February 1, 2013

"Confusion over sources or indifference to them can be a paradoxical strength..."

"... if we could tag the sources of all our knowledge, we would be overwhelmed with often irrelevant information," writes Oliver Sacks in an essay about memory.
Indifference to source allows us to assimilate what we read, what we are told, what others say and think and write and paint, as intensely and richly as if they were primary experiences. It allows us to see and hear with other eyes and ears, to enter into other minds, to assimilate the art and science and religion of the whole culture, to enter into and contribute to the common mind, the general commonwealth of knowledge. This sort of sharing and participation, this communion, would not be possible if all our knowledge, our memories, were tagged and identified, seen as private, exclusively ours. Memory is dialogic and arises not only from direct experience but from the intercourse of many minds.

19 comments:

Scott said...

What?

Levi Starks said...

Is he really the first person to have said that?

Scott said...

I don't remember.

Mitchell the Bat said...

So progress is real?

Bryan Townsend said...

Ah, this would be so true if only half of the sources weren't following malicious agendas!

traditionalguy said...

Intercourse of many minds may be the theme today.

Does caffeine count as mind viagra? That may be Red Bull's marketing meme.

Poetry is the thing. It is the climax of mental intercourse.

Nonapod said...

He's basically stating if we had a index reference key about every data element in our heads we'd be overwhelmed, if our brains worked like a hash table or associative array that is.

kentuckyliz said...

We filter and trash a lot of what we perceive, or we'd be mentally overwhelmed. Priorities. I try to remember what I need to.

chickelit said...

Consilience

Don't all jump at once to click that link -- you'll overwhelm the server.

ricpic said...

In intercourse there is strength.

ricpic said...

And fun.

Valentine Smith said...

"Speak Memory" was the title of Vladimir Nabokov's autobiography back in the 60's. Thereby perfectly illustrating many of Sacks' points. Very interesting, wide-ranging article.

Strelnikov said...

Sorry, I forgot to read this article.

great Unknown said...

Basically explaining mob mentality and why it is easy to manipulate the public.

edutcher said...

I thought I was just aphasic.

"Memory is dialogic and arises not only from direct experience but from the intercourse of many minds."

Is she talking about sex again?

heyboom said...

They say your memory is the second thing to go,,,I can't remember the first.

heyboom said...

They say your memory is the second thing to go,,,I can't remember the first.

Kevin said...

Intercourse. That's a good woody sort of word, isn't it? Inter-course.

TMink said...

Kind of an attributional collective unconscious.

Trey