4.16.15–>”More On Memory (not moron memory)


Psalm 139:14

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.

So Erasmus’ recommendation to keep a notebook of memorable quotes and what not was widely and enthusiastically followed. These notebooks came to be called “commonplace books” or simply “commonplaces.” And by the seventeenth century their use had even spread to the schoolhouse. Commonplaces were seen as necessary tools for the cultivation of an educated mind.

In 1623, Francis Bacon observed that “there can hardly be anything more useful” as “a sound help for the memory” than “a good and learned Digest of Common Places.” He said that a well-maintained commonplace “supplies matter to invention.” This continued through the eighteenth century.

But the popularity of these commonplaces ebbed as the pace of life quickened in the nineteenth century, and by the mid twentieth century, memorization itself was not so cool anymore. Even educators in classrooms were seeing it as a waste of time, thinking it got in the way of imagination. Then, of course, as new forms of media storage kept arriving on the scene, we really lost our motivation for committing anything to memory. We can just search the tape, microfiche, hard drive, etc. The internet has come to be seen as a replacement for rather than a supplement to memory. We see it as freeing us up so we can use our brains for other more important tasks.

But is it freeing us up?

People now routinely make comparisons between artificial memory and biological memory as if they’re indistinguishable.

But are they?

Is memorization an obsolete waste of time now?

In 1892 William James said that “the art of remembering is the art of thinking.” Would he just be laughed at now as old fashioned? I mean if our memory serves only to recall information, then why not outsource it to free us up? Well, because our brain’s memory system, we have discovered, serves to do much more than merely retrieve information.

Tomorrow’s episode: “Short-term and long-term memory.” This really is going somewhere good, if you’ll be patient. Our brains are amazingly crafted by YHWH, and brain science keeps proving Jesus and the Bible to be the truth of truth to be followed for lasting peace.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

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