Tuesday, October 21, 2008

context and memory

A large part of memory has to do with context. If you are in the garden you will be more likely to remember the names of plants. When I am at the bookshop I remember book names and authors. I remember them with my body. If I am looking for a particular book and I remember the title but not the author, I put my hand up as if to remove the book from the shelf and then I check what letter should be under my fingertips and then, mostly I will remember the name of the author based on the first letter of her name that I have just discovered through the touch of my fingers. Sometimes I will remember it visually. I will picture the cover. I will picture the words in the kind of type that is on the jacket of the book, and then, if I squint, I will remember the name of the author or the title if this is what I am looking for.

When you wake up in a hospital with a brain that is still swollen, the damage as yet uncertain, this is when your memories of illness will be strongest. These will be triggered by the smell of the place. The feeling of waking into your own history of pain. You will remember having your tonsils removed or a broken foot. You will be transported back to these moments. This is what I will work on now. The next bit. My next bit.

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