September 21st, 2007

Athena's owl & olive pic#61934290

Living without memory

The situations that the different people described are in are disturbing and distressing, but what extraordinary things they are capable of, and what strange aspects of knowledge, consciousness and how humans (& perhaps other animals) function their capacities throw some illumination onto.

Sometimes I feel that what I'm aware of as “self” is like a little sailboat scudding along over sunlit wavetops on a wafer-thin surface — a bit like a scale diagram of the biosphere in relation to the size of the earth — while all kinds of life and currents are going on unseen beneath.

A Neurologist’s Notebook

The Abyss

Music and amnesia.
by Oliver Sacks, The New Yorker, September 24, 2007 reporting/ 2007/ 09/ 24/ 070924fa_fact_sacks?currentPage=1
Clive Wearing now has “a memory span of only seconds – the most devastating case of amnesia ever recorded. New events and experiences were effaced almost instantly … he did not seem to be able to retain any impression of anything for more than a blink. Indeed, if he did blink, his eyelids parted to reveal a new scene. The view before the blink was utterly forgotten …
In addition to this inability to preserve new memories, Clive had a retrograde amnesia, a deletion of virtually his entire past.”