On the Sea of Memory, A Journey from Forgetting to Remembering by Jonathan Cott ‘62 . This book begins as a critique of electroconvulsive therapy, which robbed the author of fifteen years of memory, but ends up being a deep dive into the science of memory, memory disorders, the reliability of memory, the cultural significance of memory, and the metaphysics of memory. Jonathan is a journalist, so interviewing neurobiologists who have thought and written on the uses of forgetting or the progression and treatment of Alzheimer’s comes naturally to him. But, as I discovered when I read his Pipers at the Gates of Dawn, he is also a seeker of wisdom; he takes a turn away from medical pathology towards the African griot, a Sufi guide to a group of dervishes, and a rabbi. Laced with references to thoughts on memory by the luminaries of western literature, this work demonstrates that plenty was stored in Jonathan’s memory before those blank years. After viewing memory from every angle he can think of, he returns to his own poignant story. Friends introduce him to shared experiences that for him are lost forever. What’s the cliché about making lemonade? Well this book is an epic lemon soufflé.
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