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DEC
04

Forgetting Katniss

I'm in the process of studying for a final. (No, there isn't an education-related addendum being written to Schooled. Although I can confirm that these hobby-esque classes will be tied into the subject of currently half-done book two.) And particularly when studying for a class that requires the memorization of a gazillion facts and figures, I am reminded often of both how much the human brain can retain, as well as how much it does not. As I've gone back over all the quizzes I've taken for this course over the past six months, it's embarrassing how much I've managed to forget. But as I dedicated myself to preparing for this final, it's amazing how much I've been able to re-learn, and in not very much time. The brain is just so...spongey.

I suppose it's one thing to forget facts and figures, but what about other things? What about things we learn for fun? What about reading books? Having studied English in college, sometimes I feel like all I can remember is a single story that manages to blend together everything I've ever read; that every literary character becomes a composite of every other character. For example, Silas Marner came up in conversation recently. While some strands of familiarity surfaced, I was stumped. My mind took inventory of male literary characters and produced some combination of Bartleby the Scrivener and J. Alfred Prufrock, and I realized I had no idea if I'd ever read Silas Marner. If so, I could not in that instant pluck out a plot line. Still can't. Or for a more contemporary example, I was discussing The Hunger Games trilogy with family members over Thanksgiving, and my sister-in-law brought up the "vote" at the end of book three. Um, vote? What on earth? How is this possible? I mean, I positively inhaled those books, yet here's how the Thanksgiving discussion went down:

Me: "Uh, vote?"
SIL: "Yeah, when they're all sitting around the table. And she's the deciding vote."

I do not remember this.

Me: "Who is?"
SIL: "Katniss."

I do not remember this at all.

Me: "What are they voting on?"
SIL: "On whether or not to make The Capitol's children do a hunger games."

Oh. My. Gosh. How intense! Go for it Katniss! Make them pay! But wait, shouldn't you of all people want to end the games once and for all?

Me: "Does she vote for it?"
SIL: "Yeah."

Who knew? Except me. Two years ago.

Of course, it's impossible to retain everything we put into our brains, and that's OK. I'm not beating myself up over my lack of ability to recall every detail about the world of Panem. Or scrivenry. The good news is we have the ability to learn period. And the ability to re-learn even when we forget. So if Silas Marner is worth re-reading, someone please tell me.

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