Slow Recall

A bank in Huntsville, Texas once lent me money to buy a pair of glasses to replace a pair that broke—I think. I was living hand-to-mouth at the time, with my income as a prison system research intern barely enough to cover basic living expenses. If my recall is accurate, the loan was $200 or less. The memory is vague, at best. It could be entirely artificial. But why would my brain manufacture such a mundane, synthetic memory? I suppose the mind can fill in blank spaces around incomplete recollections simply to give otherwise meaningless pieces of pointless consciousness some relevance. Yet does the brain need relevance in every shred of memory? My guess is that relevance is not necessary to justify remembering specific moments. On the other hand, maybe only experiences that were—or seem to be—relevant in some way qualify for registration in the brain as memories. Most of our lives’ experiences probably are irrelevant; otherwise, we might all have photographic memories. While trying to make sense this morning of my thoughts surrounding the subject, I learned another term for such precise recall: eidetic memory. But photographic memory and eidetic memory are slightly different; the former is limited to visual experiences, whereas the latter includes recall of auditory and other sensory experiences. I will not remember the distinction between the two, of course; nor will I remember the meaning of eidetic. For now, though, the differences and similarities may be relevant. Or may not be of any value whatsoever. I am almost certain that I no longer have any physical record of the bank loan transaction; if, indeed, it actually took place. It does not matter, of course. The importance of the memory—whether real or false—does not rise to the level of relevant. So, why does it exist? Dunno.


Speaking of memories, they are unreliable. Even crisp, clear, vivid recollections sometimes are distortions; similar to reality, perhaps, but not dependably accurate. That being said, maybe “false” memories are not truly false. Perhaps they simply are misrepresentations of historical experience—efforts to fashion full-blown memories out of bent and broken fragments. Some dreams may arise from similar attempts. But a dream (or a “memory”) in which the recollection involves one’s service in the Union Army during the Civil War probably has not connection to reality. Probably? Huh!


Beginning at roughly 10 this morning, I must refrain from consuming sugars, starches, and dairy until 6 tomorrow morning, at which time I must refrain from eating and drinking until after tomorrow’s PET scan. The instructions I was given were oral; by phone. Ideally, I would have been given a sheet of paper (or an online reference) with more details; such as whether the sugars in strawberries and blueberries are off limits or, instead, just the raw stuff. What can I eat? Steak? Bacon? Lettuce? Earthworms? Brussels sprouts? Fasting probably is the safest route to take. I should recommend to the medical folks, though, that incomplete oral instructions should be replaced with more comprehensive written materials. But will I?


Never question the relevance of truth, but always question the truth of relevance.

~ Craig Bruce ~


Pain triggers fear. Not always, but often enough to give it credence. “It?” Referring to which, pain or fear? Everyone is a heartbeat or a brainwave away from “the end.” Yet we assume that last heartbeat or final brainwave will be much, much later. At least we hope so.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Slow Recall

  1. Trisha says:

    When I had my PET done 5 months ago, I was given a general list of permitted/not permitted foods. Essentially it was a high protein, low carb diet I had to follow for 24 hours before the test. Meats, poultry, fish, dairy, vegetables (except carrots & beets), no fruits or fruit juices.

    Good luck with your PET scan, John. 🙂

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