Filed under: ALL, Related films | Tags: Charles Fernyhough, Luis Bunuel, memory, narrative, science, self, time
I read this article in the guardian by Charles Fernyhough which connets with a lot the research I have been doing recently in to memory and self, as our perceptions of time and narrative are very much related to memory. I’m really looking forward to reading his book.
Our ability to remember forms the basis of who we are and is a psychological trick that fascinates cognitive scientists. But how reliable are our memories?
Memory is our past and future. To know who you are as a person, you need to have some idea of who you have been. And, for better or worse, your remembered life story is a pretty good guide to what you will do tomorrow. “Our memory is our coherence,” wrote the surrealist Spanish-born film-maker, Luis Buñuel, “our reason, our feeling, even our action.” Lose your memory and you lose a basic connection with who you are.
It’s no surprise, then, that there is fascination with this quintessentially human ability. When I cast back to an event from my past – let’s say the first time I ever swam backstroke unaided in the sea – I don’t just conjure up dates and times and places (what psychologists call “semantic memory”). I do much more than that. I am somehow able to reconstruct the moment in some of its sensory detail, and relive it, as it were, from the inside. I am back there, amid the sights and sounds and seaside smells. I become a time traveller who can return to the present as soon as the demands of “now” intervene.
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• Charles Fernyhough is a writer and psychologist. His book on autobiographical memory, Pieces of Light: How we Imagine the Past and Remember the Future, is published by Profile Books in July. He is the author of The Baby in the Mirror (Granta), a reader in psychology at Durham University and a faculty member of the School of Life. You can follow him on Twitter at @cfernyhough
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