Memory

Thessaloniki and the Bulgarians - Memory

Our consciousness of the past is rooted in memory. Our whole life, all its aspects are infiltrated by memory. Even our present is largely dedicated to memory, as we spend a great deal of it in searching and nurturing our relations to the past. Our memory of the past is a must for our sense of identity. An identity means “who we are” and “where we come from” – the basis on which everything we think and do makes sense. Without memory, we would not have conscious of the chain of causes and effects that shaped our personal identity. Therefore the memory, i.e. our ability to remember and identify ourselves with our own past, gives value, purpose and meaning to our existence.

Our personal memory is subjective and limited by nature. Her indistinct borders are lost somewhere in the early childhood. However, we supplement it by adding to our own memories those of our predecessors. Without what we have left from our parents' memories, for instance, we would have to constantly invent ourselves, and that is an impossible task. Furthermore, our individual need to build a meaningful life story from our past, through recollections and memory, on the one hand, and the aspirations of communities and nations to formulate a worthy past, on the other, are similar. The groups also mobilize their collective memory in the name of a lasting group identity. Through recollections and memory, the past upholds the consciousness of identity, whether personal, communal or national.

We need the memories of the others to confirm and give value to our own memories. The opposite is also true, because life is fundamentally dialogical and discovering oneself is unthinkable without the others. In other words, nobody has ever been and cannot be the first one to understand who he is because no one can find himself by himself alone. Every individual would take the opportunity to fit himself into a larger and hence more significant cosmos. According to David Lowenthal, to know we are ephemeral lessees of age-old hopes and dreams that have animated generations of endeavor secures our place – now to rejoice, now to regret – in the scheme of things.

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