Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Art of Memory - 13


One last question / comment but no reading. So last week we talked about entropy. The way I explain entropy to myself is to think of the two large water tanks on my parents property. The two are linked by an underground pipe. No matter which one fills quicker, after the rain they balance out to the same level because of the underground pipe. This ensures that they both have the same amount rather than risking one overflowing. Of course they can BOTH overflow if you have enough rain.

The connotations of entropy though seem negative. The word does not enjoy excited use. Balance it seems is bad. I imagine the word being used with the type of enthusiasm only Marvin the robot in "The Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy" could display.  Ennn tro pyyy. As a species we seem to enjoy excitement, action and all things new. No place there for statis, equilibrium or stagnation.

So where is this preamble getting us to? Well, another idea raised in class was that 'our reliance on technology makes it easier to forget'.  True or false?...good or bad? In the same way that having the skill of writing changed the way we used our memory. No longer the need to remember all that's written down. As like with the photograph, no more need to try hard to remember events as they are captured on film. Now we can store so much information...we don't have to remember so much more. What are we remembering instead? or are we using our brains in a different we need the space to cope with all the images that we are bombarded with every day?

Roman lawyers apparently had slaves (called "little Greeks") purely for the purpose of remembering by rote large tracks of law to assist their master in court. We have always used some tool or another to help us remember.

People who are not so fond of computers often ask  "what would happen if they all stopped working?" I think we would readjust even though we would have lost a lot. I imagine the ancient Egyptians felt like that when the library of Alexandria was destroyed. All that knowledge..gone..never to come back as it was.

My point about new technology's different, we change it, change with it, change because of it. We may lose somethings (how we used to remember perhaps) but we gain others. This is good, change and action are good because the opposite..entropy is bad.

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