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Reading Our LivesThe poetics of growing old$
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William L. Randall and Elizabeth McKim

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306873

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306873.001.0001

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EXPANDING OUR STORIES: EXPANDING OUR STORIES: THE MYSTERY OF MEMORY

EXPANDING OUR STORIES: EXPANDING OUR STORIES: THE MYSTERY OF MEMORY

Chapter:
(p.141) Seven EXPANDING OUR STORIES: THE MYSTERY OF MEMORY
Source:
Reading Our Lives
Author(s):

William L Randall

A. Elizabeth McKim

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306873.003.0007

This chapter discusses the infinite complexity of autobiographical memory and yet its utter necessity for constructing a viable sense of the self, i.e., a strong self-story. Like a literary text, however, memory contains countless gaps, given that we only perceive and process a fraction of what goes on around us: we are forgetting beings as much as remembering ones. Instead of accepting the prevailing metaphor for memory as a computer, the chapter submits a more appropriate metaphor — that of a compost heap — especially in light of memory's narrative dimensions and its association with faction more than fact. It then elaborates four angles from which the complexity of autobiographical memory can be appreciated: time, truth, self, and other. In the process, the chapter broaches such concepts as narrative truth, the narrative unconscious, and self-defining memories. Finally, the chapter outlines strategies for better accessing our memories and thus expanding our stories.

Keywords:   autobiographical memory, forgetting, memory, metaphor for memory, narrative truth, narrative unconscious, self-defining memories, time

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