Memory In The Virtual Age

December 6, 2011 at 9:15 PMDec (Friends, Media, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

I have always loved the idea of meeting for a cup of chai. Be it tea, coffee, juice or even alcohol there is something lovely about sitting across the table and conversing. It makes way for what Jacob Norberg puts as, the “opportunity for people to talk to each other beyond the constraints of purpose-governed exchanges.” So whenever there is a chance for such a meeting, I hardly let go the chance off. Though a non-alcoholic I have enjoyed sitting over the table with alcoholics while they drink sip by sip or shot by shot, conversing without the constraints of a purpose-governed exchanges. But more often I have enjoyed these over the table exchanges when it is over a cup of chai, for it not only allows an exchange without purpose- which makes way for “the wind to blow in from all the windows”- but also allows me taste the taste of chai, which I enjoy as much as the conversations which are not governed by purpose.

It was one such chai session in the college canteen, few days ago. As I was waiting for my lemon tea with a friend of mine waiting for her cup of tea a person I did not know entered the canteen. The unknown person who is a senior correspondent in a daily newspaper in Bangalore greeted my friend and made me realize that the two were friends and also colleagues at one point of time. The conversation between the two focused on the office where one works now and where another used to work earlier. The office, the work, the employees etc left their footprints on the path of conversation. All of a sudden the conversation moved to the city where the office was located.

After discussing the rise in auto prices and the inconvenience of the city buses the conversation drifted to the metro. “How is it?” my friend asked. “It is good. Makes travelling easy. But the construction of metros has changed the landscape of Bangalore,” came the answer. After explaining a bit about how certain areas of Bangalore had changed completely she said, “These places cannot be recognized at all. I wonder at time whether it is the same area! One thing about urbanization is that it doesn’t have any space for nostalgia, for memory.”

Spot on!

Memory is not an imaginary space in the computer and other devices related to the same gadget, to save programmes. Memory is something which grounds our worlds on the earth which has the gravitation of history- social, political and personal too.

We live in the times of development and growth fetish. The ever growing is ever changing. Growth demands change. It demands a change which will not repeat history because this fetish wants to create history and not continue history. So, growth demands focusing on the future and goal and not being nostalgic. So what changes is not just the landscape but also the mindscape.

When people, say they want to and believe in, “Moving on,” what they essential mean is “leave the past behind,” which not just means, “carry on with your life,” but also, “forget the past.” The meaning of these words is that the road ahead and the (imaginary) goal ahead is more important than the road treaded. This reflects the detachment the new urban civilization has with memory and history. The new urban civilization believes that to have memories is to be stuck to the past. To be stuck to the past is to be not updated. Not to updated means to be out of fashion. To be out of fashion means to be irrelevant. To be irrelevant means it needs to be eliminated. So in the cycle of things what needs to be eliminated is memory of the past and the very past itself because what is important in the race of our times is the goal the future and not the past not the history not the memory attached to it.

Memory is a burden which makes the walk towards the future slow. So unburden it, calls the new urban civilization. These notions of past and the memory attached to the past, makes the new urban civilization script lives and spaces in such a fashion that there is no scope and space for nostalgia, divorcing life and space from memory.

The new films have no concept of flashback. Recollection of the past is missing. Recollection never paused the narrative but reinvented the narrative and gave scope for reflection. It carried the narrative forward inventing new meanings to the narrative and gave a complete picture of the narrative.

The first thing needs to be done to revive the technique of flashback is to make the urban civilization realize that memory is not a burden and to have memories is not to be stuck and also that what is old is not outdated and irrelevant. The larger game would surely be battling the development and growth fetish of our times.

When our chai glasses went empty the lady got up. While leaving she said, “It was nice to meet again and revisit the past. Back in Bangalore there is no time for anything, to sit and have a cup of tea with friends or anything.” Yes, the modern urban civilization is a mad run to nothing within the framework of nothingness. In that run to stop for a moment, to revisit the past, reinventing one’s own narrative, to reflect on one’s own narrative would mean to reenergize oneself.

More reason to celebrate a cup of chai, where one has all the time indulge in conversation not governed by purpose, which might invoke memories of the past and create secret roads to the future through the past…


  1. B.Suresha said,

    ಆತ್ಮೀಯ ಸಂವರ್ತ,
    ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಲೇಖನ.
    ವಿನಾಕಾರಣದ ಮಾತಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಹುಟ್ಟುವ ಅರಾಜಕ ಆನಂದ ಮತ್ತು ನಂತರ ಹುಟ್ಟುವ ಚಿಂತನೆಗಳ ವಿಸ್ತಾರವನ್ನು ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮವಾಗಿ ಚಿತ್ರಿಸಿದ್ದೀರಿ…
    ಆರಂಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಲೇಖನವು ಬಿಚ್ಚಿಡುವ ವಿವರವು ಚಹಾ ಕುಡಿಯುವ ವಿರಾಮವನ್ನು ಕುರಿತು ಮಾತಾಡುತಾ ನಂತರದಲ್ಲಿ ನಗರೀಕರಣ ಮತ್ತು ಅಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿ ಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಯ ಕಡೆಗೆ ಸಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಹೀಗಾಗಿ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಲೇಖನವು ಸ್ಪಷ್ಟವಾಗಿ ಎರಡು ಭಾಗ ಆಗಿಬಿಡುತ್ತದೆ. ಪ್ರಾಯಶಃ ಎರಡೂ ಭಾಗ ಎಂಬ ಪ್ರತ್ಯೇಕತೆಯು ತಿಳಿಯದ ಹಾಗೆ ಲೇಖನ ಅರಳಿದ್ದರೆ ಇನ್ನೂ ಉತ್ತಮ ಆಗುತ್ತಿತ್ತು ಎಂದು ನನ್ನ ಅನಿಸಿಕೆ.
    ಆದರೂ ಒಟ್ಟಾರೆಯಾಗಿ ಇದು ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ.

  2. Chetana TeerthahaLLi said,

    Memory is a burden which makes the walk towards the future slow ಅನ್ನೋದು ಎಲ್ಲ ದೇಶ ಕಾಲಕ್ಕೂ ಸಲ್ಲುವ ಮಾತು. ನೆನಪುಗಳು ಒಳ್ಳೇದು- ಕೆಟ್ಟದ್ದು- ಅದೇನೇ ಇದ್ದರೂ ಪುರುಸೊತ್ತಿನ ವ್ಯಸನ. ಹಾಗಂತ ಸ್ವತಃ ನಾನು ಹಳತನ್ನ ನೆನೆದು ಬರೆಯುವಾಗಲೂ ತೀವ್ರವಾಗಿ ಅನ್ನಿಸುತ್ತೆ. ಆದ್ರೆ ಲೇಖನದ ಧಾಟಿ ಮತ್ತು ನಿಮ್ಮ ಆಲೋಚನೆಗಳು ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿವೆ.
    ~ ಚೆ

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: