Hacking vs. Freud (sort of)
I really enjoyed the ideas relating to action under description, especially as they relate to understandings of memory and potential revisiting of memory. One thing that I disagreed with in Freud’s text, and which bothered and confused me, was his analogy of memory and the mind being like an ancient Roman city (p. 31-33). I found it frustrating simply because he assumed “it is rather the rule than the exception for the past to be preserved in mental life” (Freud 35). When he introduced the analogy, I actually thought that it stopped with the city changing over time (with things falling apart and being renovated and rebuilt). This made more sense to me, and seems to fit better with the ideas that Hacking was proposing. It portrays memory as something that (1) is subject to entropy, and will deteriorate over time (I don’t have very firm memories of my infancy, specifically mundane details of life disappear from my memory easily). This isn’t really relevant to Hacking per se (especially because memories of trauma function differently than standard memory (Hacking 248), but just something that bothered my about Freud’s ideas. (2) Memory something that is revisited and rearranged later on. Thus the context and structure of the “buildings” that form our memory are not permanent. Taking a more modern example than an ancient Roman city, I imagine it like the UBC campus. Buildings/memory are being rebuilt and replaced as we change the descriptions and significances attributed to actions and events.
However, I should recognize that Hacking specifically says he didn’t want to address the “indeterminacy of memory”, but the “indeterminacy of the the past”, and of specific actions (Hacking 234). He probably wouldn’t enjoy this metaphor, rather seeing memory as a narrative and dispensing of cities and construction altogether.
Also, I’m interested by the idea of semantic contagion. In my mind, I connected it to the idea of Sex Ed in elementary and secondary schools. I don’t know a lot about this topic, but I’m fairly certain that earlier Sex Ed reduces the age at which sexual activity begins (I don’t have a citation here). There are complicating factors because Sex Ed also work to reduce teen pregnancy and STIs, but that isn’t really relevant to this conversation. There are probably similar effects with drug awareness programs. These programs provide lots of information and exposure to youth, but they seem to operate against semantic contagion in reducing the instances of sexual activity and drug use. But perhaps this is a bad comparison.