Memory

(This page is a stub).

In biography, memory is fairly unimportant. For example, when I wrote the biography of immunologist and Nobel Prize winner Niels K. Jerne, the written sources provided the bulk of the empirical material. His own memories, reported in the interviews we did together during the last six years of his life, were less important and did not, with a few significant exceptions, have much impact on my reconstruction of his life and work.

Autobiography is different. Most autobiographical authors draw heavily on their memories, of themselves, others, events, places, etc. In principle, the author can decide to base the story entirely on the documents in his or her personal archive, but even then memory can not be erased and it will always somehow interfere with the interpretation of the sources. However subjective and distorted, memories are the icing on the autobiographical cake.

My case is no exception: from the very beginning of this undertaking I have experienced a constant stream of both revoked and new memories of life past — experiences that have made me reflect on the role of memory and memory reports in the construction of an autobiography.

On the following pages, I will discuss these experiences, with special emphasis on the role memory can play for the care of self and graceful ageing.

I should add that there exists a huge research literature on memory to draw on; fortunately that part which deals specifically with memory in autobiographical writing is much smaller and apparently more digestable.

(I have not organised the subpages on memory yet)work in progress