For the three weeks leading up to the writing of my previous post, I was without a computer; it had simply died. It took three weeks to research, buy and have installed, the present model. Elsewhere, I have described that period as one resembling being in a state dementia. I am going to address the memory of that experience again with the intention of deepening my understanding of the sense of loss I felt, and how that apparent loss could shape what is yet to come.
Very largely, I use my computer as a word processor and filing cabinet. Almost all that is stored in the memory banks relates to the studies I have carried out over the years on my internal life. When I discovered that I no longer had access to that store, I felt an intense sense of grief for the loss for my memory. A very large part of what I thought to be me was gone. I don't know whether sufferers of dementia feel that way, and I would not choose to downplay their experiences in any way. I do not suffer from dementia and am, therefore, unable to relate directly to those who do.
When I looked into the emptiness of where my memory had resided, and at the blank screen staring at me from my desk top, I had to admit that I --- some essential awareness of me --- was still alive and functioning. As time passed, that very obvious conclusion took on a new, or perhaps rediscovered, meaning. Not only am I decidedly not my body, my thoughts or my emotions, but neither am I my memories.
Although I could no longer recall the details of what I had written over the years, I was still 'me'. What was also puzzling was that when asked by my installer what the names of some of my files and folders were, I could not answer. The fact is that when I look for the information I need, I do not 'see' the file name as meaning very much in relation to its contents. What I 'see' is a word-shape. And how does one communicate the 'shape' of a word devoid of any intellectual content? It is similar to the experience of viewing a word and knowing it has been spelled incorrectly, without actually knowing at first inspection what is wrong. It is simply a series of almost, but not quite, familiar shapes.
I hope this experience will stay with me, and that I will never again build that same kind of associative, almost egoistic, bond with my computer. For now I am determined to ensure that I update --- at frequent intervals --- my external hard drive. I have to say that it's good to have a working computer again!