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Quotations about Memory

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Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart. The interior is therefore rather dim and poetic. ~Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie, Scene One, 1945

Memory is more than a dustbin of time, stuffed with yesterday's trash. Rather, memory is a glorious grab bag of the past from which one can at leisure pluck bittersweet experiences of times gone by and relive them. ~Hal Boyle, 1971

My dear, dear Friend... in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart...
~William Wordsworth, lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour, 1798 July 13th

For me, that year Christmas stopped being about tinsel and wrapping paper and started being about memory. At first that was disappointing, until I learned that memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you wish to never lose. ~The Wonder Years, "Christmas," 1988, written by Bob Brush  [S2, E3]

These were the archives of the history of his own heart. ~Max Nordau (1849–1923), "The Art of Growing Old," How Women Love and Other Tales (Soul Analysis), translated from the German by an unnamed translator, 1896  [drawers of photos, letters, and other memories —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen. ~Edward de Bono

Each time we remember something, we change it. This is the nature of the brain. I imagine my recollections like rooms in a house. I can't help but alter things when I step inside — tracking mud on the floor, moving furniture out of alignment, kicking up swirls of dust. Over time, these small alterations add up... To remember is to rewrite... The only reliable memories, I suppose, are the ones that have been forgotten. They are the dark rooms of the mind. Unopened, untouched, and uncorrupted. ~Abby Geni, The Lightkeepers, 2016

Every man's memory is his private literature. ~Aldous Huxley

There are memories I choose not to live with, but we occasionally meet for a drink. ~Robert Brault,

The next best thing to the enjoyment of a good time, is the recollection of it. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

There are memories that will always make me lonesome but will never make me sad. ~Robert Brault,

The work of memory collapses time. ~Walter Benjamin

[Y]ou remember someone said that God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.... ~J.M. Barrie, "Courage" (The Rectorial Address Delivered at St. Andrews University, 1922 May 3rd)

It was as if some silver chime had waked a chord in his memory. ~Florence Bone (1875–1971), The Morning of To‑Day, 1907

The brightest memory fades faster than the dullest ink. ~Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric, 2014

Golden threads of imagination will always be found woven into the fabric of a human life, and it affords one of the sweetest pastimes to old age to sit down and slowly unravel them, recalling the hours when first they were spun. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

We each need to make peace with our own memories. We have all done things that make us flinch. ~Surya Das

When memory goes, all that's left is emotion. ~The Good Doctor, "Disaster," 2019, written by David Shore & Tracy Taylor  [S3, E1. Said by a dementia patient's wife. –tg]

Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food. ~Austin O'Malley

Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things. ~Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal

We do not remember days; we remember moments. ~Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand

Many folks mistake their IMAGINATION for their memory. ~Josh Billings, revised by H. Montague

How often do our thoughts play "hide-and-seek" with us in our memory! ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us. ~Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest"

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. The rich colours of grass and earth were intensified by the mellow light of a sun almost warm enough for spring... ~P.D. James, A Taste for Death

Whoever snatched my formerly reliable, sharp short-term memory: I'd like it back now, please. ~Dr. SunWolf, 2016 September 2nd tweet,

Years fold their mantles
Round those dead blisses...
~J.J. Britton (1832–1913), "Long Ago"

Point is, you hardly remember the perfect things. But when perfect goes wrong, those are the memories that last forever. ~Steven White and Yamara Taylor, black‑ish, "Just Christmas, Baby" [S3, E10, 2016, Dre narrating]

And even if you were in some prison, the walls of which let none of the sounds of the world come to your senses — would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly possession, that treasure-house of memories? ~Rainer Maria Rilke

I enjoy, occasionally, a day with my memories — these paintings hanging on the walls of my mind. ~Robert Brault,

Notice how your memories nest, one inside another — so close-fitting that you can't peel one free without releasing others. ~Dr. SunWolf,

The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume. ~Jean de Boufflers

I have memories — but only a fool stores his past in the future. ~David Gerrold

A happy childhood can't be cured. Mine'll hang around my neck like a rainbow, that's all, instead of a noose. ~Hortense Calisher, Queenie, 1971

Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door. ~Saul Bellow

Memory is not an instrument for surveying the past but it is theater. It is the medium of past experience, just as the earth is the medium in which dead cities lie buried. He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging. ~Walter Benjamin

Memory itself is an internal rumour. ~George Santayana, The Life of Reason

There's nothing in the world that clings
As does a memory that stings...
~Georgia Douglas Camp Johnson (1880–1966), "Inevitably," The Heart of a Woman and Other Poems, 1918

Recalling days of sadness, memories haunt me. Recalling days of happiness, I haunt my memories. ~Robert Brault,

Much of the best fiction nowadays appears in the form of reminiscences. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, George Horace Lorimer, editor, as reprinted in Poor Richard Jr's Almanack, 1906

A childhood is what anyone wants to remember of it. It leaves behind no fossils, except perhaps in fiction. ~Carol Shields

It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us. A year impairs, a luster obliterates. There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment — but who can be sure that the Imagination is not the torch-bearer? ~Lord Byron

