Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Proustian Moment

One big disappointment I have with Hannibal the movie is the filmmakers didn't try to show us the good doctor's memory palace. This is how he remembers things. In his mind's eye, there sits an enormous structure built from fusing a number of real palaces. Dr. Lecter's version of Muzak plays as he walks the halls to the rooms where his memories and vast volumes of knowledge are stored.

Me? I don't have the mental discipline to build a palace. I could, if I rolled up my sleeves, come up with a log cabin in the woods: one big room with a loft, and maybe an outhouse because getting a plumber is pretty pricey. And the woods are important, because some of (much of?) my memories are dark and unexplored.

Take this path less traveled:

On a quiz show last night, the guests were asked why the space shuttle flies upside down. Easy. So the astronauts can see the Earth. Also, did you know that the rocket boosters are reused but the big orange fuel tank burns up once it is separated from the shuttle?

I stopped paying attention to the quiz show so Yuki asks me the second shuttle question afterwards -- The shuttle launches from Florida and lands in California. How does it get from California to Florida after it lands? She was hoping to stump me but I knew that one too; it gets a piggyback ride on a jetliner.

How come you know all that useless information?

Well, the piggyback ride appears in 007's Moonraker. But all my shuttle trivia comes from elementary school. When I was in the 4th or 5th grade, a scientist from NASA came to give a presentation about the space shuttle. This was in the early 80s, when the shuttle was still pretty impressive and the Challenger had yet to blow up.

At the presentation, he asked us if we knew who the first American in space was. A guy sitting in my section raised his hand and shouted out an answer.

... Shepherd!!

We were sitting pretty far from the stage but the guy seemed to have heard the answer. And he was pleasantly surprised.

That's right! Hey, that's pretty impressive! The first American in space is Alan Shepard.

Everyone in our section cracked up. When the laughing died down, the kid repeated himself.

No, I said German Shepherd!

The kid was thinking of Laika, I guess. Anyway, everybody heard his answer pretty clearly the second time and we all enjoyed the best laugh of the day.

Yeah, I hadn't thought of that moment in...

1 comment:

  1. That would be "many of" your memories, Jason. It's a countable noun. Duh! "Some" works too, though, since it's count or non-count.

    I like following your blog & "seeing" you on Facebook. I feel more like we still share a community. Nihon ni "konnichi wa" to itte ne!