Feb 14, 2007

know your past to anticipate your future

I'm on a memory kick. (As I type, my wife is watching the ultimate Valentine's Day film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a masterful exploration of the fragmentation of memory.)

Recent research confirms what Robert Burns wrote eons ago:
Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
Those who suffer amnesia because of damage to the hippocampus also have trouble visualizing and anticipating future outcomes. They, like Burns' mouse, truly live in the present only.

Tangentially, to quote The Death of Artemio Cruz, "You only remember... what's going to happen. You don't want to foresee what has already happened." Try wrapping your brain around that one.


dogscratcher said...

Are you familiar with the work of Elizabeth Loftus up at the UW?

Jim Anderson said...

Yes--debunking false memories, right? (Or maybe I'm remembering wrong.)

dogscratcher said...

That is correct: she did a lot of work showing that hypnotically "recovered" memories (which sent many people to prison) are almost universally fabricated.