Where Has All My Knowledge Gone?

March 27, 2008 at 6:41 am (Uncategorized)

Do you ever mourn the loss of knowledge you once possessed? I don’t spend a lot of time lamenting what I’ve irretrievably lost, but every so often I’m struck by just how short-term some aspects of my memory seem to be. It’s not that I have no long-term memory. I can remember conversations from twenty years ago eerily well (or so I think! The lawyers might disagree!). I’m good with names. I readily recall favourite fictional characters from long ago. I know what I wore – exactly – to just about every key event of my life and a lot more besides. I have a vast store of trivial information about movies and actors ever at the ready.

Sometimes I scare myself with the extent of my minute certainties (did you know that Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt starred in mid-1980s teen flick called Girls Just Wanna Have Fun? They did. I know. And what’s worse is that when they each went on to star in something successful, my first thought was ‘She was in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, I’m sure it’s her…’ – yes, I’m the sort of person who never forgets the embarrassments). I’m disturbed particularly because of the inherent uselessness of so much of what I know. Who the hell cares? What does it matter? Why can’t I remember Maths equations, only the cast members in The Breakfast Club and the theme music for the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz?

It doesn’t mean anything.

Then there’s the fact that I used to be able – in Year 7 at the age of 12 – to look at a world map and name every country in the world. Then I’d name the capital. This was before I’d been out of Australia, mind you. I’ve been to many countries now, and I’ve met and lived with people from all over the world, but there’s no way I retain now what I knew then. It’s gone. Then there’s significant dates in history and the rollicking stories of bloody battles, court intrigues and uneasy detentes. Mmmm… not so much. It’s all a bit patchy.

Poetry! Oh, that’s the really, really awful one. People who can quote poetry make my toes curl with a really savage sense of inadequacy. Why oh why can’t I remember all the words to John Donne’s Batter My Heart entirely off the cuff? WHY?! Sob!

Thank goodness the words haven’t left me too. Out of the full line-up of school curriculum, only the words remain. I still have an English vocabulary of which I am proud (although I fan the pages of a bound copy of my thesis occasionally and always think it the most foreign thing ever… clearly I was possessed). Beyond that, I often feel a fool. A long time ago, I used to be rather good at Maths, you know. In Year 11 I was studying 3 Unit Maths. I even topped my year in English, Maths and – hilariously – Home Economics when I was in Year 8. I was 14 at the time. Come to think of it, that’s the age I first started drinking – perhaps we have our answer right there.

Occasionally I do wonder about my lost abilities, things I knew how to do then that I have no idea about now, and I suppose today is one of those days. Where did it all go? What did it all mean? Am I less for having lost it? Or is it with me still, informing me in ways I don’t quite grasp? As is only fitting, I can only answer truthfully that I really don’t know.



  1. kate said,

    : ) I have a copy of ‘Girls just want to have fun’ that I bought for Sam. Having never been into Sex in the City for me it showcases what I consider some of SJP’s finest work.

  2. doctordi said,

    Never been into SATC? Are you mad??!! How can this be? We don’t own a TV and I have seen e-v-e-r-y episode ever made. I am basically gnawing off my hand waiting for the movie. I am completely unable to process this news. By the way, I love that you have the movie in question. That’s awesome. I even remember the entire plot and some of their outfits.

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