Thursday, September 22, 2005

remembrancE oF thingS pasT

I was sent to a distant place. A place I haven’t gone anytime in my life. The bus reached there on time. I stepped out from the bus and looked around for a while. Hey, this place, though I haven’t visited at least once in my life seems to be a lot more familiar to me. It seems as if I had been here a long time ago. But I am sure I am here for the first time. Am I dreaming?

I was asking for a book to my friend. She looked for it in her shelf and after finding it, handed it over to me. It was a green book. But hey, I remember this sequence. The moment this event occured, I remembered the same person giving me the same book some where in the past! But I know that it hadn’t ever happened! Did it really happen in the past?

My mind remembers similar situations. Sometimes it comes as an event; sometimes as a word/sentence in a conversation; sometimes as a face in the crowd; all ignite some unknown memory bit hidden somewhere in my mind to expose itself, without informing my grey matter its birth (rather re-birth) and amazingly its very existence in my memory. And it makes me remember that the same/similar sequence had happened somewhere back in time.

Remembrance of things past’ is a book written by Marcel Proust (1872 – 1922). There is an interesting event in this book. The protagonist is having a cup of tea together with a cake. He eats the cake after dipping it in tea. Suddenly that sequence of events remembers him something. He had faced the same situation somewhere else. And came to his mind the memories of his aunt. She used to give him cake the same way when he was a child.

Many times, such spontaneous disentanglement of memory bits are referred to as involuntary memory. ‘Involuntary memory by definition anti-intellectual nevertheless refines away all the unnecessary details of a forgotten moment and retains only its unadorned core’ – Edmund White. In the case of Proust’s book, a similar event had actually happened in the past (his aunt used to feed the hero like that). But then what explains the events I mentioned in the former part?

In fact this is felt by most of the people (70% of the population) at least sometime in their life. French psychic researcher Emile Boirac coined the term Déjà vu to describe such phenomena. Why the other 30% of the population doesn’t feel it is a matter of discussion. Parapsychology associates it with precognition, extra sensory perceptions etc. I was just wondering whether the prophecies made by prophets like Nostradamus and all aren't just a result of Déjà vu?

I forgot about Déjà vu when I first posted this and added the last paragraph afterwards. Thanks Sonia for reminding me about it.