Umberto Eco, an Italian writer and philosopher, wrote a letter stunning in its wisdom and depth, which is addressed to his grandson. It is called "Dear grandson, learn by heart." The main idea in it is that we suffer from poor memory and create for ourselves, instead of training it, crutches in the form of Google, gadgets and various web services. We limit our lives to our own and ignore the experiences of past generations. Read it completely and admit to yourself that you need to do something with memory and this is not a utilitarian question, it is a question of understanding the world and what is happening in it. It's a matter of survival!
I wanted to talk to you about the disease that has affected your and the previous generation, who are already studying at universities. I'm talking about memory loss.
It is true that if you want to know who Charlemagne is or where Kuala Lumpur is, then you can click a button and immediately find out everything from the Internet. Do this when you need to, but, having received a certificate, try to remember its content, so as not to search again when you need this knowledge at school, for example. The bad news is that the understanding that the computer can answer your question at any time discourages you from remembering information. This phenomenon can be compared as follows: after learning that you can get from one street to another by bus or metro, which is very convenient in case of a hurry, a person decides that he no longer needs to walk. But if you stop walking, you will turn into a person forced to move in a wheelchair. Oh, I know that you play sports and know how to control your body, but back to your brain.
Memory is like the muscles in your legs. If you stop exercising it, then it will become flabby, and you (we will speak bluntly) will turn into an idiot. In addition, we all run the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in old age, and one way to avoid this trouble is to constantly exercise our memory.
This is my recipe. Learn a short poem every morning, as we were forced to do as children. You can arrange a competition with friends for the best memory. If you do not like poetry, then you can memorize the composition of football teams, but you should know not only the players of the Club of Rome, but also the players of other teams, as well as their composition in the past (imagine that I remember the names of the players of the Turin club, former aboard the plane that crashed on Superga Hill: Bachigalupo, Ballarin, Maroso, and so on). Compete as to who best remembers the contents of the books you read (who was on board the Hispaniola in search of treasure island? Lord Trelawney, Captain Smollett, Dr. Livesey, John Silver, Jim ...) Find out if your friends remember the names of the servants of the three Musketeers and d'Artagnan (Grimaud, Bazin, Musketon and Planchet) ... And if you do not want to read The Three Musketeers (although you do not know what you are losing), then do a similar game with the book you read.
It seems like a game, and it is a game, but you will see how your head is filled with characters, stories and all kinds of memories. You may ask why the computer was once called an electronic brain. This is because it was conceived after the model of your (our) brain, but the human brain has more connections than the computer. The brain is a computer that is always with you, its capabilities expand as a result of exercise, and your desktop computer loses speed after prolonged use and needs to be replaced after a few years. And your brain can last you up to 90 years old, and at ninety years old, if you exercise it, you will remember more than you remember now. It's also free.
Then there is also historical memory, which is not connected with the facts of your life or with what you have read. She keeps those events that happened before your birth.
Today, if you go to the cinema, you have to come to the beginning of the movie. When the film begins, it is as if you are being led by the hand all the time, explaining what is happening. In my time, you could enter the cinema at any time, even in the middle of a movie. Many events happened before you came, and you had to conjecture what happened earlier. When the film started over, you could see if your reconstruction was correct. If you liked the film, you could stay and watch it again. Life is like watching a movie in my day. We are born at a time when many events have already happened over hundreds of thousands of years, and it is important to understand what happened before our birth. This is necessary in order to better understand why so many new events are happening today.
Today the school (in addition to your own reading circle) should teach you to remember what happened before you were born, but it does not do it well. Various polls show that today's youth, even university ones, born in 1990, do not know, and perhaps do not want to know about what happened in 1980, let alone what happened 50 years ago. Statistics say that when young people are asked who Aldo Moro is, they answer that he headed the Red Brigades, and he was killed by members of this underground left-wing radical organization.
The activities of the "Red Brigades" remain a mystery for many, and yet they were present on the political scene only thirty years ago. I was born in 1932, ten years after the Nazis came to power, but I knew who was the prime minister during the march on Rome. Maybe in the fascist school they told me about him in order to explain how stupid and bad this minister ("cowardly Fact") was, displaced by the fascists. Even so, but I knew about it. But let's leave the school aside. Today's youth do not know film actresses from twenty years ago, but I knew who Francesca Bertini, who starred in silent films twenty years before my birth, was. Maybe it was because I was leafing through the old magazines dumped in the closet of our house. I suggest you flip through old magazines too, because it helps to understand what happened before your birth.
But why is it so important to know about the events of the distant past? Because often such knowledge helps to understand the course of today's events, and in any case, how knowing the composition of football teams helps to enrich our memory.
Consider that you can train your memory not only with the help of books and magazines, but also with the help of the Internet. It is useful not only for chatting with your friends, but also for studying world history. Who are the Hittites and Kamizars? What were the three ships of Columbus called? When did dinosaurs die out? Was Noah's Ark Helm? What was the name of the ancestor of the bull? There were more tigers a hundred years ago than there are now? What do you know about the Mali Empire? Who told about her? Who was the second Pope in history? When was Mickey Mouse created?
I could keep asking questions ad infinitum, and they would be wonderful subjects to explore. All this must be remembered. The day will come and you will grow old, but you will feel that you have lived a thousand lives, as if you participated in the Battle of Waterloo, attended the murder of Julius Caesar, visited the place where Berthold Schwartz, mixing various substances in a mortar in an attempt to obtain gold, accidentally invented gunpowder and flew into the air (and so he needs it!). And your other friends, who do not seek to enrich their memory, will live only one life of their own, monotonous and devoid of great emotions.