A.H. Scott: Thoughts on Memory

Illustration of the twice impeached and the first to be indicted President of the USA
Artwork by Thomcat23, Copyright 2023

“Thoughts On Memory”


A.H. Scott


 “Memory Is A Muscle That Must Be Optimized”

In 1972, researchers Fergus Craik and Robert Lockhart proposed that the strength of a memory trace[1] was dependent upon the quality of processing of a stimulus. There was a distinguishing between two types of processing when we make an observation – shallow and deep. 

“To observe attentively is to remember distinctly.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Shallow processing of a memory is mainly on a macro level. It is what is taken as an overall view of things. Take for example riding the train to work every morning and seeing basically the same passengers the majority of the days of the week. When it is something in life that is routine as a morning commute, you can just see the faces as non-descript and fading away as your day wears into an afternoon. 

Now, as for deep processing a memory, it is more focused with a micro targeting of what an occurrence you may have come across truly means. For an example, just take a deeper dive into the details of a news story you may read and imagine the ramifications it may have on you, your family, friends and even the community you live in. In that more intensive processing the stimuli of the subject matter is retained. 

There is a memory phenomenon[1] known as ‘flashbulb memory’, which was recognized by psychologists Roger Brown and James Kulik in 1977. And, yes, it’s as basic as what you may think it is. Poof, like the pop of the flashbulb, there are moments you can remember, even if you were not in the same space or location for where something actually took place. 

Those who were of age in November 1963 remember where they were when JFK was assassinated, even if they were not in Dallas. Also, were the memories of that tumultuous year of 1968; with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis in April, or Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles in June were befallen at such young ages. As just the same could be thought of for two deaths of a pair of cultural icons which occurred in August, two decades apart. First, was Elvis Presley on August 16th, 1977 and secondly, Diana, Princess of Wales on August 31st, 1997. A bit further along the timeline on a Tuesday in September of 2001, the heartbreak and horror caused America to stop in its’ tracks at witnessing the unspeakable. Then, twenty years later, January 6th, 2021. 

Alas, the bulb has burned out on that memory phenom of the flash when it comes to how and whom that date listed last shall be that which is desired, or denoted to be retained. 

From an experiment developed by a research team of Underwood and Postman in 1960 known as Interference Theory[1], there were two types of events that affected memories. The first are retroactive interference which were older memories, as the second are proactive interference which consist of newer memories.

I guess this theory could be considered that of clinging to a bias in our memory that gives us barely any wiggle room in remembering something beyond the tip of our noses. Taking it even a bit further, it’s like a cult thing of being brainwashed by a cruelly charismatic leader. Hmm, I wonder who that could possibly be?

It may just come down to this; if those who are followers conclude that their leader has spoon-fed them a feast of fallacies, it becomes very difficult for them to be receptive to comprehending or envisioning a situation with a totality of facts they were not originally exposed to. 

Even if it is shown that the leader lied and they’ve been taken for suckers all these years. No matter what a person on the outside could do or say to them could not matter. It’s probably because of two things: first, you are politically opposite to them. But, the second unraveling would be more bruising to one’s own ego in hearing a faint sound of the words ‘I told you so’ in coming to terms with a slow slouch into a conman’s quicksand. 

By the time they are up to their clavicles in the crap-trap of mutual dependency with their leader, they are too far gone from any semblance of sobriety. No, I don’t think they gonna’ go cold turkey with the predicament they are settling into. It’s going to be deeper. Those who don’t want to remember or are playing ostrich are in need of a “Democracy Intervention”. Yes, sit ‘em down and show them the facts. The election wasn’t stolen and your oh, so flawed leader is a loser. And, of course, when that reality really hits ‘em deep, that symbiotic relativism that they have with him will reveal they are on that list of defeat as well.

“Fox Steps In Its’ Own Trap”

Tucker Carlson jawbones about testicle-tanning, great replacement theory, and adoration for a Hungarian authoritarian, while snickering and tittering in disgust over woke-ism is small potatoes compared to the main course of reconfiguring history to suit the bottom line of viewership for himself and his bosses at FOX. 

As election deniers and yarn spinners of fraudulence have woven themselves into the fabric of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Corporation, it seems Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation[2] suit for $1.6 billion dollars in damages against a ‘news’ channel that propagates itself as ‘fair and balanced’ is sinking under the weight of all which is ideologically rightward and conspiracy driven. 

