Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Memory

When you don’t tell anyone a memory, it gradually fades over time, becoming vague and indistinct before perhaps disappearing altogether. When you tell other people, it’s littered with your perspective, the dozen tiny embellishments added by design or accident. But over time, eventually the story becomes the memory, however little similarity the two actually share. The story is all that remains so the story is, for all intents and purposes, true. Then it has become history.

Manel sparklesVideo is vastly inferior in its perspective but at least with the advent of digital recording it remains as sharp and vivid as the day it was made, kind of a way to store people until you see them again. The way you want to remember them. So I have some great videos of Karleigh, including a video of Karleigh watching a video of Karleigh. It was a very interactive experience as the bright girl loves to see herself on screen and quickly learned how to use my laptop to make the videos play, preceded each time by a squeaked “uh oh” when it stopped.

Karleigh's 'hoodidie'Jenna, Jeff and Karleigh left yesterday. We’ll be leaving early tomorrow and winging our way back to a rather colder England (it’s been an incredibly mild winter here, reaching 23°C yesterday). It’s been a really good trip, albeit somewhat less productive than I might have liked. There’s still some time before uni starts, but don’t be offended if I seem to be buried in books and ignoring you! Hopefully being home will mean less sporadic updates here and a few film reviews that I’ve wanted to write, especially Spielberg’s Munich since I was able to see it well in advance of the UK release and hope to convince you to experience it too.

1 Comment

  1. [pretentiousness]’A recently discovered letter by the French physiologist, Pierre Flourens, who once enjoyed the bittersweet fame of having been elected to the French Academy in competition with Victor Hugo, contains the following striking passage: “I still cannot decide to agree to the use of chloroform in general surgical practice. As you probably know, I have devoted extensive study to this substance and was one of the first to describe its specific properties on the basis of experiments with animals. My scruples are founded on the simple fact that operations with chloroform, and presumably also with the other known forms of narcosis, have an illusory success. These substances act solely on certain motor and coordination centres and on the residual capability of the nervous substances. Under the influence of chloroform, the nervous substance loses a considerable part of its ability to absorb traces of impressions, but it does not lose the power of sensation as such. On the contrary, my observations suggest that in conjunction with the general innervation paralysis, pain is experienced even more strongly than in the normal condition. The public is misled by the fact that after an operation the patient is unable to remember what he has undergone. If we told our patients the truth, it is probable that not one of them would wish to have an operation per formed under chloroform, whereas they all insist on its use now because we shroud the truth in silence.

    “But quite apart from the fact that the only questionable gain is a loss of memory lasting for the duration of surgery, I consider that the extended use of this substance entails another serious risk. With the increasing superficiality of the general academic training of our doctors, the unlimited use of chloroform may encourage surgeons to carry out increasingly complex and difficult operations. Instead of using these methods on animals in the interests of research, our own patients will then become the unsuspecting guinea pigs. It is possible that the painful stimuli which because of their specific nature may well exceed all known sensations of this kind, may lead to permanent mental damage in the patient or even to an indescribably ably painful death under narcosis; and the exact features of this death will be hidden for ever from the relatives of the patient and the world at large. Would this not be too high a price to pay for progress?”

    If Flourens had been right here, the dark paths of the divine world order would have been justified for once. The animal would have been avenged through the suffering of his executioners: every operation would have been a vivisection. The suspicion would then arise that our relationship with men and creation in general was like our relationship with ourselves after an operation – oblivion for suffering. For cognition the gap between usand others was the same as the time between our own present and past suffering; an insurmountable barrier. But perennial domination over nature, medical and non-medical techniques, are made possible only by the process of oblivion. The loss of memory is a transcendental condition for science. All objectification is a forgetting.’

    Theodor Adorno, Dialetic of Enlightenment[/pretentiousness]

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