Detective Note

Vol. 076号-Memory and Forgetfulness


Interviewer: Yuta Shibata

Shibata:Today I’d like to talk about memory and forgetfulness.   Since I started working at LPA, six months have passed.  Working as a lighting designer, I have found that memory is just as important as originality and creativity.   While working with several senior members of the staff, I have the impression that they have very good memorization skills.   I am not very good at memorizing things or trying to recall things.

Mende:You sound like an old man.  Have you always been like that?  How about college entrance exams?  You have to remember a lot of boring facts and stuff.

ShibataEver since I was young.  I had trouble remembering facts that would be on the college entrance exams, but I was good at math and physics, subjects where you think and solve problems through a thought process.

MendeI’m like that too.  I used to think that if I filled up my brain with arbitrary facts it would exceed capacity and I wouldn’t be able to produce new ideas.  But that’s completely wrong.  What is important for a designer is the power to imagine.  I have come to realize that memorization, good or bad, doesn’t really matter.  However, I am like you and had trouble with memorization and really suffered.  In grade school, history facts were always a problem and I made up phrases and rhymes to remember dates and events.

ShibataThat is an interesting way to remember things.  I have always thought that you are very good at expressing how you feel about the scenery you see or spaces you experienced.  How do you remember these feelings?

MendeWhen something feels just right or has a strong impact, these are the experiences and spaces I remember the most.   It’s not that I have no memory at all, I am just a resourceful person.  I tend to forget things that are lower in priority or just don’t strike me.   I don’t think you can easily forget experiences or spaces that are really important.  So, what are you good at doing?

ShibataHmm, I am good at forgetting things!  Depending on the perception, I think forgetting things also has a good side. Can you immediately forget failures or unpleasant experiences?

MendeWell, in that case,  I am pretty good at forgetting things on purpose.  Honestly, I am the type of person who can forget something if I want to.  I’m not one to obsessively mope around, but I bounce back quickly from personal failures or unpleasant experiences.   However, there are so many things in the world that are not easy to forget.  Things that happen to close friends and family or natural disasters, etc. are just some of the hardships that are unforgettable.  And maybe we shouldn’t forget these events but need to tell the story.  Although, these hardships are not the failures you are talking about, but more personal, daily negative happenings.

ShibataYes, there are some things you just can’t forget.  For me, I need to keep upcoming, important events in the back of my mind, or I start to get worried.   I don’t remember the details, but I keep a mental note in the back of my mind.

MendeAs I get older, I wake up early and try to get a mental image of all the things I am going to do during the day, but it is getting more difficult.  All of the small details of each appointment get lost in my mind when I am very busy.  Remembering what I need to do the next day is absolutely out of the question.  But there are exciting events and things that I look forward to, months in advance.  My working hours are scheduled minute by minute and I get tired just trying to remember all of it.  So I take lots of notes.  I also set an alarm to go off 5 minutes before each appointment.

ShibataBeing prepared is very important.  Along those lines, I like to take Saturday or Sunday and just sleep as much as I want.  I forget work and reset my body and mind and clear my head.

MendeThat sounds nice.  One time, I forgot to set my alarm and I slept for 9 hours.  I thought I would have a headache, but it felt good to sleep for so long.  Sleeping 9 or 10 hours is not a bad thing. Do you rather have trouble going to sleep?

ShibataWhen I start to worry about too many things, I can’t sleep.

MendeYou sound like a very anxious person.  On the other hand, I am pretty laid back.  If the situation would change by worrying, I might worry, but that is not often the case.   You just have to have confidence in yourself and believe in what you can do.  Worrying is useless.

ShibataIndeed.  I don’t think I have ever seen you worried.

MendeI am always prepared for what I have coming up.  Not being prepared is the worst.  Looking back on some of my presentations that didn’t go so well, I feel like I wasn’t prepared properly.  So, as for forgetfulness, sleeping and resetting your body and mind might be connected, but that renewed energy should be used for preparation to counteract forgetfulness.

ShibataPreparation to counteract forgetfulness.  Sleep is important and seems to be connected to memory, health, and other physical and mental conditions.  I think I will work on being prepared, but not overworking my mind.