FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lament of the Mnemonopath

by BEN TRIPP

I only know the lyrics to two songs. The first is ‘Happy Birthday To You’ and the other is ‘Thunderball’, from the movie of the same name. Why I know the lyrics to ‘Thunderball’ but not to “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” or “Smoke On The Water” is unclear to me, and to medical science. My memory is faulty, that’s all. But not completely faulty. If it was, I could live in happy oblivion, like that guy in ‘Memento’.

Although I remember very little for more than six or seven seconds, but I do remember faces with near-eidetic clarity. Not just some faces, but every face I’ve ever set eyes on. This makes my memory troubles in all other areas fairly embarrassing. For example I run into two guys in the men’s room of O’Hare airport. Recognize both of them. If I greet both men (always at the sink, never at the urinal, I have limits) it will invariably turn out I was on an elevator with one of them for two floors in 1978. He has no idea he’s ever seen me before and thinks I’m making a pass at him. But if I don’t greet either of them, it will turn out the other guy was my college roommate for three years. In either case, trying to explain I have undiagnosed brain cancer just doesn’t coupez la moutarde. You know what I say to this problem? I say: he knows the meaning of success/ his needs are more so he gives less/ they call him the winner who takes all/ and he strikes like Thunderball.

Aside from the social discomfort of a bad memory, there is actual danger involved. Before I dropped LSD with my college roommate (just kidding, son, I never touched drugs) I still had a bad memory, although I could at least remember my phone number. Me and my childhood chums did all that typical kid stuff, like making bear traps out of old Ford truck leaf springs and placing them in the woods under a thin covering of leaves. My pals could remember where the bear traps were located. I could not. I’d get as far as “it’s under a pine tree”, but which of the 300 million pine trees in New Hampshire, I couldn’t recall. One near my house, unfortunately, and off I’d go to the hospital to get my ankles pinned back together. The bears thought it was hilarious. Oddly enough, however, I never lose my keys.

Keys, wallets, glasses: I can always remember where they are. Like the back seat of the taxi I was in an hour earlier, or a hotel room in Brussels. But at least I remember. Also, a wealth of useless trivia is at my mental fingertips, and is probably the reason people invite me to so many parties and things. It’s not my juggling, so it must be the trivia. Did you know coffee trees are self-pollinating, or that Itzhak Perlman contracted polio at age 4? I do, and I also know that tarantula blood is called ‘hemolymph’, and it’s light blue. This is the kind of stuff I cling to because I can’t remember the alphabet without reciting it like on Sesame Street, and because although I’ve lived in the same place for fifteen years I can’t remember the streets that make up the nearest major intersection. I’m scared. I need somebody to hold me, but I can’t remember who. Are you my mother? Are we friends? And who wrote the preceding paragraph?

A person doesn’t have a memory like mine and not learn a few mnemonic tricks to help him through that thing I just forgot the word for. So here are some little exercises to help even the most absent-minded among us do whatever it was I was talking about.

1. Write it down on a piece of paper. Then all you have to do is remember the piece of paper. For this reason, I wear paper pants. Because 9 times out of 10, I remember my pants.

2. Practice word association. Say you need to remember someone’s name is Reginald. Merely come up with a little rhyme that incorporates the name, like so: “I once knew a hamster named Reginald/ That thought Jayson Blair was original”. See? Now you remember Jayson Blair’s name.

3. Habits. Always put things in the same place and you will always know where to look for them. This is why they don’t move the Eiffel Tower around France, even though it’s portable. The Eiffel Tower requires 50 tons of paint every 7 years.

BEN TRIPP can be reached at credel@earthlink.net.

His book, ‘Square In The Nuts’, has been held up at the printers by thugs but will be released as soon as hostage negotiations conclude.

See also www.cafeshops.com/tarantulabros.

May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail