Memories are funny thing.
First, I am getting old so I have more memories and little difficulty dredging up most old ones. I never seemed to be able to share the memories of what happened before I was around ten years old. I figured that the loss of our house to a late night winter fire, wiped many of my early memories. Wipe out the bad. Lose some of the good.
Second, I had a cerebral stroke. In fact I continue to have strokes and I suspect that with each bang to my brain, I lose an early trip to Disneyland or my first sexual encounter and maybe even my car.
So there was a Cable Network Satirist. His name is Jon Stewart. Each day, he could recap some current event, usually a political current event and preface his next move by saying “Now lets take a look at the opposition “ and then turn to the past: maybe rolling back a year or five or a dozen and reveal that the person being reviewed now says down was up and then said up was down. Someone supported abortion or for the war or against the trade deal is now pro-life, pro-peace and against any further bad deals.
He said our lives changed because in a few minutes, his staff could locate someone who was being diametrically opposed to his current statements.
Oh the power of the History and the beauty of videotape.
But even when he would drum these incredible reversals two dozen nights a month, we rarely responded through the voting booth or voiced our outrage, grabbing our signs and demonstrating in the street.
I want to blame someone for disrupting our memories. Somewhere along the way, we have lost our ability to retain memories. At least we have segregated memories into categories with headings like:
MEMORY FILING SYSTEM
|CATS TO REMEMBER
||STUPID THINGS MY FAMILY DID
||STUPID THINGS PEOPLE I DIDN”T
||REAL EASY AT PICNICS
I wrote down a phrase the other day I thought pertinent to my discussion of Memories. I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget. I had to tear through piles of notes to find it this afternoon.
Somewhere along the way we Broke our Cycle of Memory.
And as if we didn’t know, where do we get Memories? Right, I know they are combinations of electrical impulses stored in specialized cells in the hippocampus and really bad memories we just seem to be made up and no one is quite sure where those come from…but let’s bring it down a few notches.
We had experiences. Experiences became Memories. Memories took up resident somewhere in our brain. Memories were almost like a mirror that we could call up and guide us through the treacheries and lollipops of life. Memories help us to make decisions. It was difficult for someone to channel into our memories and get us to change our minds at least if they didn’t have specialized CIA training and quantities of psychedelics.
Memories are like the cement when someone insists they have made their mind up.
It happened. People could change their minds. They could learn, they could have a new experience. They could contemplate. Maybe even retain some cognitive moment while drinking alcohol, taking psychedelics, smoking pot or even have a revelation. A spiritual revelation. Even a new sex partner
Memories were the mirror, the foundation that we went to move our psyche one way or another.
And then someone dropped the mirror and it shattered into a million pieces and we seemed to have lost our memories or at least the strings that tied them all together. We end up with little pieces of memories and not always the ones we needed. We were exposed and something was getting ready to take control. No more contemplating out windows, no more longing stares into a lovers eyes. No more focus.
And I think the villain was MTV.
Before MTV there were windows and vistas and art. Paintings that would draw us in and we would study and each time we looked into the Titian or the Van Gogh or the Rembrandt, we would experience a new vision, a fleck of color we had not seen before, the curve of a body or the shape of a cloud. We would look deeper into the Artists soul, from our eyes to the painting to the images that has arisen from the Artists mind and deep into their psyche.
We had something called (in the olden days, mind you) an “Attention Span.” We could sit patiently. We could read books. Magazine articles went on for pages and finished at the end of the issue or were even…continued in the next issue. We had more tolerance. We honked our horns then as we do now but…
Films, TV shows could spend several minutes paused on an actor’s face, on the emotions captured in the slightest movement of their facial muscles. We even peered deep into their souls through their eyes. Backdrops and scenes revolved around the familiar and we accepted locations and sometimes we were even jolted when they left the living room or the barn or the farmhouse and ventured into…the street. Background movements were kept to a minimum so we could concentrate on the story.
And then came MTV.
And they shattered the mirror. Performers on foggy stages that spent three, four self-absorbed minutes with the cameras focused strictly on their undeniably immortal performance eventually faded from view.
MTV found that they could flash from scene to scene and instead of pausing to absorb the reality of what we were witnessing, the scene would flash…two seconds, three seconds maybe even twenty seconds. We had been warned by Vance Packard and dozens of other writers in the 60’s. These writers saw the power that the images that flashed before us, seemingly randon flashes of color had on our psyche.
In the field of marketing . . . the trend toward selling [has] reachedsomething of a nadir with the unveiling . . . of so-called subliminal projection.
That is the technique designed to flash messages past our conscious guard.
Marshall McLuhan in the Medium is the Message even said:
The medium is the message.
We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.
Art is anything you can get away with.
Media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique
ratios of sense perception…When these
ratios change, men change.
MTV must have been reading in the 60’s because they got the message. What they didn’t realize was that they were sparking an evolution of how we treat memories.
By reducing the music video to a four minute set of 100’s of images, it re-wired our brains. Our minds had to work faster and faster to absorb until exhausted our minds and the attempt to store memories began to fail. Film Producers bombarded us with not only subliminal messages and advertising, they changed the entire way we watch and interact with their art. They could insert thousands of images in two hours where there had been dozens in the past.
They had us. I watched a scene in one of the most popular cable shows and witnessed a two or three minute segment that had fragments of images that may have lasted less than a second, with casts members and actions flashing just as quickly.
And then came the News Media. If it worked for MTV and Film and popular cable TV episodes, the News Media was not to be left behind. They had advertising dollars to earn. They had Stockholders and Investors to please. They needed enhanced ROI.
Flash, image, Flash, image, Flash, image, Flash, image. In the time it would take to absorb the salient points of one story they could tell four. Murder, retaliation, Police, victim, demonstrators, repeat cycle and repeat cycle and again and then again.
And all the while our News scene was populated with scroll bars and inset screens and tiny blocks of animated talking heads, frequently talking over each other. If they got the images out at a higher pace, it would give the News channels an extended time to sell the products that financed their airtime. Shorter stories, fewer details, more conjecture meant more time to sell stuff. Advertisers stuff.
The News media began to select the news that would reinforce a particular candidate, not because they supported their stance, but smart Media Managers knew that a controversial subject would mean conflict and advertisement dollars in the future.
Flash, image, Flash, image, Flash, image, Flash, image.
Murder, retaliation, Police, Victim, Demonstrators, and again and then again.
Those viewers who were already challenged by certain demons, sat glassy eyed, staring at the flash image murder victim police and the warning of blood and they drew their own plans of retaliation in the minds of the challenged viewer
And the rest of us fell victim to the flashing images on MTV and film and our favorite cable shows. We forgot the past. The mirror of Memory was shattered. It was just a vague shadow. They had broken our cycle of memory and now look at who we have chosen to lead our Country.
Even when the Media plays and replays how one candidate was interviewed in the past how he was going to run with one party over the other because they are fools and easy to confuse. We seem to forget how he called them all malleable fools and nominated him anyway.
While the other candidate has a checkered past of supporting right wing extremists and film of taking part in Anti-Union, anti-Minimum wage board meetings of major retailers that is known to drive small business owners right out of business.
Somehow we have lost any ability to remember, even when we are reminded a thousand times and make any sort of rational decision.
I suspect I should go eat some fast food. I know I am hungry.