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Volume 10, Number 6
28 October 2003

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Eskimo Contribution to Memory
Every morning you wake up, you first need a few seconds to become conscious of who you are. You naturally do not spend time seriously thinking on it, for your brain does that automatically. Shortly after your eyes are opened, your mind makes you aware of your name, where you are, who your family is, and all of this without consulting your will. When you get up and wash your face, you know which tap opens the cold water, and that the toothpaste is out. You look at the clock, and can guess that most probably you'll miss the bus.
What you should do at this point is to stop for a second and ask yourself: “How do you know all this information?” The answer is because we all have memories about everything we’ve lived up to that morning. We must in the first place remember what our life has been like, to be able to go on with it the following day. Unless something very extraordinary happens like waking up in an igloo with Eskimos, you do not realize that your brain goes through and verifies that the data consisting of your past memories and what you see that morning match each other harmoniously.
Memory refers to past events, as you would expect. Not only including the oldest events of your childhood, but the very recent moment in which you’ve just read the previous paragraph of this article. Both of these have taken place in the past. So, here is the trick: If there was the technology that made it possible for humans to replace, add, or remove memories, would you like to change anything at all?
If you’ve really achieved the greatest portions of your dreams and you do not remember it, is it really worth anything? On the other hand, if you remember perfectly that Nicole Kidman told you yesterday that she had left Tom for you, wouldn’t that change something? Though, since the past is connected to the future, there's always the chance of being eventually disappointed by your artificial memories.
What constructs our self-image, then, is how we remember our own lives as we get up in the morning. Make sure to compile positive memories about it.

Efe Peker (POLS/IV)

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