If you remember something, you probably don’t really remember it …

A couple of Fridays ago I was listening to Science Friday on the radio and I heard a comment that a Neurologist made about memory. I’m paraphrasing but she said that everytime you remember something it’s less and less what actually happened. I’m going one step further and say that if you remember something you probably aren’t remembering it.

People say they have a lousy memory (I know I do), maybe my memory isn’t that bad. Some people say they use a camera to help them preserve memories, or that the photographs they are making are their memories. I don’t know about that. Usually when someone makes a photograph of something it looks nothing like what they remember, at least I know when I photograph something it looks completely different, it looks like a photograph of something.

I had this teacher in college named Siegfried Halus who was friends with a renown Biochemist named Max Beauvoir. Dr Beauvoir was also a Hougan, a High Priest in Voodoo Religion. I remember attending a lecture Dr Beauvoir gave at the Fletcher School, it was packed to capacity, maybe beyond capacity. It was around that time Seigfried told us something I have never forgotten. He talked about “essence” and how Dr Beauvoir had tiny jars of peoples’ essence all around his office, essence they freely gave him to help them stay healthy and well. When they were feeling under the weather they would call their friend and he would find their small bottle of them and do something to help them feel better. I don’t really understand how it worked but it worked.

I have started to put photographs in specimen jars these days. It started with a few plants, and it is now ending up with things I take for granted. The onramp of a highway or the open fridge. I know I won’t remember what these things were, and I know they aren’t memories, but the essence of things I see but don’t notice, maybe even the invisible.

velvia hosta I remember taking the photograph and remember the photograph but I don't remember it looking like this
hosta
the onramp from downtown Providence to 195.
onramp
open fridge it's never the same
contents of an open fridge

Author: jnanian

I am a Freelance Photographer in Rhode Island. I make photographs using a variety of methods with and without a camera. I make photo emulsions from scratch, I coat my own photo paper and make cyanotypes too. I am a huge fan of Caffenol, and instead of instant coffee, I roast my own beans and sell them. I also sell silver recovery products.