How do we know what we know?  Do we gain memory directly through experience or through the experience of others?  Is remembering something enough ownership of an idea to give it resonance beyond our own mind?  How do we know what to search for when we don’t yet know what we don’t know?

Every day I post of couple of Blues videos from YouTube on my Facebook wall.  The videos are posted to Facebook whenever I “Save a Favorite” on YouTube and I am always delighted when someone “Likes” or comments on a video I do not own because that means my memory might endure elsewhere — even if it is just for a few, fleeting, seconds.

Here’s a recent example of a Facebook share from YouTube:  Lightnin’ Hopkins singing — “Baby Please Don’t Go” —

This is a comment left for that video on my Facebook page:

U know i m only 26year, but due to YouTube i recorded lots of very very Old and fantastic Songs and performance. I m really very thankful to those who posted all these kinds of Music. 🙂 & Thanks u too for posting Wonderful songs 🙂

My reply:

All the good stuff is out there — we just need to know where to look for it and then bring it forth for new eyes to make the memory theirs, too. A lot of this music is quite a trip down a forgotten, cultural, lane.

That cultural exchange started me thinking about how we begin to find, index, discover and share things we know, but didn’t directly experience.  Yes, I like Lightin’ Hopkins, but how did I come to know about him and how was I able to find that great performance on YouTube?

I have been intensely studying The Blues for a year and a half and I now have a better understanding of the The Birth of the Blues and where and how Lightin’ Hopkins stands with stature in that magnificent history.

Looking for Lightin’ performances on YouTube leads me to save them in my Favorites file that, in turn, gets automatically shared on Facebook.  If someone clicks to watch that video, YouTube helps condense, and continue, the search process with “Suggested” videos in the sidebar that can help extend the long learning tail — and my memory becomes an inspiration beyond me as another mind clicks and searches and shares and wonders, like me, what else is “out there” waiting to be discovered and shared.

Before the advent of technology, I would have been told about Lightin’ Hopkins and then tried to imagine how he played.  I could have read about him and, perhaps, even listened to a recording of his performance and then wondered what notes he was plucking.

Now I can go back to a time before I was aware and watch Lightin’ Hopkins, in situ, in his own performance realm, and directly experience what others like me, but much older than me, directly experienced in their real time lifetime — but without the benefit of my delayed, artificial, hindsight or my stretching of the future into a past that condenses and compresses understanding like a rubber band raring to snap us back-and-forth between distant, but related, realities.

Here’s the Blues video I plan to post to Facebook later today — timing and technology allow me to scoop myself by prolapsing later intention into a more immediate, but less intensive, and brittler, bite.

I hope you enjoyed the good Reverend Gary Davis as much as I have.

8 Comments

  1. This is all about knowledge building. You found the Blues through the research and other memories, right? Now you try to pass on what you know. Everything layers on top of everything.

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  2. I was going to comment that sometimes I think things through so well, ie I plan what I will say to someone, that I don’t actually say it. Then it happened with this very article – i thought I had posted the comment but i just planned it out in my head and never typed it!

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      1. My original comment went something like this:

        Sometimes I will think about calling my brother. I will mentally plan out what I want to tell him. I even imagine what he might have to tell me in response. I think about it for awhile — usually while doing something else. I am often distracted by something else. Later, I think back and cannot remember if I actually made the phone call or if I am just remembering my planning and my imagining of what he would say in response.

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  3. My husband has been playing guitar and piano since her was 12. He has the most regimented mind of anyone I know. He writes great songs. My son has been playing various instruments since he was around 10. He will go to the supermarket to buy something specific and come home with nothing except some new lyrics. And will have forgotten why he had to go to the supermarket. They have both acquired knowledge about their craft from different sources but their personalities cause them to practise it in very different ways. Having conversations with either of them can often feel like you are accessing a very small part of their brains allocated for social interaction while they are thinking about that string of riffs or how to phrase better those lyrics.

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