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Volume 3 Number 11

A new museum dedicated to exploring the role of visual art in children's literature from around the world will open in Amherst, Massachusetts in November 2002...
November Columns
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Letters to the Editor...
Article - The Deceptive Memory

“The Deceptive Memory”
[The Deceptive Nature of Memory]

When we look up at the sky, especially at
night, the stars we see in the sky are in
their past condition—the lights radiated by
these objects need time to reach our eyes.
The stars that we see at this very moment
could be in their condition of one year
ago, or perhaps even millions of years ago.
In fact, it is also possible that among
these numerous celestial bodies that we see
as tangible objects, some may have either
utterly changed, or moved else where, or
completely diminished. Similarly, all those
things around us need time to get to our
eyes and further to our brain. An object a
meter away from us needs 1/300,000,000 of a
second to get to our eyes. Thus, we can say
that this object that we see is in its
condition of 1/300,000,000 of a second ago.
Why are we able to see the “past” of the
various celestial objects and also of our
surroundings? Could it be that the
word “past” has all this time been
misinterpreted and misused?

Is it true that Man always feels that he
consistently exists “at the present”
throughout his lifetime? Let’s say that at
this very moment our arms are at rest,
hanging down by our sides. Now, the instant
we raise our arms, what could possibly be
said of them would be that seconds ago they
were hanging down by our sides. Why is it
that in either situation, arms up or arms
down, our feeling of existence seems to
tell us that we are consistently at
the “present”? The same thing holds true
even for movements that require a longer
time span, perhaps an hour or a day, or a
year: You will always feel that your
existence is consistently at the “present.”
Since our childhood we have always felt
that we “consistently exist” at
the “present.” To say that childhood is a
condition of “the past” would, therefore,
seem to be contradictory to the
existing “feeling of existence.”

Actually, how long is the time span that we
call now or the present? Is it one second,
0.1 second, 1/100,000,000 of a second, or
close to 0 second? Considering the fact
that no matter how short a time span is
people can always split it into “the past”
and “the present,” one can thus deduce that
0 second, being the point at which no more
division could be made, would be the most
accurate figure. In other words, at this
point, terms such as “the past” and “the
present,” as normally used by people,
should no longer hold.

When we throw a ball from points A to B,
for instance, we tend to say that the ball
was at point A. Does this not mean that at
the time the ball was at point A, the rays
reflected by the ball left an impression or
are recorded in our brain, which we try to
retrace at the present? We are all fully
aware that in our childhood we had had a
variety of experiences. The question now
is, “Where have all these childhood
experiences of ours, which had in fact been
recorded as memories in our brains, gone?”
Verily, a larger part of our childhood body
condition has remained preserved, together
with the childhood memories, in our adult
bodies. Similarly, a larger part of our
adult body condition has remained preserved
in our aged bodies. Thus, at the time a
person recalls all his childhood kite-
flying experiences, for instance, he seems
to feel the childhood period that he had
once had and all the things he had once
Now, if you still find it difficult to
comprehend where your childhood body has
gone then, let’s just take a balloon as an
analogy. Let’s say, to inflate the balloon
to a particular size you need five seconds.
Now, inflate it for another ten seconds to
make it bigger, and inflate it again for
another twenty seconds to make it even
bigger. The question now is where has the
balloon at its smallest gone? Certainly,
the answer is: The matters of the balloon,
which was then at its smallest, are still
inside the balloon, now at its biggest.
Naturally, the word “seconds” used for the
balloon has to be replaced with the
word “years” when it comes to talking about
the growth of man. What we are trying to
imply by our experiment with the balloon
above is that even with our bodies growing
to such conditions as they are at the
present, we are still preserving a larger
part of those matters of our childhood

The fact that after the morning comes the
afternoon, and then comes the night, after
which we have the morning again and so on,
has eventually caused the sequential change
of conditions to be strongly recorded as
memories. This, makes it very easy for us
to recall at any time the presence of
the “sequenced conditions.” It is very
natural if we insist that such things
like “the future” or “tomorrow” do exist.
As such, it could thus be said that all
those plans for tomorrow are but just an
imagination added to the outcome of the
recollection of “the presence of tomorrow.”

As long as we have the ability to condition
our selves by recalling the traces of all
the memories stored in our brains from
the “previous condition,” we will
consequently be led into thinking that “the
past” do exist. The changing condition that
we go through everyday, such as morning,
afternoon, and night, having been recorded
as memory, we thus assume that we will
inevitably undergo similar changes every
day. This reasonably explains why we have
always believed that “the future” is there
for us to undergo. Apparently we are “being
deceived” by those “impressions of the
previous conditions” that have remained
imprinted as our memories.

By Reinarto

Copyright © 2002

Reinarto Hadipriono,,

This month's letters:

  • Teaching in virginia, 11/26/02, by kavitha.
  • Article - The Deceptive Memory, 11/26/02, by Reinarto Hadipriono.
  • Decline of reading test scores..., 11/24/02, by Arthur E. Coords.
  • IS THERE COLLEGES FOR I.E.P. STUDENTS, 11/19/02, by kim.
  • IS THERE COLLEGES FOR I.E.P. STUDENTS, 11/19/02, by kim.
  • Reading Stats Continued, 11/15/02, by AP.
  • a new chatboard, 11/14/02, by sharon benitez.
  • response to AP, 11/13/02, by sonia.glogowski.
  • reading stats, 11/13/02, by sonia glogowski.
  • Reading stats comment, 11/10/02, by AP.
  • reading stats, 11/07/02, by sonia.
  • hi can you help me, 11/04/02, by Jacinta Theresita O.Bravo.


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