September 14, 2012
The Inventive Mind
While all memoirs are originally based off of past memories, I am agreeing with Patricia Hampl on the belief that imagination always manages to converge with the initial memories. In Hampl’s essay, “Memory and Imagination”, the topic being discussed is based off of memoirs and whether the recollections included are factual or not. Also, if not, then why are memories invented in the first place? At some point in a memoir, memories begin to fade, and emotions allow imagination to interfere. The memory is indeed there from the start, but it does not make the memoir accurate. Added in details change the overall accuracy of the memoir, therefore, I am agreeing fully with Hampl’s claims of memoirs not being as true as presented. She displays good points in her argument by giving an example from her past, definitions that provide understanding for what a memoir is, and valid explanations concerning the topic of memory.
Hampl starts off the essay by talking about one of her childhood recollections involving a piano lesson at the age of seven, but in the end, the short memoir turns into an imaginative piece of writing. As she transcribes, details are mistakenly added in. The memory actually comes from her own creation instead of facts as they are supposed to. Furthermore, out of all memories she could have chosen, her piano lesson is the one she is the most acquainted with. Why, you ask? It is assumed that humans only store parts of memory that are of emotional value. (Hampl 1009). With that said, complete memories included in memoirs are not always the truth. Based on Hampl’s memoir, it is proven that no matter how true a memoir is supposed to be, it is more than likely written with biased accounts of that memory. The way a person remembers a situation from the past is always different from how somebody else remembers it, therefore, creating several different versions of the same memory. This is where the idea of invention begins. Hampl goes as far as to say in her essay that “invention is inevitable (1011)”. With that said, she leaves the reader to think and also she herself then ponders why even call such writings a “memoir”. Instead of memoirs being solely based off of memories, I believe that they are based off of thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Therefore, the writer has say in what actually goes in it, accurate or not. I believe a memoir cannot be completely based off of facts because of the emotional involvement in a memory. What would a memory be without emotion? There wouldn’t be a memory at all. From my own personal experiences, I remember certain aspects of my childhood because of the emotional ties that go along with them. These emotional ties have brought me to who I am as a person today. Moving around as a child is one of the most prominent memories I have today from my childhood. It would not be as memorable without the excitement and sadness that came along with it. I truly believe that feelings are the basis of a memory because of this. Several things happen in order to make a memoir not as factual as presented. Writers add details in order to make a story more interesting, making the original facts turn into exaggerated lies. Various writers like to exaggerate in order to capture the reader’s attention. Other times, biased opinions fill the pages that are either from what the author wished had happened or what the author wished they had. In Hampl’s personal example, she never actually got the red piano lesson book as she says she receives in her memoir. The actual development of this memory occurred naturally to her because she started remembering the envy she felt towards other children who did have it. Desire took over in Hampl’s mind, and the book became a symbol for this emotion. In Hampl’s essay, “Memory and Imagination”, she claims, “When I reread what I had written just after I finished it, I realized that I had told a...