image produced by time traveling back to the original event—it can be an image that is somewhat distorted because of the prior times you remembered it,” said lead researcher Donna Bridge, who went on to just depress the hell out of anyone who has even a single thing they’d like to genuinely hold onto in this life.

“Your memory of an event can grow less precise even to the point of being totally false with each retrieval.”

 

Its interesting how some cultures have traditions about telling stories, when you think  about it, the stories you tell are more important than you think.

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