Monday, April 21, 2014

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Writing and Memory
Memory plays a major role in the process of writing–from short-term memory in the prefrontal lobe that holds the current intention to write to long-term memories in the hippocampus and cortex that hold the knowledge of how to form letters, spell words, create sentences, and organize ideas. Long-term memories are later stored in the cortex and provide a wealth of background information for the writer. Memory function in the hyppocampus also helps sort associations and logical patterns that we apply to organize our experience and thus shape and connect our ideas in our writing, for example, through comparison and contrast or seeing cause and effect patterns.

Beyond remembering that we want to write and remembering how to compare or trace cause and effect as we write, we consider our topic in the context of life experiences stored in our individual memories, both short- and long-term. If we’re writing about the formation of ice, for example, we may have our own memories of ice cubes, ice skating, or icicles hanging from a porch roof. These memories provide a network of associations and connections so when we research the nature of ice, we have a framework for comprehending what we are learning. We may learn how the weight of ice causes ice to compress and thus heat up. This heating and then refreezing causes ice to become more plastic, an intriguing notion.

As we write, about ice or whatever our topic, our past experiences combine and integrate with new information or observations to further our understanding of, in this case, the properties of ice. We can move from thinking of ice as always cold to including moments of heat compression into the framework of understanding. Ice being plastic may seem to us antithetical to our experience, so this new knowledge may lead us to research and write more. At times, we may be aware of the connection between our writing focus and our memories; at other times, the connection may be more ephemeral, felt more than thought. The influence is there, nonetheless. In both cases, the connection leads to creativity. Writing is fundamentally tied to memory, and memory, at some level, permeates all that we write.

Later we can talk about the relationship between pure consciousness and what Maharishi Vedic Science refers to as the ocean of memory and how that equation impacts the writing process. 


Image: Courtesy of Mandi Bradshaw

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