Saturday, July 02, 2005

Olick on Mnemonic Technologies

from Olick, Jeffrey K. "Collective Memory: The Two Cultures." Sociological Theory 17.3 (1999): 333-348.

"Quite simply, there are mnemonic technologies other than the brain. Historians of memory, for instance, have demonstrated the importance of various forms of recording for our mnemonic capacities (Le Geoff 1992 [Le Geoff, Jacques. History and Memory New York: Columbia UP, 1992]). These affect both individual rememberers as well as societies. For individuals, being able to write a note or record a message or take a photograph vastly extends the capacity to 'remember,' not simply by providing storage space outside of the brain but by stimulating our neurological storage processes in particular ways; in this manner, we have become genuine cyborgs with what several authors have called 'prosthetic' memories. And this implies no particular attachment to modern computer technology: medieval orators are legendary for their / mnemonic capacities, which depended upon conceptual devices collectively known as ars memoriae, the arts of memory (Yates 1966)" (342-43).

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