Friday, 21 June 2013

Memory in the minor key

So I've mentioned, briefly, in passing, in one of of my older posts that I have a theory about cartoon theme tunes. Simply put, I would argue that the catchier the theme tune is the better the show will be remembered/perceived later on. Seriously, how many Ducktales episodes can you actually remember? Not many I'd be willing to wager, but hum the opening bars of the intro and you instantly get lost in ill-remembered reminiscences, maybe even going so far as to claim it was one of the greatest shows of your childhood...but really, was it? Did you even really watch it past the song? Of course this doesn't hold true for all shows with great intros, Animaniacs has an instantly recognisable theme song and was also a mighty fine cartoon that's a hell of a lot of fun to watch these days. It's not entirely to do with music though, there's a sense of theme and style as well, shows like Batman:The Animated Series had a minimalist opening but it worked, it's memorable because it's visually striking rather than aurally so. 

My point is, memory is a tricky thing. It tends to focus on remembering distinctive patterns but not so much the events relating to them, which is why you remember the intro, but not the events of the show itself. Sure, if you focus, you can bring up memories, but compare it to the instant recall when you hear "Life is like a hurricane", and even then if you do remember the show, you don't remember it in its entirety simply because your brain filters out whatever it deems's why TV shows, movies and games are employing more and more plot twists, because they maintain interest. No matter how forced it seems afterwards, it makes your brain take notice which is why people remember Bruce Willis is a ghost in the Sixth Sense (if I spoiled that movie for you, welcome to the world of 2013! I know, I know, it must be disorienting for you to have just woke up from 1998, the year before the movie came out, few other things to note, you managed to avoid nu-metal, you lucky bastard, but it appears to be making a come back, you unlucky bastard....America got a black president, but it's mostly the same as he just acts like a white guy.....oh the spice girls got back together, it wasn't great....and erm....oh yeah, Y2K.....well, as you can see, that didn't happen....some other things happened, but it was mostly boring...enjoy the future that is the present!) but you don't remember the scene where he's talking to the kid's mum, whilst casually eating a bagel.

....there wasn't a scene where that happened, that was a test, because you just went "what are you talking about, that wasn't in the movie...was it? I don't...."

And it's scary, in a lot of ways, because at the end of the day you are completely reliant on the data your brain interprets, and if it is ignoring random data just to focus on what it deems the important stuff (like the cartoon intros, the predictability is like catnip for your brain...which for the purposes of this analogy is a cat). There's something that happened to me as a child, my mum and nan left me in the house alone because I didn't want to go shopping with them. I was about two or three. But yeah, here's the thing, I remember, quite distinctly crying because I'd been left alone in a house I hated, alone, as a kid. However, my mum says she was watching through the window and says that I just turned the TV on and started watching it. One of these things is wrong. It could be that my memory of it is really flawed and distorted or she is lying or it's also possible that her memory is wrong. I don't think she's lying, because she was only talking to me about it, so she didn't have to put on a front or whatever, but that means that for one of us, the memory we have isn't correct, and it's debatable as to who is right.

I understand why it does this, I mean, if we had full access to the amount of sensory input our bodies experience, we'd go insane. Imagine being aware of your own blood flowing through your veins or trying to listen to someone but you're hearing every other sound within the range of your hearing just as much. Or some other third example. The point is the brain needs to edit what it is presenting to you but because of this, can it ever really be trusted? It's an annoying question, and I don't think there is any easy answer to it (well, other than...."maybe..."....but, you know, don't be a bag of arse troll about it).

Anyway, I'm going to wrap it up there for this one because I have poo brain as a result of drinking to excess last night, I'll come back to this topic another time, probably, I do tend to think about it a lot. So, yeah, later taters. 

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