Altering Memories Through Recall


“Wishing you and yours joyful memories this Holiday Season”

This year, in my general random reading, I keep encountering a puzzling theory about memory which I hope is simply science fiction. Some scientists claim that every time we remember an incident, hooking it and pulling it from the ocean of our subconscious, we actually change the memory in the process of “re-remembering” it. That means all of our memories become ultimately ego-centric constructs of our perception of reality, rather than shared glimmerings of a shared reality–where something like fixed truths exist.

I find this theory incredibly disturbing for a number of reasons. First, it would then follow that we all live isolated in our little bubbles of regenerating and constantly changing “memories.” It’s bad enough to constantly wonder about the onslaught of dementia. Now we also have to worry that even the memories that seem fixed and real are degrading over time–deviating from the instance of creation into something else, something more like fiction?

Since I was four or five years old I worried that there was no such thing as “reality.” Then I reassured myself in a Jungian way that at least we share a consensual reality built on our conscious participation in the act of being human. Then I wondered if really, the purpose of life was actually about making our expanding universe “conscious”–that by living as biological beings we somehow suffuse matter with an energetic field we have yet to recognize in standard physics. Then I decided to stop worrying about it!

It doesn’t help when I read science fiction novels where advanced artificial intelligences are able to torture human beings by ripping out their most precious memories every time they surface. In a way, isn’t this what is happening if our memories are constantly being overwritten with recall?

Maybe this explains why we so often have to “agree to disagree.” Or, as this interesting aphorism puts it: “ is written by the winners, by the losers.” -Eric Nelson

Perceptions differ, hence memories differ, hence we all live in separate universes. Well, for 2016, my goal is to find a shared universe, with common values, mutual goals–and infused by a spirit of hope. Perhaps if I keep remembering something similar, I will find my way there.

Happy New Year!

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