Here’s a thought I had:
After observing someone recently it brought back memories of some people I knew when I was a kid. There were specific traits that I saw in these people. As I reflected on them I began to speak of some interesting things:
THE MEMORY-BASED CHARACTER
I called the character I saw the ‘memory-based character’. This is a particular character of person. Some people develop it strongly. Other people develop only small aspects of it. They are often described as ‘smart’ and ‘intelligent’ people. Some are even viewed as far as a ‘genius’. Their behavior seems to suggest it. I, for many years, believed this to be true. After watching them I began to see that there was another picture.
To begin with, they all seem to have a very good memory. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple even had photographic memory. I was often stunned by what they could remember. The memory seems very critical and, it seems, is the basis for the whole character and what everything is based upon. Their whole stance, logic, and point of view are based in their memory. Their memory can originate from many things such as what they see and hear, what they learn, what they read, lectures they heard (such as at school), and so on. In this ‘information society’ the amount of information they can remember is extensive. As a result of the proliferation of information in this this era this character type seems to be growing in number and force.
We must keep in mind that “memory isn’t just memory”. It requires more than memory. Memory, as I use it, requires:
- A good memory. That is, having a memory that one can resort to.
- The ability to give memory a place. This means being able to give memory a ‘tag’, so to speak, so they can remember it. Without this ‘tag’ its hard to use your memory as there is no way to retrieve it. Even though a person may actually remember things very well, without this ‘tag’ they have no way of finding and retrieving it so they can use it.
- The ability to observe. What this means is that people need to observe things so that they have something to remember. People can have excellent memory but if they don’t observe things there’s nothing to remember.
I should point out that not everyone has these abilities. Generally, anyone with the ‘memory-based character’ has all abilities, and often to a high level. It appears that to lack an ability tends to hinder the development of this character.
Memory is only the beginning. In actuality, other traits are built upon it and stand upon it. In this way, memory actually “progresses”, so to speak, and helps the creation of other things and abilities. In fact, it creates what appears to me as a unique learning style which I call ‘memory-based learning’. It appears, to me, that there are four levels to this progression:
- Memory. This refers to having the ability to remember things as described above.
- The ‘building block’ mentality. This refers to the ability to use different memories to ‘build a picture’ of something. Its as if the different memories are put together almost like ‘building blocks’ or even a puzzle: one memory supports another which supports another until a picture of something is created.
- Application. This refers to the ability to use the previous steps in a constructive fashion. In this way, it is applied and used.
- The ‘next step’. This refers to the ability to use the previous steps in such a way that one can create something totally new. Typically, this is not something that is done continuously by a person. Generally, this happens only a small number of times in a persons life. In other words, this stage tends to be sporadic and make minimal appearances.
My observation is that as one moves further up the levels there are less and less people who can do it. Many people can remember things, for example, but few can take the ‘next step’. This shows that, as one goes up each additional level it requires abilities and skills which fewer and fewer people have so that the higher you go up the less people there are who have those abilities and skills. My experience is that most people tend to stop somewhere in the first two steps. Very few make it to the fourth.
But, we must remember, that all the later steps are based on memory. In other words, memory is the basis of everything else. Without memory, the other steps fail. Its because of this that I speak of this as being memory-based.
Problems . . .
Because of the growth of this learning and character, in this information society, we are seeing that it is becoming increasingly dominant. The emphasis on learning, information, and knowledge is making it a necessary and dominant element in peoples lives and, in so doing, it is starting to dominate many peoples lives. This domination appears in many different way creating several versions of this character:
- The natural ‘memory-based character’. These are people who have a character that predisposes them to this character. These people will display this character even if they weren’t in an information knowledge-obsessed society.
- The casual ‘memory-based character’. This consist of people that normally wouldn’t go into this character but, because of its prevalence, tend to develop it.
- The learned ‘memory-based character. These are people who turn into this character because they learn to take on its traits. Often, what teaches them is the school system and society.
- The forced ‘memory-based character’. These are people that do not have this character but are forced to develop it by the school system and society. Generally, it does not stick but they may reflect aspects of it.