Not only did FOX accept the Trump-o-sphere’s lies about votes being changed and an election being stolen, but they embraced it willingly with their prime-time headliners spouting it with an earnest tone in their voices, night after night. 

But, beyond the hired talent on FOX, there was another angle which drew a level of silent complicity from the owner of this corporation, Rupert Murdoch himself. 

In recently released court filings of depositions in the lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, he testified that he didn’t believe the election fraud claims. But, wasn’t shy about tossing Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham overboard as endorsing those same claims.

I guess the headliners such as Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham are now just the lowly-hired on-air talent that spews things out of their mouths without their top boss knowing anything about it. 

Beyond the on-air people at FOX pushing the lies, there also was another person who was given largesse in the Murdoch owned channel. Pillow Pusher Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow and hardcore election denier seemed to have a standing invitation before, during and after the election that Donald Trump lost. 

Rupert Murdoch is a man of business and scooping up those dollars from Lindell’s advertisements on FOX was seemingly more precious of a commodity than the truth that was being undermined with wild tales of machines that could flip votes and election workers doing devious things with ballots. 

Rupert’s all about the green, as in his own testimony he said when confronted over allowing Lindell and others of that similar penchant to have constant access: 

“It is not red or blue, it is green” – Rupert Murdoch, FOX Corporation[2]

Back to the on-air talent’s thoughts behind the scenes were just the polar opposite to what they had clamored about every time they spoke publicly. Sean Hannity was scared of losing viewers to OAN and NewsMax, so his private disgust at President Trump was mollified. Hannity even went so far in his deposition, as he remarked on Rudy Guiliani ‘acting like an insane person’[2] and ‘disbelief’{2} of Sidney Powell’s voter fraud claims. Yet, time and time again, both of these less than stellar legal eagles were given air-time in FOX primetime. 

As for Tucker Carlson, he quipped about Trump that he ‘hated him passionately’[2] in January 2021. Funny thing is that he is now the same person who has been granted full access to a plethora of security footage from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in February 2023 to become a chief cheerleader who excels at transforming the narrative of that fateful day of insurrection two years ago into something of a modest pep rally. 

Yet, don’t be fooled by Rupert Murdoch’s affinity for the bottom line only; for his testimony also revealed his own buddy-buddy actions of giving Trump’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner a heads-up on then candidate Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign ads before they went public. 

To those of us who are situated on the outside of this hornet’s nest of intrigue and agendas, everything seems like such a game of thrones, succession, and machinations. To those who are vested in these positions, it is a game of memory that ebbs and flows whenever and whichever way that suits them. 

Rupert Murdoch even was going to throw a crumb Donald Trump’s way after the President’s loss in the 2020 election, as he and his son Lachlan tossed around the idea of buying the rights[3] to “The Apprentice” with the fluffy-haired game show host back at the helm. But, even at 90-plus years old, the wise Aussie thought better of such a screwball idea of regurgitating a faded television celebrity whose mind was muddled in a fraudulent election obsession. 

Rupert Murdoch has worked too long and too hard to build his empire[4], just to let it fritter away and scamper down the rabbit hole of a convenient memory loss for a once enigmatic politician that has become victim of his own self-inflicted destruction. For the owner of Fox Corporation, the headache of dealing with Donald Trump’s whims and whines has become more of a liability than the Murdoch family would have ever imagined. 

“Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast”

With 1885’s discovery of The Forgetting Curve[5] by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, his research on the study of memory revealed how information has a way of fading over time. 

Some information can be forgotten quicker when we have little interest or attachment to the subject matter. Yet, when it is information that is vital to our survival, The Forgetting Curve can be decreased with reinforcement, reviewing and refreshing the information constantly. 

A person can come at memory from any direction that they want to. From something which was taught, learned or unexpectedly come upon. I guess it all depends on a person’s priorities. 

Ebbinghaus also explored a strategy of ‘overlearning’; which boils down to gathering more information than you need about something that you are interested in, so that the fade of the memory of what you’ve learned is retained for a longer period of time than usual. 

It’s kind of funny when you think about; knowing that a bit research can be pulled from your memory bank whenever you need it. 

As with exercise of the body, the mind must be exercised also. You have to put in the work. Nobody is going to do it for you. Information comes at us in the blink of an eye. So fast, so furious, that sometimes we just want the world to stop on a dime. But, that isn’t the way the world is today and onward towards our future.

