Thursday, September 18

foreshadowy snippets

next thursday I'll be more than halfway to Minneapolis. there is a conference. once there, I will present something (the something I didn't quite get around to blogging about in this post). I will hopefully meet some other fascinating scholars who share my geeky interest in copyright/authorship/ownership/remix/etc. I even have plans to sneak into blog-friend Gina's studio and say hello, if I can (did you know she's writing a book? it looks very lovely).

as seems usual at these times when I have so much going on and so many preparations to make in the run up to a small journey, my list (pile? collection? backlog?) of things I haven't yet blogged about but very much ought to is expanding beyond control.

I could make an exceedingly random photo essay using some of the photos currently saved in my blog-drafts file. that might be interesting.... but I think the photos deserve their own less-random accompanying text. forcing them into one crazy blogpost together is not what I want to do with them.

what I do want to do with them is...something else. maybe I don't know what that something else is yet, since presumably if I did, I would not have so many unfinished blog-drafts piling up. there are too many ideas for blogging. and I don't always remember all the ideas well enough or long enough to get back to them and make them fully intelligible to other humans. if I were better at remembering, and/or deciding, and/or writing in my sleep, this pile of drafts might be smaller and my blog might also be, on the whole, more interesting.

one of these old saved drafts (from mid-2011, says the blogger timestamp) has had (for who knows how long) nothing in it but the following quoted material on the subject of false memories. mid-2011, I should note, was a little while before Jonah Lehrer went and ruined his career by making up things and being lazy. he has, since that whole scandal two years ago, lost much of my respect and largely disappeared from the public eye. blogger and I kept this quote around anyway. today I've come back to it and now it is no longer languishing as a lonely little draft.

revisiting the quote and its link of reference, I was a little surprised to see that Wired has so far sustained not only this, but all the rest of Lehrer's old columns as well.

"A memory is only as real as the last time you remembered it," he writes. but that's not the beginning. the piece starts with a rambly story about drinking Coke at a football game. it isn't his story to tell, though. it's not his memory--it's totally fake. apparently "we can’t help but borrow many of our memories from elsewhere," and "This idea, simple as it seems, requires us to completely re-imagine our assumptions about memory. It reveals memory as a ceaseless process, not a repository of inert information."

processes. mm. I like thinking about things as processes. the never-ending kind are the most attractive, for some reason.

Lehrer goes on about memory and marketing. who knows why I saved this whole excerpt for my blog way back in mid-2011. today it still speaks to plenty of my own half-formed ideas on narrative power and cognitive malleability.
It’s the difference between a “Save” and the “Save As” function. Our memories are a “Save As”: They are files that get rewritten every time we remember them, which is why the more we remember something, the less accurate the memory becomes. And so that pretty picture of popcorn becomes a taste we definitely remember, and that alluring soda commercial becomes a scene from my own life. We steal our stories from everywhere. Marketers, it turns out, are just really good at giving us stories we want to steal.
stealing and inventing... honesty and accuracy... "borrowing" and "forgetting" original source material. hmmm. falsified memories, fabricated quotations? oh the foreshadowy connections we might want to draw between the words this talented science writer is using, the themes he is dancing with, and his eventual semi-tragic, very disappointing downfall.

in my drafts file, two additional words accompany the pasted set of quotes from Jonah Lehrer's old Wired article. those words are "graven images."

I have no clue what I was thinking when I added them to that tiny seed of a blogpost idea.

I have a few clues about some of my other standing drafts. some of them wouldn't be so hard to flesh out into something useful, if I'd just sit down and write.

there are photos of:
  • piecrust (filled with cheese, noodles, spinach)
  • a stack of textbooks from last fall (English 680: digital studio)
  • important Texas landmarks (the Alamo and the capitol building)
  • a stand of trees in the middle of Idaho
  • art and architecture from Chicago
  • a box of yarn (mostly shades of pink)
there are also scrambled snippety notes about desire and calculus, about teaching and failure, disciplinarity, technological shifts, and the Management of Digital Rights. I want to blog about secret codes and the meaning of The Period Store and informally conducted surveys. there is a draft containing only the words "decidedly analog," and someday I'll figure out what to write about that will fit that title.

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