What’s Rote About Memory?

Apprentice Tucker Teague forwarded this quotation from George Steiner’s Real Presences. you’ll see easily why I like it.

To learn by heart is to afford the text or music an indwelling clarity and life-force. Ben Johnson’s term, “ingestion”, is precisely right. What we know by heart becomes an agency in our consciousness, a ‘pace-maker’ in the growth and vital complication of our identity. No exegesis or criticism from without can so directly incorporate within us the formal means, the principles of executive organization of a semantic act, be it verbal or musical. Accurate recollection and resort in remembrance not only deepen our grasp of the work: they generate a shaping reciprocity between ourselves and that which the heart knows. As we change, so does the informing context of the internalized poem or sonata. In turn, remembrance becomes recognition and discovery (to re-cognize is to know anew). The archaic Greek belief that memory is the mother of the Muses expresses a fundamental insight into the nature of the arts and of the mind. (pp. 9-10)

What is committed to memory and susceptible of recall constitutes the ballast of the self. (p. 10)

Thanks Tucker!

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