“I can’t forget, but I don’t remember what” / Leonard Cohen – I Can’t Forget

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

22 Apr 2002

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have our brain spread in front of us on a computer monitor?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have little labels attached to each bit, saying what it did?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have our entire memory bank available for easy-access? Say, in SQL queries?

Then you could do, possibly, a
FROM meals
WHERE meal=’breakfast’ and date=20/03/1994”

And never again have to wrack your brains remembering what you had for breakfast on your 15th birthday.

But of course, that would be silly.

You could also do an:
“INSERT (‘Alien Visitation’)
INTO life_events”

and convince yourself that there’s more to this drab existence than you can see.

But all that is mere geeky prattle, designed to be nothing but lead-in text for my main point, which is this:

“DELETE ‘Lord of the Rings’
FROM books_I’ve_read”

And that’s it. All reference to the book in my mind is gone. I know I’ve read the book before, but I don’t know what it’s about, who’s in it, what it’s like…

And then I read it, again.

And I discover it, again.

And I enjoy it, again, in a way that I never have since the first time.

And seeing as how the first time was in the 4th grade, it’ll be COMPLETELY different now. It will, hopefully, be bloody amazing.

Imagine – being able to watch The Princess Bride for the first time, again.
Listening to Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” – for the first time. Again.
Experiencing the thrill and the beauty and the sheer…. yes, well. Words fail me.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve just finished re-reading a childhood favorite of mine (“The Dragonriders of Pern”, by Anne McCaffrey, if you’re interested) and enjoyed it very much, but only as an echo of my original enjoyment.
In music it’s different, usually. Much easier to experience afresh. Books, however, and movies – aaahh, how I would like to reread P.C. Hodgell’s Godstalk, for instance. Or Lloyd Alexander’s wondrous Prydain cycle…

Alas, it is not to be. Even if neurological science advanced sufficiently to be able to identify specific memories, any action taken to affect them (Chemical? Eletrical?) would probably bear far too much risk of affecting everything around it. That’s neural networks for you.


8 תגובות על “I can’t forget, but I don’t remember what” / Leonard Cohen – I Can’t Forget



22 בApril, 2002 בשעה 14:24


You’re overlooking the one technique known to be more or less effective in gently removing (or more probably just strongly repressing) memories from the human mind. The human mind itself, of course, is the best programming interface to the mind, so far. Perhaps you should look into hypnosis? I’m not sure what professionals would think of your wish for “recreational” memory manipulation, but maybe it’s worth a shot.

Interesting. Keep us posted.



22 בApril, 2002 בשעה 14:49

Lord of the Rings? It’s about this guy.



23 בApril, 2002 בשעה 01:58

How about making it incremental? surely the mind doesn’t completely overrides a former memory to put in a latter one. how about being able to delete the seventh time you read something? (because you enjoyed it much more back then..)

Passo, seventh-suspended.



30 בMay, 2002 בשעה 09:15

Greetings from a former id

“- aaahh, how I would like to reread P.C. Hodgell’s Godstalk, for instance.”

Yeah, so would I. Happen to know where it’s to be found?

I had a thought some while ago that maybe if I went back to (re)reading the kinds of books I used to in a different period of my life, I could recapture it somewhat. Like the mood of the first reading is still there in the books. But then I thought that there was probably a dammned good reason my tastes changed, and I was just being nostalgic.

But maybe not. Our thoughts tend to cluster ’round our preoccupations. We pick the books, music, etc. that fit with whatever the rest of it is. We use them as raw material for more associations. And then maybe if we change the intake, reenforce some of the old associations (or alter them, build on them) then we’ll change the outcome a bit too.

Now this sounds like one of your ramblings.



28 בJuly, 2002 בשעה 14:07

Re: Greetings from a former id

I happen to have a copy of Godstalk, actually.
I looked for it for years, until found a couple of copies in used book shop in Paris and brought me one. Lovely book. A shame that the sequels weren’t up to par.



16 בAugust, 2002 בשעה 16:10

I am nerdy too

I have reread the Prydain chronicles over and over. And Lord of the Rings, as well. I can honsetly say that I do forget what happens in that one, until I read it again. And Margaret Weis’ Star of the Guardians. That one isn’t neccessarily children’s stuff, but I love it so much. A must read. ANyhow, thank you for remembering Prydain.


הומו אינפורמטיקוס | באופן דיגיטלי

4 בJune, 2011 בשעה 20:49

[…] דטאבייס מסודר שממנו אפשר לשלוף נתונים, אם יודעים את הקוד המתאים (ושימו לב לתאריך – אחד הפוסטים הראשונים שלי אי פעם). […]


אקלקטיקה אהובתי » הומו אינפורמטיקוס

4 בJune, 2011 בשעה 20:51

[…] דטאבייס מסודר שממנו אפשר לשלוף נתונים, אם יודעים את הקוד המתאים (ושימו לב לתאריך – אחד הפוסטים הראשונים שלי אי פעם). […]

טופס תגובות

פעם היה לי לייבג'ורנל. עכשיו הוא כאן, מגובה.