Monday, July 31, 2006

All the Way to Combray

Having made it through Combray, several questions formed in reflection are eager to appear here, in the hope of finding answers to accompany them. We probably don't yet know the answers, but might hold these questions in mind as we continue our journey, witnessing Swann in Love.

When seven different people are asked to recall the details to a crime scene, there is usually seven different responses. A selective memory often allows one to make better sense of events. What evidence is there that Proust's narrator engages in autobiographical memory, remembering things with cognitive, emotional, or otherwise personal shadings that better coincide with his belief in himself than the actual events?

Though my father and mother owned a pink Cadillac before I was born, I remember riding in it. When a fantasy or lie is repeated and held so strongly, it often comes to resemble reality. What evidence is there that Proust's narrator holds false memories?

Involuntary memory is meant to signify recollections which come unbidden to mind. The heat of an emotional moment alone can sear an event into our memories. We can also store something as a memory on purpose, for example by repeating one's telephone number over and over. What evidence is there that Proust's narrator either intentionally or unintentionally remembered events?

Thousands of pages of memories are recalled by Proust's narrator involuntarily, enacted by a single sensory experience. What evidence is there that this involuntary memory is or is not fuller or more complete than a memory recalled by active effort?

The prominence of one sense over another leads to different forms of memory: space, image, taste, touch, smell, sound. Does Proust's narrator experience one form in preference over another? Is it possible to retain memories of each sensory experience to the same degree of completeness?

Can something which is forgotten be remembered later?

If there is such a thing as involuntary memory, is there also such a thing as voluntary forgetting?


Blogger Stefanie said...

Questions to think about.

The last question though, I don't think it's possible. I've tried lots of times to voluntarily forget something. The irony is, the more I try to forget it, the more I think about it. At least that's how it works for me.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Quillhill said...

That was my suspicion, too.

9:31 PM  

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