The New York Times ran a story called “The Then and Now of Memory” about research done by “scientists,” (which I gather to be the journalistic equivalent of “they” — as in the statement, “You know, Alfred, they say that if you rub a penny on a wart and forget about it for three days, it’ll clear your bursitis right up in a jiffy.”) The article describes human memory as a streaming video, which, I can only speak for myself, but what goes on in my upstairs does not resemble anything from a camcorder that anybody would ever watch on purpose. Just the same, the article tells me that “for the first time, scientists have recorded traces in the brain of that kind of contextual memory.” Now, do me a favor, while I wait, and click on that purple word “memory” and then come back here and let’s you and me talk.
Are you as confused as I am? I linked that word to the same 411 as the New York Times, which is an internal “overview” of what the hell are y’all talking about? A mental status test? Did that shed any light for you whatsoever on the article at hand or on what “they” mean by “contextual memory”? Is that kind of linking to something that looks like it might be relevant to something somebody once said in a dream to a Google spiderbot supposed to be helpful? No, sadly. I don’t think it’s really meant to be clicked. What hyperlinks are supposed to do is make the New York Times look authoritative. It is supposed to make the kind of “research” described in the article seem relevant and accessible.
My grandmother used to preface a lot of her stories with something like, “That must have been about the same time your daddy went and shot your momma…” and take off from there on a scenic tour of her own mental countryside. She was alone on that bus most of the time, just her and the Thorazine. The rest of us stood back and waved “Buh-bye, Gramma! Hope you recognize us when you get back!” Here lately, it seems more and more like I got my own ticket to ride, and with the New York Times for a travel guide, my driver’s liable to end up using a Google map generated from signals sent by electrodes attached to the brain of an epileptic patient. Since when, I might ask, is that “standard procedure in such cases?”