January 9, 2007


I once saw a television program in which a man was lying on an operating table with a sawed-open head. A surgeon would repeatedly stimulate the man’s brain with a pointer that was connected to what looked like a giant car battery. Each time he did so, he would ask the man, who somehow was awake during this procedure, to say whatever entered his mind, and then the man would recount some random, inconsequential experience.

What amazed me was that the man would remember things he wasn’t conscious of when they happened; that everything had been recorded and could be replayed, assuming one could find the play button.

Why so much remembering? If everything is remembered, memory is reduced to a mishmash of minutia. Although perhaps I’m conflating memory and meaning.

It’s like the difference between raw footage and an edited film. The footage is memory; the film is memory spliced into coherence.