Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Primordial Sense

There seems to be little agreement on the basic, single sense that is the earliest. Someone once proposed that it is smell, because it lies lowest in the brain stem and would be the first to develop.

I’d love to find my grandfather’s pipe ashtray, the metal container with the thin upright stem for cleaning out the bowl. If I heard that sound, even all these decades later, it would bring up the image of his living room in an instant. But it might bring up, much quicker, the smell of his Brigg’s tobacco (which I find on search engines as an antique collectible).

Last night, I was outside rather late and could pretty much smell a cruise. That happens occasionally. It’s probably just the weather conditions, maybe something from a neighbor’s yard, but suddenly I’m on the top deck of the ship looking up at the stars, or I’m in the Lido buffet having a cup of tea.

Smells can take us back to our parents’ kitchen, a grammar school classroom.

Sometimes I wonder if each sense has its own memory bank: Smell, sounds, similarity of view, touch. Memory may not be stored in just one place, but may be tied in with each sense.

I can remember where I was when I hear a particular song. Sometimes right to the exact place on a road, the house I was in. Anyone do the same thing?


Anonymous mad drummer said...

Absolutely! There are times when I hear a song coming thru someone's screen door or window and I am immediately drawn to my teen years.

Memory-wise I'm more auditory and musical than anything.

My dad smoked "Cherry Blend". Still enjoys a pipe of the cheapest tobacco he can find.

May 13, 2007 8:59 PM  
Anonymous ColdJoshVail said...

In the spring I can smell the salt air if the winds are out of the east. Salt air and low tide in the mud are smells you never forget.

Something else you pick up on in a flash........the riffs by Elmore James and Bo Diddley. Friday I won a CD by identifying the riff by Bo Diddley.

May 13, 2007 9:53 PM  

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