Memory of a city

The Place and Memory blog will catalogue and express our ideas as a group and individuals. It’s been really interesting to see the different takes on the subject put forwards. All of us have very different styles and ideas, some of the group are painters, others writers or photographers but all with creative minds and a lust to learn.

This is the piece I have written for the place and memory blog:

My City

My childhood was spent far away from where I have chosen to settle down now and yet those childhood memories still seem so striking and colourful. I remember the strange vivid red exotic cat tail plants, furry to the touch, the warm heavy thunderstoms of the monsoon rain pounding on my skin. But why? According to the ‘Journal of Personality’ by  Kihlstrom and Harackiewicz ‘Earliest memories involved visual imagery and that most of this visual imagery was in colour’.  Alfred Aldor an early pioneering psychoanalyst wrote that ‘The first memory will show the individual’s fundamental view of life, his first satisfactory crystallization of his attitude.’

So this is who I am.

Am I the result of my memories?  Good and bad, are my fears, hopes and aspirations based on fragments of images, feelings and thoughts that I have experienced before?  In the opinion of some psychologists, people often select those elements of childhood memories that accord with their present needs and conception of themselves. ”I don’t think our memories make us; we make our memories.” Dr. Kihlstrom says. Great Events Leave Traces.

So, now I am a city dweller and I no longer live in a small village hamlet but in one of the largest cities in England. I live amongst the other three quarter of a million people who have also settled here, for either a short time or for whole generations.

view II

I am comforted by the stones of this city, by my belongings and the physical objects that surround me. These give me stability and grounding, a sense of permanence that lets me deal with any upheavals that may occur in my life. It is the same for most of us who live in this city, for those of us who can and want to be a part of this collective.

Walking down the Headrow gives me comfort in knowing that the impressive Victorian buildings will still stand domineering the landscape; the arcades and alleyways that wind beautifully between the streets and offer us shortcuts to remoter parts of the city; the market with all its vibrancy, sounds and smells remains unchanged even in the light of any personal disaster.

Smaller groups ascend outwards and into suburbia, away from the centre of this microcosm, and pockets of memories and communities form, linked by their share in the same city stones and physical world that surround them. Our memories form, shift and evolve as we connect to a certain evolving place. This is our collective memory. This is our place and memory.

‘Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future’ Elie Wiesel


Daniel Kahneman: ‘ The Riddle of Experience vs Memory’
Bryce Nelson: ‘Why are Earlist memories so fragmentary and elusive.’ New York Times
Maurice Halbwachs: Chapter 4 ‘Space and the Collective memory’ from the book ‘ On Collective Memory’ 1950

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