The Ambiguous Nature of Memory

The value of memories is different to that of historical documents. They do not function as encyclopaedias of our life. If one goes beyond the superficial surface of a memory, which is often a visual representation of an event or a person which perhaps flashes in our mind’s eye, there is a wealth of meaning lying beneath. Memory is not bound by time, in fact, by its very nature it transcends and evolves each time we remember it. Not only does a memory alter and change over time but each time one accesses a memory it is as if the brain is accessing it for the first time, in this way a memory has, is and always will happen.

At their core memories are vessels of sensation, rather than factual representations. They can be a single flash of an image that can be a full spectrum of feelings and emotions relating to an individual. A single memory can represent a whole period of time; days, months, even years at a time, condensed into one memory image.

One manner in which memories are preserved is when they become associated with objects. We can form strong emotional bonds with commonplace objects it is possible to understand how these memory objects are created.  The strength and meaning of these memories is variable, but even a weak memory itself is complex and dense. A whole swath of events, feelings, smells and sensations can be bound up in a single recollection.