The past is never dead, it is not even past. ~William Faulkner

Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart. ~Thomas Fuller

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
~T.S. Eliot

With most men, scarce a link of memory holds yesterday and to-day together. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims, "Inspiration"

And though where home hath been, you stand
To-day in alien loneliness;
Through you may clasp no brother's hand,
And claim no sister's tender kiss;
Though with no friend or lover nigh,
The past is all your company —
Thank God for friends your life has known,
For every dear, departed day;
The blessed past is safe alone —
God gives, but does not take away;
He only safely keeps above
For us the treasures that we love.
~Phoebe Cary, "Thanksgiving," 1881

What we remember from childhood we remember forever — permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen. ~Cynthia Ozick

Memory is what tells a man that his wife's birthday was yesterday. ~Mario Rocco

Memory's time-worn — a crumbling wall. ~Terri Guillemets, 2018, blackout poetry created from Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 1850, page 55

Tonight, as I looked out my window
At the snowflakes, lovely and white,
I thought of the days of my girlhood
Long past, all so happy and bright!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "The First Snow of the Season" (1940s)

Living in memories is an empty gesture. ~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

All our lives we are engaged in preserving our experiences and keeping them fresh by artificially sprinkling the water of memory over them. They have ceased to retain their original smell and fragrance. Do you call it life— this effort at the preservation of a phantom freshness in something that is withered and gone? ~Vimala Thakar

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
~Thomas Campbell, Hallowed Ground

In memory's telephoto lens, far objects are magnified. ~John Updike

Things that were hard to bear are sweet to remember. ~Seneca

The happiest memories are of moments that ended when they should have. ~Robert Brault,

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth. ~Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

I am a miser of my memories of you
And will not spend them.
~Witter Bynner, "Coins"

Memory is second sight. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

The man with a clear conscience probably has a poor memory. ~Author Unknown

...Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain winds be free
To blow against thee: and in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies...
~William Wordsworth, lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour, 1798 July 13th

There are memories I choose not to live with, but we hang out at the same bar. ~Robert Brault,

I wish you enough good memories to see you through the bad times. ~Pam Brown, To Someone Special, Wishing You Happiness, 2008,

Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories. ~Walter Benjamin

Memory is time folding back on itself. ~Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain, 2008

The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind. ~Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973

Indeed, let us not forget,
But also let us not dwell.
~Terri Guillemets

The two offices of memory are collection and distribution. ~Samuel Johnson

Adulthood is when the ghosts of childhood appear. ~Terri Guillemets

The world shrieks and sinks talons into our hearts. This we call memory. ~Tim O'Brien, Tomcat in Love

Hmmm, how to "can a day?" You know, those days that seem just perfect you want access to them whenever the need arises. ~Jeb Dickerson, @JebDickerson

The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant. ~Salvador Dali

What are memories but dreams of a better past. ~Robert Brault,

Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it. ~Michel de Montaigne

Life is a rough biography. Memories smooth out the edges. ~Terri Guillemets

The faintest waft is sometimes enough to induce feelings of hunger or anticipation, or to transport you back through time and space to a long-forgotten moment in your childhood. It can overwhelm you in an instant or simply tease you, creeping into your consciousness slowly and evaporating almost the moment it is detected. ~Stephen Lacey, Scent in Your Garden, 1991

She glances at the photo, and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes. ~Frank Deford

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

You can be sad recalling sad times, but if you really want to be sad, recall happy times. ~Robert Brault,

...and torture myself with happy thoughts... ~Terri Guillemets

Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories. ~From the movie An Affair to Remember, written by Delmer Daves, Donald Ogden Stewart, Leo McCarey, and Mildred Cram

It's surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

I'm always fascinated by the way memory diffuses fact. ~Diane Sawyer

You can accept a falling out that changes your plans, but it's hard to accept a betrayal that changes your memories. ~Robert Brault,

No Such Thing As Forgetting...

Memory only slumbers—never dies. ~Thomas Paine (1737–1809) + Chambers's Journal, 1868  [mash-up quotation —tg]

There is no such thing as forgetting possible to the mind; a thousand accidents may, and will interpose a veil between our present consciousness and the secret inscriptions on the mind; accidents of the same sort will also rend away this veil; but alike, whether veiled or unveiled, the inscription remains for ever; just as the stars seem to withdraw before the common light of day, whereas, in fact, we all know that it is the light which is drawn over them as a veil — and that they are waiting to be revealed, when the obscuring daylight shall have withdrawn. ~Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, 1821

The existence of forgetfulness has never been proved. All we know is that recollection may not be within our power. Up to the present we have filled that gap in our power with the word "forget," just as if it were another addition to our list of faculties. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dawn of Day, 1881

Your memory is a monster; you forget — it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you — and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you! ~John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany, 1989

The brain remembers and recalls everything that's happened to us, something that comes out under hypnosis and brain stimulation. While we may not immediately recall some bit of information, that particular memory isn't lost; it's merely inaccessible and may be triggered later by some sight, smell, sound, or other stimulus. ~Peter Russell, 1979

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