The Perfectly Imperfect Act of Remembering

The act of remembrance and the related process of remembering are two human practices handled with copious amounts of subjectivity. Through these actions we show our respect, express our gratitude and pay homage to the past. Although the elements we value and commit to memory will certainly differ, the data stored possesses unique characteristics that we hold in esteem. Similar to time, our brain space is valuable, selective and bound by limits. Thus, the depth of our knowledge and the content we wish to commemorate must capture our attention, ignite our spirits and be deemed as relevant.

With and without our command, billions of neurons recall previous thoughts, emotions and experiences saved in the “grey matter” of the cerebral cortex. It is quite interesting how the lyrics of a favorite song can trump the particulars of news from yesteryear, or that the name of a local restaurant may be recalled faster than the name of a former co-worker.  Internal and external motivations are key directors in the decision-making of our memory-making. With regard to entertainment, for example, I have always had an affinity for art – and artists – with classical and traditional roots yet birthed by alternative and nonconventional methods: the discography of “Weird Al” Yankovic (music), Steven Spielberg’s Animaniacs (television), the cinematography of “Baz” Luhrmann (film) and the choreography of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (modern dance) served as prime inspirations during adolescence.

Reflecting upon these formative years, several “connections” constructed within have guided – and strengthened – my “sense of self” and the qualities utilized in discerning my artistic tastes. Generally, memories are founded and drawn upon the value systems within our social and cultural environments. The reactions to associated stimuli – whether positive, negative or indifferent – determine the information planted into our “personal unconscious”: a Carl Jung concept based upon the works of Pierre Janet (“dissociation” and “subconscious”), along with Sigmund Freud (the “unconscious mind,” which was coined by Friedrich Schelling).

For instance, the innocent, zany and satirical humor found in the audio-visual components of Weird Al’s parodies and Spielberg’s animations masterfully “walk the line” in their ability to provide entertainment for adults – while maintaining a certain level of age-appropriateness for the young members of the viewing audience. In the case of Romeo & Juliet, the classic Shakespearean play serves as an ominous reminder of how present “social conflict” is due largely in part to our historical past, which ultimately impacts our future life outcomes. And with regard to Alvin Ailey, the Biblical principles underscoring the dance composition of “Revelations” were infused into my being throughout my “psychosocial [maturation].”

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