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Wed Apr 8th, 2015


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08:35 am - Time time time, see what's become of me
Article on my bugbear, the perception of time. Money quote: Time perception matters because it is the experience of time that roots us in our mental reality. Time is not only at the heart of the way we organize life, but the way we experience it.

"As we grow older, we tend to feel like the previous decade elapsed more rapidly, while the earlier decades of our lives seem to have lasted longer." [J note: no argument from this decade, but:] Similarly, we tend to think of events that took place in the past 10 years as having happened more recently than they actually did. (Quick: What year did the devastating Japanese tsunami hit? When did we lose Maurice Sendak?) Conversely, we perceive events that took place more than a decade ago as having happened even longer ago. (When did Princess Diana die? What year was the Chernobyl disaster?)"

Bad questions for me: all but Sendak are linked with personal history and I know exactly when they happened on the general timeline, just like 'Where were you when JFK was shot?' or your generation's equivalent. (What *is* your generation's equivalent? Sept 11, I suppose, though that's of a different order than Princess Di or even Chernobyl.)

Equally: "But, curiously, we are most likely to vividly remember experiences we had between the ages of 15 and 25. What the social sciences might simply call “nostalgia” psychologists have termed the “reminiscence bump”... The key to the reminiscence bump is novelty." ie things done for the first time are remembered more vividly than their 3,000th iteration, and at some point everything is new.

This sounds reasonable but doesn't work for me. Possibly because my life from 16 through 29 contained none of those periods of happy contentment that have blessed other decades, my memories are few and flattened and very often, undatable. However, "people who undergo a major transformation of identity later in life — say, changing careers or coming out — tend to experience a second identity bump, which helps them reconcile and consolidate their new identity." Which accounts for the renaissance explosion of memories my 30s and 40s and early 50s, I suppose.
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