Memory is precious. Memory is a heartbeat. Memory is truth. Memory is sought. Memory is proof.

“A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.” – Mark Twain

This is a nation. This is America. Where even a memory of transparency, becomes an opaque referendum on a political battle line. A memory cannot just be itself anymore. It has to be validated to fit a certain portrait of whether it accentuates the vision which a person wishes it to conform to. 

Conformity or confirmation of what is already thought of is the bias which all sides of an issue may have.

Just because Donald may act as if he’s forgotten days of the past, or is just acting like he can’t recall – he shouldn’t worry his fluffed head; for there are those who will bear witness to knowing exactly what happened years ago.

Stephanie Clifford remembers his tiny detail. E. Jean Carroll remembers his aggression. Michael Cohen remembers being left holding the satchel of Trumpian trash.

Oh, and I have no doubt that there are many from all corners of his galaxy of grift, grandiosity, and ghoulishness that could also come forward and speak on memory. 

But, for the present, Mr. Trump may be faced with his past sooner than he wishes it to be.

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” – Marcel Proust

For those who wish to remain in the good graces of someone never deserving of that constantly craved praise, things must be afforded and action taken to show allegiance to Trump, even in the realm of sweeping aside remembrance of anyone else. 

As memory of a man of honor is dissolved to propel a man without any, elected Republicans seem hell-bent on expanding dishonor onto a new level.

Take for example a GOP-backed bill in Tennessee that seeks to strip[6] the name of iconic civil rights leader John Lewis from a portion of Nashville’s Fifth Avenue and give that lauded location of John Lewis Way a new moniker of President Donald Trump Boulevard. Oh, and by the way, this was put onto the legislative agenda in February 2023; which happened to be Black History Month.

The irony and ill-will put in motion by the Republican Party is beyond nauseating, especially on behalf of whom they wish to exalt over John Lewis who gave his blood, sweat, and tears for many a decade; which included lunch counter sit-ins along Nashville’s Fifth Avenue.

As for Donald Trump – memory don’t connect with him at all as it just rolls off his back and devil may care if anyone feels slighted. 

But, for a Trump, being callous and cruel is in the family wheelhouse. Take Fred, his father and the long line of his shifty dealings when it comes to those perceived as a lesser quality of being. 

You may think of Donald John Trump as the man of shimmering towers of gold and buildings of marble on the finest avenues around the world. But, it was his father Fred who made his financial bones in the 1930’s while using FHA (Federal Housing Administration) funding[7] for building homes for middle-class families in the outer boroughs of New York City. Okay, nothing against Brooklyn or Queens, but for Donald Trump, the golden ticket he craved was to be real estate ruler of Manhattan. 

Many people may think when somebody says New York City they mean the single borough of Manhattan only. But, that’s what the world thinks when imagining Donald Trump’s New York City. But, that is just a little diamond fairy dust, when in reality the sawdust, bricks and mortar that crafted the backbone of the Trump legend is Brooklyn and Queens. Speaking of which, it was that government subsidized funding which Fred Trump relied upon to amass his wealth. So, Donald Trump is not the wunderkind he pretends to be. He’s just a man that was lucky enough to have a father who knew how to exist off the teat of the government, all the while acting as if the family’s financial success was manna from heaven. 

But, I guess it is like father, like son when it comes to puffing up your estimation of costs and sizes. For Fred Trump, it was the overestimation of construction costs which would gain larger mortgage funding from the FHA. As for Donald, well, he seems strident on constantly telling the world how big his assets are. But, then again, his memory might not be as vivid as Stephanie Clifford’s upon Donald’s minute detail. 

Beyond the shape of things, is the violations that Fred and Donald both faced in October 1973, when Trump Management were called on the carpet for systematic violations[8] of the Fair Housing Act in federal court in Brooklyn. 

Makes me chuckle a bit in knowing that the Trumps have been rubbing up against U.S. District Courts for many a decade; from Fred to Donald and now the next generation. 

The elder Trump’s animosity runs so deep that even noted troubadour Woody Guthrie[9] took pen to paper about Fred’s rancid racism. For two years, Guthrie was a tenant in Fred Trump owned Beach Haven housing complex in Brooklyn in the 1950’s.

Tree meet apple, apple meet tree. 

