“Life can only be understood backwards, but it can only be lived forwards.”
— Søren Kierkegaard
News, memory, and truth have little to do with each other. None of them stand up to scrutiny. Our language fails to distinguish between the two radically different meanings of memory. We equate the meaning of the entirely different phrases, “Can you describe your feelings?” and “Can you recall how you felt?”
Requesting a description asks for a summary in terms of signs and signifiers. In contrast, asking you to recall how you felt could mean asking you to re-experience a past feeling, or to create in us what you felt. A description bears no more resemblance to a feeling than a label can be equated with a sensation.
Clear thinking—if there can be such a thing—requires recalling multiple memories: what we thought, what we saw, how we felt, our circumstances in the past, and perhaps most importantly, the connections between the present and the past.
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