How many numbers can you remember?
Probably more than 3 phone numbers, multiple ages and dates of birth, home address, social security number, financial card or account numbers, paycheck amounts, highway designations, health metrics, our weight, our height, certain passwords, certain multiplication and division tables, numbers of states, favorite sports hero jersey numbers, key dates in history, certain hours for open or closed, certain speed limits, certain prices, certain machine settings, certain recipe proportions, school grade levels, and many more that I can’t remember right now.
Numbers are a symbolic language – semiotic. They signify the calculation and measurement of quantity and dimensionality. Words are a symbolic language – semiotic. They signify building blocks of stored or communicated meanings. Sounds and images are sensory representations of our world. Scientifically, there is no blue sky. We experience a sensory input and call it blue. A photograph of the sky signifies visual elements of the sky, and the construct of sky. Scientifically, there is no such thing as sounds in the universe. There are certain compression waves that vibrate our body and ear drums and we call that sound. Sound is an individualized perception of changes among compression waves in a transmitting medium.
We remember distinct patterns. Signal from noise. We are programmed by genetics and life experience and by the interplay within of our body and mind, and by the operations of our conscious and subconscious to create or extract constructs that can later be accessed as reflexive working memory or cognitive memory. We have short term memory that deletes. We have long term memory that is accessible under various circumstances. We can even have long term memories (often traumatic) that permeate and dominate our conscious and subconscious workings throughout our lives.
This thing we call memory can be thought of as experiential programming. We consciously or subconsciously embed programming into our operating system. We then selectively activate certain portions of that programming across the moments of our lives – applying previous programming and introducing new programming. We can call this programming knowledge, but as you have learned through testing and watching Jeopardy, most of what you were taught in school, most of what was introduced to you as knowledge, no longer exists in your memory, your programming, your font of knowledge. And much of it was inaccurate or systemically limited to begin with.
What you retained from school are certain moments of conscious or subconscious lightning. Your brain, your body, your workings were lit up by an input that flashed through you, that repeatedly flashed at the moment of instantiation and at numerous times thereafter through recall. And you grew a memory that could be resistant to fading, that could stand the test of time and new or overriding inputs. The memory, as the physical form, changes minutely or even radically when it is revisited, so broad textured realities, like the memory of your childhood neighborhood, referenced many times, becomes interestingly inaccurate.
Your storehouse of accessible knowledge from childhood may include an intimate moment, the names of scores of peers and teachers who touched your life as a child, a distinctive achievement, a moment of horror or sadness, a deeply learned number or fact, or an insight or knowledge construction that became an important and often used reference for your conscious or subconscious workings.
Memories are chemical lightning, programming is electro-motion. Knowledge are physically manifested (dendritic spines, synapses, proteins, neurons, movements & actions, etc.) neurological organic mechanisms that distinguish, organize and store the bio-chemical lightning and electricity as physically manifested signals – new organic communicative growths organized geographically within specific compartments of the brain and body. Some are important to us. Most are superfluous. The ones that benefit us are higher level constructs that enable us to experience and activate Nurture, to approach Equality, to acquire the rigor and joy of learning and sharing and caring, and to appreciate and understand the workings of Systems. Marvin Minsky believed that “humans are machines whose “intelligence” emerges from the interplay of the many unintelligent but semi-autonomous agents that make up the brain”. These agents are the organically programmed pantomime actors of memory.
What is your earliest memory?
There are 7 Billion different takes on that single moment. 7 Billion different coded structures within 7 Billion brains.
The lightening of memory must strike the same place twice. Charging the organic mechanisms with more enduring power and mass at every strike.
We hope this strikes your dendritic spines and neurological network as interesting either subconsciously (if you have some dendritic spines living with you that already have some of this code) or consciously (if maybe a new spine is forming right now).
To build a better world, we all must grow and semiotically exchange more fully formed spines. NETS.
Watch for our new Communicating Complexity Project. Coming soon.