A Collective Failing Memory

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“Our Nation’s Abdication of Remembering that which was Worthy”
Written by Rick Trottier – RJT Images
As I have grown older, I have quietly feared the likely possibility that at some point I will have to come to terms with waning powers of recall. I have watched family and friends of my grandparents’ and parents’ generations struggle with it and know that the day will not be too far off. For the time being though, I am still blessed to have a formidable long-term memory and can recall facts, events, feelings and all manner of minutiae from long ago. My short-term memory seems a little creaky at times but it is likely to be more of a question of the demands of multi-tasking, so to combat this dilemma, I create all kinds of lists to keep in mind that which I know I want to maintain some degree of mastery. I even still plan out writing like this article, putting down on paper the key points I wish to explore in a fashion that is little different from when I was a school boy, when I once was doing many reports about people, places and things that I was required to learn about. During my long teaching career, when the impetus of teaching “higher level thinking skills” took away the onus of expecting memorization in operations like mathematics and spelling, I resisted the urge to jump on such a bandwagon and found compromise where none seemed to exist, asking my students to remember important knowledge AND think critically and analytically. And when I teach models and photographers about the finer points of the business wherein I am set today, I do all in my power to encourage the remembrance of that which I impart, hoping those tidbits of understanding will come in handy at some point in the future.
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But my view from the vantage I now occupy in my dealings with the varied and sundry people who cross my path is grim when it comes to memory and what value it has for us in the modern world. When Andy Warhol remarked in 1968 that “in the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes”, what he should have said was that “sometime in the future, anything that is 15 minutes old will be deemed forgettable and pass into oblivion for eternity”. For that is what seems to be the case when it comes to memory and how it applies to our sense of ourselves as a Nation and a People. Lip service is given to remembering important individuals and events from our past, but few people really understand what it is they are supposed to keep in memory or why it might be significant. Instead, our focus is on what is current in the media, what is crass and boorish, what catches people’s attention for a very short period of time because it escalates drama or causes folk to feel a sense of concern, even if it isn’t really all that serious. A recent snowstorm that struck the New England region dumped about a foot of snow in and around where I live. Listening to the news, you’d think we were enduring one of the worst weather events of all time. If I had a nickel for all the 12 inch deep snowfalls I’ve seen in my life, I’d have enough money to buy a nice meal I suspect. But our collective consciousness seems unable to cast itself back very far anymore and so we live in a bubble of emotional manipulation that inhibits our ability to garner anything of value from that which has come before.
You can see more of this article in our April 2017 issue of ModelsMania

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