Childhood amended (part 2):
Personal geographies form important aspects of our identities. Landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes, even lunar landscapes mould our psyches and our psychoses. Memories of places and spaces linger like way points over shoulders on the narrative journeys we call our lives.
Current thought on cognition and memory focusses on the notion that there is no central ‘hard-drive’ in the brain where memories are somehow stored and retrieved. There is only ever one copy of each of our memories in our brains. Individual memories are fragile texts, and when one is called into what we term consciousness it is read and then rewritten.
Memories change. They are fluid, liable, under conditions of joy or trauma, to be recast in new forms.
Childhood memories are rewritten as we age. Each time we remember a place from our childhood it fuses with new perceptions and new locales. What we call déjà vu can perhaps be seen as an indication that memory exists partly as sensory stimulus in the physical world around us.
A walk down any street may suddenly trigger a memory of a childhood event: the time you were bitten by a dog; those red sandals you wore to school. A particular arrangement of colours, buildings, avenues of trees, a quality of light, the sound of a bell, the smell of market stalls trigger synaptic pathways in our brains that stimulate the memory of a place that is similar.
As we walk on and enjoy this uncanny sensation (and enjoy the words we have that name these sensation events) the memory that was triggered has been amended; new experience has been tagged on.
My childhood has been amended.
This may be one reason why memory fades; the specific replaced by the generic. Perhaps this is why we seek the individual and the unique in a world that is increasingly modular and the same in feel.
My memories of growing up on an airfield are amended by these images. The photographs may not speak directly to you in the way they speak to me—these images send whispers to my ears and bring tears to my eyes. RAF Newton has taken me back down the Fosse. Back to my childhood Kemble and the anxiety of war.
The Fosse as runway to pacifism.
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(All images & text by Jez Noond.)
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