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Dynamically remembered present: Virtual memory as a basis for the stories we live

Cornelius W. du Toit
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 69, No 1 | a1937 | DOI: | © 2013 Cornelius W. du Toit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 February 2013 | Published: 13 June 2013

About the author(s)

Cornelius W. du Toit, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa, South Africa


In this article memory was viewed as a crucial key to the discovery of reality. It is the basis of historical research at all levels, hence it is not confined to a function of human consciousness (brain operations): its physical vestiges are discernible in the universe, in fossils, in the DNA of species. Memory inscribes information in various ways. On a human level it is not recalled computer-wise: imagination, emotion and tacit motives play a role in how we remember. The article investigated the way in which memory underlies the operation of every cell in any living organism. Against this background the role of memory in humans and its decisive influence on every level of human life are examined. Gerald Edelman’s work in this regard was considered. Marcel Proust’s focus on memory is an underlying thread running through his novels, unrivalled in literary history. Some prominent examples were analysed in this article. In light of the foregoing the role of memory in religious experience was then discussed. The virtuality of memory is encapsulated in the statement that we remember the present whilst reliving the past. Memory characterised by virtuality is basic to our autobiographic narratives. The nature of memory determines our life stories, hence our perception of the human self as dynamically variable and open to the future.


memory; cosmic memory; DNA, Gerald Edelman; Marcel Proust; virtual memory


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