New memory stories

It's a good thing that summer vacation is also behind us this year.
We finally have a whole year to get back to dreaming...imagining how it would be okay to live.

Editorial by Stefano Lavorini

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Thinking about it, one wonders what exactly we remember of what we experienced in the days just gone by, not to mention what happened to us back in time. 

Almost as if we were children again, we would go back to asking ourselves "how did it happen that Master Ciliegia, a carpenter, found a piece of wood that cried and laughed like a child".
In Collodi's book, everything seems clear and we find answers to our curiosities, but not if we put our memory to the test and it turns out to be, more or less, dramatically limited.

To complicate the situation, we have no idea why we often remember insignificant facts, losing track, on the other hand, of (perhaps) much more important events.

It could be - as Milan Kundera writes in "Ignorance" - that we are unable to accept that "a reality as it was no longer exists; to return it is impossible".

The author's reflections on the protagonist's diary are beautiful, and seem to me to be valid for any kind of digital archive: "The notes speak of events that their author has no reason to deny and yet his memory cannot confirm".
At most, in fact, we are able to remember single fragments, episodes that, in the attempt to assign them a meaning, we are led to insert in a "causal sequence of other events, other gestures, other words".
And since we have forgotten them, we have no choice but to invent them.

Great is then the misunderstanding that arises when we think of sharing the same memories with another person. This can only be partially true because, of the past, both of us are left with only a few particular situations, but not necessarily the same ones. Memories sometimes resemble each other, but rarely match.

A further conundrum of memory is related to the fact that the past we remember seems to be timeless. We often have only a still image in our minds, which makes it "Impossible to relive a love as we reread a book or review a movie."    

What can we say, then, about the technology that is replacing our memory? Umberto Eco comes to our aid, explaining that, in the past, old people were the memory of the species, when they recounted what had happened or, it was said, had happened: "Before we began to cultivate this social memory, man was born without experience, did not have time to get it, and died. Afterwards, a young man of twenty was as if he had lived five thousand years. [...] Today, books are our old people. We don't realize it, but our wealth compared to the illiterate (or those who, literate, do not read) is that they are living and will live only their life and we have lived many. [...] Of course we could also remember lies, but reading also helps to discriminate. Not knowing the wrongs of others, the illiterate does not even know their own rights."

Who remembers?

1 Milan Kundera "Ignorance", English version Published September 30th 2003 by Harper Perennial
2 Umberto Eco, La bustina di Minerva 1990-2000, La nave di Teseo Editore srl, 2020