Memory: Fragments of a Modern History

Jenny Diski writes:

Our two conflicting beliefs – that memory is infallibly impressed in the library of our brains, and that memory is unreliably subject to physical and cultural influences – are the alternating strands that structure Winter’s book on the past century of memory research. Popular understanding of how our minds work has been mirrored by two theories which vie with each other for dominance. Memory is authentic, a perfectly preserved neuronal record of every experience retained in the brain; or it is reconstructive, a dynamic mixture of recorded past experience continually reassembled according to past events and present information, and conventionalised to make sense of current cultural and personal contexts and cognitive norms.

(LRB 9 February 2012)

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