Memory is a cruel mistress

Recently wrote a poem based on a conversation with a friend that took place about 3 years ago, about a third party. He texted me to say “ooo I like that poem it reminds me of someone I used to know”.

Well, yes. It’s the same person. You just forgot we had that talk.

This happens to me constantly. My memory of what I say to people and what they say to me is, I estimate, about 38 times more efficient than most people’s. This is great if you’re a poet. I reckon I could sit at home and write poems for thirty years solid without ever having to have another experience again.

But personally, it’s shit. For starters I have a moderate reputation for being a man of few (verbal) words. I tend to assume that if I have said something once, then it will be remembered by others as well as I remember it, so it doesn’t bear repeating. I also tend to assume that anything I say will be taken and understood in the context of everything else I have ever said, rather than heard and evaluated in isolation. I stagger conversations over several meetings, adding to things I said the last time we met, without seeing the need to recap. I talk in spirals rather than straight lines, overlapping circles of conversation over time.

This probably makes me very, very, annoying and at times, completely incomprehensible. At least poems are self-contained without the need for context (or they should be) which is perhaps why I like writing them.

The other problem is that attempts at lying/hypocrisy/revisionism are generally immediately obvious to me, which does not make for smooth relationships. I suspect that most friendships are greatly enhanced by the almost complete inability most people seem to have to remember a damn word anyone says to them. Assuming they were even listening to start with. Then there is the beer thing. I remember what I say when drunk. Other people claim not to. This may be no more than an excuse to say what they like when in pubs. I dunno. 

I’m sure my social life would be greatly improved overnight by a set of earplugs.

Of course, a capacity to remember all the things flags up, constantly, just how conflicted and contradictory most people are, most of the time. It becomes an in-yer-face facet of humanity that can go one of two ways.  You can either sink into a pit of despair over just how little sense human beings make OR you can sigh and feel all compassionate about just how rubbish we tend to be.

I’m no better. I talk constant twaddle.

Truth‘ is pretty malleable when it comes to human stuff. At best it may be what is true for that person on that day, but next Wednesday? Anybody’s guess.

Personal blogs are great for this. You can (if you feel inclined) sift through someone’s posts over an extended period and find all kinds of glaring contradictions and non-sequiturs. Proving that bloggers are real human beings rather than robots. That we are all as confused as fuck.



7 thoughts on “Memory is a cruel mistress

  1. A post that resonates 😏 2things that grate me are : when someone quotes me back something that I told them and they say “someone told me….” and :: I have heard my ideas/work blatantly carried forth by another as their personal idea! Thing is, there is some psychological phenomena that happens in these people’s brains so they actually BELIEVE themselves. It all brings to mind something our fellow blogger Rosiebooks once quoted ‘but weaving nets to catch the wind’ and that’s life 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I recognise that ability. Ex could quote back to me every single thing I ever said to him, though at the time he’d seemed totally bored and not listening!

    You are right about contradictions and non-sequiturs of course. Have often been aware of them even whilst writing. The only thing is, it’s more subtle than right or wrong. There’s so much ambiguity and conflict, especially when recalling emotions – sometimes two or more paradoxical ‘events’ are happening at once.

    If you read me writing about my father, for example you will find a whole series of recollections, some loving, some fearful, some amused and admiring, some full of hate. Somehow or other, they are all true. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly my point. Truth isn’t fixed when talking about emotion. Emotion is best described by holding multiple facets together that may seem contradictory but are part of a complex whole. You can’t boil emotion down to rational soundbites. I’m the same and you need to give leeway to people for that complexity.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes. I think compassion comes partly from the penny having dropped, ie from having understood what, and why, one is. I wouldn’t think Ex knows even now. Understanding begins to give you at least the edge of the other person’s perspective.

        However, he – and I, though nine years his junior – grew up not even knowing the word and no allowances were made for difference, at school or at work: you were just mocked and taken advantage of. That happened to us both.

        I think maybe having a spectrum child of your own must help. : )

        Liked by 1 person

    • I think it is also true that autistic types are bloody useless at looking as though they are paying attention; but actually are paying more attention than most. One of my post-divorce girlfriends used to get angry about me “looking through her” when we met after an interval, rather than at her. It really used to upset me. I adored her and those moments were the highlight of my week. Then I got yelled at.

      Liked by 1 person

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