I’m no memory expert, (at least, not to the best of my recollection), but I have wrestled with my own memory long enough to have a particular wisdom with regard to the illusive relationship we all have with our synaptic connections. Historically, attempts have been made, since the age of cave men, to chronicle events through crude paintings, stone tablets, printed language and filmed and digitally captured media as fact checks against the unreliable sharing of oral history. It seems to be an inbred human condition to want to know, (23 & Me says my DNA indicates that I am 14% Ethiopian, 23% Cherokee, 15% Sherpa and 48% incalculable inorganic matter), as best we can, the truths of our past, although manipulators have diddled with those truths forever. Certainly, embellished versions, designed to shed a more complimentary light on the powerful of any given era, are prevalent throughout time. With the invention of radio and television, the veracity of that light seemed to shine clearer and truer for the period that included most of the 20th century, as we were suddenly privy to on-the-spot audio and video reporting that, at first, seemed to tighten the boundaries of unsubstantiated spin. However, since we humans are such a sucky species, the artful rise of media-based propaganda rose to the challenge of clouding or shamelessly rewriting history to support the agendas of any whack-a-doodle despot, religious zealot, (aka televangelist), laundry detergent salesman or any cockamamie, well-financed attention seeker. Then, the InterNet happened, with its boundless potential for instant intellectual, social and spiritual gratification, only to fall to the urgings of our worst nature, giving voice to an endlessly nonsensical stream of informationally-challenged blather, (aka Wikipedia, aka Twitter, aka Breitbart or Foxnews.com).
Uh…what was I talking about? Oh, yeah…memory. Scientific study provides strong evidence that memory, as a general rule, is muscle-like in its ability to strengthen or atrophy with usage or lack thereof. There are anomalies on both sides of that norm, those with so-called photographic capabilities and others with minimal recall, but the constant, in virtually every study, is that over time, much of what we honestly consider to be verifiably truthful remembrance, is, in fact, a creative, often unrecognizably so, self-satisfying interpretation of events. Individuals of reasonably balanced psychological natures cast themselves in a more positive-leaning cerebral history while some, with a penchant for self-loathing, may skew in another direction.
So, who cares? Well, we all should. In these times of overtly challenged truthfulness, where CNN has to run ads reminding people that an apple is not a banana, the benumbing, frivolous insistence for the most accurate version of reality has been Trumped, (absolutely, no pun intended), by rampant, unapologetic bullshit. There are existential dangers afoot when the most powerful man on the planet has his feet firmly planted in the muck of a fantasy land of his own humorless, cheaply constructed creation. And, lest you perceive my criticism as that of a stone-throwing, glass house occupant…full disclosure. My eleventh-grade-Michigan State-honored term paper, “How Chinese Poetry Influenced the Art of War”, was pulled directly out of my ass, (fake poetry and all), BUT, no animals, eco-systems, immigrant populations, economic institutions or civilizations, past or present, were threatened by the rouse. Anyway, that’s how I remember it.