Circling the Memory Hole
Imagine for a moment, you woke up with no memory of anything.
What would walking around your house or apartment be like? You might not know to look in the fridge for food. You might think Tide Pods are edible. Not knowing that the faucet turns on the water, you might think you should drink out of the toilet.
It could take you days, weeks, or months to figure out how to use basic tools and appliances. If you went outside, odds are pretty good you’d get run over by a car, get punched in the nose for eating someone else’s food, or be arrested for using the street in the same way that other people use that giant porcelain device you’ve decided is a water bowl.
In other words, memory is the opposite of ignorance. I know, I know, very smart people like to talk about the difference between knowledge and information, data and wisdom. Those are interesting conversations. But all of those things are downstream of memory. Memory is the thing that all of those things are grounded in. Without memory, we are all perfect Cynics—not in the world-weary modern sense—but in the original Greek sense. To be a true, capital-C Cynic in the spirit of Diogenes was to live “like a dog,” kunikos, without a care for convention or manners and without fealty to the accumulated wisdom stored in memory.