A near miss on the New Jersey Turnpike My handyman, the thief

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Urban Renaissance  |  April 19, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    Some people don’t remember because they’re too busy focusing on themselves.

    Some people don’t remember an incident, or the details of an incident, when it is traumatic.

    Some people don’t remember something because it is inconsistent with their image of themselves. So when they rewrite the narrative that constitutes their life story (for what else, really, is memory?), they leave out or alter the inconsistent parts.

    I used to think I remembered everything. I congratulated myself on having chosen to do research in a subfield that has had some success in analyzing the way intelligent beings deal with inconsistency. But a few years ago, when working on a part in Doubt, a series of incidents caused me to remember something rather traumatic from my adolescence. I don’t even remember it all, just the outer edges of what happened.

    Never mind the trauma of remembering the incident itself. Once the seeming invincibility of my memory had been shattered, I realized that there was so much more that I didn’t remember. I felt so vulnerable, having to join the masses with their imperfect memories.

    Now, no lapse of memory surprises me. I realize I have no idea whom I have met and when, whom I’ve dated, who has spoken to me at some singles event in the past. It’s all a jumble. It’s all okay, as long as I can still remember all the answers on Jeopardy, memorize the lines in a scene, recall a piece of Gemara, know where to locate a theorem in some book. For the rest, I just accept that I don’t know.

    • 2. modestine  |  April 19, 2010 at 2:06 PM

      Hi Urban Renaissance. I’m sure I forget much, much more than I remember. I have looked at diaries I have kept at different times — and I have no memory of having experienced what I wrote about. I’ve been trying to remember what my son was like at different times in the past 21 years. All I can remember is that I made a lot of meals, nagged about doing homework and did a lot of laundry. But what else happened? I’m not sure.

  • 3. Pesha  |  April 20, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    I do remember that Carole King made the earth move under my feet! I’d never even heard of her before the concert, and I walked out loving her music more than James Taylor’s.

    • 4. modestine  |  April 20, 2010 at 9:52 AM

      Oh, I can understand why you would remember the performers but not your own sister!

  • 5. Sara Bennett  |  April 20, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    I often can’t remember whether something happened to me or to one of my siblings. That’s what happens as stories get retold.


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