In an age dedicated to recording and making EVERYTHING searchable as well as bent on completely undermining fact and truth, is memorizing anything a waste of time and effort? Alex Trebek is rolling in his grave. Paris Review has one of those rambly and episodic, yet charming, personal essays on the subject. Turns out we’re hardwired to forget anyway.
We remember and we forget. Lots of people know that marijuana makes us forget, and researchers in the sixties and seventies wanted to understand how. They discovered that the human brain has special receptors that perfectly fit psychoactive chemicals like THC, the active agent in cannabis. But why, they wondered, would we have neuroreceptors for a foreign substance? We don’t. Those receptors are for substances produced in our own brains. The researchers discovered that we produce cannabinoids, our own version of THC, that fit those receptors exactly. The scientists had stumbled onto the neurochemical function of forgetting, never before understood. We are designed, they realized, not only to remember but also to forget. The first of the neurotransmitters discovered was named anandamide, Sanskrit for bliss.