But, I guess just like good ‘ol Fred, he and his sonny boy Donald know how to keep their fingers on the pulse of the moment. Or, leave such an indelible impression on some that they must be noted, or in both of their cases, tuned into melody. 

Woody Guthrie’s lyrics to “Old Man Trump” fit Fred like white on rice: 

‘I suppose that Old Man Trump knows just how much racial hate/He stirred up in that bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed that color line’ – Woody Guthrie 

For Fred Trump, he could care less what some poor protest singer would possibly ever write or sing about him as he counted his millions over the years. 

“My legacy has roots in my father’s legacy” – President Donald J. Trump[10] 

And, yes, Donald, you are oh so right. Legacy of his is the legacy of yours. That’s the roots – no ifs, ands, or Trumps about it. 

On the other hand, Donald Trump makes the best impression of putting on the sheep’s clothing in showing that feigned sense of commiseration with a group of prisoners he wouldn’t allow inside of any of his estates to enter through the polished front doors. Maybe, through the household staff’s entrance, but that might be iffy also. 

Keep on playing the part of being a man of the common folk, Donald. 

So, there he is, the twice-impeached former President of the United States with so many investigations coming out of his tooter that would make any other person’s head spin, doing his best spoken word dub in collaboration[11] with jailed prisoners in the January 6th attack in some ungodly trinity of self-made charity known as the J6 Prison Choir. 

Maybe three hots and a cot with that stainless steel toilet will be a more deserving reality for this man to the manor born than a gold toilet with cheeseburgers on standby.

And, yet as I write this, this tarnished tune, known as “Justice for All” (irony of all ironies) has made it to the top spot on various digital streaming platforms. 

“We’re not a free nation right now. We don’t have free press. We don’t have free anything. In 2016, I declared I am your voice. Today, I add I am your warrior, I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution. I am your retribution. Not going to let this happen. Not going to let it happen. I will totally obliterate the deep state.” – President Donald Trump[12]

Maybe it’s not the other that has a problem with memory, but maybe it’s me. Maybe my memory is off on what seems of events being so unforgettable that there is actually a whitewashing backlash to reality. 

Thoughts on memory can be upturned to being memory on thoughts. I can think the sky is blue, you can think the sky is orange fading into sienna, even as dusk is settling into an indigo hue. That’s just a thought of what can be remembered. 

Either way that you can look at it, this moment in the experiment we know as America is in a maelstrom of problems if we can’t all unite or agree around a single truth.

That’s not conservative. That’s not liberal. That’s just a thought on memory. 

Will memory be true?

“Thoughts On Memory”


A.H. Scott 

“Thoughts On Memory” FOOTNOTES:

1.-10 Influential Memory Theories and Studies in Psychology Psychologist World


2.- ‘A Demonic Force’: The Most Explosive Comments Fox News Stars Carlson, Ingraham, Hannity And Murdoch Made About Trump And The 2020 Election – Forbes Business 


3.-Rupert Murdoch Testified That He ‘Kicked Around’ the Idea of Buying ‘The Apprentice’ After Trump Lost 2020 Election – People


4.-Bending to Power: How Rupert Murdoch built his empire, and how he uses it – Columbia Journalism Review


5.-Hermann Ebbinghaus and the Experimental Study of Memory – SciHi 

Hermann Ebbinghaus and the Experimental Study of Memory

6.-Republicans Push To Rename Part Of John Lewis Way In Nashville To ‘Honor’ Trump – Yahoo/HuffPost


7.-Trump’s Housing Hypocrisy – American Prospect


8.-Case: United States v. Fred C. Trump, Donald Trump, and Trump Management, Inc. – Clearinghouse


9.-Trump’s Dad Was So Racist, Woody Guthrie Wrote A Song About It – Medium 


10.-The Decade in Dads – Slate Magazine


11.-Donald J. Trump & J6 Prison Choir’s ‘Justice for All’ Debuts at No. 1 on Digital Song Sales Chart – Billboard Magazine


12.-Trump Speaks at CPAC 2023 Transcript – REV

Trump Speaks at CPAC 2023 Transcript


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A.H. Scott is a poet and essayist based in New York City and is a veteran contributor to this blog.  To access additional articles by A.H. Scott, click here: https://tonyward.com/a-h-scott-dark-brandon-vs-the-spit-ball-squad/

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