Lost on Memory Lane

memory laneI could still write a long list of things my Mind has collected to describe who I am. The more connections I have, the more the line blurs between what I remember as Time flows by in this 3D human reality .

But this is an illusion. I cannot remember 99.99% of what’s occurred during my life. Memory and perception are intertwined. Over 69 years of my life have flowed past, and being honest, I cannot remember with any clarity or detail what happened over that “time”. Even extraordinary events are not what I’d call memories in any meaningful sense. The advent of video, and especially, digital recording devices, have preserved some snippets of my past. But I appear in very few digital reproductions of my past.

I’m not working now and live a quasi-hermetic life so there’s not as much to remember as there would be in the mind of anyone living a more diverse, complicated life. Most of us would remain serious suspects in a police investigation assuming we’d be stumped if asked, “where were you on February 18.”

 69.5 years of life x 365 x 24 hours = 608,820 hours of life including dream time. 608,820 hours of potential memories x 0.001 = 608.82 hours (one thousandth of a percent) of clear, accurate memories is preposterous for my mind. Remembering 60 hours for clear mental replay means a 0.0001% (one ten thousandth) retrieval rate.

Now let’s not count dreams as I don’t even have a few moments of conscious connection to them. I “wake up” and they’re gone. My other senses, directed and controlled by my now conscious Mind, take control of all functions. I’ll assume that 8 of my daily 24 hours are spent asleep. A full 1/3 of my life. 608,820 x .66 = 401,821 hours of conscious “awake” time. Were I able to recall one ten thousandth of it, that would amount to 40 hours of past experiences. Nope.

All my senses funnel through the Doors of Perception (a tip of the hat to Aldous Huxley and his experimentation with mescaline).  The conscious experience, the Now, that isn’t immediately discarded (most of it) is then processed through my brain aka my Mind and “stored” as potential memories. 

After lubricating the hinges of his Doors of Perception with mescaline, Huxley wrote….aldous huxley

“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies – all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes. Most island universes are sufficiently like one another to Permit of inferential understanding or even of mutual empathy or “feeling into.” Thus, remembering our own bereavements and humiliations, we can condole with others in analogous circumstances, can put ourselves (always, of course, in a slightly Pickwickian sense) in their places. But in certain cases communication between universes is incomplete or even nonexistent. The mind is its own place, and the Places inhabited by the insane and the exceptionally gifted are so different from the places where ordinary men and women live, that there is little or no common ground of memory to serve as a basis for understanding or fellow feeling. Words are uttered, but fail to enlighten. The things and events to which the symbols refer belong to mutually exclusive realms of experience.”

Here’s a BBC documentary about his extraordinary man’s life….

…….”Visual impressions are greatly intensified and the eye recovers some of the perceptual innocence of childhood, when the sensum was not immediately and automatically subordinated to the concept. Interest in space is diminished and interest in time falls almost to zero.”

Quotes from Aldous Huxley….

“You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. . . . Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat’s meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough.”

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

..”What you need,” the Savage went on, “is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.” 

― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“Man is so intelligent that he feels impelled to invent theories to account for what happens in the world. Unfortunately, he is not quite intelligent enough, in most cases, to find correct explanations. So that when he acts on his theories, he behaves very often like a lunatic.”

“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.”

“…reality, however utopian, is something from which people feel the need of taking pretty frequent holidays….”

“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.”

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”

“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.” 

“Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.”

“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”

“If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.”

On his deathbed, unable to speak due to advanced laryngeal cancer, Huxley made a written request to his wife Laura for “LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular”. According to her account of his death, in This Timeless Moment, she obliged with an injection at 11:20 a.m. and a second dose an hour later; Huxley died aged 69, at 5:20 p.m. (Los Angeles time), on 22 November 1963.

Media coverage of Huxley’s passing — as with that of the author C. S. Lewis – was overshadowed by the three great menassassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on the same day. This coincidence served as the basis for Peter Kreeft’s book Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, & Aldous Huxley, which imagines a conversation among the three men taking place in Purgatory following their deaths.

I’ve read Doors of Perception a number of times. Twice, as a young man, I’d taken what was billed as mescaline for the reading (actually the “attempted reading” as I had the Doors playing in the background) to make the experience more Huxleyesque. One description I’d use for the majority of my drug related experiences would be to “lose my Mind” through altered perception. The restrictions my Mind used to control my perceptions were loosened, filters removed and everyday settings were transformed, often to their essence.  

memoriesOur Mind functions in a three-dimensional reality. Without the perception of Time, everything would be happening all at once and “madness” would be the result, as it often was under the influence of certain drugs. The intense effects of psychedelic drugs would diminish (perhaps along with what would have been “memories”), but the afterglow of the experience remained. My choice of  psychedelic drugs were principally from the Ergoline and Phenethylamine families, as they were the ones easily available. I can only imagine what could have happened if I’d had this menu available.

My faded and tattered patchwork of memories is a mixture of the hazy recall of life itself (the bulk of it mundane), combined with movies watched, books and magazines read, webpages watched/read, dreams had (night and day) and drugs ingested, all passed through the filters of my Mind.

I’ll always wonder why, with the trillions of dollars invested, and billions of hours of research and development by highly educated scientists and engineers, no one has produced a BDR  (Brain and Dream Recorder). How hard could it be with these brain monitoring devices already in operation?

Electroencephalography (EEG):
When using EEG, you are measuring electrical activity generated by the various cortical layers of the human brain.brain monitoring

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI):
fMRI is a functional neuroimaging procedure measuring brain function by detecting changes in blood flow associated with neural activity.

Magnetoencephalography (MEG):
While EEG is recording the electrical activity generated by neural firing, MEG captures the magnetic fields generated by neural activity.

IMG_2189I’m OK with my pathetic memory, but would enjoy watching a couple of my dreams preserved on a hard drive. I’d also like to watch the dreams and thoughts of my dog. I would find this far more interesting than what the surface of Jupiter looks like or the latest weaponry.

“To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.”
― Aldous Huxley

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