The concept of memory and how we engage with our surroundings through our memory is a fascinating topic to explore. Personally, the reading ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis’ by Bernard Stiegler, which looks at the exteriorisation of memory and hypomnesis was of particular interest as the content reflected my own personal perception of modern society, though it also hinted at a future where we as humans will lose more and more control of our actions, thoughts and memory itself as our self-reliance on technology increases.
To begin with, while the exteriorisation of the human memory is a natural occurrence, as Stiegler states “Human memory is originally exteriorized”, his exploration of the concept that as technology has continually advanced in modern society, our heavy reliance on them is creating an ever growing loss of knowledge to these “techno-logical forms of knowledge”. Stiegler uses the common GPS guidance system and mobile phone to demonstrate this idea that as we exteriorise our memory to this new wave of mnemotechnologies, we are not losing our memory but displacing it.
Whereas once, with more traditional forms of externalising memory where a person may write something down, or create a sculpture or painting etc., if this object was destroyed, that particular memory was destroyed along with it. However, with these new technologically superior objects, even if they are lost or destroyed, the memory will still exist in a form somewhere, be it a phone company’s records etc. While the memory still exists somewhere, our ability to trace it down or connect back to it is near impossible or extremely difficult.
What will happen to these memories when the person from whom they originally were projected from ceases to exist? Can these displaced memories still be considered as such when the original source no longer exists? Can another person claim a stranger’s memory as their own if they so wished to?
Furthermore, what will happen to the collective knowledge of people as we continue to place such great trust in these mnemotechnological devices?
Stiegler, Bernard (n.d.) ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’ <http://arsindustrialis.org/anamnesis-and-hypomnesis> Accessed: 21st March 2010