FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lament of the Mnemonopath

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.

More articles by:
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail