January 5, 2006

Memories are made of wisps

I have always (well, almost always :p) believed in the infallibility of my memory. I remember when I was 10 to 15 years old, how my parents would marvel at how much I could remember from my childhood. I still can remember things from when I was 2-5 years old even today. However, as I grew older, I discovered that there are certain blind-spots in your memory. There would be incidents that I’d completely forget and then remember one day for no apparent reason. I could then for the life of me figure out how I could have forgotten the incident in the first place. It’s kind of disillusioning to find that you can’t rely on your memory after all :p

Then I married Laurie. Now I had another person to verify the events of day to day life and my memory against. Now I didn’t have to rely on just what I believed had happened. But here is where it got even more confusing – sometimes Lauries account of events did not gel with mine and how do we figure out who had the right version? Or did either of us have the right version at all? :p

If you think of your memory as a hard disk (or even a floppy) and you basically operated on the assumption that what was on the disk was the true and correct picture of the world around you, what would happen if somebody could alter the contents of the disk without you being aware? Scary, huh? (Or maybe not, maybe I’m just conjuring up paranoid dreams :p) Because how would you ever be certain that you could trust anything you knew about yourself or the world around you?

I began thinking of this yesterday after Laurie and I had watched the season ender for the second season of "Stargate-SG1". (No, we are not totally behind the times or in a time warp :p We got the full DVD set for seasons 1-7 and have been slowly making our way through it.) There is this character who apparently miraculously (to me) is revived from the dead and I commented on it and Laurie was like, "Oh, she didn’t die. She just got up and walked away. It was in that scene we just watched." I was like, "I didn’t see her just getting up and walking away and I watched the scene with you!". So we argue back and forth as to what had really happened. I watched it today again and she does get up and walk away but there is so much smoke that you don’t actually notice it unless you are watching for it … and Laurie has probably seen that episode (and almost all other episodes of SG-1 as well) probably about 7-8 times :p So she would notice that. Whew, at least this wasn’t one of the times where memory was playing tricks on me … or Laurie :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:18 am  |  No Comments