Gerald M Edelman Nobel laureate Gerald M Edelman

Memory as a Biological Imperative in Story Telling

Story telling in ancient cultures is an oral tradition. The enduring quality of sacred narrative is dependant on memory as a living process of re-imagining, to revivify these stories by the new voices of each generation. Storytelling forms the bases of retaining a primal connection to the world, based on memory, it is the antitheses of religious abstraction.

James Joyce went back to the Greeks to bypass religious abstraction and monotheism. The Greeks with the evolution of objective thinking dedicated imaginative consciousness to the gods. These gods were the bridge between natural processes and mythology and defined the relationship of the human body to the macrocosm i.e. Hera and Zeus were linked to Thunder and Lightening.

Today neuroscience has opened up new dimensions of understanding on how memory works. Neuroscientist Gerald M Edelman has developed a concept called ‘the remembered present’ and asserts that memory ‘underlies the mind and indeed all of biology’.

His work demonstrates that thought is not transcendent but depends critically on the body and the brain and that “embodiment imposes ineluctable limits”
Memory works in a process of ‘recatogorisation’ so every time you have a new experience the brain doesn’t just add it onto existing memories as a fixed entity rather there is a ‘dynamic’ which Edelman describes as a process of ‘reentry’. ‘Reentry is the main mechanism of neural integration’.

“In the brain the Dynamic Core is a cluster of neurons generated largely within the thalamocortical system. It is called dynamic because of its ever-changing composition yet ongoing integration.”

James Joyce also asserts in “Finnegans Wake” that the human condition is not a fixed entity.

"...every person, place and thing in the chaosmos of Alle anyway connected with the gobblydumped turkery was moving and changing every part of the time..." (21-118)

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