Do We Understand Memory?

In “Funes the Memorious” writer Jorge Luis Borges imagines a man who remembers everything with perfect clarity. For Borges a perfect memory wouldn’t mean a handy way to count cards or a one way ticket to straight A’s. It would mean that you are forever trapped in an infinite succession of moments. Someone who remembered everything perfectly, Borges suggests, would see each new moment as something entirely new. For Funes the Memorius, he doesn’t have one hand, he has a new hand, each one astonishing in its unique presentation. Every moment is a new world. It is overwhelming. Funes must hide himself away, exhausted by everything.

For the rest of us, this is not an issue. Do we remember what we had for lunch a week ago? How does memory even work? Here’s more from Science Focus:

There’s a basic misconception about memory that it’s akin to a video recording. It’s not: memory is more of an active reconstruction of what happened. From this mistaken metaphor, people have the idea that some other individuals can glance at something and then recall every detail with perfect accuracy.

Learn more!


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