Monday, April 28, 2014

The World More Bearable

The World More Bearable 

Knowing how she can benefit us,
beauty sometimes acts like a hooker.

Because she knows if we spend an hour 
with her 
we will be better off. 

And beauty is right, she is clever.

When has looking at the graciousness 
in nature or in art,
or hearing some moving music 

not softened your face,
made your touch more wanted, 
more rich and alive.
and the world more bearable

and the sweet taste of hope
yours to remember 
and yours to impart. 

            That last line is so important, the rememberance of beauty, hope, happiness, etc. allows us to impart it. Once we've experienced something it cannot be taken from us. Or can it? In my ethics class we discussed the idea of deleting memories (actually not that far-fetched, read here). In fact, new research in neuroscience experimental pharmacology exists that can reset memory by erasing the connection between brain cells. Although there has not been a human drug trial yet, results using rodents have proved promising. Currently, the scientific idea behind the first uses of so-called “memory modification drugs” would be to remove the memories associated with substance addiction, followed by use in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
           At first it may seem as though treating substance addiction through subtle removal of all memories associated with 1) the addictive process, 2) the dealers and “drug culture” that came out of it and 3) the secondary associations (i.e. chalk reminding someone of cocaine, and thus serving as a trigger) would be extraordinarily beneficial. However, if I remove the association between chalk and cocaine, might I also remove the person’s preference for his wife’s green eyes, because as a teacher, he writes against a green chalkboard? And what if it is not just any green, but wet-grass-after-a-rainstorm-with-the-sun-now-shining green? Yes, that green; and you can see that his eyes light up as you describe it.
        Can we delete memories (essentially portions of our lives) and still be who we are? Horrible events, perhaps unknowingly, may shape every facet of our identity. They may have led us to meeting our spouse, what career we pursue, they may have led us to be kinder, more sympathetic, more altruistic, and more appreciative of life. To consider a real life example, although intense childhood bullying could lead to suicide, and this would undoubtedly be a tragedy, what if it doesn’t? Instead, what if this memory is the reason that a boy fell in love with a cello and became the world famous Yo-Yo Ma? This is indeed what happened.
        While it may be tempting to rid someone of the unpleasant moments of their life, what exactly does this mean for the spirit, if anything? I would argue that something unique to the human spirit consists in falling, rising after the fall, conquering your own demons, and then living with knowledge of that success. Memory is complex, it is beautiful, and its intricate web can be navigated in so many directions. We must not forget to recognize that people are who they are not in spite of their experiences, but because of them.

History In The Making (2008), Darius Rucker

No comments:

Post a Comment