Friday, February 4, 2011
Where the mind goes
In the middle of a keyboarding assignment, I put on music to make my fingers go faster. The parade of words marches past, I type-tap in rhythm. It's mesmerizing--eyes slide over lines of words such as "conscious and unconscious attitudes interacting with phase-specific sequential developmental unfoldings' and 'necessary precursors to oedipal triangulation' ... and I'm no longer here, I'm somewhere else, lost in time. I go back to scenes locked in memory, as if that 'there' is every bit as real now as this 'here'.
I stumbled on an article last week of which I can't recall the origin. It had to do with time travel experiments, only they call it by another name. Anyway, it was mentioned that a scientist (whose name I forgot to note down) claimed it could be done through the mind alone, that is, you don't need a mechanical devise. But we do that all the time, don't we--go back in time--in our minds, though memory.
No, but this is different. According to this Dr. So-and-So, you can actually really "go" there, be consciously back there, present, as an observer, not just imagine it. Kind of like an out-of-body experience where you leave your body and go someplace else? How is this different? I tabled the thought, for looking into later.
So as my fingers are flying over the keyboard, surrounded by piano music filling the air spaces, I went back in my mind to certain remembered past scenes. I wasn't actually there there, but the rest of everything went on automatic pilot, so to speak, while I replayed the film-like sequence in my head from out of the memory box. Eyes kept watching the text, fingers kept pounding the keys, one part of me typing while the other went exploring. At the same time.
A scene slid out in which I was about 10 or 12 at the home of a schoolfriend (who later died of leukemia, before she entered high school). Her mother was typing on this old black typewriter and I was absolutely fascinated, how she could type out letters so fast and not even look at the keys. I wanted to ask her how her fingers remembered which letter they were supposed to strike, and secretly thought the woman was a genius. I would have given anything to learn her secret. Fast forward to my typing class and how we were eventually taught to type in school. There were two typewriters with keys that had no letters. We all dreaded being given those typewriters, especially in the beginning when rather than memorize keystrokes we sometimes kind of cheated. We weren't supposed to look down at our fingers when typing. Our teacher, Sister Mary Aloysious, who was like 80 years old (or so it seemed to us at the time; she was probably only in her 60s), got tired of her pupils looking down at the keyboard when they were supposed to be memorizing the finger positions. So if she caught you cheating, she would pull out a big, grocery-store paper bag and put it over your head.
One day, my then best friend Mary Lou, who was sent to our classroom that morning to deliver a message to the nun who was teaching us, walked in the door and seeing the entire class with paper bags on our heads, burst out laughing so hard she was told to report to the principal. I did not remember this particular episode, though I did remember the typewriters without letters. And I thought it was only certain people who got their heads bagged--the trouble makers, like J.R. and K.D., who didn't pay attention. No, my friend insisted. It was the whole class. She's gone now, too, to cancer of a different sort than the earlier schoolfriend, but our laughing about this together as adults is another cherished memory.
Two separate memories, two different scenes. I try to go back there in my mind but I draw a complete blank. For her the scene was as clear as day. She'd remembered every detail. I only recall bits and pieces and the event she remembered I apparently never recorded. As for my 12-year-old child's wish, to learn the secret of typing without looking at your fingers, it was eventually fulfilled. Be careful what you wish for, though, ha ha. When you're fresh out of college and your degree says philosophy and you don't intend teaching, the first thing they asked you then was, "Can you type?" And if you wanted not to be considered only for a clerical job, you pretended not to know how. Except if you really needed the money. No regrets for my study choices. Bad for the career; notso for where it's taken me.
I don't know why but it's been happening more frequently this year, this going back, pulling out selected memories, as a way of being together again with people long since departed, observing earlier versions of myself; knowing what I know now, would I have acted differently, made the same choices? That's the thing they always warn--about time travel--at least in fiction. Even if you could really go back, you shouldn't--you risk changing the future. I read a novel once about a guy who manages to actually go back in time and finds himself present when his grandfather first met his grandmother. The guy ends up falling in love with a woman he meets there and decides not to come back to the present. It is a simpler time, he prefers the life he becomes accustomed to 'there', but by his presence he changes one thing in the future, whereby the corporation that had sent him back in time, which he realized had a darker agenda with its time-travel experimentation, would be prevented from ever being formed.
We keep thinking of time as linear, past--> present --> future. What if it's circular, you get born, you die, you get born again. What if its parallel, like in the TV series "Frindge" my mate and I sort of got hooked on--there's another parallel universe out there with another you who looks just like you but isn't you. I wish I were capable of understanding higher mathematics, the investigations going on today in physics, etc. The concept of Time is absolutely mind-boggling, and of endless fascination. But for now I can still "go back" in time but it's not like I'm actually there there. The people I see don't see me, I can't talk to them, it's like watching snatches of an old film, nothing more.
I am looking down at my fingers on the keyboard and realize they're not typing what they're supposed to be typing. Where the mind goes .... It's back, but resisting. Such beautiful music. Paganini. And its back to "using Mahler's extensions of Freud's basic phase-specific sequential developmental model ...." yawn, type-type-type, "definitive observations lead them to hypothesize that ..." yawn, type-type-type ...
type-type-type ... type-type-type-type....