“I come to the fields and vast palaces of memory…”

I am currently reading a book on a collection of essays entitled “Memory: An Anthology”. Basically, it is an anthology of the ways people have thought about memory – philosophical, aesthetic, scientific, psychological, personal and social. So there are chapters like ‘Childhood Memories’, ‘The Idea of Memory’, ‘Memory and Science’, ‘Public Memory’ and ‘Forgetting’. And then I stumbled upon this pasage by Augustine, which was freaky because it likens memory to a palace with many different rooms, which is exactly the metaphor I have used in this blog, to describe the ‘Rooms in My Head’! (see the panel on the right) Have a read on how Augustine describes the ‘palaces of memory’:

I come to the fields and vast palaces of memory, where are the treasuries of all kinds of objects brought in by sense perception. Hidden there is whatever we think about, a process which may increase or diminish or in some way alter the deliverance of the senses and whatever else has been deposited and placed in reserve and has not been swallowed up and buried in oblivion. When I am in this storeroom, I ask that it produce what I want to recall, and immediately certain things come out; some require a longer search, and have to be drawn out as it were from more recondite receptacles. Some memories pour out to crowd the mind, leap forward into the centre as if saying, ‘Surely we are what you want?’ With the hand of my heart I chase them away from the face of my memory until what I want is freed of mist and emerges from its hiding places. Other memories come before me on demand with ease and without any confusion in their order. Memories of earlier events give way to those which followed, and as they pass are stored away available for retrieval when I want them. And that is what happens when I recount a narrative from memory.


~ by irwin on May 9, 2009.

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