dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

Viagra for the Memory

"In the era of an aging population, memory is the new sex:" or so David Brooks reveals in today's New York Times.And the buttoned-down Mr. Brooks expatiates further:

The dawning of the Bad Memory Century will have vast consequences for the social fabric and the international balance of power. International relations experts will notice that great powers can be defined by their national forgetting styles. Americans forget their sins. Russians forget their weaknesses. The French forget that theyve forgotten God. And, in the Middle East, they forget everything but their resentments.There will be new social movements and causes. The supermarket parking lots will be filled with cranky criminal gangs composed of middle-aged shoppers looking for their cars. As it becomes clear that a constant stream of blog posts and e-mails decimates the capacity for recall, people will be confronted with the modern Sophies choice your BlackBerry or your mind.Neural environmentalists will emerge from the slow foods movement, urging people to accept memory loss as a way to reduce their mental footprint. Meanwhile, mnemonic gurus will emerge offering to sell neural Viagra, but the only old memories the pills really bring back will involve trigonometry.As in most great historical transformations, the members of the highly educated upper-middle class will express their suffering most loudly. It is especially painful when narcissists suffer memory loss because they are losing parts of the person they love most. First they lose the subjects theyve only been pretending to understand chaos theory, monetary policy, Don Delillo and pretty soon their conversation is reduced to the core stories of self-heroism.Their affection for themselves will endure through this Bad Memory Century, but their failure to retrieve will produce one of the epochs most notable features: shorter memoirs.

Now if I could only remember what button to press to get this thing online? Grant!


 

 

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

I had something to say about this topic that was profound, but I forgot what my comment was before I grasped its profundity.

The one who posts automatically receives a notice when someone has commented. However, I did not receive one to say that William had made a comment.But when I went to "Junk Mail," there it was: filtered out because of the title "Viagra for the Memory!"

Fr. Imbelli--It's equally likely that my post ended up in "Junk Mail" because it was recognized electronically for the piffle (my ego won't allow me to say junk) that it was. ;)

Share

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is an associate professor of theology at Boston College.