Saturday, July 15, 2006

What memories are not made of

Two wonderful posts by SimonHolyHoses in a reflective mode and Reidski putting into context his own thoughts of looking back.

The period both are talking about? 1976. Thirty years ago.

I was 9, going on 10 in the summer of 1976, so my thoughts are not as sharp as other contributors. I was still at the stage where singing Abba songs with my friend next door constituted a highlight activity; where building chalet huts with timbers left in the field that backed onto our house provided endless entertainment.

But reading both of these posts set certain things in context for me. My parents were a little older than most of my peers (45 and nearly 52 in the summer of 1976) and for them, especially my dad, there was a rawness to looking back to the second world war of which I can hardly conceive. Mum would have just left school; dad was already a POW under British control, destined never to return to his home country again.

When period pieces are done for the stage, film or TV, the one thing they so often get wrong is going for cyphers of the age: as if everyone was as hip to the new things as the fringes were, as if nothing old every hung about in people's living rooms (I mean furniture, not people: granny doesn't count here...)

But what often is captured is that sense of each generation (mostly) misunderstanding the others, of why the war would be so fresh to someone in the 1970s, of why the younger generation would be so baffled by this sense of nostalgia.

I'm sure that as I write, someone out there has either a genetic or psychological explanation (or both) of why these conceptions of time passing and being remembered are as they are. But since we are made up from all our experiences and those of the people around around us, perhaps it would remain more manageable for us to simply accept that our understanding of time is based on the necessity of a given moment. A collision of images and recollections (both real and imagined) that can only make sense when seen in a constantly flexing sphere of thoughts, so that the here and now and the there and then are in a constant state of flux we can never quite pin down and which is different for each individual.

Or I could just be talking pseudo-psychobabble bollihocks. Ah well. It's a hot day...


Anonymous said...

Good post, Lisa. I felt moved to add my own two pence after this.

SimonHolyHoses said...

Yep, another good one.

It's interesting what you say about our experiences as it ties in with something I'm reading at the moment about mind and consciousness in which the author argues very well, that our experiences are as they are out of brute practical necessity.

"singing Abba songs with my friend next door constituted a highlight activity"? Hey! Don't knock it! It still does it for me, Lisa! Especially with a bottle or two of port.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

We made our own costumes too... (though we were at the time around 10 and 13)

Anna Lowman (annawaits) said...

1976? Was the world in, like, black and white back then?

;) Heehee. Cool post Lisa.