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::13.MAY.2013 :: Commentary #518
Clues to recover a forgotten past
My daughter recently sent me a picture of a jacaranda tree (also known as rosewood), a majestic tree with colorful flowers I frequently saw during my childhood, but not since then. When I saw the image my daughter sent me, an avalanche of memories came back to me, including a song about the jacaranda I use to sing (or better, listen) when I a child.
My daughter sent me the picture of the jacaranda not because she wanted to trigger any forgotten memory, but because she wanted to show me the beauty of these trees. I knew how beautiful they are. I just forgot about it, but I recovered those memories looking at digital images of those trees.
There are many examples of similar situations, when an image, a perfume, a song, and sometimes even a single word are the key to open the locked door of a past we thought forever forgotten, but that comes back to life thanks to those images or sensations.
It seems our mind is able to store everything, without forgetting anything. At the proper time, with the proper stimuli, that what was supposedly forgotten reemerge, giving us a new opportunity to remember who we were and, therefore, to analyze who we are.
In this search for a forgotten past that can return to us almost any time not everything is as trivial as the jacaranda trees from my childhood. Sometimes I think we, humans, have forgotten not only our individual past, but also our collective, historical past. And not only had we forgotten that past, we also forgot that we have forgotten it.
However, as unexpectedly as the picture my daughter sent me, sometimes there will be new images seemingly pointing to a forgotten human past that now we are, hopefully, close to recover.
On May 6, 2013, the New Yorker published an article written by Douglas Preston about the potential discovery in Honduras of the “lost city” of Ciudad Blanca (White City). Europeans have been looking for this city for almost 500 years, that is, since the time Hernan Cortes came to the Americas. The site was discovered using aerial digital photography.
Just a few days later, on May 10, 2013, the Marcahuasi Project (a crowd-sourced initiative) announced the potential discovery of a “lost city” in the Kalahari, in Africa. The discovery was made using Google Maps. As in the case of the city in Honduras, there has not been any exploration on the ground, so many questions are still unanswered.
I wonder if the sudden publication of the digital images of those lost cities in Central America and in Africa could be understood as an indication we are getting close to recover the memory of our past and, perhaps, of the origins of humanity.
Please, do not assume this is just another crazy idea. After all, both the old Greeks and the modern “Men in Black” believe we have forgotten what reality is, but they also say we can recover that knowledge.