Metaphors of Memory

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by Douwe Draaisma

What exactly is memory? We lose our sense of ourselves, thinking, and even our capacity to execute simple bodily activities when we lose our memories. However, it is elusive and difficult to describe, and philosophers and psychologists have employed metaphors to comprehend it throughout history. This fascinating book takes the reader on a guided tour of these memory metaphors from ancient times to the present day, examining how metaphors were frequently derived from techniques and instruments developed to store information such as wax tablets, books, photography, computers, and even the hologram.

Our thoughts on Metaphors of Memory

This is a novel that should be read by more people. It's a look back at how we've discussed memory throughout history. Today, we discuss about photographic memory or digital memory, and we compare our memories to modern technology. That has always been the case. The Greeks referred to memory as if it were a wax tablet. Memory was viewed as a hologram by intellectuals in the mid-twentieth century. Memory was an aviary to Socrates. It was a mystic writing pad for Freud. Draaisma discusses how these metaphors impact our perceptions of memory.

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— Douwe Draaisma, Metaphors of Memory