Retaining and recalling past experience; recollection or remembrance.
All that a person can remember, or something remembered. The period
of time covered by
the remembrance or recollection of a person or group of people.
Also, the capacity of a material,
such as plastic or metal, to return to a previous
shape after manipulation.
The study of memory, or the use of tricks
to remembering is called mnemonics after the Greek goddess
Mnemosyne, who was considered the mother of the nine muses.
Both remembering and forgetting
are crucial to the creative
"The true art of memory is the art
Samuel Johnson (1709-84), English author, lexicographer. The
Idler, number 74, in Universal Chronicle (London, Sept.
15, 1759; reprinted in Works of Samuel Johnson, volume
2, edited by W. J. Bate, John M. Bullitt and L. F. Powell, 1963).
"If man has one good memory to go
by, that may be enough to save him."
Feodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881), Russian novelist.
"Those who cannot remember the past
are condemned to repeat it."
George Santayana (1863-1952), Spanish and American philosopher,
poet, and novelist. The Life of Reason, 1905-06.
"We must smash, demolish, and destroy
our traditional harmony, which makes us fall into a gracefulness
created by timid and sentimental cubs. We disown the past because
we want to forget, and in art to forget means to be renewed."
Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), Italian Futurist painter and sculptor. Pittura,
scultura futuriste, 1914. See sentimental.
"There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted."
Henri Matisse (1869-1954), French artist. Quoted in obituaries reporting his death, Nov. 5, 1954.
"You can look at a painting for a whole week and then never think about it again. You can also look at a painting for a second and think about it for the rest of your life."
Joan Miró (1893-1983), in an interview with Yvon Taillandier, 1959.
"For me art shouldn't be a fixed idea that I have before I start making it. I want it to include all the fragility and doubt that I go through the day with. Sometimes I'll take a walk just to forget whatever good idea I had that day because I like to go into the studio not having any ideas. I want the insecurity of not knowing, like performers feel before a performance. Everything I can remember, and everything I know, I have probably already done, or somebody else has."
Robert Rauschenburg (1925-), American artist, quoted by Michael Kimmelman in an article about Rauschenburg, New York Times, "Arts & Leisure" section 2, August 27, 2000, p. 26.
"The present moment is unlike the memory of it. Remembering is not the negative of forgetting. remembering is a form of forgetting."
Milan Kundera (1929-), Franco-Czech writer, best known as the author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
"For a long time — at least six decades — photographs have laid down the tracks of how important conflicts are judged and remembered. The Western memory museum is now mostly a visual one. Photographs have an insuperable power to determine what we recall of events, and it now seems probable that the defining association of people everywhere with the war that the United States launched pre-emptively in Iraq last year will be photographs of the torture of Iraqi prisoners by Americans in the most infamous of Saddam Hussein's prisons, Abu Ghraib."
Susan Sontag (1933-2005), American essayist, novelist, left wing intellectual, and activist, "Regarding the Torture of Others," New York Times Magazine, May 23, 2004, p. 25.
Tips for Improving
Use sketchbooks as the place to both draw and write ideas
you think important at any time. Keep sketchbooks in as many
places as might be useful -- e.g. desk, bedside, backpack, car,
Make lists. Don't depend on your memory to recall the items
you need to produce an art work, to throw the big party, or pack
for a trip. Keep a pen and a few 3x5 inch cards handy for your
lists, and keep some in your pocket or purse at all times. Graduate
to a day-planner notebook or a pocket computer if you find either
of them more helpful.
In art history class, make a thumbnail sketch of each slide
your teacher shows you in class lectures. Among the notes you
take and study later, such little drawings can be very simply
and quickly drawn. They'll help establish associations between
the notes and the images.
Put frequently used items in the same place each time. Keep
your car keys on a hook by the front door.
Repeat information. Repeat the name of someone you have just
been introduced to, or ask the person to spell it so that it
will be "fixed" in your mind.
Make associations. Link a new piece of information to an
old one. For example, if you have to remember an address, 1206,
link it to a birthday you know, or to a jingle you know that
it reminds you of. There are several such "mnemonic devices"
for remembering long lists. For example, remembering ROYGBV can
help you recall the primary and secondary colors in order --
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet.
Review information before you must recall it. Look at photo
albums or yearbooks before going to a party where you expect
to see people you haven't seen in years.
Exercise your mind. Keep up with the news, take a trip, learn
a new language, play a new game, take on new challenges, etc.
Keep memory lapses in perspective. Don't use them as an excuse
to berate yourself for having reached a distinguished level of
maturity! Young people forget things too, but memory lapses don't
trouble them. In fact, teens are among the most likely to leave
possessions behind on public transportation. Instead of neurosing
about their forgetfulness, they rationalize it by saying they
were too busy or had other things on their minds.