This may be fancy, though I think the memory of most of us can go farther back into such times than many of us suppose;

Category: Writing & Reading | Type: Discussion | Title: David Copperfield (in Context) | Author: Charles Dickens | Ch: I Observe

Dickens had a phenomenal memory, in part because his command of visual associations was so powerful that they illuminated all he saw with emotional coloration. But here, specifically, he is addressing all of our memories and their capacity to tunnel back into the deep past. I believe that he is right and suggest an experiment. Take a comfortable seat in a darkened room; close your eyes, and slowly, without reaching, allow a scene from, say, when you were five—not too early an age—to emerge, any scene. Allow the surroundings to sharpen, allow the image to develop. Stay with it for a time, coaxing as much out of the visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory, and taste, whichever of the senses are present in the memory. You might consider jotting down elements of it, because you want time for that memory's elements to associate with another memory, from whatever time. Or if someone whom you're close with is about, describe the scene. Do this several times over several days so as to water that parched ground and invite growth from the seeds. Then proceed to when you were four years of age, identifying the year by some object or place or person associated with it. Again, luxuriate in the recollection. Don't rush. Tread lightly, move slowly, and let the sprouts emerge from the mind's undergrowth. You will be astonished by how much is there and finally radiantly present.

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