Ambiguity of Memory

When I was a kid the family told a story about my Uncle Charlie, when asked if he could play the violin, replying, “I don’t know, I’ve never tried.”

I understood that it was supposed to be funny: a funny story about my uncle, my favorite adult relative other than my mother herself. It was only years later that I came, gradually, and increasingly, to see that the story had more than one face.

Information is dependent on difference: the datum is a 1, not a 0; the baby is a girl, not a boy … Macroinformation, my term for complex, emergent information, multi-dimensional information as it were, is dependent on meta-differences: differences among the differences.

So: I have a nested series of memories of that story: that story as I understood it age five, that story as I understood it age fifteen, that story as I understood it age thirty … There: I’ve told the story. You may understand it however you wish. I’ll comment, at my leisure, on how I layer my nest of related mrmories.

First understanding: I think I understood the story to be a joke on my uncle. I understood my family to be “saying” that Charlie was so naive, so young, so shallow, that he didn’t realize that the violin was a difficult instrument to play. No sensible person could not know whether or not he knew how to play the violin, inexperience of violin playing was irrelevant.

Early other layer: What if Charlie was making a rational joke about experience? It wounded silly, but it may actually have been wise: how would he know what he could or couldtn’t do until he had tried it? I have subsequently make related jokes myself: how do I know I’m mortal, I haven’t died yet? Generalizations based on others’ experience is OK as a shortcut, but it’s not proof.

Actually, now that I’m writing “reasons,” I can sum the balance up in one package: Charlie was being a commedian, he was making himself the bu8t of a joke. There was a persona involved, Uncle Charlie’s pretend Charlie. Such a Charlie can not be taken literally; or it’s the taker who’s the fool.

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
This entry was posted in example, information, pk Teaching, thinking tools. Bookmark the permalink.

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