In the book, while in prison, he lives his days by his memories, thinking of his room, his furniture, the beach, each time recalling more details, imagining walking past it and this recalling took a big enough part of the day to keep him busy.

"And the more I thought about it, the more I dug out my memory things I had overlooked or forgotten. I realized then that a man who had lived only one day could easily live for a hundred years in prison. He would have enough memories to keep him from being bored."

I also read something saying that a person in a state of sensory deprivation, for example locked in dark, quite room, can remember a lot of things.

So how much truth is in the Camus's description and how much detail can a person generally remember about something he has seen a couple of times not really paying attention? If Camus was correct, if you do remember more than you can usually recall, then how do I recall at least half as much without being put in prison?


1 Answer 1


Yes it is possible, it is possible in theory at least, but almost no one can do it.

When we see some things, we might not notice everything in front of us, but our subconsciousness usually does withtake these things which is how you can remember a scene and notice things you didn't notice before. However there is another version of this which is that our brains are master tools for filling in the gaps, so it's very easy to remember things wrongly, and see things in your memories that were never actually there, sort of like dreaming. You think it and it shows.

As far as I know there are two things required for this to be feasible.

  1. Super efficient memory for remembering visuals, auditory experiences, and text/numbers/symbols. These can all be trained to an extent in individuals that aren't born with it as a natural talent. (look up memory competition champions, some of them have written books on effective memorization, like Dominic O'Brien for one, these things really work.)
  2. Vivid visual imagination, you need your daydreams to be as real as your sleeping dreams, the only way I've even heard of to train this kind of skill is meditation, but even then there's no guarantee you will ever be able to do this if you can't already. There is a phenomena known as lucid dreaming, and to be able to vividly remember scenery on-demand, you need to be in that sort of state, it can be achieved through meditation, but not even every meditation master can do it.

But notice how I said vivid visual imagination and lucid dreaming state (or alternatively, hypnagogia). Becuase you are in such a state when you are vividly remembering things, it is highly likely that your brain will accidentally put things in your memories that weren't there before, and you can also do this at will just like in a lucid dream.

So is it possible? Yes, it technically is, but our memories, even the most efficient ones aren't 100%, every time we remember something, we're only remembering the last time we remembered it which is how information is lost over time, information which your brain can, and will replace with falsehoods to "fill in the gaps". Which is why two people who saw the same thing at the same time can remember it differently a few months or years after the event.

But as a sort of ironic twist, the more vivid your imagination is (and by vivid I don't just mean in the form of visual information, but also auditory, touch, smell, even taste) the more likely you are to have or be able to easily develop extremely good memory, so the two things I described are necessary for the kind of memory you described are interconnected.

But well, if you want such a great memory (which is completely off topic for this site, it's a personal productivity question) then like I said earlier, look up books written by memory champions like Dominic O'Brien, and you will find what you seek.


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