…memory or imagination (part two)…

“We cannot change our memories, but we can change their meaning and the power they have over us” — David Seamands

I want to review an important idea covered in my last four blog posts.  But I fear any review complicates very issue I want to bring up.  Memory’s ability to ‘call-up and select’ is very different from the imagination’s ability to ‘hold and contain.’

Let me get at this idea using a couple of jokes:

  • What’s the difference between a lawyer and an angry rhinoceros? — The lawyer charges more.
  • What’s the difference between a washing machine and a violist? — Vibrato.
  • What is the difference between a Harley and a Hoover? — The position of the dirt bag.

OK… the last one was out of line, I apologize to the vacuum cleaner.

What’s demonstrated here, is the idea that the joke’s leading question ‘calls up and selects’ while its answer ‘holds and contains’ – but in an unexpected way.  Lawyer/rhinoceros? – Totally different – nothing the same; except for the “charge.” Memory does not know the image value that it selects, only imagination does.  Memory calls up and selects, but we are often “surprised” by what our imagination holds and contains.  And each individual’s imagination holds and contains image values differently (and uniquely) because he or she possesses a different set of image compressions (baseline image values, which could be said to possess that person, but that’s for another post).

Really, the most important idea introduce in the last four blogs was the idea that memory can only call up and select.  And that, which is held and contained by choice, must come from somewhere beyond our control.  The faithfulness of imagination to its values is largely unexplainable.  There’s a kind of “Who’s on First” problem?  We always get more than we bargain for.   “Call-up and select” evokes an image value but what we get is wider and bigger than we expect.   And to others our “call references” may seem completely wrong (even though we are fully invested in them).  Imagination is faithful to what we experience, but Memory’s ability to ‘call-up and select’ can only be partial; it can never be complete.   Imagination surpasses  Memory (or maybe “distorts” it … if we become possessed by it). 

Numerous studies have shown that eye-witness accounts are inaccurate.  Image value prevents us from seeing things as they are, or it forces us into a “label” them in unwarranted ways.  Needless to say, image value is the single greatest factor influencing one’s judgment.  But how ironic, that judgment clarification demands us to step into the unknown of “containing and holding” first – prior to “calling up and selecting.”  Normally, we are unwilling to do that because we don’t know where it will take us.  And like the jokes we saw, the wider net that opens surprises us.  With judgment clarification, “hold and contain” is primary act.  It shakes loose and brings to our attention “what-we’re-not-aware-of” just as we open our awareness to it, expanding the place where we are, right now, in the moment.

Thanks for listening!


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