Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Writing things down

Some things remain in the memory for the strangest of reasons.

I still recall an episode of the British TV series "Tales of the Unexpected", which I saw as a child and have never seen since. I recall the denoument of the episode; all episodes had them, like a punchline to a joke. I remember that an actor known from a soap (Crossroads, I think) appeared in it as a policeman. It was odd at the time to see him out of place.

I can imagine the story that led to the punchline, if not remember it as such. A travelling salesman picks up a hitchhiker. They get talking. Perhaps they turned out to be old acquantances. The hitchhiker is secretive about how he makes his living. They are pulled over by a policeman for speeding. The salesman gets a ticket, which means he will lose his licence and so his job once it goes to court. Driving away afterwards, the twist is the hitchhiker reveals he is a thief and has pickpocketed the policeman's notebook with the name, address and car registration of the salesman.

The salesman is worried, thinking he is in even more trouble, but the hitchhiker tells him, "The policeman won't remember your name, address or car registration because he wrote them down. The notebook replaces his memory."

That has stayed with me until now, as I type this perhaps thirty years or more later. I mention it because, in part, that final comment is the reason I am not writing down the memory tags that I have pinned to my mental calendar during the weeks since I decided to remember every day of my life.

When preparing for examinations, writing things down is supposed to help with reinforcement. But in this process I fear I will be like the policeman. Making notes could replace my memory. I have to put in some effort to ensure my memory tags are firmly embedded in my long-term memory. If a day is indistinct, I have to use surrounding memory tags to remind me and bring it back into clarity. If I knew I could look it up in a notebook, I somehow think that would allow me to prevaricate and allow a memory tag to fade in the belief I could do some revision later from my notes.

So other than those I have described for the purposes of illustrating this blog, my memory tags exist only on my mental calendar

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