A Contemplation of Memory

A Contemplation of  Memory

  1. Psalm 137 – Singing by the willows – “If I forget you O Jerusalem…if I do not remember you.”
  2. Our desire as human beings is to be remembered. – We want to be remembered.
    1. Sports commentator – memory makes us rich.
  3. Shakespeare – The Feast of Crispian
    1. They have been remembered – and the good man did teach his son.
    2. Every time this speech is repeated, Henry is remembered and the echo of that memory goes on.
    3. Imagine giving a speech that would be remembered.
    4. To be remembered is to be honored, is to matter even when you are gone.
    5. To be forgotten is not to matter, to be thought unworthy of the effort required to bring you to mind. There is a place for the forgotten called oblivion.
  4. Shakespeare – Developed practice of Memory – How memory works.
    1. Hamlet – the elder addresses the younger like a student in a classroom.
    2. Hamlet expresses medieval idea of writing and memory – recollection vs. memory.
    3. The book was always seen as an aid not a substitute for memory.
    4. Hamlet – everything I have remembered to this point I am scraping it off to remember one thing. Thy commandment alone shall LIVE in the book and volume of my brain.  How does it live?  From memory, by remembering.
    5. Record – Cor, Cordis – heart – to inscribe something in the heart: We are getting it into our hearts so we can remember it. Recollect – to gather again.
    6. Memory mattered in Shakespeare’s day because they believed in human beings back then.
    7. …this will be the thing that directs me from now on, will drive me…”remember me”
    8. To remember his father, the foundation of society.
    9. Before he can remember he has to forget other things.
    10. He has to focus. (today thoughts are external and can be looked up) If you have to look something up then it is dead.
    11. Truth is always trying to heal your soul.
    12. If we keep truth outside, we love power but have vicious souls.
    13. If we want to be remembered and then there are things we ought to remember.
  5. Some things get lost that should not be forgotten.
    1. What matters to you is what you try to remember.
  6. Penelope was remembered by the gods, why? Home tells us.
    1. She was loyally mindful of her husband.
    2. The song made was the Odyssey
    3. Being recited in hades by Agamemnon whose wife killed him.
    4. Penelope remembered Odysseus well – loyally mindful.
    5. Who does not want the testimony of being blameless and having a good heart?
    6. The fame of her virtue will never die a way – why – the gods will make a song for her, they will make sure they always have Penelope as someone to look at. SHE WILL BE REMEMBERED, SHE OUGHT TO BE REMEMBERED.
    7. She will be remembered because she was virtuous and was virtuous because of what she remembered.
    8. We choose what we decide to remember – should be guided by our duty.
    9. As a human being we have a duty to remember who we are as human beings.
    10. We love our children because they are the image of God and so are we.
    11. If we forget that a child is the image of God we can never purposely do them any good and we will harm them. A person, image and temple where God wants to meet with in their heart. 36:30
    12. Remember what a child is made for – fellowship with God & well done good and faithful servant – made for eternal glory.
    13. We need to remember what humans have done – Ellie Wiesel – Kingdom of Memory – lest we forget
      1. We need to remember not to say others are bad but to remember about how bad we are.
      2. We do not want to be deluded about our hearts.
  • Humans have committed atrocities, yet…..
  1. They have created great beauty
  1. Hope for the future – homeschool moms – chosen the foolish things of the world – classical education is happening – Mom’s love their children and are teaching them.
  1. We are defined by what we remember.
    1. The person who best remembers what ought to be remembered is the one who most ought to be remembered.
  2. If we remember Christ, He will remember us – thief on the cross.
    1. Cultures that most value Christ develop memory skills.



“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.”


Speech: “This day is called the feast of Crispian”


(from Henry V, spoken by King Henry)

This day is called the feast of Crispian:

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,

And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall live this day, and see old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.

And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,

But he’ll remember with advantages

What feats he did that day: then shall our names.

Familiar in his mouth as household words

Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,

Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,

Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remember’d;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition:

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.


HAMLET From act 1 scene 5

O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?
And shall I couple hell? O, fie! Hold, hold, my heart;
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
Yea, from the table of my memory
I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
That youth and observation copied there;
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmix’d with baser matter: yes, by heaven!
O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
My tables,–meet it is I set it down,
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
At least I’m sure it may be so in Denmark:


So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word;
It is ‘Adieu, adieu! remember me.’
I have sworn ‘t.


“O fortunate son of Laertes, Odysseus of many devices,
surely you won yourself a wife endowed with great virtue.
How good was proved the heart that is in blameless Penelope,
Ikarios’ daughter, and how well she remembered Odysseus,
her wedded husband. Thereby the fame of her virtue shall never
die away, but the immortals will make for the people
of earth a thing of grace in the song for prudent Penelope.
Not so did the daughter of Tyndareos fashion her evil
deeds, when she killed her wedded lord, and a song of loathing
will be hers among men, to make evil the reputation
of womankind, even for one whose acts are virtuous.”
So these two were conversing each with the other, standing
in the gates of Hades, underneath the earth’s secret places.


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