Friday, February 27, 2009

When can one remember?

Does the brain need verbal language to remember?  As a filing system?  I wouldn't believe much that my mother told me, she was so fond, but I believe that I was as young as nine months, as she said, because, such as it is, the memory is non-verbal and because its only distinguishing character is its causing self-awareness.  I remember how things looked but can't name them, the chatter of adults but no linguistic content.  Children today have babysitters, usually.  Wage-earning parents in 1935 usually did not go out, but when, as a couple, they did so, they had to take the baby to the other couple's house.
The reconstruction is very simple.  They went to play cards and put me, already asleep, to share a crib with the other couple's baby.  At some time I woke up and did not stop crying.  They picked me up and held me while they finished the game, then carried me down the garden path.  I remember looking up into the leaves of, perhaps, a loquat tree
Everything was unfamiliar.  I was nowhere.  I couldn't pull myself up.  Out in the light I had my parents, but everything else was an unknown.  I say, they were playing cards only because my visual memory corresponds, sort of, to kitchen-table card games.  I was afraid, and so I knew I was I: I was conscious.  My next real memory is much later and different.  Most of what one thinks one remembers is anecdotal.  Only this first one is indescribable except by reconstruction.
So, is self-awareness the precondition of memory?
Teegee, by the way, is only a childhood nickname, but I want to have this blog simply to write about interests, not to write memoirs.  I have no idea if anyone will want to read it.