Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fading Names and Sluggish Memories

We were discussing, Brigitte and I, how dreams communicate ideas using symbols—indeed that even when we are in a full state of wakefulness, beneath the surface, dream images may well be present. I offered as an example once reading a book about the collapse of the Soviet Union just before bedtime but sitting up in an armchair in my bedroom. It was getting late. I closed my eyes for just a moment—and there I saw this gigantic image of a huge bear.

So next I tried to remember whose book I had been reading, and I said “Khrushchev.” But it couldn’t have been Khrushchev. He came later—and he certainly didn’t write a book translated into English to reach a world audience. So I said: “You know, the man with that mark on his forehead.” We both knew who we were talking about, but his name just would. not. surface.

Eventually Brigitte retrieved the famous name by recalling a saying by President Reagan: “Tear down this wall…Mr. Gorbachev.” What President Reagan actually said was “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”—but B’s memory conveniently inverted that order.

Visible on the bed this morning was a prominent picture of another famous foreign politician on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. “You know,” I said, “I can hardly wait for the day when, in some context about Israel, we’ll sit here and try to remember the name of Netanyahu.”

Yes. God speed that day. But will we live long enough? That is the question.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, that old and much-used mind of mine...it can still produce an answer but it takes more time and patience. I am beginning to learn this lesson now, but much more slowly as well.

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