This shows that people react to this character differently. In other words, its not reflective of human nature in general. As a result, the growing dominance and prevalence of this character is more reflective of a conformism than a reflection of a persons natural tendencies. Most people do not reflect this character but develop it, to varying levels, because they are conforming. As a result, this gives it a quality of an illusion. For example, many ‘smart people’ (that is, the people with the ‘memory-based character’) are not really smart. They are only acting in the way they are taught to, which is to ‘act smart’ (that is, display the ‘memory-based character’ traits, which they may not have). Its not uncommon that many people learn to develop what can be described as a ‘smart persona’, which is literally a ‘play acting’ of the ‘memory-based character’. In fact, this can be done so well that it deceives themselves and other people.
I should point out that this tendency is actually based on a natural learning process. In fact, one could describe it as an “exaggeration of a form of normal learning”. But we must remember that there are many forms of learning. This character reflects only one form (that is, memory-based). Because of this, it is sort of like a one-sided form of learning. In that sense it describes, in actuality, a warped form of learning . . . incredibly one-sided. Its like a person, say, thinking that math is everything and all that should be taught. As a result, all they teach the kids is math. Sure, you end up having all these kids that can do math but that’s all they can do . . . they are actually lacking. One could say that this whole learning process is a warped one as a result.
A common trait of this character is that people tend to become slaves to their memory and ‘memory-based learning’. It tends to dominate them and takes on a controlling element in their life. It starts to control their world conception and reality. The ‘memory-based learning’ begins to control all their views of things. It becomes the basis of their whole living. Though it may be great for memory-based things it neglects their selves and life in general. One of the reasons for this is that memory-based learning is based on an abstract reality and, as a result, tends to be unhuman and mechanical. As a result, it creates an unhuman and mechanical-like person. This is because their whole basis of life is based on their memory and what it produces. This gives little emphasis on their self, their growth, or life. This can go so far that, for some people, it can even become their ruin as I, myself, have observed. I was stunned when I first saw this. It took me a while to figure out that it was the character traits that were doing it, that the ‘memory-based character’ actually had a damaging side to it, it has a tendency to destroy or undermine the person.
One of the things that demonstrated this that I noticed, when I spoke to these people, is that there is a lack of things like:
- The self.
This shows that there is a complete lack of ‘self-connectedness’. They seemed removed from themselves, alienated. Many couldn’t even understand their own feelings no less who they are. There is often very little self-reflection as well. Typically, their whole perceptions of themselves, and who they are, has a basis in their memory and what it produces. Any “self-reflection” is really a “pondering of memory”. In actuality, they do not ‘connect’ to their inner side. As a result, they do not develop insight, intuition, etc. nor have any connection with their self. In this way, one finds that it hinders the person and the persons growth which, in my opinion, makes it more of a disease and ailment than anything else, regardless of any ‘good’ it may produce.
When one speaks to them one primarily hears them repeat things from their memory. If they have good memories they can remember details of things that they read, saw, or heard, decades ago. They recall it like its nothing. This gives many conversations with them a quality of a “recital”, much like an actor recites their parts in a play. Many people, including themselves, mistake this ability to remember with ‘intelligence’ and ‘smarts’. In many cases, they appear no different than a computer, say, repeating things in its memory banks and making associations between them . . . the ‘building blocks’. If one watches some people closely one can see them use their memory of different things as if they were building blocks, in order to create an observation . . . you can practically see them do it in their faces and manner of conversation. Its like they take different memories from different places and, treating them like building blocks, put them together in a way they can understand. This memory supports that memory, another memory supports another, etc. This is the ‘building block mentality’. Some people are very good at this and can create very ingenious things this way. I believe there is a skill to do this and that some people are naturally good at it. Typically, though, it lacks any insight and intuition when they do this . . . its almost mechanical. As a result, they will often believe anything that “makes sense” to them or in which they can fit in their ‘building block world’.
As a result of this “tendency of believing anything that makes sense to them”, and their lack of ‘self-connectedness’ (which helps promote it), they tend to have a tendency to have things like:
- Very narrow views.
- Very shallow views.
- Very simplistic views.
- A naïve way at looking at things.
