Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Compression Ratio

A pinprick of light, a veiled silhouette, a muffled voice, a creaking stair. All impressions that betray a greater meaning. They project past experiences, allowing for their transformation into present assumptions and expectations.

There is no way that I can "know" every second of your life when I don't even know mine. All those shames and failures, washed down to a thin dull, but manageable form. The brain only receives a sixth of what the eye takes in, what must be the compression ratio of our memories? 

But, I want to know you. I want to share your life. I listen to your stories, the dark and the light ones. Hopes and fears together. I get highlights, a synopsis. I want it all, I want to be there, vicariously. When did my brain stop "seeing" Echinacea and start seeing only the image composite  of an "ideal" Echinacea built from several memories? How much of what I share with you is like that? 

Hopefully, what we share is, mostly, real memories, preserved and shared for the same reason; they are important. How much, as an introvert trying to function socially, do we project stereotypes and archetypal constructs on the mental profile of a new acquaintance to comfort us? Can we really appreciate each other through time, or are we always stuck with the version of you we decided we wanted to believe is "you?" Does it make a difference when we have been present for those changes? Maybe it is easier to appreciate our own changes when we reflect on someone else's? Maybe the other way around? Maybe it is easier to appreciate when we are told as an outsider what changed and what didn't and how their thoughts were different then when we don't have a personal point of view on the subject.

You hear the belt creak and it triggers a memory. You share it with me, and now I can listen to that same sound and think of you and your past. I smell the orange and share similarly. Will we open ourselves to the possibility that the people before us are unique, both from all other people and from each previous incarnation of themselves?


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