Hacking re-wrote my perception of memory

This has got to be one of the most interesting books we have read so far this year. Ok, let me re-phrase that: after Jill’s superb lecture that helped me to actually understand “what” exactly I was reading, I then came to the conclusion that Hacking’s “Rewriting the Soul” is one of the most thought-provoking, spot-on books I have had the pleasure of reading in a while. Why, you may ask?

Firstly, the whole insight into dissociative identity disorder is quite fascinating, but even more so than that, I found Hacking’s commentary and the section of Jill’s lecture about memory pretty mind-blowing. I know that I myself am a prime example of remembering things differently, or even re-living past memories in a new. I believe this is why this book & lecture spoke to me so much. Take this for example, and see if you can relate to it as well:

Look into the depths of your memory and pick a time in which you did something you absolutely hated at the time, be it camping in the pouring rain with a camp group, or forcing yourself to wake up at 5am to go jogging in the snow, the examples are endless (for me several memories of my travels alone come to mind). Then, think of how you look back on this memory. Chances are, if you are like me and you agree with what Hacking talks about in his book, you will be remembering this awful memory rather fondly, as if it’s something that falls into the “well it was terrible but it built character” type of category. For me, this is because I am an extremely nostalgic person: I spend most of my time alone dreaming of times long ago, and most of the time with my friends telling stories of the past, usually with a smile on my face, a smile that would have been nowhere to be found at the time of said awful event. I believe that this personal act of romanticizing the past and remembering poor memories more fondly than one should bears much semblance to many of Hacking’s themes in re-writing the soul, and more than anything, made me re-examine my own mind and personality, something that few books have ever managed to do to me.

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