When I first saw this I was stunned. You got these people that can do things like quantum physics and calculus, which appears to be ‘impressive’, but when you take all the ‘memory-based learning’ away from them they have an almost child-like view of things. In fact, in many cases, their viewpoints are almost ridiculous and asinine, I’ve found. The observation of this fact put “knowledge” and “education” in question for me (as I describe below). It made me feel that things were not quite what they seemed.
To begin with, I began to see that the ‘memory-based character’ tends to create a ‘front’. That is to say, it tends to creates a shell around a person that is actually deceiving in that it ‘hides’ the person. Its as if their memory, and the fabrications it creates, builds a wall around the person. This is one reason why the self becomes neglected. I speak of this as the ‘memory-based shell’. Its not uncommon that it becomes very strong. In fact, it can be so strong that it is practically insurmountable. I tend to believe that one reason why the ‘memory-based shell’ develops, and grows so strong, is because this information society puts too much emphasis on this character. In this way, it promotes the shell so that it takes on a dominating quality. In normal conditions, I feel, I don’t feel the ‘memory-based shell’ would be particularly strong. This more or less means that the society is very much involved in promoting it.
The growth of the shell tends to create things like:
- It stunts growth
- The person and self fades and disappears.
- It creates an artificiality.
In effect, the shell tends to alienate people from who they are. They mistake themselves for the fruits of the ‘memory-based learning’. I’ve seen people who actually “think” they are the same as their memory. In other words, they equate their selves with their ‘memory-based learning’. As a result, it creates a distorted view of what selfhood is. They think everything stems from their ‘memory-based learning’ and that they are as if ‘centered’ in it. But ‘memory-based learning’ is not their self nor is it who they are. As a result, what they are is nowhere to be found. This is another reason why they display no intuition, insight, and self, as described above . . . there’s none to display.
In the end, we see that when this character trait grows, and the ‘memory-based learning’ becomes too dominant, there is a tendency to loose ones self in it all and forget who one is.
Pride and Ego
As I mentioned above this information society tends to foster this character and style of learning. This society tends to create this condition because it does things such as:
- It worships knowledge.
- It has created a lot of information to use.
These tend to help its growth and development. It has developed particular strength as it has become associated with social prestige (success, intelligence, etc.) and money (business, progress, etc.). This has given this character much ‘social clout’, so to speak. The result of this is that it creates a condition where there is a horrible pride and ego associated with this character type and learning style. My own observation has shown that this can get quite extensive and extreme. In addition to pride and ego it often creates an exaggerated intellectual pride to the point that they think they ‘know everything’ which I have seen many times. Some people will build their whole life around this intellectual pride.
But the pride and ego tend to hide a dark side. As I said above, this character type tends to have a degraded self. One of the ways they deal with this degraded self is to exaggerate their pride and ego, as if to compensate for its loss. In this way, it becomes a way for some people with this character type to deal with their degraded self problems. In other words, its a way to ‘hide’ from their problem and get an illusion that they are someone important. To put it another way, pride and ego become a “substitute self”. In this way, pride and ego, really, just become another addition to the ‘memory-based shell’ and the many illusions of this character type.
‘MEMORY-BASED EDUCATION’ . . . THE QUESTION OF “EDUCATION”
With the information society we are in it has created a condition where the ‘memory-based character’ proliferates, as mentioned above. In addition to this, this information society has created a condition where ‘memory-based learning’ proliferates. In other words, it promotes the ‘memory-based learning’ style, as described above. much of modern schooling, that all kids must go through now, is actually a form of ‘memory-based learning’. As a result, what has been created is a ‘memory-based education’ system. Because the ‘memory-based education’ replicates the ‘memory-based learning’ it tends to replicate the problems of the ‘memory-based character’ in the general population. In other words, it makes it so that many kids have similar problems who would otherwise not have it.
What this shows is that modern education has become somewhat unhealthy and damaging to people. This tends to be overlooked, nowadays, in our great commitment to create what I often call the “machines of the economy”, people who “learn” so they can get jobs and maintain the economy (I’ve written an article on this called “Thoughts on an aspect of the youth of today . . . the creation of “the machines of the economy”‘). In America, this is even associated with national pride giving it even more clout. This is not surprising as, if one looks at education, nowadays, it doesn’t take a genius to see that its intent is not to “educate” but to create a bunch of “robots” or “machines” and its intent is almost exclusively job related. In other words, education is no different than programming a computer to do something. It does not teach anything ‘human’ like belief, morality, right/wrong, etc. which has been a part of “education” the world over since the beginning of time. This condition further accentuates the self alienating quality that this ‘memory-based learning’ creates.
