I got onto the train with my mom for the first time in fifteen years (and also the first time since my dad died three years ago). As we sat down the sights, smells and sounds combined to elicit fragmentary images, feelings, and memories that I hadn’t accessed for those fifteen years. I reveled in the ache of nostalgia and watched my mom, tears in her eyes, as she held Logan and Kaia tightly and allowed new memories to overlap the old, at least partly covering the pain.
For some strange reason it made me think of the following idea:
Our memories and our imaginations are relational because they are associative. The reason current objects or events trigger memories of similar objects or events is due to the fact that our memory is an approximation of the past, not an exact image. For this reason our mind operates using association as the primary means of triggering ideas or memories. Similar patterns of shapes, colors, sounds, smells—especially similar combinations—beget associations and ideas.
If we carried exact images of events in our minds, we would be unable to separate the parts from the whole. The fact that our minds recall images based on approximate information allows us to invent: we can overlay images to form new ones, we can build on similar images and create new images which are elaborated approximations of another/other.
I don’t know how the two are related, but there they are.