My memory lock’d

Belle Vue Community Arts Festival

15459563095_80fee811b4_z“Tis in my memory lock’d,
And you yourself shall keep the key of it.”
Did you get to massacre Hamlet at your school? If, like me, you did then you may well remember Laertes’ parting advice to his sister Ophelia and her dutiful response, quoted above. It is not so much the assurance that strikes me but the sparse visual imagery that allows us to see Ophelia’s memory as some kind of strongbox where items can be stored, secured and subsequently retrieved undamaged. This idea of memory being filed away and permanently fixed is incredibly enduring and pervasive. In reality, memory is more malleable and porous than we would like to acknowledge. Even our supercomputer hard drives get corrupted over time.
I first became aware of the tricks of memory through my Dad’s work. He was a policeman and reckoned that when all the witnesses agreed (especially on matters of…

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