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« Tales of Food: The Ziti Movie [by Alan Ziegler] | Main | Communities of difference, communities of care [by tree turtle] »

March 12, 2015


Breathtaking and brave.

Thank you, dear friend.

I would like to follow-up this post with several qualifications about eidetic memory that I cut from the original post due to length. I intentionally did not use the sometimes repudiated term "photographic memory." So too did I try to characterize the way the "image" of the text came to me as a young child: for the most part, I was able to recall writing by connecting heard oral speech with my recognition of what the textual version of that orality looked like in church. Eidetic memory itself is extremely controversial. Some researchers think that children with this condition can only recall images or sounds, not complex symbols like text. Others say that children can indeed recall text. Still others say that children can recall text, but some argue that this ability is only sharpened with the aid of mnemonic devices. My eldest brother was a professional magician and magic was a part of my early family world as a child entertainer. Once I entered training and started working with a theatrical manager, my recall abilities became a potential parlor trick. Around 7 years old, I began teaching myself mnemonic devices that I picked up through my growing knowledge of the business of magic in order to meet the demands of showing off this parlor trick. I found that I was best at remembering text that relied heavily on rhetorical figures and musical cadences. I think I began to lose major parts of my root eidetic memory abilities after suffering yet another concussion and living in the last foster care facility at which I stayed. However, even in my late teens and adulthood, I still remembered a great deal, including entire passages of the US Constitution and, while advanced math often eludes me, I can still recite a lot of text on cue until this very day. For those of us touched by this condition as a child, I believe that it manifests itself within us in our own particular ways and it is governed by the circumstances in our lives. Thus, eidetic memory is not a one-size-fits-all condition. It is as conditional and contingent as any highly particularized lived experience.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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