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Quotations about Memory


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But memory... Think how determinedly it entwines itself around the past! ~Ronald A. Knox, Other Eyes Than Ours, 1926


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]


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


Each man's memory is his private literature, and every recollection affects us with something of the penetrative force that belongs to the work of art. ~Aldous Huxley


If recollecting were forgetting
Then I remember not.
And if forgetting, recollecting,
How near I had forgot!...
~Emily Dickinson


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


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


Why is one day set apart from the rest when you look back into your life? What makes one day stand out vivid and arresting as if a wind blew in from the vast subconscious reaches, riffling through the old year's calendar to pin back one page before the mind's eye? ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, But the Morning Will Come, 1949


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


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


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


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, in Atlanta Journal, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1985


We do not remember days, we remember moments. ~Cesare Pavese


      "What am I? Nothing else, if you look at the thing closely, but the sum of my past experiences, tied up together in a bundle with the string we call memory. The cells of memory are the tissues out of which the mind-life is built up. Personality, believe me, is nothing else than the harvest of our memories."
      "Then you would say," suggested the Abbé, "that a man cannot lose his memory? Or rather, that if a man loses his memory, then it is no longer the same man, but a different one?..." ~Ronald A. Knox, Other Eyes Than Ours, 1926


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


Cecily:  I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets of my life. If I didn't write them down, I should probably forget all about them.
Miss Prism:  Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.
Cecily:  Yes, but it usually chronicles the things that have never happened...
~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


My recollectest thoughts are those
      Which I remember yet;
And bearing on, as you'd suppose,
      The things I don't forget...
~Charles Edward Carryl, "My Recollectest Thoughts"


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


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]


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


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


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


In the circle of the hearth everything is good, but reminiscences are best of all. I sometimes think all life is valuable merely as an opportunity to accumulate reminiscences, and I am sure that the precious horde can be seen to best advantage by firelight. Then is the time for the miser to spread out his treasure and admire it. ~Elisabeth Woodbridge, "In the Firelight," 1909


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


I wonder if it is a blessing or a curse to have a photographic mind, for I remember every word you wrote, and some I am trying to forget. ~Laura L. Livingstone (Herbert Dickinson Ward), Lauriel: The Love Letters of an American Girl, 1901


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, rbrault.blogspot.com


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


Memories of my childhood swept over me like swallows in autumn flight. ~Laura L. Livingstone (Herbert Dickinson Ward), Lauriel: The Love Letters of an American Girl, 1901


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, imprinted, eternally seen. ~Cynthia Ozick, 1985


"If you ask me," said Miss Rostead (though nobody had, and nobody was likely to), "I think that's about the most cheering account of a future life I ever heard. Who'd want to go on always remembering a rotten old world like this? People talk about the pleasures of memory; but what does one get out of memory if one stops to consult it? One's unpaid bills, the endorsements on one's driving license, and the men one danced with last season! No, I'm for the present; and if there is any future present (if you see what I mean), by all means let 'em get on with it. That's what I say." ~Ronald A. Knox, Other Eyes Than Ours, 1926


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


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


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


Her hand in my hand,
      Soft as the south wind,
      Soft as a colt's nose,
      Soft as forgetting;
Her cheek to my cheek,
      Red as the cranberry,
      Red as a mitten,
      Red as remembering...
~Mark Van Doren, "Dunce Songs," 1959


When Memory rings her bell, let all the thoughts run in. ~Emily Dickinson


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, rbrault.blogspot.com


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


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


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, 1998


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


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


Memory is us. ~Ronald A. Knox, Other Eyes Than Ours, 1926


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


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


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


Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories. ~An Affair to Remember, written by Delmer Daves, Leo McCarey, Donald Ogden Stewart, & Mildred Cram, 1957


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


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



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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