Given the fragmented, often unpredictable nature of human memory, and the equally undefinable, capricious nature of human language, I find it especially fascinating that language (or writing) is seen as an instrument that helps us remember. If there’s a record, it’s said, there’s evidence for something to have happened. However, much as memory can fool us sometimes, deceiving us into remembering things and events that didn’t actually happen, and pushing significant events to our blind spots, it is worth turning a critical eye on the vehicle that we rely on to transmit memories from the past to the present. Effectively, language turns the current moment into a matter of memory, even as the moment fades before our eyes as we attempt to write it down.
I consider both language and memory to be imperfect in that their attempts to capture every single nuance of our perception of our lived realities would be incomplete — words cannot put on paper the exact same flood of sensations that we experience, and the only reason writing works well is that it ignites familiar lived experiences in the reader. If a writer says that the dog was barking loud enough to wake the entire family up, it is only because the readers can imagine how disruptive the barking of a dog can actually be. Memory serves the cause of writing even during the act of reading, because without memory, it would be difficult to comprehend a text in its entirety, as one would forget what happened in the first paragraph by the time one gets to the second. Similarly, language itself would not work without memory because communication depends on people remembering which word has which connotation in which context, and in possessing an unconscious memory of each grammar rule and tense even if they are not aware of it while they speak.