17 October 2009

Rewriting Memory, Rewriting Self

This is my first blog. I am finding myself going back and editing previous posts. And adding new material. This seems appropriate given the exploratory dimension of the blog--it seems write to add questions, observations to old material. And it seems appropriate to the theme of learning to be--I'm in the process of learning to blog, learning to be this blogger.

But, I wonder if that's what others do too. So my impression of the blogs as an archive of things said in the fixed past is wrong? These are not publications, like newspaper articles, but ongoing growing things?

Question: A question about memory, then. Will I remember in the future that this record I am leaving behind is one that I went back to and rewrote? There isn't any edit trail, as at WikiPedia. What will that do to my memory of who I am or more accurately, who I will turn out to have been?

How often do we do this with other things we leave behind: rewrite, rearrange them, or rework what we remember them as being? Freud, Edward S. Casey (Remembering) and others would suggest quite a bit. While I don't advocate any sort of reductionism, the neural evidence at the moment suggests that remembering in many stages is not: activity outside of what is remembered; it is an activity that reworks what is remembered. Casey gets at and anticipates this in his concept ruminescence (reminiscing/ruminating). Here too we have the complex mixture of activity and passivity that Merleau-Ponty takes to be key to memory. A very powerful site of personal plasticity opens up here, with great potential for refuge, e.g., forgetting the traumatic in remembering it yet again.

Learning to be who one is marks an importantly temporal dimension of who we are, a dimension of plasticity. How might memory be key to this?

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