"The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant." --Salvador Dali

In Proust’s famed novel, sometimes translated as In Search of Lost Time, the main character, Marcel, performs a nearly miraculous memory trick. By simply dipping a madeleine cookie in tea and tasting it, he triggers a recollection so powerful that it transports him in time, bringing a piece of his childhood into being. And so he reclaims lost time…and experience

In our digital age, we seem more obsessed than ever with preserving our immediate experiences. Yet, we also seem equally unwilling or unable to commit these new encounters to memory. Our natural reflex is to reach for our digital devices to take quick photos, make notes, and send texts, to capture the experience and to defer its consumption for a later time. It's as though these devices were an extension of ourselves. More and more, we rely on them to document our everyday and to mediate our personal memories.

You could say we live in the age of perfect remembrance. Our devices capture everything and the web preserves everything. The internet is a repository for our lives: a place to store memories and to locate other people's memories, too. The layers of our past accumulate there--old accounts in defunct media platforms, mundane emails from yesteryear, candid photos taken by third parties, lapsed information dislocated from context--a burdensome trail of archived memory data. This archival box gives us a certain comfort in knowing that we can always retrieve and reconstruct our memories, but are these really memories or simply digitized memory data? And can we leave any of it in the past, if we wanted to?

Memories aren't just about recalling singular details, but about making connections within a complex network of information and experience. What happens to our capacity to remember if we let devices do our remembering for us? Are we paying attention in the same way as we did before or will we, before long, find ourselves in search of our lost memory?

One thing is certain, our digital ways are disrupting the workings of our memory as we know it. So, we might need to learn anew how to remember and how to forget.

Arlinda Shtuni

Related Posts

Thanksgiving with a French Twist

Thanksgiving is coming and even if the French don’t celebrate it, it does not mean that you can’t sprinkle a little French magic on your…

Read More

Dédié à l’étrangeté: The Works of Edward Gorey

The waning days of autumn are a terrific time to visit the realm of the eerie, the imaginative, and the surreal, and this week I’d…

Read More

Fall In love #part 2

I love New England all year long but I have to admit that I have a coup de coeur for the fall season. What is…

Read More

Upcoming Events

From Nov 8, 2022 To Dec 15, 2022 At 1:00 PM

As part of the One Film One Federation, Alliance Française offering, we are pleased to give you the opportunity to watch the movie Red soil/Rouge from the comfort of your home until December 31.

Read More
Health & Fitness

Barre en français: December Sessions

Exercise your body and your vocabulary online!

Monday, December 5, 2022 9:00 AM To 10:00 AM

Improve your health and your vocabulary during our online barre classes in French!

Read More
travel-club
Member Event

French Library Travel Club - December

In-person, Indoor Event in English

Wednesday, December 7, 2022 6:30 PM To 8:00 PM

Do you enjoy traveling to France and other French-speaking places? If so, join us for the French Library Travel Club. This month we’ll talk about Bordeaux, as well as its influence in literature.

Read More