Saturday, 12 July 2014

Questioning the Memory.

I was just listening to a song on YouTube that was big when I was a naval officer cadet at age 17. I remember sitting in the chart room of HMS Scarborough somewhere in mid Atlantic, listening to it on the BBC World Service some time during the middle watch – that’s midnight to 4am. I don’t remember why I was there, apart from the fact that I was following orders.

The world outside was dark, the ship pitched and rolled and yawed on the deep Atlantic swell, the turbines throbbed, and spray from the bow washed the poop deck just outside the hatch. The air smelled of salt and furnace oil.

As I listened to the song tonight, the memory seemed painfully false. Was I really there all those years ago? Is life really just an illusion, and is memory its principal agent? Was that an ordinary experience or an extraordinary one? How do you know?

Existential crap, right? Right. But the memories persist, as do the questions.

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