August 18, 2004

Memory: Reality Or Fallacy?

The memory is deceptively inaccurate. When we experience wonder or dread, the stimuli that helped to embed it within our minds, quickly translates into words, as we share the event with our friends. The information that we give, becomes an approximation of the event, as words can never fully give justice to the intracacies of reality. A cloud of unconscious censorship removes the subtleties from mind, and as the story is told over and over again, the details no longer remain: Simply, we forget. We use phrases such as it's fresh in my memory, but when does a memory lose its potency?

Having travelled to Angkor Wat three times, the overwhelming impact of actually seeing the temple, as it comes into view from the surrounding road, simply translates into a very inefficient "Wow!", when the moment is conveyed to friends back in my home country. The majesty of Angkor is always an experience of overpowering intensity, that can only be fully appreciated by actually visiting the site. Repeated visits are necessary, so that the elementary "Wow Factor" does not become the modus operandi of our memory.

The same can be said for my first trip to Burma (Myanmar), one and half years ago. It did not take too long before I was cheapening my experience with "it's a wonderful place, with fantastic people". I had soon forgotten so much of its more hidden charms. It is these hidden charms, that I suppose were scratching at my curiosity to return. Why do any of us return to a place? Is it to discover new things, or is it just to remind ourselves of something forgotten?

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