Eighteen: Concerning sense memories

Originally Posted 16th February 2011

Today I suffered a brief moment of existential doubt…well not really but the timesheet system wiped me out a week early and I suddenly did not exist in the world of my company. This struck me as slightly ironic as I am working like a crazy person to get everything done when there are many who, this close to mass redundancy, could probably be removed from the system without too many detrimental effects. I dedicated a moment of my time considering why, if I was indeed a figment of someone’s imagination, they couldn’t have made me a bit taller! This however is not really what I intended to write here, just an aside. I was actually thinking, following on from yesterday’s smiley photos, about the methods we have of capturing our memories; how we capture our life, how we affect the world and leave our indelible marks upon it. Of course there is a photo to go with these musings…

An obvious method we have of recording life events and memories are photographs, I sit every day looking for an appropriate photo to go with this post I remember the time I spent taking it. I remember what it was before I processed it, who I was with when it was taken and the adventure we were having. This is possibly why I can never look at the photos I take in the same light as impartial observers. However without explanations my photos, in years to come could raise more questions about my life than they answer. Despite this, they are, for me, a valuable way of storing memories for easy access at a time of my choosing.

These memories are generally accessed, as I mentioned, when we choose. More powerful however are the memories that become associated with different senses. There are songs in everyone’s music library that they love but to which they can no longer listen because the memories they bring up are too painful and they rise instantly and unbidden the moment the first bars start. There are also those songs which you love despite them being cheesy or rubbish because the memories they evoke can’t fail to make you smile. These sense memories are not only limited to songs, they extend to smells too and in a lesser way tastes.

Photos are without a doubt something we leave in the world for others, but more subtle are the sense memories we make in others, those that in years to come will bring our faces up in people’s minds and hopefully cause a smile.


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