“Memory is all we are. Moments and feelings, captured in amber, strung on filaments of reason. Take a man’s memory and take all of him. Chip away a memory at a time and you destroy him as surely as if you hammered nail after nail through his skull.” This was a quote by Mark Lawerence from his book “King of Thrones.” Lawerence talks about memory just in the idea of being able to remember past events that were important to us, and losing this would cause us to lose all feeling toward life and lose passion towards life. But is that all memory is. Just recalling past events, or is it something more. Oliver Sacks shows in his book, “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” that there could be many different aspects of memory. After reading the book it is easy to see that memory can have a huge impact on almost everything we do.
Imagine not being able to consciously forming habits, being stuck in only one area of time, or not being able to remember what parts of your body are yours. All of these seem likely completely preposterous ideas to us who don’t suffer from impaired memory abilities. Most of the everyday activities that we do would be completely impossible for people with these deficits.
One part of our memory that most people know of is forming new memories. This allows us to gain new skills, follow along with a timeline of modern events, but what happens if you suddenly stop and you don’t feel older and you feel like you are still after World War 2. Sacks had a patient that was nicknamed “The Lost Mariner.” The patient thought he was still nineteen years old, but in reality he was forty nine years old. The loss of the ability to form and retain new memories made it impossible for him to learn new information. He could do math, but only if there were few steps otherwise he would forget what he was doing. How does somebody live without being able to make new memories, and barely recognizing family because everybody is aging? I guess instead of being completely cursed the Mariner, is blessed with not being able to remember, and still his memories before the memory deficits started.
So have people like the Mariner lost all of their memories, or is there something else at play. I think Sack’s chapter, “The Disembodied Lady,” helps illustrate that there might be more to memory than just the main road to the storage banks of memories. In this chapter, Christiana, loses the memory of proprioception. This is the term for the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of the effort being employed in the movement. She had no way at the time of the damage to move her body. Every time she stood up she would fall down. She was able to figure out a way of working around this problem. She had to keep an eye, quite literally, watching her own body otherwise it would just stop working because she wouldn’t be able to remember where her body was.
This could be the way the memory works. The main road to our memories could be...