Frank van Pamelen

Frank van Pamelen: Memory

Column 1 min. Frank van Pamelen

Comedian, writer, poet, grand artist and alumnus Frank van Pamelen about outsourcing his memory.

I’m not doing it anymore. I refuse. If the GPS lady says: “In two hundred meters, turn left,” I will turn right in three hundred meters. What the hell is she thinking? That I would never reach my destination without her? Ha! Well, alright, she may have a bit of a point. Or maybe a big point. In any case more of a point than I care to admit.

Ever since I started using a smartphone, I haven’t been able to remember a single phone number. Not necessary either; it’s all in the device. I used to be able to rattle off twenty or thirty phone numbers no problem. Same with birthdays. I knew when, I knew how old, I sent cards, followed them up with calls. That’s all in the past now.

I have outsourced my memory

I receive Facebook notifications, click on a few balloons, and actually feel thoughtful, too. I used to be able to just look at the sun to know the way. Now I’m totally and completely lost without spoken instructions. I’ve lost the ability. I have outsourced my memory.

Who was it again? Marshall McLuhan, I think, the communication philosopher. Said something like: “Each time you off-load to a machine something that you can do yourself, you as it were auto-amputate part of your own ability.” Or was it McLuhan? Well, I’ll google it later.

Ah, you see? There I go again. Bizarre how little I seem to be able to remember these days. Need to be able to remember. The remembering is done for me. Very convenient, too. Although I do begin to have second thoughts. Take these self-driving cars. I don’t like them. They are the equivalent of leg amputation, aren’t they. And how can you rebel ever again without your legs? Hence my rebellious behavior on the road lately. I ignore my GPS escort. I'm protesting against that prattling prosthesis. I want to stand on my own two legs. I hope I make it home.


Photo: Frank van Pamelen

Date of publication: 19 August 2020