Recently, somewhat by accident, I discovered that when I moved the discussion table to a different part of the room the two discussions stayed more separate in my memory than when it was always in the same place. With the table in the same place all the time, different discussions overlapped and got muddled in my mind. Putting the table somewhere else, the different visual qualities again made it easy to separate from the other discussions.
Location is important to retrieving memories. We go back to where something happened in our minds’ eye and re-view it. When we remember an event, we run the mental film. See it again. The angle may be different since it is edited by the things that matter to us at the moment. It could be an entirely different version of the event from someone else that was there. Remembering Sunday night card games when I was a child, the image includes my grandfather, his warm smile and laugh, and there in the picture of my life, he remains. Though in the linear view of time he is gone now because we’re on a different place on the line, in a spatial view of time, nothing that comes into the picture ever leaves that part of the picture. We might be adding to the picture somewhere else but the composition always exists as a whole.
Linear time is a useful idea mistakenly imprinted as reality. Conditioning can be comfort and breaking free threatens it. Looking at time as the accumulation of collective experience is reminiscent of the ancient idea of the akashic field where everything that happens leaves an impression and is there to be retrieved by sensitive attunement. This connects to the modern biological theory of Rupert Sheldrake suggesting that rather than memory being in our heads, it’s really in a field of human activity, entwined in the larger picture. We build our personal circuitry by our life experience. Perhaps it becomes the tuning mechanism to remember the imagery of our lives pulled from the intricate weave of signals in the field. As an image, it’s not so different from the internet which accumulates everything. Familiarity with that model may release us from the grip of a mechanistic model that separates everything into replaceable units. Quantum physics pointed David Bohm’s thinking in the direction of a more unified consciousness. He compared individual human consciousness to a single camera on a larger scene, everyone with their own angles which contribute to the comprehensive consciousness. We move our camera over the unfolding scene that becomes our particular line of time. Our body is the camera with which we experience reality and funnel the larger consciousness.
The imagery of memory is spatial, interconnected. After thousands of years of reducing reality to the line of history’s symbols, signs and labels and their illusion of separateness, shifting to perceptual understanding, the sense of the space that includes us and the relations within it, opens a way of thinking that joins and includes. It could unite us in shared responsibility for our co-future.