The Descent Of Memory

“A serious piece of work—the expression of your convictions. I tell you there’s nothing the public likes as much as convictions—they’ll always follow a man who believes in his own ideas.” I highlighted it but I have no recollection of it. Actually I read half of “The Descent of Man” already–when did I do that?–but now I am reading it as if it is new. Am I having an early onset of Alzheimer’s? I am too young for the disease, but it can’t be ruled out that there are early ones. Is there a test that I can take to see if I am on the verge of dementia? Anxiety is my specialty and there’s no end of worrying that I am probably losing my mind. Worse, I’ve probably lost my mind for a while, but haven’t come around to realize it. Well, to console myself, I have to say, “The Descent of Man” is not particularly memorable–no distinct plot twist, no lost of life, fortune, or dignity, no unique character. The language is witty but not a standout among the author’s other books. In addition, most of the books I read before I forget, except those few that I revisit time after time.

My mind wandering off to the story of Sister Mary–I still remember this one and it seems I am not completely out of my mind–whose brain was plagued by plaques and lesions of Alzheimer’s disease but who suffered no symptoms of memory loss even in her advanced age of 100 and more. Do nuns have better life styles to help them ward off mental illnesses? I don’t know. I am a frequent agnostic and an occasional Buddhist, and there will not be any opportunity for me to become a Catholic nun no matter how much I want to improve my mental aptitude.

Another lucky flash of mind tells me that J. Alfred Prufrock is old, isn’t he? However Eliot wrote it when he’s 27. All those “growing old”, “bald spot”, lives lived in repeat. Probably Prufrock is a prematurely aged man, all depending on how we define ourselves. There’s an old saying that an aging horse dreams of the battlefield thousands of miles away. It’s to illustrate how old people are young at heart. Now I think of it, I don’t believe any horse would want to go to a battlefield, old or young. It’s more likely the horse would dream of freedom from its load, greener pasture, or any other equine amenities.

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