The amount of time kids are spending in this type of learning is amazing. Literally hundreds and thousands of hours, almost every day, is spent in this style of learning. This time is spent in doing things such as:
- Being given endless amounts of information. This is done by reading hundreds of pages in books, hours of lectures, watching hours of documentaries, etc. I often spoke of this as “being spoon fed knowledge”.
- Having to continually repeat things. Much of schooling or “education” is nothing but repeating what you’ve heard, read, or seen. In some cases, you repeat by doing what you’ve seen. In reality, this is not a whole lot of different than “monkey-see, monkey-do”.
If we look at this closer what we see is that the bulk of what kids do is doing what other people have done or created. We must also remember that this is being done to the tune of thousands of hours in their lifetime. If they are successful, or do good, then they “take the credit” for it all even know most of what they have done is repeating what someone else did. As a result, many kids are being deceived in what they are actually doing . . . its being made out bigger than it is. This tendency of “taking the credit” for what others did I speak of as “standing on the shoulders of other people”. This has become a major element in education nowadays. In fact, modern education primarily consists of this “standing on the shoulders of other people” in my opinion. What it does is create a condition where people can take all this material, originating from other people, and put it in one mass. In this way, it gives the illusion that they are “all that”. Its like reading a bunch of books and saying you have done the equivalent of all the work the people who wrote the books have done. In actuality, all you have done is repeat what they did . . . you have NOT done the work they have done. Its all an illusion.
In addition, this tendency of “standing on the shoulders of other people” helps create the “robot” quality I so often speak of with people nowadays. People, in repeating what others have done, take on an artificial quality of a “robot” . . . they are not doing “genuine” work, their work, but repeating what others have done. Because of this, I often associate the modern education with “turning people into robots”. In actuality, this “robot” quality seems to stem from several qualities based in the ‘memory-based education’ such as:
- The creation of the ‘education shell’ (which is the same as the ‘memory-based shell). In short, education or knowledge becomes a ‘front’ that hides who they are.
- The tendency to lose ones self. This emphasis on this shell creates a loss of self, as described above.
- The fact that they are “standing on the shoulders of other people, as described above.
In my opinion, these qualities go against, and destroy, “education”, at least as I believe it. In general, I believe that “education” is really a ‘molding of ones self to a specific ideal’. In other words, it is a transformation of ones self through various means, such as:
- Learning things
- Following examples
- Doing things
These show that “education”, at least as I use it, is something ‘deep’ and hits to the depths of a person. It changes a person and makes them different. Educations intent: to live and view life in a ‘correct’ way. Notice how its NOT to get things like a job or to have social prestige.
Modern education does not do things like that. The reason for this is that modern education is not intended to transform a person, nor to live ‘correctly’, but to create a “robot”. In other words, modern education is primarily intended to create a “machine of the economy”, someone who will get and do a job. This, to me, is NOT education. To me, that’s no different than learning a trade. I, myself, learned, and practice, a trade: drafting. I see it as a trade, an occupation, a job . . . and that’s all it is. I do not make it out as some great thing and my being able to do it does not make me this fantastically intelligent person . . . its just a job. All the “education” everyone is doing is primarily doing the same thing, be it a mechanic or a surgeon . . . its all a trade, its just a question of complexity. There is no transformation of self here. There is no ‘living correctly’ here. This shows that modern education is, in reality, nothing but a form of ‘fancy trade knowledge’.
Its no mistake, though, that the ‘memory-based education’ fits so well with the ‘fancy trade knowledge’ of modern education . . . they both create a “robot” type of person. In other words, the tendency, and prevalence, of ‘memory-based education’ supports the “machines of the economy” intent of modern education. In some respects, one could compare it to a ‘programming of people’. In short, the ‘memory-based education’ makes it easier to ‘program’ the future “machines of the economy”. This is why this style of education is becoming so prevalent nowadays.
