Memory Tunnels

Food for Thought

I randomly came across this at Daiso in Flushing, Queens. The last time I had one of these instant yakisobas was like 30 years ago. It’s basically like one of those science experiment kits for kids. You buy it because you are curious how just adding hot water could produce stir-fried noodles. You add the hot water, seal it, wait 3 minutes, drain the water through the built-in strainer, add the chemicals in the packets, and stir vigorously. Sure enough, you have not-so-bad yakisoba. Your curiosity is satisfied until 3 decades later when you completely forget about it again. The next time, I’ll be either dead or nearly dead, with a grand total of 3 instant yakisobas in my whole life.

which reminds me; maybe it’s about time I watch Touch of Evil by Orson Welles again as I have completely forgotten how it goes. I remember watching it like 20 years ago in one of those art-house cinemas. I don’t remember which. Sort of like instant yakisoba, I forget the plot but remember the feelings. I read The Brothers Karamazov like 20 years ago too, but don’t remember much. Basically what I retained is an impression of what Dostoyevsky is about. In my 20s, I read a bunch of books by R. D. Laing but haven’t read any since, so, I just have this general sense of who he is and what he was about.

When I re-read books that I read many years ago, I realize I didn’t retain much, which leads me to ask what the point of learning anything is. It’s sort of like digging tunnels, like in Minecraft. You can’t see where you are going, so, you aimlessly keep digging. Sometimes you end up digging through to where you were 20 years ago. You look around and vaguely remember digging there before. At any given moment, you only remember a very small percentage of what you’ve learned in your life, but the tunnels still exist, and something—perhaps intuition—flows through them. The more you dig, the greater the flow. Being forgetful isn’t a big problem these days because of the internet and smartphones. It’s not knowledge or understanding that you achieve through digging; it’s some sort of clarity. In some mysterious ways, you always retain connections to the tunnels you dig in your life.