28.5.10

Have you heard of Elizabeth Loftus?

Me neither. Yet Slate has me completely sucked in reading about her. I'll admit, I'm an obsessive. Especially when it's about almost completely useless information. So I'm starting at the beginning of this series and reading in my slow deliberate way that makes me fact check and explore tangents and typically takes me a few hours to read three pages. 

The initial gist as a preface: Your memories are unreliable to the degree that they are occasionally made up entirely of gossamer and poop. 

I have a quite a few memories that fit that gossamer/poop description: I remember the morning of 9/11 being with my wife. I wasn't. That was a huge blow. I remember waking up with the TV on between plane crashes. I think that's as much as is true. Some one was with me, that much is a guess. I think I can figure it out, but I'm tremendously unreliable about any of what happened. I believe I watched the second plane crash in real time, but I don't know anymore. I have a lot of memories I question. I know for a share of them I was too drunk, smug, or stupid to be reliable from the get go...but beyond those biases, I still have discovered enough unreliable memory to make me wonder how much memory I have in this swiss cheese head of mine. 

There's other implications for me: I think that we're made up of memory. I have long doubted the importance of my physical vessel - to the point that I'm just now starting to court taking care of it. I've lived a life of mind and the main definition of self is memory. When we realize that the very fabric of that definition has been bleached to a flimsy, unintentional lace, the leap to doubt of identity is a low one. 

Another concern is my catholic upbringing. I'm more a skeptic than a believer, always was. I remember, however, some of the seminars on satanism and back-masking from grade school and some of that garbage is like dog shit you never can get off your shoe. I still here and there wonder what happened to the satanic teenagers that seemed to be everywhere even though no one owned them. No parents, no names; just some anonymous "them" spreading a grass-roots, secret society evil. 


Never the less.  Who knows. It's entirely possible that everything I ever knew is false in some way. Whether it be a slight fictionalization that time authored or willful misrepresentation on my part: an unwillingness to believe in who I was. Maybe every second that's unrolled behind me is gauzy and obfuscated and always will be. Is there a point to memory? Can we place faith in a service that's so unreliable? If so, then is Identity kinda pointless? I dunno. 

It's too big for a weekday. If I was seventeen and had the energy for emotion and then the analysis of that emotion for weeks following the event: (remember that? The world would end in your head once a week and it was - perhaps to to the unreliable nature of memory - as if we invented it each time). But I'm not and I can't be sure I even remember it correctly. 

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