But, for me, a “real education” involves things this society can no longer provide, such as:
- A culture
- An authority
- A way of life
- A belief system
It is from these that transformation originates and strives for. They dictate how one is to transform, to what shape, and what it is intended to do. It gives the example, the meaning, and the worth of it all. Without these an “education” cannot happen, and this is the problem we face today. Being that none of these exist makes a “real education” an impossibility nowadays. It poses a great dilemma. Because of this, the question of “education” is no longer one of “information” or “learning how to do something”, as we saw in the past, but more on the lines of “what authority?” or “what belief?” or “transform to what ideal?” So what that I know the scientific name of dinosaurs . . . so what I know how to do calculus . . . so what I have a degree. Who really cares? These are tidbits compared to an “education”, in my opinion . . . almost laughable.
Because of the lack of culture, authority, belief, etc. one can say that the people who really seek “real education” have now become a people of desperation. In other words, “real education” has become an issue of desperation and not one of certain attainment. Its become a matter of striving for something that isn’t there, of grasping for smoke. As a result of this, I tend to associate people who truly seek “real education” as people who are desperate and striving . . . its like a defining trait. This is because they are desperate and striving to seek the authority, the belief, the culture, etc. that isn’t there. If all they do is seek information or an ability, and are satisfied with it, then it turns into modern education . . . a “robot”. They might as well take a class, take a test, get their good grades, and prance around with their degree’s. Whoopi . . . maybe they can make some money!
Because of this desperation and striving there is a continual ‘unrest’, that sense of ‘always looking’. In some ways, this fact shows that “education” is rooted not in knowledge, ability, or anything like that but in what can be described as a ‘passion’, as that is the base of it all (whereas ‘memory-based education’ is based in memory). In this way, the “educated” are those who have a ‘passion’. Everything else, like information, knowledge, ability, etc. follows. This makes sense as the purpose of “education”, as I said above, is to ‘live correctly’ and ‘passion’ is nothing but a desire for life properly. This shows that ‘passion’ is first and foremost. Learning, ability, knowledge, etc. are all means for the ‘passion’ and are, therefore, ‘vehicles’, so to speak, of ‘passion’ . . . this makes them secondary in importance.
I’ve often said that I tend to view that “real education” has three qualities:
- The self/self-in-the-world. This refers to ones self and its development and growth. It refers to the self individually and its association with the world.
- Intuition/insight. This refers to that ‘inner sense’ of things that often can’t be explained and often cannot be learned.
- Memory/1+1=2. This refers to the ability to remember, do logic, analyze, etc. This is often a result of learning and experience.
The base of these three qualities is the self/self-in-the-world. The other two qualities rest on this. This is because, without the self/self-in-the-world there is nothing and no “education”. In other words, any “education” that forgets the self/self-in-the-world is no “education” at all.
Any “real education”, in my opinion, tends to entail an emphasis on all three qualities. In other words, they tend to try to develop all the qualities. With modern education we see the absence of the self/self-in-the-world and intuition-insight . . . the primary focus being in memory/1+1=2. This is because memory/1+1=2 is the basis of the ‘memory-based education’ and is a significant element of the “machines of the economy” mentality.
What all this shows is the importance of our character, learning, and information and how it affects our growth and self. In other words, it shows that what information we choose to remember, how we use it, the way in which we make it affect our life, and such, play a far greater role in our life and self than we think. Normally, we are taught as if information, knowing, and such, are “automatically good”, that to learn anything is a good thing. My observation is that this is not the case. Remembering, knowing, intelligence, etc. are all major elements in our association with the world. As a result of this, there is a tendency for there to be ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ ways of doing these things. That is to say, they have such impact on our self and life that how we manage these things is far more critical than we may realize. In fact, the managing of these things may be considered more important than attaining them! Letting our ability at memory dictate our world view or thinking intelligence is everything is, for example, can be worse than being “blatantly stupid”. Personally, I think it is. This shows that there is a need to ‘manage’ information, learning, and what we remember so that they maintain a healthy lifestyle. In many ways, this is what “real education” is, at least as I use it . . . a singling out of the important things in life and leaving the rest.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen