Good-bye Gutenberg!

a surface’s memory erased soon-after

Posted in Inward-Outward by Mihai Stoica on October 3, 2011

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This is memory. This is my couch blanket’s memory of two people sitting next to each other for some time, of their moving about on it while sitting, re-shaping its surface with their every move. This is the memory of how those two people sat next to each other. After they left, the trace of their sitting on the couch – the complete memory event (from the blanket’s point of view) – endured until I decided to erase that memory and imprint a new one or reset the blanket to its initial position. It depends how we choose to look at it. If we were to be exact, no reset is ever entirely possible, because of the imperfections which accompany human skill and the inherent characteristics of the material itself. My couch blanket also has a long term memory. It stands witness to it’s being washed several times, of losing or ‘acquiescing’ new color (thank you Silvi for widening the spectrum of examples), of being hooked by different more or less sharp objects (it hasn’t been cigarette burnt yet, but we do not exclude this possibility, due this time to a determining event or to human attention or – better said – re-orientation of that attention for a short period of time to the ‘detriment’ of the blanket’s integrity). And because humans are there to observe and record the events through their own memory surface and/or choosing to externalize it to different mediums as the present case shows, the couch blanket acquires a history of its own (its-story), which varies from observer to observer and it’s defined by time and space (however subjectified these terms might be). In conclusion, every surface (including more complex ones as the human brain) has a memory, however transient or whatever its perceived expression. Memory is an attribute of things.

Now, this reminds me of what a friend of mine once said about human memory. She said: “memory is a great thing if you don’t have to deal with the past.” I think what she meant to say was that attributing value to memory is a human thing, but also that detachment from that given value means unshackling yourself from the past, which in its turn means more freedom of choice for the present. But that’s another discussion…

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