I spotted the latest part of this series of YouTube postings with Les Loken, a 94-year old veteran of the war in the Pacific. It seems to suit today’s theme since it is Rememberance Day and I also approve of Gingeronymous posting this series. I’ve always been a reader of history and I really like it when people record the thoughts and memories of the folks who were there. Not the kings, prime ministers and generals, but the ‘ordinary’ folk (as if there really is such a thing) who actually did the getting the hands dirty side of the history those more well-known leaders are commonly ascribed to have made. With the ability we have with various cheap and easily accessible media it’s good to see it being used to record these memories before they are lost to the march of time. It’s like when Hamish Henderson, introduced to the then new-fangled tape recorder, saw at once that he could combine it with his own knowledge, background and skill as a poet to travel the Highlands of Scotland and record poetry, song and folklore as it was spoken by the people for generations so that we would always have it.
It’s a basic need of humanity, this desire for what communications lecturers would call exo-somatic memory, something held outside the brain of the original person, something which will outlast the flesh mind that once held it. We’ve been doing it since our ancestors painted on cave walls by the flickering orange firelight, from the heiroglyphics of Egypt, writing on vellum… then Gutenberg and his moveable type making it possible to preserve and share thoughts and memories and ideas further afield and over time, making books our ambassadors, able to travel through time and space in a way which our limited bodies cannot, carrying our thoughts, our memories, our dreams, our ideas, our songs, our sadness, our happiness, our warnings and advice and art… And now we have digital technology available to the masses in a way Gutenberg could never had dreamt of, from blog to flog to youtube. I enjoy the dafter postings on youtube of crazy gerbils tapdancing and the like, but it is warming to see it used in this way too.