Charles Fernyhough's new book is Pieces of Light: How the New Science of Memory Illuminates the Stories We Tell About Our Pasts.
From his Q & A with Heather Drucker:
Q.: As you explain in the book, as a psychology undergrad in the late 1980s, memory was too immeasurable and too subjective to interest you. Can you explain how your perspective has changed since then?Visit Charles Fernyhough's website.
I think I’ve come to realize that the mind is too vast and special a thing to be reduced to numbers. Particularly with a phenomenon like memory, you have to try and get at the experience from the inside, and that means exploring what memories mean to the individual. In my view, the science of human experience has to be multidisciplinary; the insights of artists, philosophers and social scientists can add a huge amount to what we can learn from psychology experiments and neuroimaging.
Q.: How has your work as a fiction writer inspired your interest in memory?
Novelists deal in memory; it’s their seed corn. As a writer of fiction, you have to be interested in the experiences of your characters, and one of the ways writers create vivid characters is by giving them memories. You don’t just get to feel a great novelistic character’s thoughts, emotions, desires, and secrets; you also get to share in their re-experiencing of the past. In the book, I explore the idea that a novelist’s creation of a fictional memory has much in common with...[read on]