When Memory Fails

When I came to sit down to write something this evening a strong memory of a recent thought – during the day, perhaps, or just before bed last night, it may have occurred – lingered, and all that was left of that thought was my reaction to it: something like, “Good, that’ll give me something to write about.” But, guess what! I can’t recall what it was. The thought itself, that is, not my being pleased with it: my ‘Oh, that’s good, no thinking will be necessary down the line then, or not much’ – the smug appreciation of how well my brain was functioning has outlasted the thought itself.

Maybe my memory is going in some ways. Not sure. I think it is affected by level of fatigue and I think I don’t perform well cognitively when under pressure, and that includes processes requiring recall of information and experiences. I can remember things I’m interested in, and have a reason to want to remember, and I expect we can all do that – more easily than calling to mind other stuff.

It is axiomatic, I expect, that people take more interest in what they are interested in. That’s almost too obvious to say – what interests me is what interests me. One of the pastimes I indulge in when a free moment presents itself, during the day, is to read judgements from criminal cases. It fascinates me to immerse myself into the world surrounding a seriously bad incident, but I usually tune out for the law bits of the judgement, as they aren’t terribly interesting (to me, that is). The other day I found the legal parts – as opposed to the ‘story’ of the crime – equally absorbing. It was a prisoner who had applied for a redetermination of a sentence in actual years for the crimes he was guilty of, as he had been sentenced before truth in sentencing rules were introduced to guide the way judges do their work in the late 1980s/early ‘90s. For whatever reason the ledger of crime versus time and comparisons of how things are done now with how they were done then was captivating. But mostly it’s the story that hooks me.

This morning, on the way to the train station, there was a dead rat. Not a fan of rodents. This has been the event or the image that has taken up most thinking time during my day today. It could be that this has squeezed out the other material I was planning to write something compellingly funny and wise and true about. As if compellingly funny, wise, and true is ever reliably a possible goal for anyone.

Today I saw a, to me, adorable (always iffy about using that word, but here I mean affectless, charming, cute without artifice) little article about a letter Oscar Wilde sent to a young male magazine editor, aiming to encourage a get together[1]. Fan of Oscar, and everything he wrote seems to have a certain panache about it. But only later it was brought to my attention that some unpleasant anti-homosexual comments were left after the article by readers on the website, and it almost shocked me – it did shock me that other readers could be referring to homosexuality almost as some dangerous fad in 2010 – but it shocked me as I hadn’t seen this gay angle as being important at all when I read the article. A witty, persuasive bloke with a perhaps unrivalled flair for using words was trying to charm a potential paymaster, and there was more than a hint of naughty potential. Fine if it’s a man and a woman – what’s wrong if they are the same gender?

Silly, obvious bloody question to end with, but I’ve been distracted so much of late that it’s only the silly and the obvious that can stay in the forefront of my consciousness and not get all cloudy with European football, rugby league, the weather, political intrigue, and what’s happening in my bowel. Yes, I navel gaze, and that’s the most distracting thing of all.


[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/jennymccartney/8011000/When-words-failed-even-Oscar-Wilde.html

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Published in: on September 20, 2010 at 8:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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